Sorry for not getting these up sooner, but I wasn’t able to get to it until yesterday, when I did some more pulled pork. I was inspired a couple blogs when I was figuring this out, but especially Dave Naffziger’s instructions for getting the heating element controls out of the smoker.
[pictobrowser type=”flickr” userID=”arndog” albumID=”72157606794206748″]
I picked up a 20-inch terra cotta pot at Plant and Pottery Outlet in Sunol, CA, which is just down the freeway from me. Their selection of terra cotta pots is much larger than anywhere else I looked (Home Depot, Lowes, OSH), and the pots they carry are much thicker, which helps them retain heat a lot better. I got a 20-inch bowl to serve as the lid. Total cost: $56.00.
Inside the pot, I got a standard, 18-inch Weber cooking grate, which fits perfectly inside the 20-inch pot. To hold the wood chunks, I used a large deep-dish pie pan from a bygone Chicago-style pizza experiment. The pan sits right on the heating element, which is a deconstructed electric hot plate that I picked up for $10 at Walgreens.
One challenge of this setup is that adding wood chips or chunks becomes an issue because you’re bound to let out a lot of the heat when you remove the lid. I get around this by using only wood chunks, which don’t burn up as fast as wood chips. For meat that needs to cook longer, like pulled pork or brisket, you can simply finish cooking in the oven when the smoke dies down.
The main challenge is figuring out how to keep the temperature steady. I found that by turning the dial to medium high, I could get between 230–240F pretty consistently. From there you kinda have to baby it if you want cook at a lower temperature. I recently ordered a remote wireless thermometer with two temperature probes, which should help me both monitor what I’m cooking, as well as the temperature of the smoker.