Smoke Hollow PS 4400 Review

Smoke Hollow PS 4400 Review

Smoker Review

In my previous article I talked a little about my experience in the world of smoking meat and Turkeys in particular. Over the years I purchased various brands of smokers and types of smokers with varying degrees of success and failure.

Last week I purchased a “Smoke Hollow PS 4400” propane gas smoker from a club house store. The benefits of buying from these types of stores, is they tend to include a number of extras for no additional cost. The extra on this unit was a cover, normally priced at $44.00.

This is a big smoker. I could smoke 4- 15lb turkeys or 21 racks of ribs. Because of the size of this smoker I would suggest that if you are a beginner smoker or your plans for smoking are a couple of turkey legs a couple of times a year or maybe a whole chicken once in a while this may be too big for your needs.

Breakdown of the Smokers Components

Doors:

The model comes with two doors, one for the food and the other for the water pan and wood chip pans. This model I purchased also came with glass doors. If you can afford them they are well worth it. I like being able to see what is going on without opening the door and losing the heat. I can also check the water pan without losing the smoke in the main body. If you need to add water all you need to do is open the lower door and pull out the water pan to add more water.

This model does not come with door gaskets and every review I read talked about this. They said there was an issue of heat loss as well as smoke coming out around the door. Before I fired up the smoker the first time I applied thin bead of high temp gasket maker material. I left the door open for 24 hours to cure and haven’t have any problems. The doors come with 3 adjustable door latches, two for the top door and one for the bottom. It gives a very secure fit.

Burners:

The 4400 comes with two burners. I am not sure why, because with one burner at medium I can reach 300 degrees. I smoke most of my meats at 235 degrees.

One possible use is this smoker comes with two fire chip pans and I suppose you could fill both pans with wood and when it is time to start the second round of smoke you would only need to turn off the first burner and start the second. Maybe an unintended benefit would be that there is a second burner if the first burner wears out.

Water and Fire pans:

Overall I am happy with the pans. The water pan holds approximately 1.25 gallons which gives about 4 hours cook time before refilling. The one suggestion I have is, when it is time to drain the pan, have a 5 gallon bucket close by. You can pour into it and then you don’t need to carry the greasy water and risk spilling. Another suggestion is to triple layer with foil to make it easier to clean up as well as to protect the pans from developing holes.

The fire pans are of a good size to hold a large amount of wood. The downside of how this unit is designed is that only the center 1/4 to 1/3 of the wood is used up. The outer perimeter creates charred wood. I don’t think it has a big overall effect but I do like to use up material.

Measurements:

The overall measurements are 44″ x24″ x16″. It is tall enough too comfortably to add or remove food items. The handles are at a good height to make it easy for two people to carry. It is not very heavy so it is easy to move short distances.

Legs:

The legs create a wide enough footprint to give it stability, but as with the rest of the construction the legs are made with light weight steel and it will not take a lot of rough handling i.e. in the back of a pickup off road.

Racks:

This smoker comes with 5 racks: two regular, two jerky racks, and one rib rack that will hold 7 racks of ribs or it can be turned over and used as a regular rack. If you are going to use the jerky racks for something other than jerky I would suggest a sheet a foil to prevent sticking to the racks because it is a pain to clean the racks.

Temperature Gauge:

I was pleasantly surprised at how accurate the temperature gauge was. In a side by side comparison with a digital probe it was only off by 5 degrees. I did find that the unit was 15 degrees cooler at the bottom of the cabinet. This is good to know so I can put smaller items at the bottom.

Drip Pan:

The smoker comes with a drip pan although it didn’t catch any drips. There is a large vent hole on the bottom that the pan does not cover and this is where the grease dripped out. I solved the problem by putting an old tray under the smoker and solved the problem.

Talking Smokers…Talking Turkeys

Talking Smokers…Talking Turkeys

 

 

 

 

Talking Smoker

 


Thanksgiving is getting around the corner and it makes me think about the turkey. I started smoking my turkeys about 33 years ago when I received my first charcoal smoker as a wedding present from my father in law. I have gone through at least 12 different smokers over the years. I have had charcoal smokers, propane smokers and an electric smoker. I have also cooked on custom built trailered, wood smokers.

