Smoked Peppercorns

Smoked peppercorns is something I’ve been wanting to make for quite some time. I was waiting until I used up the last of the bottle of smoked peppercorns I picked up at Jungle Jim’s outside of Cincinnati. The end result was definitely a lot better than and a lot cheaper than store-bought. This being my first time making these I also learned a lot along the way. I kept some of the peppercorns whole for grinding or cooking later, and some I ground fine for this week’s dishes.
Smoked PeppercornsThe first thing I needed was some sort of rack to place them on when I put them on the smoker. Someone suggested using a grease splash screen. I found one at Wal-Mart, twisted the handle up, and bam! The perfect tool for smoking peppercorns! I also think this screen will work well when I give smoked salt a try soon!

Smoked PeppercornsHow long you should smoke the peppercorns is up to you. Obviously the longer you smoke them the stronger the smoke flavor. You can go for quite some time, just make sure you keep the temperature around 90 F. You want a cold smoke for the peppercorns, similar to what you’d do for smoking cheese.

After the peppercorns are done (and you’ve also smoked some sea salt), open up your smoker vents, get the temps up a bit, and try smoking some grits!

Smoked Peppercorns

Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours
Author Mike


  • Peppercorns


  • Set up your smoker for cold smoking, 80-90 F. I used 4 lit charcoal briquettes and a large piece of hickory wood. Keep some unlit charcoal on hand for when the charcoal starts to burn out, you may need to add more depending on how long you smoke the peppercorns. You can add unlit charcoal, just make sure you do it soon enough that it gets time to get well-lit from the already-burning coals.
  • Add the peppercorns to a food-safe screen and place onto the smoker.
  • Smoke at least 4 hours depending on how much smoke you want. You may want to remove a few peppercorns and grind them to taste for smokiness.
  • Remove and let cool before storing or grinding.
  • Store in an air-right container.

Review: Ray Lampe’s Slow Fire: The Beginner’s Guide to Lip-Smacking Barbecue

Review: Ray Lampe's Slow Fire: The Beginner's Guide to Lip-Smacking BarbecueDo not let the word ‘beginner’ deter you from reading Ray Lampe’s Slow Fire: The Beginner’s Guide to Lip-Smacking Barbecue. Whether you’re just contemplating low-and-slow cooking or you’ve been doing it for 30 years or more, this book is so full of great recipes and approaches that you’ll find yourself going back to it again and again. I do. I’m pretty sure that this book shattered my previous record for how many recipes I bookmarked.

The first chapter of Slow Fire concentrates on rubs and sauces. I made my own variation of Lampe’s Basic Rub #67 and it has now become my go-to rib and pork butt rub. You’ll find yourself doing the same thing. I recommend you make the rubs or sauces as Ray intended, then taste and add whatever you want to make them your own. Or you might find yourself making substitutions for something else you prefer. No matter what, the recipes in the book are fantastic starting points (and they are perfect they way they are too!).

The next chapter is all about ribs. Great ribs done tons of different ways. Including a fantastic Asian-inspired rib. Ribs are my favorite meat to smoke, and I’m always on the lookout for new variations. Slow Fire did not disappoint.

Next up, pork. Glorious pork. Butt, shoulder, chops, tenderloin, you name it. My rule when smoking pork: always make extra because it’s always good. Slow Fire has a great mix of recipes for pork.

Beef is next, including a great recipe for homemade pastrami, which is next on my to-do list. I make a cheater pastrami, which starts with an already brined brisket (corned beef). Slow Fire shows you how to make a real pastrami, beginning with a brisket.

The section on cooking poultry is next. It includes a recipe for Buffalo turkey wings, something I hadn’t even considered and will definitely make soon. You’ll find recipes for every part of a chicken (or turkey or game hen or duck) that you can want.

The book wraps up with recipes for miscellaneous dishes, like kielbasa or lamb, and a number of side dishes too, including some of the staples for a good barbecue, such as slaw or potato salad. All of the recipes are well-written, thought out and bulletproof. And good. Very good.

Ray Lampe’s Slow Fire: The Beginner’s Guide to Lip-Smacking Barbecue rates high on my ‘Mater Rater. My only complaints are I wish there were more pictures and maybe a few more recipes included, but what there is there is fantastic.

'Mater Rater
For more of my reviews of cookbooks available for the Amazon Kindle readers, visit Kindle Thyme.

