A basic, affordable tool for smoking small amounts of food indoors with a minimum of tending.
Condensation in the box makes it terrible for smoking nuts.
Does a good job of infusing small amounts of food with smoky flavor quickly, without having to fire up the outdoor grill. And it didn’t smoke up our kitchen!
Real pit barbecue is an art, but it’s nice to have an indoor smoker as an alternative for hot-smoking fish, small cuts of meat, nuts, and vegetables. We’ve improvised indoor hot smokers using a wok, a half-size hotel pan—the main thing to avoid is ending up with a kitchen full of billowing smoke. The Original Stovetop Smoker by Camerons looks low-key; can it do the job and not smoke you out?
There’s nothing fancy about the Camerons Original Stovetop Smoker (product code SMKW). It’s essentially a stainless steel box with a folding handle and a sliding lid. It’s 15 inches long, 11 inches wide, and just 3 1/2 inches tall, and weighs 8 pounds when empty. The manufacturer says it works over any heat source: gas, electric, induction, even outdoor grills (if your range has a flat glass or ceramic top, though, you should check with the manufacturer to see if you can use an oversized pan on it). It’s dishwasher safe, and comes with samples of two wood-chip flavors plus a recipe booklet and instruction manual. There’s a seven-year warranty against factory defects.
We did three tests in our Original Stovetop Smoker. First, we smoked black cod fillets, using the brine and timing from CHOW’s Smoked Trout recipe. Next, we made CHOW’s Smoked Almonds. Finally, we made the Beer Smoked Hot Dogs recipe from page 81 of the recipe booklet that came with the smoker.
In each case, we set up the smoker following instructions in the Camerons booklet: piling wood chips on the bottom, putting whatever we were smoking on the tray or rack, and sliding the lid on most of the way. We started the pan over medium heat until a wisp of smoke escaped from the opening, then shut it completely and started timing.
Black cod: We started with 1 1/2 pounds of skin-on fillets and 1 tablespoon of alder chips. We lined the smoker tray with foil, sprayed the rack with cooking spray, and placed the fillets skin-side down. We let those smoke for 20 minutes. The smoke smelled pleasant, the fish didn’t stick to the rack, and the cod was delicious and very moist.
Almonds: We used 1 1/2 cups of whole, skin-on raw almonds and 1 tablespoon of hickory chips. We lined the tray with foil and put the nuts directly on the foil (we feared they’d fall through the bars of the rack). We smoked them for 10 minutes. They emerged subtly smoky, but the texture was oddly waxy, and they weren’t as toasty as we would have liked. We figured that condensation on the inside of the smoker steamed rather than toasted them. We scored this a failure.
Hot dogs: We placed 2 ounces of Anchor Steam beer in the tray (no foil) and used 1 tablespoon of mesquite chips. We placed 1 pound of beef hot dogs on the rack (no spray) and smoked them over medium heat for 15 minutes. Following the Camerons instructions, we placed the buns on top of the hot dogs, but then realized we had to split them first so the lid would close. (Though the recipe was for 8 hot dogs, only 4 split buns fit in the smoker at a time.) The dogs came out really juicy with good smoky flavor (we didn’t really taste the beer); the buns were nice and soft. It was all a bit time- and labor-intensive for hot dogs, but this would be a nice method for adding smoke flavor to sausages.
To sum up: Overall, the Camerons smoker did a good job, despite our less-than-satisfying experience with the almonds. The kitchen didn’t fill with smoke, though there was a strong smoky odor (it gave us a headache after a while, so it’s a good idea to crack the windows when using this smoker). And while this smoker is a decent size for smoking fish or smaller pieces of food, larger cuts—even most poultry—won’t fit unless you tent and crimp with foil instead of using the lid. And it’s hard to gauge how long something takes to smoke. The recipe booklet is a solid guide for smoking times, but expect some trial-and-error testing.
Photos by Chris Rochelle