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Using a Stovetop Smoker
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Q. Do you have any recipes for stovetop smokers? We recently cooked with one for the first time and the chicken was not good. It tasted like it was steamed.

A. We have lots of books on grilling and smoking, books on how to make smokers out of cardboard boxes, industrial drums, bricks and mortar, and books on curing and smoking every meat from ham to pheasant to bear. But in all of those books (and we admit we have not read every word) we have not come across anything on stovetop smokers. It is as if the authors deny their existence. We also have no personal experience using them.

But one point stands out clearly in all the smoker reading we have done — a smoker always has a vent to keep the air circulating. Otherwise the smoke stagnates and imparts a bitter, acrid flavor to the meat. And with that circulation of air and smoke, moisture is also wicked away as the meat cures or cooks (depending on whether you are cold smoking at a temperature of 70° to 90°F (curing) or hot smoking (cooking)). 

Stovetop smokers by necessity are airtight to avoid setting off the smoke alarm, so we do not see how they could do anything other than steam your foods. Our recommendation, and it defeats your intention, is to use the smoker outdoors on a grill and crack the lid open a bit.

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