Thursday, July 24, 2014


On Memorial Day weekend of this year, I was with my wife's family in Orleans, NE, where I found an older Cook N Cajun water smoker at a garage sale. It was made by Bosman Industries--Bosman made this smoker before a company called Brinkmann started selling it, so it's been around a while. Fortunately, it spent all of those years in it's box.

The smoker came with exotic features like wooden handles and green paint. After it came home to Norfolk, a few vents were added, along with a thermometer in the lid.

Smoking has been fun since that weekend. I've smoked ribs, a turkey, chicken, and veggies. I've tried charcoal briquettes and lump charcoal, and I'm still muddling my way through that decision. Either way, though, I always found myself at least an hour or two behind schedule when starting up the smoker, so anything I can do to light the fuel faster is a good thing.

I've always used a charcoal chimney, which is what my dad used when I was growing up--so it's both a good and utilitarian memory. I've never used one of those plug-in glowing rods that lights a pile of charcoal, and I rarely have lighter fluid on hand. But my trusty charcoal chimney is always there. Unfortunately, using a charcoal chimney means lighting one wad of paper after another in an effort to get the coals to light. And after that, I get to watch the black ash from the paper dance around the patio in the wind--not a welcome thing.

The solution came in the form of the seldom-used side burner on my gas grill. It was so simple...

You've heard stories about how some people cook beans on the side burner of their gas grill? I've heard those stories, too. But the fact of the matter is that gas grills have side burners for the sole purpose of lighting the entire contents of a charcoal chimneys in five minutes.

And just like that, the coals are ready to go in the smoker. No fiddling with wads of paper, and no ashes blowing all over the place. Just a quick, clean fire, and less time spent waiting to get the smoker going.