Smoking was conventionally a well-known technique for the purpose of preserving meat. Although now we might have access to better, innovative ways for keeping the meat fresh for long, still the overall popularity of smoking meat is never going to die. In addition to keeping the meat fresh for long, smoking the meat also helps in bringing out the rich, deep flavors of the ribs, baskets, and other specific cuts of the meat that tend to taste the best when they are smoked –until the meat starts melting off the bone.
You can go forward with brining the meat first or dressing the same on a rub, making use of the charcoal grill, or some high-tech modern electric smoker, and consider choosing from the wide option of wood available for imparting a different flavor to the meat when smoked properly. Irrespective of the given specifications, the meat needs to be cooked on low, heating for several hours until the same is smoked towards achieving amazing perfection.
Smoking the meat is just like an art. It takes a lot of patience and time while crafting. Once you do the same, there is no going back to the conventional way of cooking or smoking meat again. With this in mind, let us help you understand the basics of smoking meat –right from scratch to its final presentation on the dining table.
Why Should You Smoke the Meats?
If you are not the kind of person whole prefers taking some extra steps in cooking your meat perfectly, then you might as well wonder whether or not it is worth to smoke the meats at all. Will it really make a difference? For answering this question, you should come across someone who has the habit of smoking the meats, and then you can have a cook-off as well. If you do not know anyone who knows to smoke the meat, you must know that smoking helps in creating a great flavor out of the meat. Moreover, smoking also helps in tenderizing the meat that would be otherwise too hard to eat.
The level of smoke along with that of the taste might be highly subjective. This implies that you might come across only certain varieties of woods that are perfect for smoking, and in particular ratios at the same time. This is why the overall art of smoking meat usually takes time & patience as you move ahead with trying out different flavors and aromas for the best results. Before you start with smoking the meat of your choice, it is essential to understand all about smoking and to find the right balance during the activity. You must aim at experimenting with different kinds of woods as well as cooking methods for finding the one that works for you in the best possible manner. While it might involve a lot of work & dedication, you can be assured that the meat you prepare tastes the best, and you can call yourself the Grill Master with ample experience.
Types of Smokers
When you are looking forward to smoking the meat for the best taste ever, you must be aware of the different types of smokers that are available out there in the market. The different types of smokers can help in yielding different results for the smoked meat. Here are some of the common types of smokers that you should know about while prepping up your meat:
- Electric Smoker: This type of smoker makes use of the electric energy for heating the rod (or some other heating element), which could then lead the wood to smoke. The electric smokers are considered the easiest and the most convenient when it comes to ensuring effective heat control. This is because all you are required to do is to turn the dial for adjusting the temperature of the smoker.
- Propane Smokers: These are known for working in exactly the same manner as that of the electric smokers. However, they make use of the gas-fueled flame rather than some heating element for making the wood pellets smolder.
- Charcoal Smokers: These are the most favorite options by most of the barbeque masters out there. It is commonly believed that charcoal helps in infusing added flavors in comparison to the electric or propane smokers. Charcoal smoker also tends to be cheaper.
- Wood Smokers: When you wish to achieve the purest flavors, you must opt for wood smokers. However, wood smokers require great attention as well as care out of all other options as they are quite hard to maintain at a constant temperature range.
- Pellet Smokers: These are quite similar to wood smokers. However, in this case, the wood has been condensed into highly convenient pellet forms. Moreover, they are quite easier to use.
How to Set Up the Smoker?
Once you have come across the particular smoker of your choice, it is essential to know how you can set up the smoker for starting with smoking the meat in a smoker. Here are some points to consider:
Choosing the Right Smoker
The experts in the field of meat smoking believe that when you wish to obtain the desired results, it is vital to select the best smoker that can help you out. When you select the particular equipment that has been designed for smoking, it will help you in making the entire process quite smoother and delivering the best results. Depending on your convenience of cooking and the type of taste & aroma you wish to achieve, you can select the right kind of smoker as discussed above for your ease of smoking the meat.
Deciding the Type of Wood to Use
Meat is known to be smoked by using a wide variety of wood types –all different types of hardwoods are known to impart a unique taste and aroma to the meat. Some wood types tend to impart a strong flavor in comparison to the other, while some wood types are known to pair better with particular kinds of meat. You can also consider mixing different types of wood materials that might impact the taste & properties that you would like.
