The smoking portion of the recipe tends to freak some people out, but here are two thoughts to ease your worried mind:
- Once you try Weber kettle smoking, you may never go back to the culinary life you knew before. It can be habit-forming. I have yet to find a meat or vegetable that isn't outstanding when smoked. This mixture is really easy to smoke... so it's a great place to start your addiction.
- If you don't have access to a Weber kettle or other smoking apparatus (or just happen to have a life), you can simply add a dose of smoked hot sauce to whatever recipe you're cooking, and scale back on the black pepper in the spice mixture. Should you choose this path, I can't recommend my favorite smoked hot sauce highly enough: Uncle Brutha's. He's got two varieties. They are both the nectar of the gods.
- 3 parts chili powder
- 3 parts kosher salt (or 1 ½ parts table salt)
- 1 part cumin
- 1 part garlic powder
- 1 part ground black pepper
- 1 smidge each of ground celery seed and crushed red pepper
While your wood chips are soaking and your fire is heating up, you've got the 30 seconds you need to prep the smoking mixture. Mix all ingredients together in a medium cast iron skillet, and stir things around thoroughly.
Set the cast iron skillet (full of smoking mixture) on the far side of the grill (away from the fire), and re-cover the grill. Smoke the mixture for 2-3 hours—mixing every half hour or so to achieve an even smoke. Keep the heat low (using the vents), and turn the skillet 180 degrees with each mix to make sure the side facing the fire doesn't get too hot.
Obviously, a longer smoke leads to a smokier flavor... and a shorter one will result in a milder mix.
The key to this whole recipe is: Don't worry too much about it. Keep the heat low so you don't burn the mix... and pull it out if you think it might be burning. You can always let the fire cool and toss it back in after things calm down.
The basic smoking technique in this recipe is the same one you can use to make awesome smoked chicken, smoked prime rib, smoked salmon, and even smoked pizza. Guess I need to write up those recipes...