 
Different types of people who smoke meat


There are all levels of people who use meat smokers. The spectrum goes from the 26 weeks a year, traveling competition teams with rigs that cost more than my house to the guy who read about smoking on his grill and threw a pan of wood chips and a hunk of meat on his grill and hoped that it produce something edible.

Different types of Smokers


I will start off and say that charcoal and wood smokers do an unbelievable job when it comes to fantastic flavored meat. After so many years of using a charcoal smoker my, my father in law bought me a propane smoker in 2003. One of his buddies said it did a really good job and made life much easier.

I was very skeptical because I was violating the unwritten code of smoker purists. I also have never had a failure with my charcoal smokers. Why try something new?

Liking something new


I have to tell you that it turned out to be awesome. Once you get the temperature adjusted it is very easy to go back to the control knob and repeat the settings for your next meal. The biggest advantage? I could go back to sleep after putting the turkey on for Thanksgiving. I didn’t have to stay up and get the fire just right.

I used my propane smoker for 10 years. I have smoked everything from brisket, turkey, sirloin, chicken to a standing rib roasts (prime rib), with great, consistent results.

Off-roading??


I was very active in Boy Scouts for years and we always went to the Colorado Mountains and built our own summer camp. I would bring up my smoker and a friends smoker and cook some of the meals for 60 to 100 adults and youth. One very important lesson I learned was home smokers do not travel off road very well. Maybe that is why I have gone through so many smokers… go figure.

Electric Smokers?


After reading some blogs and reviews, I bought an electric smoker last with all the bells and whistles, digital thermostat, temp probe, remote, stand, and glass doors. I was also told by an acquaintance what a fantastic job it did.

Final verdict: if you are looking to cook meat outside without a lot of smoke flavor and you love gadgets then an electric smoker might be what you want. If you like smoked meat this is not what you want. I sold the smoker after two uses and decided to go back to propane.

Back to Propane


I purchased my 13th plus smoker last week and decided to break it in with one of my favorite, smoked chicken legs and thighs. They were delicious and smoked all the way through. Everyone was very pleased with the outcome.

Thanksgiving Turkey 2014!


I am definitely looking forward to Thanksgiving. And lots of Smoked Turkey!

Trudy’s Favorite Flock Block Recipe

Trudy’s Favorite Flock Block Recipe

Another one of my passions is cooking.  One day this last fall I had a very long conversation with the girls about life in general.  The conversation for some reason got steered towards menu selections. While current epicurean delights were good, yes they really like the green horned worms, washed down with a nice 2 day old aged, imported ACV and water (ACV-apple cider vinegar imported from California and water from chez tap) they were requesting a larger variety of choices.  Trudy told me while she was on the computer she came across a recipe for Baked Flock Block served with a side of dirt with a sprinkling of compost. How can anyone resist such a cute face as this?

Chicken uses the copier

Trudy and I Research Together

So we started researching through all of my vast resources for the perfect recipe for them. I came across a number of recipes, but they just weren’t quite flavorful enough in Trudy’s opinion, and we all know how discriminating their palates can be. So we conspired and came up with the perfect one.

I have decided to share this very exacting, flavorful recipe because as the girls said

“one needs to share a masterpiece so that all may enjoy this delight. “

The Recipe

This recipe must be followed exactly or it will taste different than our creation (remember discriminating tastes).

You start out with about two cups of layer feed

approximately two cups of scratch

add in maybe two cups of black oil sunflower seeds

One cupish of millet

a large handful of kamut

Kamut in Flock Block

two half cups of corn meal

two slightly heaping cups of steel cut oats

one and halfish handfuls of wheat berries

and whatever you have leftover of crimson clover (sounds like a song to me),

Flock Block with Crimson Clover

about a half a cups worth of flaxseed,

a couple of very beaten eggs with crushed shells (no they will not become egg eaters),

about two cups of molasses,

two tablespoons of cinnamon

half cup of lard (from the east Himalayan yak, not the west side, they bite or from the grocery store whichever is easier to find) or any other food oil.

Flock block adding lard

Put all this into a large fine crystal bowl or a plastic bucket or something in between, whatever works for you.