Smoked Chex™ Mix

There are some things were self-control just doesn’t happen for me. This smoked Chex™ mix is one of them. Put a big bowl of it in front of me and it’ll be gone soon. Specially the bagel chips. There’s something about the bagel chips in Chex™ mix, specially after they’ve been smoked. The smoke flavor is not overwhelming, but it’s there, and it’s different in a wonderful way. The smoke compliments traditional Chex ™ mix flavors perfectly.
smoked-chex-mixThe cereal in this smoked Chex™ definitely soaks up the smoke, so do not go crazy with the wood in your smoker. Use a very small chunk, smaller than would fit in your palm, and use only a lighter wood. No mesquite or hickory here, go for the lighter fruit woods.

For another great snack idea, try my smoked olives and smoked Cheetos.

Smoked Chex™ Mix

For a slightly spicier version, add a few teaspoons of your favorite hot sauce to the melted butter and Worcestershire sauce mixture. Don't go crazy with it or the mix will take longer to get crispy.
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 12 cups


  • 3 cups Corn Chex cereal
  • 3 cups Rice Chex cereal
  • 3 cups Wheat Chex cereal
  • 1 cup small pretzels or pretzel pieces
  • 1 cup mixed nuts
  • 1 cup small bagel chips
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt I used some of my homemade mix, see below
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Homemade seasoned salt (makes more than you'll need for the Chex mix)

  • 1/2 cup Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder


  • Fire up your smoker for cooking at 250 F. Add only one small piece of light wood, such as apple or peach. If you are using a smoker that has a water pan, such as the Weber Smokey Mountain, do not fill the pan with water.
  • Combine the cereals, pretzels, nuts and bagel chips in a large bowl.
  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the Worcestershire sauce and stir.
  • Combine the seasoned salt, garlic powder and onion powder and slowly whisk into the melted butter.
  • Drizzle the butter mixture over the cereal and gently toss to coat.
  • Place into a disposable 9" x 13" deep aluminum pan and place on the top rack of the smoker.
  • Smoke for 1 hour or until the mixture turns golden brown, stirring every 15 minutes.
  • Remove and let cool completely before serving, or store for up to 2 weeks.

Homemade seasoned salt

  • Combine all ingredients. Store in an air-tight container.

Smoked Glazed Salami

I picked up a few fancy salami the other day while at Jungle Jim’s market outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. I didn’t get them by accident. Someone on an online BBQ group had recommended cutting them Hasselback-style, smoking them and glazing with an apricot glaze. The thought had my mouth watering, so I proceeded to make awesome smoked glazed salami. A little sweet, a little smokiness, and flavor-packed cured meat. Perfect.
Smoked Glazed SalamiThese sliced salami treats are perfect on crackers with cheese. Or even on sandwiches. Or by themselves. If you like a little spiciness, you can substitute jalapeno jelly for the apricot preserves. The heat really works well with the flavor of the salami.

Also try my salami chips with white bean dip.

Smoked Glazed Salami

Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings 8 -12 servings
Author Mike


  • 2 1 pound salami
  • 1/4 cup apricot preserves
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard


  • Cut thin slits in the salamis, but do not cut all the way thru. Tip: I lay two wood spoons alongside the salami. Then, when I cut down thru the salami the round spoon handles keep me from cutting too far.
  • Fire up your smoker for cooking at 225 F. Use a light wood such as apple or peach.
  • Smoke the salami for 1 hour.
  • Combine the apricot preserves and Dijon and brush half over the tops of the salami.
  • Smoke another 30 minutes then brush with the remaining glaze and smoke another 30 minutes.
  • Remove from the smoker.
  • Serve as is, with a knife for slicing, as a great topping for crackers. I also sliced the salami and served it on sandwiches.

Smoked Scotch Eggs

Smoked Scotch eggs have been on my bucket list for a while. I finally had a little room on my smoker so I jumped at the opportunity. As easy as they are to make, Scotch eggs are really amazing. It’s like breakfast in a bite. Perfectly hard-boiled eggs, smoked breakfast sausage, and a bit of BBQ sauce for dipping. They look great and they taste great. Awesome appetizers for your next cookout.
Smoked Scotch EggsIf you want a bit of kick to your smoked Scotch eggs add a bit of cayenne pepper or your favorite spicy rub to the bread crumbs. Not a lot, just enough to bring a little spiciness.

Also try my Dragon eggs and ‘normal’ smoked eggs. My pig shots are great too!

