Runningfatchef.com (top); iStock

Step away from the grills, people. It’s cold outside! Based on the temperatures I’ve been experiencing here in New York City, winter is already here. And while I love fried and smoked food as much as the next person, I’d like to keep my limbs frostbite-free if possible. Admittedly, I also don’t have a backyard.

Besides, purchasing an indoor smoker can be expensive, and I love sharing life hacks with people who are on a budget (or are just cheap, like me). So, here you have it, straight from the Running Fat Chef: how to create your own stovetop smoker with items likely already in your own home:

Items needed:

  • Large stockpot
  • Steamer insert
  • Aluminum foil
  • Wood chips

Bonus tip: Did you know that you can smoke pistachio shells? Nut shells produce an interesting mild, nutty flavor, and if done right, the resulting flavor is slightly sweet. I recommend using these shells with pork or chicken. You can even use unexpected additions like tilo leaves to build flavors.

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Instructions:

  1. Place a sheet of aluminum foil at the bottom of your pot. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of unsoaked wood chips (or a pistachio-and-wood-chip combination), place the steamer insert on top and follow up with another layer of foil. Deciding which type of wood chips to go with depends on the flavor desired. For poultry, I’d suggest something a bit harsher, like hickory, maple or mesquite. Try something lighter, like alder, beech or ash, for delicate items such as fish or vegetables.
  2. Insert your meat, poultry, fish or vegetables inside the steamer insert and place the lid on top. Wrap foil around the lid and scrunch the edges to prevent smoke from escaping.
  3. Crank up the high heat for 7-10 minutes to create smoke and lower temperature to medium to low fire thereafter. Timing depends on a range of factors, such as the type of protein, type of cut and desired flavor intensity. Smaller items such as chicken or fish will be somewhere around the 15- to 20-minute marker. Game, pork or beef requires much longer times, usually 45 minutes to an hour.
  4. Turn off the heat and allow the food to rest in your indoor smoker for a few minutes.
  5. There’s a pretty good chance that larger food items aren’t completely cooked through. Check with a food thermometer if you have one. Transfer your items to a preheated oven (usually around 375 F) to complete the cooking process.
  6. Cleanup is relatively easy: Simply remove the foil from the bottom of the pot, and dispose of the wood chips used to smoke your ingredients.
  7. Impress your loved ones with intricate, power-packed flavors at a fraction of the cost.

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Happy holidays!