Mix thoroughly.  If it doesn’t hold together when squeezed, add a couple of chopped up slices of bread moisten with water.

Mixing up Flock Block

You can add about a cup of marigold petals if want a darker yellow yolk.

Now, something to remember that is very very important, if you don’t let your girls read these articles you can very easily get away with changing this recipe to whatever you have in stock.  You can kick it up 2.5 notches (“kick it up a notch” was already taken) and add fruit like pomegranate seeds or chopped apple or even chopped pear.

After you have prepared this, it is time to make the blocks.  With the help of my lovely assistant I scoop up the mix and firmly squash it (like that squash bug that in three hours destroyed your very last zucchini plant before you could get a single vegetable off of it, but I digress) into cupcake tins.

Flock Block Mold in Cupcake Tins

I just use the cupcake tins as a mold.  Once they are squashed in there tightly, I upside down them onto a cookie sheet.

20140213_171605414_iOS

Place in the oven for about 1 hour at 375 degrees. Remove from the oven and let the blocks cool down.  Yes, you can make them in 8” x 8” blocks and put them into suet holders.  After they cool down they should be very firm.

If they are not and break up you can rename them”Baked Seed Crumbles” and serve it on a pie tin and they will never know the truth.

I have to leave now, my wife says it is time to take my meds or I can’t play with the girls anymore. It is amazing how much clearer my thoughts are when I am off my medication.

Oops, the girls are trying to get into the house.

Chickens want Flock Blocks

Welcome

Welcome

For those of you who have found me, welcome. My family would describe me as “intense”. When I decide to do something, whether it be sailing, cooking, gardening, or raising my chickens, I try to do as much research as I possibly can so as to not make stupid mistakes (I make plenty without doing the stupid ones).

My dear, lovely wife came up with this great idea that I should write a blog about my different pastimes. She calls me the original renaissance man. So while this website is called TheChickenPoop.com, you may find something other than the aforementioned topic (at least I hope so or this could become a very boring website).

My History

Now for my brief history, I am by trade a decorative concrete stainer who enjoys working with my hands. I have been doing this for 20 years and really enjoy it. It is awesome to take plain, boring concrete and make it look beautiful. I will never become a millionaire doing this, but I do provide for my family. I am ok with that. Being a small company, I choose to not have a big crew to manage, so that I can have more nonbusiness time to do things I want. That is where the idea for this website originated.

Eggs

My wife and I have always talked about moving to the country with a few acres to do as we please. While we are waiting for that to happen, I have started researching different interests. About a year ago, I was reading somewhere how poor the quality our store bought eggs are. I decided I should raise chickens. I knew nothing about raising chickens, but decided I would learn.

Land Needed For Chickens

I digress for a moment; I live in a residential community on about 1/10 acre (small). My small backyard is completely fenced and has a 5 ft high flagstone retaining wall in the middle of it. By city ordinance we are allowed maximum six chickens and no roosters and no, you do not need a rooster for your girls to lay eggs.

Our Orginal Crew

In my readings the only real suggestions given for chicken real estate was 6 to 10 square ft per bird. My suggestion would be, the more square footage the better. Small areas will become a plantless desert because they will eat all of your grass. I know because remember ‘small backyard’.

Chicken Entertainment

That said, my girls seem to be very content. They have a number of distractions to entertain themselves, they have a wall to climb and compost piles to rummage through.  I garden so when it is not planted they love to dig around in there for bugs.  They also climb on the lawn equipment to play queen of the hill.

My wife tends to indulge my idiosyncrasies if I can reasonably defend my decisions. When I told her about this idea she wasn’t excited about it but wasn’t opposed to it. After about 5 months of researching I built a coop and run. I then purchased 4 girls, one Gold Comet, one Orpington and two Red Star sex-linked chickens.

Naming the “Girls”

The red stars were already named Mabel and Trudy so all we had to do was name the other two. My son immediately named the Orpington ‘Climb’ because as soon as we let them out of the crate she had to climb on top of the coop.  This was while everyone else huddled together trying to figure out where they were. Since I am not that energetic about names the last one was named ‘Red’.

I now fast forward 8 months later, my wife loves her girls. Her office overlooks their area and when she needs a distraction they are always happy to oblige.