Smoked meat not only contains deep, smoky flavour, it's also usually tender and juicy. The key to well-smoked meat is low heat and slow cooking. This combination allows the juices in the meat to flow freely and make the meat succulent and tender. Though commercial smokers may range outside your budget, as of 2010, the materials to build a home smoker cost about £32. You may be able to get away with less if you already have some of the materials at home.
Place two flat, rectangular stones about 15.2 cm (6 inches) apart on a level, stable section of ground. The stones must be flat and level with one another. Otherwise, your smoker may tilt.
Place the 22.7 litre (5 gallon) terra cotta pot on top of the stones. The pot should be level and not move or shift. The stones should not cover the drain hole in the bottom of the pot.
Set your hotplate into the bottom of the pot, threading the cord through the drain hole. Meanwhile, soak your woodchips in cool water in a plastic bucket for two to three hours.
Drain your wood chips and place them in the centre of an 20.3 cm (8 inch) square of heavy duty aluminium foil. Fold up the sides of the foil, creating a small "bowl" for your chips. Place the bowl on top of the hotplate.
Set a wire cooling rack down into the pot. The sides of pot should hold the rack in place.
Turn your 13.6 litre (3 gallon) terra cotta pot upside down and place it as a lid over your 22.7 litre (5 gallon) pot. The lip of the 13.6 litre (3 gallon) pot should slip neatly inside the 22.7 litre (5 gallon) pot.
- Smoke meat inside your smoker by turning the hotplate to medium-high. Place your meat on the cooling rack and smoke it for up to 12 hours. Thinner slices of meat will turn into jerky.
- Use only new terra cotta pots. Pots previously planted with soil may have bacteria trapped in the pores. Scents trapped in the pores may also give the meat an unpleasant taste.
- Use any unglazed ceramic or new metal container for a smoker. New trashcans, empty beer kegs and water drums all work well.
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