So since learning that pastrami is smoked corned beef, we got together for a Saturday food project that we haven’t done in a while. This process is hot smoking, which should have been easier that the cold smoking that we’ve done previously for smoked salmon and bacon.  Should being the operative word. So you see here the contraption that was created out of a water heater box and other large panels of cardboard, wood dowels, cooking racks, and inside a cheap single electric element burner and wok. The pieces of pastrami and other meats we decided top try smoking were placed on the rack in the upper section. On the bottom was placed the burner with wok. The burner was turned on to high and pieces of wood chips loaded into the wok. The burner was to make the chips smolder and smoke and provide enough heat to cure the meat. Alas, the heat inside the box seemed to get too high and the burner thermostat would trip before the internal heat could rise enough.

We tried placing the burner on a metal muffin tray to act as a heat sink and created an air gap at the bottom of the box in an attempt to cool the hot plate enough thetit wouldn’t trip the thermostat. We even hung a 100 watt work lamp inside in an attempt to raise the temperature, but it was good for only a few degrees. We then decided to shorten the box to reduce the air volume to be heated to create the Kwock Daiichi MKII smoker. Yes, not very politically correct, but amusing. We were still far from reaching the desired core temperature. It was decided that drastic measure were required of the heat source. We determined that the burner was barely turning on. So out came the burner to be opened up and operated upon. We mangled the bimetal contacts in the temperature control switch till we figured it would contact on no matter what. Plugged it back in and stood back and watched. This time we had the desired effect, the temperature rapidly rose and the amount of smoke increased drastically.  Just before reaching the target temperature, I pulled the plug, we didn’t want to have a meltdown of the pan or burner.  It coasted along nicely, and then as the temperature dropped, we plugged the burner back in and watched. Nothing happened, the tempereature continued to drop. Hm, it appears that something is not right.  We pull the burner out and put a voltmeter on it. There is no power getting to the heating coil. It seems we fried the switch contacts, so we go a step further and simply plug the heating coil directly into the power. Thge voltmeter shows power, we are back in business. The coil is heating up no question, as we see it glowing red, and eventually the wok would start to glow red also! Over the next few hours, we now achieve the desired temperature, although we need to keep monitoring it constantly to avoid a catastrophe. After this, the pastrami is still not done, it goes into a steamer for another few hours.

The fruits of this day spent tending the carboard box smoker and drinking beer was this, tasty home smoked pastrami sandwiches. Not a whole lot needed to do this except time and some ingenuity!

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