Monday, October 03, 2005


You can drink from a flower pot.

You can wash in a flower pot.

You can even sleep in a flower pot. you know what you *can’t* do in a flower pot? Do you? I’ll tell you. Come closer. Are you listening? Good.


Yes, believe it or not…the stupid man writing this blog wasted ANOTHER Saturday of his life trying to make barbeque in a friggin’ flower pot.

Somewhere in heaven, a rib-less pig is looking down on Spain and saying: “A flower pot?! I sacrificed my thorax so that this idiot could ruin it in a flower pot?!”

Why did I try this experiment again, after failing so miserably (and publicly) the first time? Well…it’s because I honestly believed that I had worked the bugs out. Recall that my first attempt failed because the electric hotplate inserted into the pot wouldn’t heat sufficiently to smoke the woodchips and sustain an internal temperature of 210ºF. So…I went to a hardware store and bought a 20cm-diameter burner that was designed for cooking paella. I shit-canned the hotplate, inserted the burner into the flower pot, connected it to a butane gas tank and fired it up. And you know what?

It worked! IT WORKED!!!

The wood chips smoked! The pot’s internal temperature shot-up to 210ºF! I tossed in two enormous slabs of spice-rubbed pork ribs and they wallowed in a heavenly veil of fragrant smoke! And then, after three hours…it died.

IT DIED! After only three hours, the burner died! A box of matches and a fresh butane tank later, it was STILL DEAD!

Q: What do you get when you smoke pork ribs for only three hours?
A: Rubber!

I don’t know how long I sat on the ground staring at my ice-cold, terra cotta torture chamber before regaining my senses, but a calmness eventually overcame me and I started thinking in philosophical tones.

I thought to myself, “When life hands you fertilizer, plant flowers.”

So that’s what I did. I removed the ribs, removed the burner, filled the pots with fertilizer, and planted flowers.

And when those flowers grow big and beautiful, I’m going to pick them, cover them with BBQ sauce, and eat the filthy bastards.
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At 10:01 PM, Blogger christina said...

Darn. I'm never going to get my sandwich at this rate. And I was so sure it was going to work this time around. I'm certainly glad you were able to overcome the tragedy of rubbery ribs and have a zen moment. Who knows what would have happened if you'd marched right back to the hardware store demanding a refund while trying to explain just exactly what you'd been doing with that burner!

At 11:00 PM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...


Ha! If I had marched into a Spanish store demanding a refund, I would be marched right out. Customer services can be [ahem, ahem] "challenging" here.

As for your sandwich, nope...things are not looking good. But at least you can have a bratwurst whenever the urge strikes.

As for my next challenge, I'm tempted to try pumpkin pie. But quite honestly, that won't be much easier.

Guess I'll just have to be content with olives.

Hope you had a good Oktoberfest.


At 2:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Sal,

Sad to see that your prestigious project failed, but not to worry - many great men before your have failed in their quests simply to emerge stronger.

I have today send you a package that will hopefully help you get back "on track". It's also a compensation for you not being at the Oktoberfest and it should also help you digest the flowers once they have grown.

I just hope the contents make it in one piece - failure to do so would be nothing less of a disaster. So - keep an eye out for the local UPS delivery truck one of the following days. Might help if you put up a sign with "DeTraglia Communications Ltd." on your door :o)

I hope to see the "result" in one of your next blog's.

Your Viking friend

At 3:45 PM, Blogger ironporer said...

Sal, sorry to hear about the latest failure of the flower-pot BBQ. I feel your pain. There is something primordial about men, fire and roasting meat...I guess it brings out our inner caveman. My wife also might add a few other habits such as scratching our...oh, never mind. I really thought the Paella burner was going to do the trick. Now I feel bad that you not only have wasted a couple hundred euros, but still don't have that bbq rib/butt plate.
Did you ever figure out why it would not re-light? Grease plugging up the orifaces of the burner perhaps? Oh well, at least now you have your flowers to care for, and a nice paella burner to take to the country and have the Spanish equivelant of US PBBQ- Paella. I'll think of you this afternoon as I go to Pepper's BBQ and pig out on a Chicken, Rib, and Chopped butt combo plate (maybe even some brunswick stew and baked beans).

