A dash of…..

….smoked salt. Yes, that’s it. Add a dash of smoked salt to that pot of beans and you’ll feel like you’re right back on the road again, knapsack on your shoulder, bumming rides and cooking vermin over campfires.

As per usual, when there is something I ought to be doing, I do everything else. This weekend I ought to have been rewriting my resume to send off to potential employers back in the states, but instead I was huddled over a makeshift smoker (affumicatore) in the rain loading up on man-smell and smoking some salt. There seem to be a wide array of table salts on the market these days, hailing from all ends of the earth. They’re mining the himalayas for quarts-like rock salt, scraping the seaweed tangles for authentic celtic sea salt, and even powder coating pacific ocean salt with volcanic ash to make Hawaiian salt. Go figure.

Since my world of dry cured meats is currently infused, rubbed, dosed and hung with salt , I figured I would add my favorite cologne to the world of salts, Smokey Mountain Man # 5. A little searching on the web reminded me that all things under the sun have already been done, but I wasn’t in it for glory, (not too much), so I boned up and set out. I found a 12 gallon metal barrel appropriately discarded in the creek buy my house. My bosses mom foolishly lent me an all-metal cooking pot, and Mauro, my boss, being slightly intreged by the idea of a new niche product lent me some REALY nice screens that are supposed to be use in the brine injefcting machine. I took a hack saw to the metal barrel, poked a fair amount of holes in the bottom, added some tinfoil to the screens and put them all together.  That, and a day of experimentation in the ways of the Deep South produced the following.

making fire! Bowdrill style

This little bit took a while to put together right, but it had been on my to-do list for a while now. I produced a lot of smoke and some nice ashes, but in the end what I was going for was a flame in the ball of dry stuff. I blame the extreme humidity for my failure. Luckily this little scout had a lighter in his back pocket.

Next is a series of shots showing the setting up of the whole thing-a-ma-bobber

The first picture shows the cut open barrel set up on bricks. I put balls of newspaper in the barrel and then coals on top and lit it through one of the wholes in the bottom. The pan of water was placed directly on the coals once they got hot. Then the screens were placed on the barrel. I placed the cut end of the barrel on top of the screens to increase the draft and create a chamber. The coarse-grain salt was then poored in a thin layer on the screens. The idea being that you want smoke to pass through and then escape, not sit around. I used a wood board for the top to control draft and keep off the rain. Wood worked well because moisture didn’t condense on it and fall back on the salt.  The last picture is of the soaked, cherry wood chips that I saved from a carving project, to smoke with. The finished product was beautiful:

Next stop, the salami room, to make some authentic Californese salami with my mountain man salt.

back to the resume,



One Response to “A dash of…..”

  1. Charlie Says:

    Great posting, Aaron. Thanks for taking the time to upload the photos, it really made your mountain man project come alive for me. The whole time I was reading your posting I kept thinking: this man is incredible. Keep up the awesome work, the resume will take care of itself! Looking forward to seeing you back in the states. By the way, do you want to join Michael and I in a rowboat? We’re thinking about rowing around Belvedere with wine and cheese (a flat day adventure of course)

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