Got sucked into an Alton Brown flower pot smoker video that I happened across on You Tube.  Well, the more I tried to find the perfect components, the more the total price of the smoker (and my fear of lack of functionality) rose.

I found plenty of bottom pots, a few good candidate racks, the perfect hot plate but alas, the domed top was not to be found.  I was about to go with a flat lid when I passed through my local big box home improvement store to see what they had.  Lo and behold they had a Char Broil electric water smoker on closeout for under $50.  My expected cost for the flower pot version was starting to get to about $75.

For the relatively small investment, I got a classic “trash can” smoker with two rack, a water pan, adjustable thermostat electric heating element, side access door and adjustable vented lid with a semi decent thermometer in it.

Today’s the inaugural burn in progress.  The design is not perfect, but apparently none are and tips, tricks and trial and error seem to be the way with smoking.  Part lore, part engineering, part voodoo I guess.

The strange thing about this design is that it comes with a water pan that is supposed to sit almost on the heating element.  There seems to be some controversy whether you’re supposed to put the wood chips in the pan or use it for water.  I had hear there were challenges keeping it at temp without the water, so for the first run I decided to put the water pan in the second rack slot and then create a “pan” out of aluminum foil to sit directly on the burner element so the wood chips would smoke and clean up would be easy.

So far, it seems to working out nicely.  I soaked hickory chunks overnight.  To get things going well, I broke up a few of the chunks into chips.  I filled the bowl with hot tap water and after about 15 minutes or so, we were smoking.

On the rack is about a 3 pound pork loin roast that I brined for the last day and a half in the fridge.  I based the brine loosely on Alice Waters brine recipe.  I didn’t want too many variables in the equation so I’m trying to keep it simple.

I made the brine and put it and the roast in a plastic zipper bag in the fridge.  I only had 1 gallon bags, so I only added what would fit.  I probably used about 3/4 gallon of the brine.

I dumped the brine, gave the pork a quick rinse and patted dry.  Then on to the grill.  So far, so good.  Its been on about 1 1/2 hours and temp seems to be holding nicely and I just had to add a few more chunks of wood.  How much to use is a mystery of course.  I started with probably 5 or 6 of various sizes.

[Update: about 2 hours in] I just reupped with about 3 biggish chunks.  There was quite a bit of smoke at the start, so I’m thinking I might want to tone it down a bit– both for the flavors and the neighbors.  As the thermostat kicked in the 3 chunks seems to be generating plenty of smoke and the temp is holding about 200-225 F.

[Update again:]  A few more chunks about 1 hour after the last to keep a mild smoke going.  I also upped the temp a wee bit to keep it around 225.  After about 4 hours, internal temp was 140 so I kept it going till it was about 165 before I pulled it.  Rest for about 30 minutes in foil and slice.

For the first attempt it was pretty damned good.  Good smoke flavor throughout.  Very tender and moist.  The “bark” was not bitter at all.  All in all, I’d call round 1 a success.