At 4:25 PM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...

Anders: Hello, my axe-wielding, cod-fishing, village-plundering friend. I have painted a large, red X on the front of my house, so that the UPS truck can't miss it. BTW, I know what you've sent: Herring-flavored Vodka! You are a great friend. Breakfast just wouldn't be complete without a herring martini.

Iron Man: Don't cry for me, Alabama. The paella ring only cost 11€. It's the pain and suffering that bumps the total damages into the millions. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Besides...were it not for my BBQ shortfalls, I wouldn't be sitting here thinking about SUSHI now.

Although, I'd happily forego the sushi today for a trip to Pepper's BBQ. A man needs a little chopped butt now and then.

At 8:55 PM, Anonymous Culinary Fool said...

Uh oh. You planted something and think that's going to work better for you?? What are you thinking, Sal?? :-)

~ B

At 10:13 PM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...

Ha! That's good, B. I didn't think of that angle. I, of the agent orange thumb.

I wish I had your talent with Thai Dragon peppers.


At 3:16 PM, Blogger ironporer said...

I had heard of many evil foreign customs invading Spain- the miniskirt, coka-cola,rock music and every verb in the gerund form. I never thought sushi would take hold. In my days in Spain there were only two types of raw fish- one was sold for cooking and the other was used for bait.
Please Sal...say it ain't so. Spaniards arn't happy with their boquerones, sardinas and anchovies? Pescadito frito should never be replaced by sushi bait.

At 4:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your next project?

I enjoy your blog - keep up the good work. -- DJG

At 3:45 PM, Blogger hippo_pepperpot said...

Oh bummer! I was so hoping that you would get it going so that hubby and I could make one too. Drats! Oh well... good try.

At 10:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sal, Read all about your project, only after seeing the Alton Brown episode, and acquiring all the goods to build my own Flower Pot smoker. Had a similar experience, but made some modifications and I think it will work (perhaps not UL approved, but oh well). I cut the wires to the burner, and spliced and soldered a new section of wire to the plate, so that the control and the thermostat are outside the pot, and the burner alone is inside. So far it works, the wires are cool to the touch, and I am looking forward to some great pork, just a few hours later that originally planned. Thanks for your ideas!

At 6:16 PM, Blogger Smoker98 said...

Hi Sal,

I empathize with your trials and tribulations. In my case, I got lucky. It's early fall, so most of the flower pots were sold out. I could not make a smoker almost exactly like yours, as I had origianly planned. Instead, I had to use an evaporating dish meant to go under flower pots. It's relatively flat, so the volume of my smoker is little more than 50% of yours and there is no dead space above the meat.

With the smaller volume, my temperature is around 180º. This supports Culinary Fool's hypothesis about your volume being too large. The low heat is perfect for smoking. The meat's internal temperature needs to reach 165º, but not much higher, or the meat dries out. With 15º above that, it just takes a while to smoke the meat, which greatly improves the flavor. The smoke itself is antiseptic, which is why smoking has been used to preserve meats for millenia.

I had also wanted to go with the hardwood saw dust, but couldn't find a wood shop working exlusively in harwoods. I went with the smallest hardwood chips I could find. These started smoking almost immediately on my 750 Watt hot plate in a cheap, heavy stamped metal pie pan.

The setup works so well, I plan to build at least one more. That way, with 2 racks per flower pot, I can smoke 6 racks of ribs at a time. The hot plates only cost $10.00 each, so if they fail from the heavy usage, they may still cost less that using charcoal as a heat source.


At 1:07 PM, Blogger Dan said...

Hi, Sal -

I'm just a guy from the internet who found your site from the google. I'm contemplating building an Alton cooker, and I'm interested as to "why" you think the paella cooker/turkey fryer failed. After reading about everyone's tribulations with electric burners, I thought cooking with gas would be a great solution. Why did it just die?



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