Making smoked foods - Soldering iron cold smoker

I bought some very inexpensive cuts of chicken labelled "Breast roasts for two" from my local supermarket.

They appeared to me to be a prime candidate for value adding.

I brined them in a solution of water, salt, sugar, pepper, and some lemon juice. I also threw in a couple of bay leaves. I have no accurate record of the measurements used.

Measurements are a tricky thing, because you cant rely on one batch being the same as the next. The amount of meat, and it's existing water and salt content create differences. You can probably ignore the existing levels, but the amount of meat being brined changes things a lot. The result is you cant just say x amount of water needs y amount of salt.

As I understand it, the process of absorbing the salt and sugar is done by osmosis. Salt is removed from the water, so the amount of meat in the brine changes how much salt is left in the brine. The result is the solution might need to be stronger to brine more meat. Irregular shaped meat like my chicken breast still on the bone, requires a bigger amount of water to cover it.

The good thing is, it will probably work well no matter what you do, but it does make a recipe a bit pointless.

That being said I used about 6 litres of water and a bit over half a cup of both salt, and sugar.

Brine your food in cold water, in the fridge.

After an hour and a half, I removed the chicken, pat it dry, and placed it into my lidded BBQ.

A 12 or 24 hour brine would have been better but I was pressed for time.

I also placed my trusty tin can full of holes inside, and jammed a 60watt soldering iron* into it at the base.

Perfect, cold smoke in minutes.

A total success.

The wood chips were from a store bought pack of smoking wood chips.

I'm pretty sure this would ruin the soldering iron for soldering, but this was one I've never used as it was way too powerful for anything I might do.

Previously I used my tin can full of holes with burning heat beads to keep it going, so I needed quite a few holes to support the combustion required to keep it alight. With the soldering iron, I can choke it down a lot more because it will never go out. I think I'll make a new tin can with less holes, and a large adjustable hole in the top by way of two lids with large holes that I can rotate to make whatever size hole I need. This should allow total control over how much smoke is made, and with some marks on the lids, I should be able to keep a record of what setting it was on, and what worked and what didn't.

But it does seem that everything works, no matter what you do so don't be too stressed over recipes and instructions. Just have a go, and you wont be disappointed.

120 Things in 20 years - Should have done a bit more research before trying to make a cold smoker because a soldering iron works really well.

*using a soldering iron for a cold smoker is NOT an original 120 things idea

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