Sunday, May 6, 2012

El Pollo Smoko....................

There are many good reasons why my Spanish is so poor.

Probably starting with the fact I took five years of German in high school.

Neither of those statements has anything to do with this blog, I'm just stating them for the record.

Over the last few day I've been wanting to buy a smoker. For many years (approximately 18) I owned a Kamado. Kamado is a Japanese word meaning "dragon". Far from being an actual dragon, a Kamado is a top end Japanese earthenware smoker. These days a company markets them in America as "The Big Green Egg".

I was the third owner of my Kamado. A couple in San Antonio purchased it in 1977. In 1982 they gave it to a fellow named Paul. In 1984, when I got to New Orleans International Airport as a rookie air traffic controller in training, Paul had just certified as a full performance level controller. He lived in the same apartment complex as I did. He cooked a lot of meals on the Kamado for he and his girlfriend and me and my girlfriends. By 1986 I had become quite adept at cooking on the thing. When Paul transferred to Houston in 1987, he gave me the Kamado. He had decided to buy a new one when he got back to Texas.

I kept the Kamado until 2003 when my ex-wife and I divorced. It was too large to fit on the balcony of my condo. In keeping with tradition, I gave it to a friend of mine.

He still has it and it still works beautifully.

I told you that story to tell you this one.

Yesterday, I could no longer stand it. I've been cooking on Christine's gas grill for the last two years. Gas grills are okay. They do a reasonable job on steaks and chops. They aren't bad when used in conjunction with a cast iron griddle for blackening fish or chicken. However, I prefer to slow cook meats over natural lump charcoal and hardwoods for smoking.

We had to make a vitamin run to GNC yesterday morning. Walmart is in the same complex. I ran in, picked up our order of vitamins and it was off to look at smokers.

Of course, I mean "look at" in the guy way.

That means "purchase".

Being a typical guy, I spotted and seized on the heaviest one they had.

The box weighed around 75 pounds.

It didn't fit in any shopping cart they had.

In a word.........PERFECT!

The box was so cumbersome it took both of us to load it in the back seat of Christine's Toyota Corolla.

We were lucky the back doors barely closed.

Now that we had a backseat full of heavy steel parts, there were two things left to do.

1.) Go to Lapp's Dutch Market and pick up some meat to smoke on it.

2.) Assemble the smoker.

There's a tradition in my family, started by my father, when assembling something with a million parts.

It involves huffing in frustration, then muttering under our breath, and finally outright cursing.

Every bad word I ever learned, I learned from watching Dad build one of the many bicycles we had as children.

Except for the "F*** Bomb".

I learned that when Dad stubbed his toe coming up the stairs from the recreation room.

Christine and her mother had a "Kentucky Derby Hat" event to go to yesterday afternoon. That left me time to cut the grass and then open up the smoker and get to work on it.

I figured it would take about 30 minutes to assemble.

After all, how many parts could there really be?


I skipped "huffing" and went straight into muttering.

By the way, the other 80 parts are off to the left outside of the camera view.

Fortunately, I didn't have to tackle this alone.

Splitty the Maul was standing by to help.

The first few steps were pretty easy, so I didn't need any help. Splitty was just sort of hanging out and drinking beer.

I had the base of the unit assembled. The next few steps were sort of involved so I sat down to read the directions a couple of times to make sure I had them clear in my head.

Suddenly, I heard an odd noise.


Splitty yelled out something about "being in an iron lung".

I was not in any sort of mood for buffoonery.

Splitty got out and returned to drinking beer.

The "half hour" estimate ran into about one hour and fifteen minutes.

However, I finished the project with no left over parts.

That's a "win" in anybody's book.


Splitty had to jump into the picture at the last minute.

Mauls dig getting photographed.

Who knew?

Anyway, the smoker was done and that meant only two things.

1.) A celebratory beer for me.

2.) Fire up the smoker.






The BBQ'ed chicken came out smoky and very moist.

By the way, that's mesquite chunks soaked in water over the natural charcoal in the second picture.

Later today, I'll be putting on some spare ribs and a beef brisket.

Both are marinating as we speak.

I have a marinade I developed over the years.

Here it is:

- 2/3 cup dry red wine (I use an inexpensive Chianti or Merlot)
- 1/3 cup low sodium (green cap) Kikkoman soy sauce
- 2 tsp dry thyme leaves
- 1 tsp rubbed sage
- 1 tsp ground summer savory
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp garlic granules
- 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper (use 1 tsp if you want it hotter)
- 4 dashes Worcestershire sauce


Mix ingredients in a 1 gallon Ziploc Freezer bag. Add meat to bag. Close bag and shake to mix ingredients and coat the meat. Place bag in refrigerator overnight, turning occasionally.


Grill/smoke as desired.


Pretty simple, but it yields great results on smokers.

Okay, time for me to get this day started.

Until the next time, all y'all take care of yourselves.

Air Traffic Mike, ret.

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