Smoking 101 – and a Vinegar Sauce

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One Friday afternoon a friend asked me what I was planning on doing over the weekend.  I replied, “sitting on the back porch and smoking something.”  When he looked at me with a funny smile and a raised eyebrow, I realized what I had said. 

But you all knew what I meant, right?  Yep, smoking something.  It’s not grilling, it’s smoking, infusing the food with a wonderfully smoky flavor with a low heat.  It’s pretty easy, the smoke does all the work.  Now, some of you may pooh-pooh me because I use a gas smoker, but hey, it’s easy, and I’m all about easy.  I thought I’d give you a crash course in smoking and finish it off with a lovely vinegar sauce.  First of all, I highly recommend : Smoke & Spice: Cooking with Smoke, the Real Way to Barbecueby Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison.   It’s what I use all the time.

These instructions are for a gas water smoker.

First you may want to do some sort of dry rub.  Usually you put this on the day before and let it marinate over night.

Wood chips, which have been soaked for at least 30 minutes go into a bowl.  (These were apricot from a tree someone cut down).

Another bowl is lined with aluminum foil (for easy clean up) and filled with water.  The water is what helps keep whatever your smoking moist.


This is what it looks like inside.  At the bottom is the gas flame, with the wood chips on top of that, then the water, and then the food.  You will notice that I have 2 empty shelves.  Do not let this happen to you.  If I had been thinking, I would have had some other foods ready to smoke, like some salmon or mushrooms, or something, anything!

All closed up and ready to begin.

Don’t you wish you could smell it?  And that’s it.   With a water smoker you don’t baste or mop because you don’t want to be letting the heat out.  You do have to open the bottom door to check on the wood chips and replace if necessary or add more water, but other than that, the smoker does all the work for you.

Mine, all mine.

Now, once you take your gorgeous hunk of  meat out of the smoker, what are you going to put on it.  I am not a big barbeque sauce fan.  I prefer my meat naked.  (Yeah, I’m probably going to get some interesting searches with that line).  I like the flavor of the meat and smoke to shine, not the sauce.  But I had always been curious about a vinegar sauce, so I tried the Vaunted Vinegar Sauce from the cookbook.  It was perfect!  As a matter of fact, I now keep a bottle in my fridge and use it on all kinds of things, from salads to sandwiches!

Vaunted Vinegar Sauce

  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar or packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne or hot red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, stir to dissolve sugar.  You can serve this at room temperature or chilled.  Keeps indefinitely.

Makes about 2 cups.



This will be my entry for Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum!

Cookbook used:

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  1. says

    Oh, YUM! My husband is really into the smoking thing right now but just on the charcoal grill, we haven’t invested in a smoke yet, although we’re looking at electric ones, for the sake of ease. ANd, good to know you like that book! I got that one for him for Father’s Day last year and we’ve been poring over it ever since!

  2. says

    Yowza! My mouth is watering. This is perfect timing as a co-worker is providing lunch for us today (smoked Boston Butts). I have all the ingredients for the vinegar sauce and I’m heading to the kitchen now. Thanks!

    P.S. My co-worker is a cardiologist. Think he is trying to drum up some business??

  3. says

    Ooo, nice smoker! We have a stand alone smoker, a bit smaller than yours, but also a rectangular stovetop smoker.
    Lately we’ve been into smoking game hens cut in half. Maybe again this weekend?

  4. says

    Oh my goodness, it looks wonderful and what a handy little gadget that smoker is. I might just have to put that on my wish list. We had an electric one in our outdoor kitchen but the pack rats ate the cord off it. Now we have two great hunters (feral cat and mini schnauzer) so no more pack rats but no smoker either. TMI?!!!

  5. says

    I like the sound of the vinegar sauce and hunkk o fmeat looks absolutley mouthwatering. the smoker oven is really interesting looking too. Ive nevr seen anything like it…well now I have. Thanks for the introduction :)

  6. says

    Great job Pam and I sure won’t Pooh pooh the smoker. BBQ is meat cooked low and slow, over indirect heat, in a smoky atmosphere – I believe that’s exactly what you did. I look at a smoker as a convection oven with a smoky atmosphere and any fuel source can turn out great que.

  7. says

    I’m SO jealous of your smoker!

    I agree with you about barbeque sauce but this vinegar one I think I’d enjoy.

    (Good luck with all those “naked meat” search results…LOL)

  8. says

    I think I need a smoker just for my never ending love of smoked salmon… and I pay a high price here for it even in Oregon.. The thought of other meat smoked Oh My Goodness!! How long did it need to smoke??

  9. says

    Hey, in my house, if it isn’t easy, it just isn’t done. And if people want to look at you funny for smoking something, just giggle, and let them wonder exactly what you’re smoking! How’s that for a devilish plan?

  10. says

    I love the taste of smoked meat. I hear you can reproduce a similar flavor with green tea.

    That vinegar sauce sounds GOOOD.

    And I did think you meant smoking as in cigarettes for about thirty seconds. And then I realized this was a food blog. Doh!

  11. says

    This sort of smoking is the only smoking that goes on around our place. Mostly salmon. And not in one of those sophisticated smokers. Looks good!

  12. says

    Fruit woods are choice for smoking pork. Apricot is one I haven’t tried yet but I’m sure it is very good.

    Smoke and Spice is one of the most universally revered bbq books out there, imo. Their “poultry perfect rub” is my favorite for birds.

  13. says

    I’ve never seen / heard of a gass smoker – cool! If you have not tried my smoked pasta (for one of those empty shelves) you absolutely must. If you can’t find it on my blog, email me and I’ll send you the recipe.
    And you could have smoked and smoked…. LOL

  14. says

    Somehow I missed this post, but Natashya was kind enough to lead me here…and *^%#$@&^~`”><!!!!! The meat looks killer…and the vinegar sauce sounds perfect. I’m super jealous 😉

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