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Topic: Homemade Smokers . . . . From: Joel,
Subject: Re: Making a homemade smoker
I am planning on constructing a homemade smoker out of old 55 gal. drums, but I have a few questions.
1. Where would you mount the thermometer to get the most accurate reading on temp. inside the smoker?
2. Can you use a combination of charcoal and wood? If so, what % of each would you use to get the best sizzle to the meat?
3. I'd like to be able to do around 50-100 lbs of assorted meat at one time. Do you know about how large in sq ft the grill must be to adequately handle these amounts? Thanks j.
FIRST THINGS FIRST! What was in those drums? Any pesticide, herbicide and many other chemical compounds render them forever unfit for cooking. Petroleum and other flammables present a real explosion hazard until they are throughly cleaned.
I wouldn't mount a thermometer. You can hold your little bi-metal probe in the exhaust stream and get an accurate reading 5-10°F. lower than at the meat surface. You can insert it into the meat, read it and remove it to test for doneness.
Charcoal and wood are interchangeable. That presumes that you understand that you don't cook over wood until it has been reduced to coals.
Depends upon the meat cuts. Beef and pork will average about 42lbs per cubic foot, poultry about 35. Bones are less dense. Chickens and ribs would require more volumn than roasts or briskets. With enough space for racks (2 ft overhead clearance) 12-15 sq.ft. will be ample. But a major consideration is the fire pit capacity and the ability to readily replenish the coals.
Unless you intend to cook that much rather often, I'd build three 55 gal drum cookers rather than trying to make 1 big enough to do the job.
Let me know how it turns out.