Smoked Scotch Eggs

Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 45 minutes
Total Time 3 hours
Servings 12 eggs
Author Mike


  • 14 eggs divided
  • 2 pounds bulk pork breakfast sausage
  • 2 teaspoons dried minced onion
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups unseasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • BBQ sauce warmed, for serving


  • Fire up your smoker for cooking at 225 F.
  • Hard-boil 12 of the eggs and remove the shells.
  • Combine the sausage and minced onion. Season with salt and pepper. Divide the mixture into 12 equally-sized balls and flatten.
  • Place an egg in the middle of each flattened sausage patty and wrap the meat around the egg. The egg should be completely covered by the sausage.
  • Place the flour in a shallow bowl.
  • Beat the remaining 2 eggs in another shallow bowl.
  • Place breadcrumbs into another shallow bowl.
  • Roll sausage-covered eggs in the flour. Shake off excess.
  • Roll sausage-covered eggs in the egg. Shake off excess.
  • Roll sausage-covered eggs in the bread crumbs. Shake off excess.
  • Smoke for 2 1/2 hours
  • Slice eggs lengthwise and serve with warmed BBQ sauce for dunking.

Vintage 1977 Li’l Smoker BBQ Grill

I picked up this never-used old vintage 1977 Li’l smoker BBQ grill in the original box off eBay a while back. I finally got it all together (there were a few stripped bolts that I needed to replace) and fired it up yesterday for the inaugural burn. The grill has latches that close up the entire unit, making it highly portable. It’s only about 2′ tall, and is light as a feather.

Vintage 1977 Li'l Smoker BBQ GrillThe smoker has two levels, and can be used for direct heat grilling or slow smoking, with a pan below for charcoal and one above for water (or any heat sink like sand).

Vintage 1977 Li'l Smoker BBQ GrillI decided to just load it up with some charcoal and let it burn for a while to get rid of the ‘new’. Then I threw two sirloin filets on for a quick lunch.

Vintage 1977 Li'l Smoker BBQ GrillHeat control was a little non-existent (I’m spoiled by the adjustments I can make on my Weber charcoal grills), but everything came out fine. I’m not sure I’d put a real expensive cut of meat on it without some more experience under my belt, but it’ll do just fine for sausages, hot dogs, or burgers for now.

And hey, check out the original flyer! Ya gotta love the 70s!

Vintage 1977 Li'l Smoker BBQ GrillThe Li’l Smoker is a fun old grill. It’s a welcomed addition to my growing collection of vintage small grills.

Also check out my cool vintage Miss “Barbee-Q” grill.

Garrett’s Smokehouse BBQ, Indianapolis, Indiana

I’ll eat anything that’s been cooked low and slow. As a big fan of BBQ done right, I was happy to finally make it down to Garrett’s Smokehouse BBQ, which is not too far from our house here in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Garrett's Smokehouse BBQ, Indianapolis, IndianaGarrett’s is located in a little strip mall. They have a full BBQ menu – pork, chicken, brisket and even turkey. We decided to get our meal to go.

Garrett's Smokehouse BBQ, Indianapolis, IndianaAnita ordered the pulled pork sandwich with a side of mac-and-cheese. For her sauce, she went with the mild. I had the brisket sandwich with a side of spicy slaw and sweet BBQ sauce. I was already happy since the meats weren’t pre-sauced. You just never know when someone might be trying to hide poorer quality smoked meat under a sauce. Not the case at Garrett’s, that’s for sure.

The meats were smoked perfectly. You know how sometimes you get BBQ and only the first 1/2″ or so has a smoke flavor? Garrett’s BBQ had a nice (but not overwhelming) smoke flavor throughout. Both sauces were great. Really great, actually. I’m going to pick up some extra sauce next time for my own smoked ribs.

Besides the meats, the sides were also excellent. They were both made from scratch. Anita’s mac-and-cheese was smooth and cheesy. My spicy slaw was definitely spicy. I love homemade slaw – there’s such a difference between it and store-bought. I’m looking forward to trying their other sides.

We had a good meal from Garrett’s. We’ll be returning soon! It’s great to see local restaurants turn out great food like Garrett’s. Support your local chefs and cooks. And when you’re travelling, try to find a non-chain place, like Missouri Hick BBQ for much better eats than you’ll get at the familiar restaurants along the interstate. Although I do have to say that for a chain, Famous Dave’s is mighty good too!