The appeal to experiment with a smoker has always been there. The Oklahoma Joe's Highland Charcoal Smoker is one of my favourite tools to work with, and barbecue is the food of choice. Being able to smoke my own ribs, brisket, salmon and anything else possible isn't an opportunity I'd let slip. I had known that using a smoker was an art that you master with time, so when I tried it over the weekend I knew there was going to be a learning curve involved! I enlisted my buddy Cecil to come over and help me figure it all out and be my tasting guinea pig. He was pretty happy to accept.

So what did we learn? The key is low-and-slow.

I had done some research before getting the smoker and realized that I had underestimated the tools and the amount of patience needed with building the right type of fire. There was a process for maintaining a steady temperature. After a quick trip to Lowes where we grabbed lighter fluid and coals, we got our fire started with the wood catching nicely. Once the smoke started to build in the chamber, it took me about an hour to get comfortable with the heat output and controlling the temperatures. Once I figured that out, I was good to go.

I prepared chicken wings in a Nigerian peanut-based spice rub called suya, marinated salmon to make a smoked hoisin fillet, and rubbed down a pork belly for homemade bacon. I may have been too eager to try the Oklahoma Joe Smoker that I wanted to experiment with every type of 

Suya Chicken Wings

  • 3 tsp finely ground roasted peanuts
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper or red pepper, or red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder

Mix all ingredients; add to chicken wings with a 1/2 cup of yogurt and the juice of half a lime. Marinate for 12 hours, then wipe off, but reserve, marinade and place in smoker at 250℉ for 3 hours. During the last 30 minutes, brush on reserved marinade.




  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Mix everything together; place a heaping amount on salmon on both sides and refrigerate for 4 hours. This will cure the fish, suck out all the moisture which will get it ready for the smoker. After 4 hours, take the fillet out of the brine, wash the fish with cold water, pat dry and apply some oil on the fish. Place salmon in smoker for 2 hours. For last 20 minutes, brush your marinade on the fish and let it glaze. I applied hoisin sauce.

Make sure your smoker is set to 250 degrees F

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