cooking is normally envisioned as a time for relaxation and family fun. In reality,
however, the chef of the day is just as likely to end up chained to a hot barbecue, if for
no other reason than to put out fires before a meltdown occurs. Many barbecues seem to
have a mind of their own, and unattended, things can quickly degenerate into a runaway,
food-incinerating inferno. Old Hickory not only puts the fun and relaxation back into
backyard cooking, it also gives food that rich old fashion smoke cooked flavor that most
of us have only read about.
Although you can barbecue with Old Hickory, it is really designed as an oven-style
smoke cooker, which is the main reason that cooking requires so little attention. Oven
cooking is done with the lid closed. Food is cooked by indirect heat, not by the fire
itself, so there are no out-of-control flames to worry about. Flavor saturated hot air
from the partitioned off firebox underneath moves through and around the cooking
compartment, sealing in natural juices and flavor. Wood, such as hickory, mesquite, cedar,
and apple gives foods a rich smoky flavor. A water-soaked log tossed into the firebox
after the fire is well underway adds even more flavor. Potatoes and other food can be
baked simultaneously in the warming oven near the bottom of the chimney. Cooking
temperature is adjusted by opening or closing a small door on the firebox.
Old Hickory can be built in a single weekend for approximately $300. When we did the
step-by-step photography for the plans booklet, the foundation was poured and photographed
in little more than an hour. The next day we photographed the brick laying procedure. From
start to finish, the entire photography/construction session lasted approximately four
hours, and Old Hickory was finished. The small metal doors are standard fireplace
fixtures. The large oven door is special made. Plans show how to build the oven door
yourself, or you can take the drawings to a local metal fabricator and have it built.