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jeffshoaf

Smoker pot from MSR stowaway pot

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So I had high hopes for the MSR Alpine Stowaway Pot. Such high hopes that I bought two sizes and drilled both of them at once, protecting my time over my return privileges.

I was thrilled that @jeffshoaf had found this pot and tried it. Truth be told, I had been aware of this pot, planning to try it, for many years. I had however been so disappointed by every stainless steel experiment I'd made, and my cast iron smoke pot worked. There aren't enough hours in the day for every rabbit hole I want to go down. I pruned, in an uncharacteristic display of self-control.

My first try reminds me of every other stainless steel experiment before I settled onto a cast iron smoke pot, sealed with flour paste. The MSR lid leaks. I didn't like the looks or the scent of the smoke at all, so I pulled the pot out (as I had every stainless steel predecessor). The gas plume out the holes kept burning, like a horse castrated too late in life to forget what life was supposed to be about.

With focus, the flour paste bit this time was easy, setting up the spurned cast iron pot to go in as relief pitcher. Nevertheless, I'd love to figure out how to make a paste that keeps months in the fridge. Artists buy empty paint tubes, for custom gesso mixes and such. That would make the flour paste bit easy.

To be honest, I love the romance of the flour paste, it recalls Morocco.

The smoke from a cast iron smoke pot in my opinion is cleaner than an MSR pot. I encourage others to make the comparison. A comparison requires trying both methods.

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I have been trying both the MSR SS pot and a cast iron pot (repurposed mussel cooker, photo below - after removing the wooden handle and plugging the hole).  I like the size of the MSR (the cast iron pot takes up a significant fraction of the charcoal basket in our 21" Supreme), but struggling with the duration of the smoke output.  This got me wondering if there might be enough radiant heat for a ~large smoker pot to sit below the charcoal basket - with standoffs so the holes on the bottom are not blocked.  Would also have to avoid blocking the KK air intake. 

Thoughts?

John

 

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First thought is to measure the height of the area under the basket to see if it will actually fit under there, especially is you're going to get one with feet (or use something else to sit off the floor)? 

I would think that it would get hot enough under the basket to ignite the wood inside, but my best guess is that it might take longer to heat up to ignition temperature, seeing as it's not in direct contact with the burning embers in the basket. 

We love a good experiment on here, so I say "go for it" and report back on how well it worked?

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with standoffs so the holes on the bottom are not blocked. 


As I understand it, the purpose of the holes on the bottom in the other method is to ensure the smoke travels through the fiery coals to “burn off” any of the bad smoke before it gets to the food. In this case, if you have it under the basket, I don’t know why you couldn’t just have the holes up. Flipping it upside down or even just using a more traditionally sold rectangular smoker box for gar grills, etc. that lies flat on the bottom of the KK.

Love the idea. Let us know how it goes.


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20 hours ago, tony b said:

I would think that it would get hot enough under the basket to ignite the wood inside, but my best guess is that it might take longer to heat up to ignition temperature, seeing as it's not in direct contact with the burning embers in the basket. 

My hunch, based on decades of experiments, is that for low & slow this wouldn't get hot enough to produce reasonable smoke.

However, the classic cast iron smoke pot has an effective range of 200 F to 275 F, depending on taste. At around 275 F, the smoke is too intense for some. One could try a smaller pot, though "underneath" becomes an interesting strategy. There will be a different effective range, making this interesting.

Of course, the way to be free of "effective range" considerations is to buy the official KK Hot/Cold Smoke Generator. Newer KKs come with a port for this. I have the smoke generator, but it will require drilling my 2009 23" KK. I haven't found the time yet, or all the instructional material all in one place for how to do this. I'm very fussy, as in I still can't understand why university contractors didn't use backing boards when they drilled my kitchen cabinets for knobs. I want to figure out the "backing board" approach to this retrofit, how one would proceed if the KK cost $60,000. When I do, I'll fully document my procedure, as learned from whatever is scattered about here.

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The more you use the MSR Stowaway smoke pots the better they seal. The bottom picture represents just a couple cooks. After many cooks the lid is tight, and very black with wood residue. The closing mechanism can be bent to add more downward pressure on the lid. I have also started wrapping my smoke pot with foil before every use to ensure the smoke goes all down into the fire. Much quicker, easier, and cleaner then flour paste.

On a side note I find the smoke profile very pleasant even when cooking at 300-325 degrees.
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2 hours ago, Syzygies said:

I want to figure out the "backing board" approach to this retrofit, how one would proceed if the KK cost $60,000.

@Syzygies, I have been thinking about this off and on since Dennis announced the availability of dedicated smoker port retrofit parts. I've held off buying them as I wanted to be sure when I did, I got the benefit of any subsequent Dennis improvements (such as the interior retention nut, face plate locking wing nuts, bracket, straight smoker discharge tube, etc). Like you, I have given some thought to how I might carefully install the new port and sleeve once I got them. For what it's worth, here is my plan (Word document) of attack for this so far (which includes how a backer board could used in the process), absent the actual parts and updated instructions from Dennis when I actually order and receive them. So, basically a thought exercise...

KK Smoker Port Installation Plan.docx

I would be interested in any improvements to, or critiques of, this. I do woodworking as a hobby and have found developing a work plan / checklist well in advance can help with a successful outcome. Kind of the extension of the "measure twice, cut once" philosophy.

 

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13 minutes ago, jonj said:

I do woodworking as a hobby and have found developing a work plan / checklist well in advance can help with a successful outcome. Kind of the extension of the "measure twice, cut once" philosophy.

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Me too. I need to use my hands. For woodworking I'll draw plans in Adobe Illustrator, often computed from a spreadsheet. Then I'll scribble on several printouts while measuring again. Then my neighbor is a master woodworker with a shop and table saw I don't have the space for. He gets the best plywood in the SF Bay Area delivered, and cuts for me.

I've been making wine racks from various sizes of metal lattice. Pictured is the installed rack (walnut) for 100 bottles, and plans to cut two 25 bottle "overflow campgrounds" that are alas still in use.

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On 8/22/2021 at 12:17 PM, John T said:

I have been trying both the MSR SS pot and a cast iron pot (repurposed mussel cooker, photo below - after removing the wooden handle and plugging the hole).  I like the size of the MSR (the cast iron pot takes up a significant fraction of the charcoal basket in our 21" Supreme), but struggling with the duration of the smoke output.  This got me wondering if there might be enough radiant heat for a ~large smoker pot to sit below the charcoal basket - with standoffs so the holes on the bottom are not blocked.  Would also have to avoid blocking the KK air intake. 

Thoughts?

John

 

 

Over this past weekend I tried my idea of placing the smoke pot below the charcoal basket.  Used the MSR SS pot as my cast iron one was a bit too tall to fit below the charcoal basket.  The MSR was set on 3 SS screws (laying horizontal) as standoffs.  (The holes I drilled in the pot are on the bottom.)   I was cooking a 2.5"-thick cowboy steak using reverse sear.  Better part of an hour at ~230F (steak on the warming rack with aluminum foil on the rack below shielding direct radiant heating), followed by a rest while Babe heated up to 400+ then the sear).  The steak came out great, though I didn't see or taste much smoke.  Looking at the wood chunks after cool down, they don't appear to have fully carbonized (still see some brown color).  So I;'m interpreting all this as the pot didn't get hot enough to get the wood chunks smoldering.  Perhaps my taller cast iron pot being taller and in contact with the charcoal basket would get hotter?  But for the little guy its back to burying that smoking pot in the charcoal. 

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