Smoking meat on your fire escape is a bad idea. It might seem smart in theory, but in practice it is a very big mistake. The process of smoking (meat or fish, or nuts, or what have you) produces an inordinate amount of smoke. Duh. It also produces a smell that’s about as fragrant as a forest fire at close range. When smoking in close quarters you are at the mercy of shifting winds, too; meaning smoke, smell and a seemingly benign breeze can suddenly combine into a perfect storm cloud that quickly fills your bedroom at a moment’s notice. Or your neighbor’s. (Sorry, neighbor!) Be warned: it’s a smell that lingers. For days. All I did on the fire escape was “season” the smoker yet my house still smells like a packet of smokehouse almonds.
I wised up the next day and took the smoker up onto the roof, hoping for a better breeze. After brining and air-drying the meat, I started up the smoker again and let it smolder. Once it was puffing full-throttle, in went two racks of ribs. For the next hour I stood at attention watching the smoke, watching the breeze, watching my neighbors in the surrounding buildings for signs of panic or alarm. Every squawk of a siren in the street froze me in my tracks. (This whole enterprise being completely illegal, of course) But lo and behold it all went without incident. Once the smoke cleared, I pulled out what looked like nicotine-stained beef ribs; golden and smelling faintly of a dying campfire.
Last night I cooked up an experimental barbecue sauce and set the ribs to marinate overnight. Later today, I will finally finish these babies off in the oven. Stay tuned.