Coals & Smoke
by Emma Young
On the edge of spring, when it seemed the worst was over, the pale sun rose on one more bitterly cold day. Tim Laursen of Smoak Catering woke before dawn, as he does in the summer months when the air is warm, and made a fire in his hand-built smoker. Also a scultpor, Tim’s welding reveals his artistry. He filled the coal chamber with American hard wood, taking care to get it burning well. He stacked the pile in a log cabin, rather than tipi, shape, to trap the most heat. A log on fire is only so hot, but the strength of the coals is what results in perfectly cooked beef brisket after ten hours, lamb after six hours, and a whole chicken in two. The indirect heat from the coals fills the body of the smoker and cooks the dry-rubbed meats at around 150 degrees all day. As the sun set on the Agricultural Hall that day, the annual Meat Ball commenced. Friends and neighbors who seemed to be coming out of hibernation arrived and ate their fill.