January 14, 2023
After inspecting the electric smoker that had sat on our patio yesterday, I thought today would be a good day to try it out. One of the things that had gotten me started on the smoker was finding a recipe for burnt-end hotdogs. It looked easy to make and the recipe said it only took two hours. I had the chips that had arrived mistakenly this week. I had three pounds of ¼ pound (113 grams) hotdogs, and I had the smoker. I thought this would be a good trial to make sure everything worked. This also sounded like a good dish to take to the chili cookoff I was attending tomorrow (yes, I know, this is not chili). I prepared the first stage of the hotdogs by slathering them in mustard and mayonnaise and then went to fire up the smoker. I placed some peach wood chips in the smoke box and plugged in the unit. It fired right up and began to heat. I thought the trial was going great, but it turned out to be a day-long trial instead.
I checked the smoker after a few minutes to see how it was doing. The light was off and there was no heat given off by the unit. I did not know when it quit, but it obviously did not work now. I was committed since I had prepped the dogs, so I turned to Plan B. I considered buying a smoker but was torn between a good one (expensive) and one of lesser value. I had never tried to use a smoker, and I did not know if I would carry through on my smoker challenge with my son. I was hesitant to spend US$400 or US$500 on something that would again sit on the patio until it no longer worked. I had read yesterday that I could use my three-burner grill by putting the chips over one lit burner and the food off set over the two unlit burners. I ran a trial on this, and the smoke was pouring out of the grill in no time. I put the dogs on and let them sit. I checked the temperature periodically and noticed it was losing heat. It seemed I was low on propane and needed to go to the store for more. I was now three hours into the trial that should have taken less than two.
Zena loves to ride so I loaded her into the Jeep and took off for the hardware store for gas and a few items I needed to repair my grill. I got a block away from the house and realized I had 10% rewards cards I had left at the house. My mom taught me the value of coupons when I was growing up, so I turned around and went back to the house. True to form, most of the discounts had expired, but there were still some US$5 discounts available. We went to the store and searched for grill parts (did not have what I needed) before we found they only sold propane in bulk. I took Zena home and took off for the local market (she is not allowed inside the market) which carried grill equipment and had tanks located outside the store. They did not have the grill parts I needed but they did have gas. It was another trial and error as I figured out how to use the self-serve feature, and a full tank of gas was mine. When I got home the smoker was still working and the dogs were ready for the second coating of barbecue sauce. I cut them up, tossed them in the sauce, and put them back for another 30 minutes of smoke. This had been a day of trial. I hoped the burnt-end hotdogs were good.
THOUGHTS: The hotdogs turned out well, but they were hardly burnt-ends brisket. Still for all my trouble this was not bad for my first trial at smoking meat (the dogs were all beef, ha ha). I got some major kinks out of the way and began the learning curve that may take me all the way to a charcoal smoker. From what I have read, charcoal smokers do the best job, but require the most expertise. Most things you do in life take a period of trial and error before you get it right. Even after you are an expert there are still times when you do not get the desired result. Facing the trial and achieving your goal (at least some of the time) is what makes life fun. Act for all. Change is coming and it starts with you.