A little brown egg in Maine: terra cotta smoker


Step 8: Problems and Issues

While cooking, we lost quite a bit of smoke around the edge. Wrapping a damp towel around the rim helped some, but I think we need to seal it some way. If we could get a tighter seal, perhaps by finding a grill that sits low enough in the lower pot so that the upper pot sits more securely, the smoking would be better. Is there some heat-resistant, food safe, compliant material that could be put around the edge of the top to make a tighter seal?

Adding handles to the top would be a good modification too. Now that we know we can put holes in the terra cotta, that should be straightforward. Have to go look for some attractive knobs or handles.

The big limitation on this is size. The limit is about 3 chicken breasts. Taste is great, but that's just not enough product for a multi-hour production that needs so much attention. I found some bigger pots, but I didn't find appropriately sized tops. Large pots get expensive, too. And difficult to handle when hot.

So, for functionality, the garbage can versions of this idea, even the cardboard box version, are really better. But my little brown egg does look sweet on the porch, and it helps with portion control :-)
If I find a pair of bigger pots, I can transplant the guts and recycle these as planters.
NoVAN8iv3 years ago
To seal the lid better, tear off a length of heavy-duty aluminum foil about equal to the circumference of your cooker, wad up into a "sausage" about 2 inches wide, mold it around the edge of the cooker, then squish the lid down, compressing the aluminum foil "gasket" so it fits snugly between the lid and cooker..
jkayner5 years ago
why not just buy an "old smokey" charcoal grill (~$40) and the hotplate and put the hotplate inside the grill? Than you have the best of both worlds.
jamina5 years ago
Silicon is your food safe, heat resistant material.
srharvey5 years ago
You typically find pots with matching drip trays that go under them, why not use a large trap as a lid on a larger/deeper pot to keep the weight of the lid down to a minimum. Make 2 or 3 more and then you can experiment with doing small batches of different woods / spices to make a whole feast at once. Loved the instructions.
Sequimania5 years ago
You can buy oven seals at parts stores. Trim to fit the circumference of your pot, glue on and it should provide you with a reasonable seal. In August garden supplies go on sale and it will be cheaper to pick up a bigger pot if you wait until then. CostCo sometimes has big Italian clay planters for a very low price. With a big pot I would use a saucer for the top - less weight to pick up and hold while you're checking out dinner. Thanks for the Instructable.
Mandrew6 years ago
Shouldn't silicone caulking work well to seal the lip. It's good up to 675°F (357°C) and is totally safe for food. You could even eat it. If you were to lubricate the lid, and apply a seal along the inside of the pot, then apply the lid, you could allow it to set in place. You might want to lift it off and let the silicone caulk set not attached. Hope I help.
marcintosh6 years ago
You mention- "So, for functionality, the garbage can versions of this idea, ". Please do not cook in a galvanized container. The fumes are quite poisonous. Instead, just make another system so you have twice the finished product Try using a small charcoal grill insert and ditch that black punctured platter to get a better seal. You know, one of the $2.99 ones you get at the China store. I appreciate the glass bit for drilling terra cotta. Thanks M,.
It takes galvanized metal 900 F before they will off gas heavy metals. As we are smoking at about 220F, there is hardly any danger. Just be sure to use a new, clean can. The best home made smokers I have seen were made from old 120 gallon propane tanks. They require the use of welding equipment and some serious welding skills but they work the best.