Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Invention Intervention - The Suthun Smoker

When I first saw this photo I figured that some intelligent Suthunah had found a way to heat his 'external toilet.' (For those not in the know, that green building is what is known as a "Port-A-Potty." It's a mobile outhouse, usually found at concerts or fairs and even at large construction sites.) But a closer looks tells you that the owner is not trying to heat his outhouse, cuz you can see... 'hey, the smoke is going up into that thing!' Ok, then it makes sense. This isn't an outhouse, it's a smoker.

Now, for those who do not know, smoking meat is an ancient method of preserving food that has been practiced throughout history and most Suthunaz are practiced masters at this art. Archeologists have found proof that the earliest Medieval Europeans, as well as some primitive South American and Asian cultures, smoked meat as well as substantial amounts of fish and poultry. They got nothing on ol' Bubba's smoker above.

How about a little more history, yes?

Caribbean natives smoked meat to ward off flies. Early Caribbean communities hung meat from spiked sticks on a rack over a smoky fire, a system that they referred to as "barbacoa." In fact, the word "barbacoa" may be the origin of our contemporary word "barbecue", as well as the impetus for the trend toward grilling meat versus smoking meat. (NOW we're talking Suthun!)

Smoking effectively works as a preservative for raw meat, too; because smoke contains chemical compounds that prevent the growth of bacteria. Phenolic compounds in smoke halt the oxidization of meat, carbonyl compounds result in the distinctive smoked flavor and aroma, while carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide assist in the rendering of fat, the breakdown of connective tissues and collagen and the production of pigment in the meat. Now that there is a mouth-FULL! And speaking of mouthfuls, turkey, brisket and other meats are excellent choices for enjoying the results of traditional smoking. (Or, in the case of the above smoker, NON-traditional smoking.)

It is also good to note that the use of 're-purposed' items in the photo above makes this a really 'green' project. (You see what I did there? Green? Oh, ok, keep reading...) The cast iron fire-pot is well made and well connected, as there is no smoke leaking out anywhere it's not supposed to. And we have to agree, the smoker unit is large enough to hold the biggest...uh...biggest... yikes! What on earth would you need a smoker that big for? Maybe a full sized deer carcass? Still on the hoof? Maybe two or three at one time?

(I also have to wonder if the thing still has the seat! )

You know, I know that guy isn't smoking any of them chickens in a smoker that big - unless he's doing a dozen at once. Though I'm sure what ever he's smoking it's delicious...(depending on whether or not that thing was cleaned before he turned it into a smoker) I guess I really don't need to know what it is he IS smoking, but I want to know what he was smoking...if you know what I'm sayin....

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