Depending on the specific type of smoker that you are using for smoking the meat, you will either require ample wood for burning all day long or just enough wood to add the right flavors while the specific types of smokers would do their work. Here are some of the top types of wood materials that you can consider choosing:
- Oak is great for cooking big slices of red meats that require smoking all day long. This is because the flavors tend to be highly subtle in comparison to other types of woods.
- Mesquite aims at offering the meat a delicious along with a strong smoky flavor. If you are looking forward to using mesquite only, you can consider using it with small cuts that will not require longer cooking time. For the more significant cuts that will require cooking all day long, you can regard mixing mesquite with a milder kind of wood.
- Hickory tends to be imparting a strong flavor and delivers the best flavors when paired with red meat.
- Apple wood tends to have a slightly sweet taste that appears delicious with poultry or pork. You might as well consider using Apple wood for smoking fish at the same time.
- Cherry wood is considered great for serving as a smoking wood for pork or beef.
- Maple wood is another sweet wood that is known for pairing well with poultry or pork.
- Alder wood is regarded as sweet and mild –perfect for fish or poultry.
Deciding to Use Dry or Wet Smoking Method
Water during the smoking method of the meat can help in controlling the temperature inside the smoke during the cooking stage of the meat. In fact, there are some smokers referred to as the “water smokers” that are designed to make use of water during the smoking process. However, you can also consider smoking the meat by making use of water in the wood or charcoal smoker. All you are required to do is to put the pan containing water inside the wood or charcoal smoker and ensure that the pan is full throughout the cooking process.
The process of water or wet smoking helps in regulating the overall temperature when you are smoking the big slice of meat that will require cooking for several hours. For the meats with smaller cuts that do not require much cooking, it is not necessary to utilize water. When you are buying a smoker, you should ensure that you read the instructions carefully before making use of water for the smoking process.
Getting the Smoker Ready for Cooking
Every smoker out there tends to have different specifications when it comes to starting the smoking process of the meat. When you are making use of charcoal or wood as fuel, you can consider lighting up the materials in the grill and waiting until it burns down, and not produces flames. The barbeque experts recommend that you should not place the meat directly over the heat. On the other hand, you can consider pushing the coal aside such that the meat is allowed to cook slowly over indirect heat. Throughout the smoking & cooking process, you should add more wood and coals for keeping the smoker going. The primary goal should be to keep the smoker in the temperature range of 200 to 220 Degree Fahrenheit.
When you are making use of the gas or electric smoker, all you are required to do is to turn the same as per the instructions of the manufacturer. Place the wood pieces or chips in the smoker. You might as well consider buying a thermometer that you can keep inside the smoker for monitoring the temperature effectively.
How to Get Your Meat Ready?
The smoking process can be utilized for any kind of meat. However, it is considered the best for hard meats that require slow, long cooking time. The overall slow process of smoking & cooking helps in breaking down the fat as well as the connective tissues such that the meat becomes soft & tender. You might also consider choosing the meat that will taste better with a great smoky flavor. The different types of meats that you can consider smoking in the smoker:
- Chicken & turkey drumsticks
- Brisket, corned beef, beef ribs
- Pork spare ribs, pork crown roast, ham
- Lobster, salmon, tilapia, salmon
Brining the Meat Using the Rub or Marinade
It is considered quite common to make use of the marinade or rub for brining the meat. It helps in adding moisture and a great flavor to the meat –right before the smoking process. Indeed, smoking itself helps in adding a great taste and flavor to the meat, and brining the meat might not be a compulsory technique. However, it can assist in adding an exceptional level of depth and ensuring that the meat comes out quite juicy after the smoking process.
Brining is often used during the smoking process of poultry and ham. When you are planning to brine the meat, mix up the given brine recipe. Soak the meat in the given brine for the entire night or for at least 7-8 hours. It is recommended to store the meat in the refrigerator during the brining process.
Marinating the meat is the option for treating brisket along with other beef cuts right before the smoking process. At the same time, rubs are considered great for treating the ribs of the meat before the smoking process.
Now, when you have the right tools and techniques for smoking the meat of your choice, there should be no more waiting. Make use of your knowledge on smoking the meat properly and make way for a delicious meal on your dining table. Have a great time!