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Using my oven as a smoker?

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  • Using my oven as a smoker?

    Hi Everyone:
    I'm a newby to this forum, but have had a wood oven for five years. I have read that wood ovens make great smokers. Has anyone done that? Do you bring the oven up to heat and then let it cool down to 200 or so degrees before burning your smoking wood, or do you start with a cold oven, put in the brisket or ribs, and burn cherry, pecan, other flavored wood pieces and let them smoke for a while before you remove the door and stoke the fire? Or some other technique? "Low and slow" is the mantra for 'Que here in North Carolina. Trying to figure out best way to utilize my oven. Thanks in advance.
    Tom from Raleigh

  • #2

    Welcome to the forum. I have read where some do use their ovens as smokers. I have experimented some with mine. I have tried several ways. Always with an oven on the decline in temp. For low and slow like ribs and brisket, I now only use my oven to finish. I do the smoking in a smoker or on a grill. It is my belief that meat will only accept smoke up to a certain temperature. I like a good bit of movement and control for the almost invisible "sweet blue" smoke that does not leave a harsh taiste on the meat. For a 10 to 12 hour brisket, it's 2 to 3 hours on the grill with indirect heating, then wrapping in parchment paper, and finishing in the oven between 225F to 250F. For me, the smoking takes a little time, TLC, and few beers. For the finish, all I need is an alarm clock .
    Joe Watson " A year from now, you will wish that you had started today" My Build Album / My Build


    • #3
      Not an WFO owner yet, but have done lots of smoking in smokers, including my own DIY Big Green Egg.

      To smoke effectively, you need to maintain a constant temperature (typically low and slow, say 225 deg F) for a long period of time.
      That is difficult to do while burning wood, unless you have tight control over the oxygen supply to the fire AND a well insulated heat chamber. WFO's have the latter typically.
      You may be able to do this with residual heat, depending on how long you can keep the heat in.

      A product I've found that does a great job of adding smoke in a very controlled way, over a long period of time. You can google "A-MAZE-N Pellet Tube Smoker". You can make one yourself as well.
      The principal is that it burns from one end to the other and because it's chock full of pellets, there's limited oxygen for the fire to work it's way across, thus burning slow over several hours. It won't add much additional heat to the oven, but a little is ok given your oven will be losing heat without an active fire. I've been using this in my gas grill lately for quick smokes. My weber, with 1 burner on it's lowest setting maintains about 250 degrees constant. Add this for the smoke and it does a decent job.

      One caveat, is that something like a brisket that needs 10 hours will tend to dry out. In a Big Green Egg (for instance), it's in an oxygen starved environment, so the meat doesn't dry as easily. On a gas grill, it will dry out much faster and I suspect that will be true of a WFO.

      A compromise approach I will try is to roast the meet with the residual heat and this tube smoker for an hour or two, then finish in an oven (covered, to retain moisture). Most of the smoke flavor penetrates in that first 1-2 hours.


      • #4
        I know that Mrchipster built a door with a smoke gun in it. I have considered doing something similar that way you can control the smoke level. So just a thought.



        • #5
          The old adage "the higher the temperature the greater the heat loss", means that a WFO hangs on to those low temperatures for a very long time, making them ideal for smoking. In addition because a WFO cooks by radiation, meats do not dry out like conventional ovens or barbecues. I've not used my WFO extensively for smoking, but have followed another members method to success (I'm no smoking expert).

          Take me an empty coffe tin, or similar, drill many holes in the sides and place some live coals to around 1/2 full, on top of which you place the smoking chips. I used dry chips, but I guess you could wet them. Catching the cooled down oven when it's around 130C should find some live coals still in it. To prevent further heat loss the oven door needs to be in place, but not fully closed because the coals and chips need some oxygen to burn. The amount of door opening needs to be played with. The burning coals will compensate for the heat lost by the slight door opening. The foods to be smoked are simply placed on a rack in the oven.

          When roasting meats I like to place the baking pan in my oven after firing for exactly one hour, then waiting for all the flame to die. In my oven this produces enough heat (approx 250 C) for the roast, although the oven is not properly soaked with heat, but it saves time and fuel, then throw around half a handful of smoking chips onto the dying coals, place the pan and shut the door tight. This produces a delightfully smoky flavour, but be careful it's easy to overdo so not too many chips. I've produced some smoky bread a couple of times (not so good) when placing it before the flames went out entirely.
          Kindled with zeal and fired with passion.


