Little Chief Smoker
A Little Chief Smoker is a great appliance to have for any outdoor enthusiast to make delicious food or for something a little different then just cooking your catch or kill up in a pan. Smoking foods is essentially an old time way of preservation and while it's not really necessary today because we all have refrigerators and freezers, smoked foods like beef jerky taste really good and are a delicious treat.
Smoking or hot smoke curing in a little chief is a great way to make delicious tasting snacks with all sorts of different flavors like teriyaki, hot 'n spicy or just plain smoked. I prefer this method of hot smoking over using a dehydrator since it results in a much richer and flavorful end product but using a full smoke smoker requires an outdoor area with good ventilation.
A little chief and it's brother the Big Chief (and the smaller brother mini-chief) are types of smokers that have been around for many years. They are essentially small metal frame boxes with a wire frame rack that fits snugly inside of it.
At the bottom of the chief smoker is a small electric powered hot plate with a pan that sits on top where you place your hardwood chips.
To operate the smoker you simply add hard wood chips or sawdust to the pan and plug the unit in, after a short while the electric heating element at the bottom of the unit will start to get just hot enough to cause the wood fuel in the pan to smoke (but not burn or catch on fire) which helps cure the meat while adding a delicious smoked flavor to the food.
Smoking with the Little Chief is low and slow, that means it uses low very temperatures over a prolonged period of time to smoke and cure the meat. Smoking your own beef is a great way to make jerky and save money compared to the store bought stuff.
Other Food Smoker Links
- Masterbuilt Electric Smoker
Masterbuilt electric smokers are a step up but have a few more features including an adjustable thermostat.
How To Use Your Little Chief
The basics of smoking are actually very straight forward: soak your meat in a salt water brine using non-iodized (sea salt available just about anywhere!) for several hours along with whatever seasoning you want.
If you plan to smoke up beef or venison to make jerky you should cut the meat into thin slices or small narrow strips. If you are going to smoke salmon, trout or any other kind of fish cut it into "steaks" and then into large chunks and leave the skin on. For fish you will place it skin side down on the racks when you put it into the chief.
After the meat has soaked in the brine for several hours then take it out and allow it to air dry on a rack. Once dry then load up your little chief or any smoker of choice with your favorite choice of hardware chips like apple, cherry or hickory. Fire it up, sit back and wait. You will need to reload the pan of chips once or twice. But it doesn't constantly need to be smoking.
Do not continuously feed your smoker chips or sawdust because too much smoke can actually make your meat overly salty and it looses flavor.
Depending on the thickness of your meat determines how long it will have to sit in the smoker, it can be as long as 12 to 18 hours before the meat is done. Check the meat to make sure it feels solid or firm to the touch and it should have a very rich brown or dark appearance on the outside.
If you live in a colder climate you may want to get a little chief insulation blanket that goes around the outside and helps your smoker stay warmer.