Have you ever wondered if there really is such a big difference between food cooked on a barbecue versus in a smoker? Have you thumbed through cookbooks like Beyond Bacon or ogled the recipes at Primal Palate and wondered what the big deal is? Can smoking your own meat and fish be that different from store-bought? I have wondered all of these things. And combined with my general sense of intimidation when it comes to things like charcoal briquettes and propane tanks, I never thought I’d be smoker…. er, of food that is.
About six weeks ago, I was approached by Outdoor Cooking who generously offered me the opportunity to try out a smoker specifically The Camp Chef Smoke Vault 18″. Well, I happened to have a 9-lb pastured pork belly in my freezer, so it wasn’t an offer I could refuse. But, the smoker arrived the week I got my burn, and I wasn’t too enthusiastic about playing with a new cooking method at the time (burn update: it’s healing really well, still quite pink and the skin tends to be dry, but all that is normal). Then we had Snowmageddon and two weeks later the worst ice storm in Georgia in 40 years (we were very thankful not to lose power). I now lament those four weeks that the smoker sat in my garage without me knowing just how ridiculously amazing it is.
A couple of weekends ago Angie Alt from Alt-TernativeAutoimmune.com and Mickey Trescott from Autoimmune-Paleo.com came to spend a working weekend with me at my home (big announcement on what we are working on coming next week!). I decided to take advantage of Mickey’s personal chef experience and Angie’s world traveler practicality to try out the smoker for the first time. While the three of us talked shop, we unpacked the Smoke Vault and assembled it (it was very straightforward). Mickey and I did a run to the hardware store for a propane tank (and yes, this would be my first propane tank) and for woodchips (we bought cherry). And then we got it going and started smoking!
Mickey and I had the fun task of removing the skin from the thawed pork belly! This might have been an easier job if any of my knives were sharp, but we got there in the end. We followed the recipe for Smoked Pork Belly out of one of my favorite paleo cookbooks, Beyond Bacon. Even before we put that pork belly in the smoker, it smelled amazing, thanks to some wonderful fresh spices Angie had brought with her and the fact that every recipe I’ve made from Beyond Bacon is crazy good.
I also smoked 8lbs of salmon at the same time as the 9lbs of pork belly (to be fair, I had something like 30 people come over for a potluck dinner that night). Yes, 17lbs of meat fit in the smoker, and there was room for more. All I did for the salmon was to sprinkle the top with a little bit of maple sugar and Himalayan pink salt (about a tablespoon of sugar for 8lbs of salmon and about 1 tsp of salt) and smoked at 225F for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Bet, you weren’t expecting to get a recipe mixed in with a product review and giveaway! Consider it a bonus.
I would be hard pressed to tell you which of the smoked salmon and smoked pork belly I enjoyed more. What I can tell you is that they were two of the most amazing things I’ve ever eaten. And I can tell you that both Mickey and Angie left my house determined to purchase Smoke Vaults for themselves.
I have actually smoked food twice since my initial foray. I find the Smoke Vault incredibly simple to use (why was I so needlessly intimidated?!) and so far everything I’ve tried in it has been ridiculously tasty. I truly can’t believe I have lived my life to this point without a smoker (of food!). In fact, in the last two weeks, I have smoked food three times, barbecued food zero times. That’s probably all the review you need!
Do you want one? Outdoor Cooking has graciously given us a 20% off coupon on the entire site valid until March 17th, 2014! That’s an AWESOME deal! Simply enter the code PALEOMOM at checkout and your 20% discount will be applied!
One of the things that I think is so amazing about the Smoke Vault is just how much flavor it adds to foods. I can’t help thinking that this would be an amazing tool for anyone new (or old!) to The Paleo Approach. If you’ve bought my book and are wading through it and wondering just how food is going to taste good, well then you can’t do better than a Smoke Vault. [Note: if you’re wondering if consuming smoked foods is healthy for someone with autoimmune disease, now would be a good time for me to mention: whether or not eating smoked foods contributes to cancer development is very controversial in the scientific literature. Just like the correlations with meat consumption and cancer disappear once vegetable intake is accounted for, there is belief that the same is true for smoked foods. That means, it’s not about whether or not you eat smoked foods or how much, but about making sure you’re eating plenty of veggies all the time. That being said, you probably don’t want to eat smoked and barbecued foods every day, tempting as that might be once you have a Smoke Vault.]
And, this makes me even more excited that OutdoorCooking.com has generously given me a second Camp Chef Smoke Vault 18″ to give away to one lucky reader!
And because I’m so enthusiastic about this giveaway and what a great tool this will be for those following The Paleo Approach, I’m throwing in a $200 Gift Certificate to Tropical Traditions so the winner will be able to buy grass-fed meat and wild-caught fish to smoke as well as seasonings, Himalayan pink salt, and anything else you might need. And, I’m throwing in a copy of Beyond Bacon because they have so many great recipes using a smoker!
Here’s the Giveaway:
- Camp Chef Smoke Vault 18″
- $200 Tropical Traditions Gift Certificate
- Beyond Bacon by Matthew McCarry and Stacy Toth of Paleo Parents
That means this giveaway is valued at over $400!!! You’ll need to buy a propane tank and wood chips for the Smoke Vault. There’s also lots of great accessories available from OutdoorCooking.com that you may wish to purchase (but none are required). Note: shipping is limited to the continental US.
Entering the giveaway is easy:
A big thank you to www.OutdoorCooking.com for giving me such an awesome tool and for sponsoring this giveaway!