There's more than one way to light a fire inside a smoker. John Chips, of Butte Creek BBQ, uses a built-in propane torch to light the fire inside the smokebox of his Gater Pit mobile smoker.
I took my family to the 2009 NorCal Bash & Oinktoberfest in Oroville, California last Saturday. A whole smoked pig that was smoked on site was the centerpiece of the event.
Leonard "Wagon Cook" Sanders organized the gathering for the California BBQ Association. Leonard is the chef-owner of Chuck Wagon BBQ Company in Oroville.
Smoked whole hog The most important man of the event was Harry Stewart, owner of Great American Barbecue Co. in Alameda, California. "Harry took time out of his busy schedule to come up and smoke the pig and demonstrate technique," said Sanders on the CBBQA discussion forum.
After arriving around 10 p.m. Friday, Harry lightly seasoned the 65-pound pig with olive oil, dried thyme and black pepper. He didn't salt the pig because it draws out moisture and toughens the skin.
Sometime just before midnight, Harry stoked the fire and set the pig inside the smoker. Harry kept watch through the night, arising at two-hour intervals to check the temperature in the smoker.
"Manual pit with oven thermos to gauge temp, just like working on the railroad ...," explained Harry on the forum. His target was 225 to 250 degrees thoughout the night and morning.
Eighteen hours later, Harry rewarded event goers with the sweet, succulent flesh of a smoked hog. It's simplicity at its best, according to Harry.
"18 hours over Oak and charcoal, no injections just a simple rub and mop."