I first gave up about ten years ago, but not for long, followed by a few more attempts finally taking my last drag well over three years ago now, with no real slips other than drunken nostalgia with old friends.

Still this isn’t about Benson, Hedges or Capstan. Rather the subtle taste and aroma imbued to prime cuts of pork by smouldering seasoned apple and plum wood in a traditionally built smoker.

As I mentioned in my last post we reduced our pig number by two, a task that is done here on the farm with the assistance of local butcher. Minimal stress and quick thanks to a recently purchased captive bolt stunner.

I have to say that our butcher is old school and it is a skill that I would like to learn more about, if only to have more control over the cuts, sadly back bacon and chops are not common in Poland, although we did manage to get him to string together a good couple of loops of English breakfast sausages from our recipe, so we are one step closer to a ‘Full English’

Not that I don’t like continental style belly bacon, truth be told it’s probably my preference now, now that I have learnt how to dry cure and smoke it myself.

So having salted the belly for a few days, dry curing, along with several hams which then went into a wet cure marinade, it was time to fire up the smoker.

Luckily for us we have become friends with Witold who recently built an ‘Ognisko’ less than 300 meters from our house. He uses the area as a venue for his company Explore Adventure. We actually first met as I was trespassing on his land, nosing around trying to work out what was been built, when I bumped into him and hurriedly went into my speech about not speaking Polish. Imagine my surprise when he answered in English! Since then we have become friends and as well as building a few tables for him for his first function Gosia has also found herself waitressing and preparing food for several parties on team building weekends.


Recently built in a traditional style
Gosia helping out


With such a setup available to us we would be silly to try and do the smoking anywhere else and so with a tractor box full of hams and bacons I made my way across the fields to a smokers paradise. Admittedly I had to make a few alterations to the chimney stack, adding a few brackets so we could insert sticks to suspend the meats, but it was easily done and by early evening we had lit the fire and started the process.


Getting the fire going


Technically this was a cold smoking process as the temperature in the stack never got above 40 or 50 C (100 – 120F) so it was key to not really burn the wood but rather let it smoulder, thankfully a series of vents allowed us to achieve this fairly easily, although after watching over the process for two or three hours as the night drew in we stacked up the fuel and retired for the night.


I’d guess that the meat was probably in smoke for six or seven hours in total and we could probably make some adjustments for the future, but all in all it worked well and the bacon and ham are the best I have ever tasted and if you don’t believe me then just pop in for a breakfast one day or maybe a ham sandwich, with English mustard!


Author: Eddy Winko

Left the rat race to live a less hectic and harmful life. From the building of a straw bale house to the composting toilet diaries; read my blog

23 thoughts on “Smoking!”

  1. We pick up our whole pig in 2 days. We will be attempting our first bacon and ham smoking, then on to sausages and meat pies. A week of fun for us. No one around us has such a wonderful set up as your neighbor, unfortunately. Glad to see life is good.

    1. Last year we cobbled together an old oil drum, some tin sheet and a couple of dozen bricks. It worked fine 🙂
      Good luck with your pig, I look forward to reading about your experience.

    1. Thanks for popping in David. I have to say that I used to be more of a beef and lamb person, but when I moved into central Europe so did my diet. You are hard pressed to buy a good steak and the beef mince is often mixed with pork, as for lamb it’s almost non existent. Luckily we have friends with sheep, so we do manage an alterative on occasion.

  2. I’m sure I’ve said before that in general pork here in the UK is a very poor relative to that in Romania. Several butchers have told me that they just couldn’t sell pork with a good layer of fat. (Trip to Norfolk?). We have two smokehouses not far away from here but without decent pork it has never seemed worth the effort. We buy several cuts of cured/smoked Romanian pork from Marinela’s Romanian shop in Leeds Kirkgate market. Our favourite too is belly pork but if done in the slow cooker then shoulder, with plenty of spices, is reasonably good.
    Our Sunday breakfast is usually with two rashers of streaky, smoked, and a rasher of green, unsmoked. You’re right about US bacon being streaky of course, but they make it crispy; I do not.

    1. I think you know about my Austrian links and as a child I used to look forward to a trip to Nannas where there was always a serving of some Spek with black bread. I might try and make some one year.
      Of course it’s amazing how versatile bacon is and it adds flavour to stews and pasta dishes alike.
      Now I’m getting hungry 🙂

      1. Ah…! Slănină in Romanian. That too is wonderful (Marinela sometimes has it smoked) or gușă (from the throat) and we’ve still got a little palinka to wash it down.

  3. Can’t say that I know what cut of bacon I eat . . . then again, I also don’t know much about the Spam I enjoy. I do like most smoked meat (and fish).

    I thought of buying a smoker but other interests took preference.

    Still, if I’m ever on that neck of the woods, I’ll stop by for a sample.

    1. You would always be welcome.
      From what I understand you are likely to eat the same cut in the US as here, all them European imigrant made their mark times past. They may have even influenced Spam, wasn’t that a wartime invention?

  4. Oh wow! Call me jealous of that setup! Smoking meats and other foods is something I’ve only dipped my toes in, and I loved the whole process. Please, share other smoking attempts you make. I’ll enjoy them by proxy. 🙂

    1. This is only our second year and we are still learning, but this year was better than last and we still have two more pigs, so we can only get better. We are lucky to have such good friends who made this last smoke possible, and so close to home 🙂

  5. That looks great, Eddy. really traditional, and I am sure it makes for delicious meat. Since moving to Norfolk, I have started to enjoy pork again. The local pork is famous, and tastes better than any I ever bought in London, even from the same shops!
    My favourite is belly pork, with the fat left on of course! We often enjoy that for a Sunday dinner, chez beetleypete! Although we still buy back bacon for sandwiches, I prefer streaky for taste myself, and always buy smoked bacon when I can.
    We have a lot to be thankful for, when it comes to the noble porker!
    Cheers mate, love to all three. Pete.

    1. I’m a belly man myself, but I have to fight to keep a few cuts for the oven. Its a shame that the majority of pork is raised factory style and so over processed before it reaches the table, good to know that your local farmers are more traditional.

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