          • #6
            David, do you (or anybody else) find that raising the meat off the floor/closer to the dome makes a difference in the amount of smoke penetration? A guy I used to work with had showed me a rack he made that got his meat either near the top of the door height or above it, and said that was where most of the smoke is. I was wondering if there was really a difference. I have not tried any smoking (on purpose) yet, but did make some bad tasting cinnamon rolls by accident I do have a wood chip smoking box I got for a father's day years back that I'm wanting to try after reading this thread.
            Last edited by JRPizza; 03-04-2017, 09:32 PM.
            My build thread


            • #7
              I have to agree with the smoke being in the dome, more so than on the floor. We use retained heat for smoking a brisket and find that it does a great job of keeping the moisture in because the radiant heat doesn't seem to dry out the meat as much. We cooked a turkey for Easter a few years ago and it was the most moist turkey I have ever had and my family does a pretty good job with turkey going back more than thirty years now.
              Since the Mrs isn't a huge smoke flavor fan, we find the oven does a good job of not getting too much smoke in the meat, if you are not bothered by a lot of smoke, then the previous ideas would all work. Particularly putting the meat way up high.
              Cheese and some other products require really low heat and the mass of the oven can help with that as well by absorbing and controlling the temp rise with an active fire burning in a cold oven. You can get the smoke without the heat for a decent amount of time because the mass will take up a lot of heat initially. Once the mass is warm, then its all over for low heat smoking or cold smoking and you have to catch the oven on the way down.
              Lots of great ways to use the WFO for smoking, stop typing about it and get out there and scorch some protein.
              The cost of living continues to skyrocket, and yet it remains a popular choice.


              • #8
                Here are a few pics from a couple of my WFO smoking attempts: WFO Smoking. I tried a couple of home made versions of the A-MAZE-N Smoker. Though, I havent tried the pellets in the WFO, I found it to work better on the higher temp cooks like chicken in the 350F to 400F range. The best results were when the chips were preheated before going in the oven and leaving the door partially open. Low and slow cooks (225 to 250) can get a little trickey in the oven using smoke due to smoke stagnation. Smoke needs to be produced and introduced at the right temp to get the best flavor. It also needs to keep moving or it will allow creosotes to deposit on the meat. Creosote is a known carcinogen and it can taiste bad. The more smoke that you can see with the necked eye, the greater the possibilty of it producing a bad taiste. The best smoke for any type of cook is the smoke that you can barely see. It's called "sweet blue" on some forums. That's why I now do most of my low and slow smoking outside of the oven on smokers that are tweeked to do just that.

                A very big part of taiste is smell. If you want to drive your hungy guests or down wind neighbors crazy, add the discards from a peeled onion to the live coals .
                Last edited by Gulf; 03-04-2017, 08:48 PM.
                Joe Watson " A year from now, you will wish that you had started today" My Build Album / My Build


                • #9
                  Hello All:
                  Thanks everyone for you input to my query. We fired up our wood oven the other day and used it for the first time as a smoker. I am pleased to report we consider our first effort a big success, as we prepared ribs, brisket and a few Yukon Gold potatoes.

                  Here's the procedure we used. We started out bringing our WFO up to heat, about 700 degrees in the back, which takes over an hour. We cooked several dishes; a couple of pork loins, a vegetable casserole and then grilled a pan of zucchini slices. Temperature at that point in the oven was around 350 degrees. We put in several large potatoes in aluminum foil and closed the oven for an hour or so to bake. That's generally how we finish out our cooking day, although sometimes we bake some bread as the oven cools.

                  So, after we took out the baked potatoes, we completely cleaned out the oven of ashes, etc., with the exception of several large leftover coals. The smoking wood I used was about 8 ounces of pecan and another 8 ounces of cherry. I wrapped those chucks in a couple of handfuls of shavings I saved from turning a cherry bowl in my woodshop. We then put four bricks on the floor of the oven and placed a grill on top. That raised the top of the grill to just above the oven door, so it would maximize the smoke from the oven dome onto the meat. We bought a 2 1/2 lb. brisket, and a 13 bone rack of ribs. We did keep the meat cold in the refrigerator right up until putting it in the oven and we used a rub on both the ribs and the brisket. Oven temperature at that point was right at 200 degrees. Then I lit the shavings and closed the door once the fire started, bringing temp to around 225 degrees. I played with door placement to regulate the oxygen supply and found what worked best, at least in my oven, was leaving the smallest possible crack to let air in. Watching the smoke come out of the chimney, there seemed to be a good flow of smoke in the oven with the color a very whispy (is that a word?) white. It burned for an hour and a half before no more smoke was visible. I left it in for another 30 minutes, then took it out and finished it in the kitchen oven at 235 degrees for another couple of hours.

                  We had the ribs for dinner, and they were awesome. Smokey, juicy and moist. No bitterness, not overwhelming. Just right. The following night, we reheated the brisket. Not as much smoke as the ribs, which seems logical to me, but very distinct and delicious.

                  Next time, I might add a bit more wood, and shavings, and try to keep the smoke going a bit longer. For our first try, I think we hit it out of the park, and the WFO indeed makes a terrific smoker. I would recommend anyone with a brick oven to give it a try. I know my tastebuds appreciated it very much. Thanks again for everyone's advice.