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Barbecuing and knowing how to smoke meat is one of the most popular pastimes in the USA, with as many as two-thirds of American adults claiming ownership of a grill or smoker. This ultimate meat smoking guide will have you BBQing like a total boss.
Not only does barbecued and smoked food taste delicious, but gathering around the fire is a fun way to socialize and impress your friends with your ancient cooking skills.
Check out this meat smoking guide to ensure you know how to smoke meat without a hitch.
The Basics of Smoked Food
Smoking food involves exposing it to smoke from smoldering material like wood in order to brown, cook, flavor, and preserve it.
There are a few different ways to meat smoking guide nowadays. Here are some of the most common smoking styles you can try if you enjoy eating barbecue:
Dry smoking involves cooking food slowly over a smoldering wood fire. This process involves setting and maintaining a fire at a constant low temperature throughout the cooking process. If you’re going to dry smoke your meat, you should cook it low and slow, so that the smoke flavors develop fully. Cooking it slowly will also make your meat juicy and soft.
It’s a time consuming and tedious process that can take the whole day depending on the type of meat you’re working with.
During wet smoking, a pan of water’s placed over the coals to keep the food moist during the process. This procedure is also labor-intensive and time-consuming.
Both dry and wet smoking imparts a delicious flavor to your food. The style you’ll use for your meat will depend on your smoking equipment and preference. Additionally, you need to consider how much work you’ll need to put in before you start cooking your meat. If you don’t have a lot of time to watch over your smoker, it may be best to pick a faster method.
An electric smoker uses wood chips to create the smokey flavors associated with food cooked in this way. It’s a far easier and more convenient way to smoke food than both the other methods.
The electric smoker produces smoke from the wood chips and automatically maintains the optimum smoking temperature throughout the process.
This means there’s no guesswork involved and you don’t need to stoke the fire constantly to ensure the best results. This method works best when you need to cook good food in a short span of time.
Although you won’t get quite the same taste, modern-day smokers produce delicious eats with very little effort. The trick lies in buying the best electric smoker you can afford.
Regardless of which type of smoker you prefer, there are a few things you can do to ensure your smoked meat creations come out tops every time.
A Meat Smoking Guide to Cooking Excellence
There are many ways to maximize the fine art of smoking, and they’re easy to master too even if you don’t really know how to smoke meat. Most of the tips and tricks boil down to your choice of wood, the seasoning you choose, and plain patience.
Try some of these the next time you have friends round for an outdoor feast.
Choosing the Best Wood
In this meat smoking guide we believe working with the right wood is really important in the quest to learn how to smoke meat properly. When wood burns, the smoke created usually takes on a flavor that’s unique to the species of tree it’s from. Different types of wood suit different meats better as the flavor profiles vary depending on the type of smoke source you use.
These are the best ones:
- Mesquite for Texas-style brisket, beef, lamb, or venison
- Hickory’s a good match for pork, beef, and lamb
- Fruitwoods are best for fish, veggies, ham, or chicken
- Alder and cedar are best-known for smoking salmon
If you’re looking for a balanced flavor that suits a wide variety of meats opt for walnut, oak, pecan, or maple wood.
Wood Chips or Wood Chunks
When learning how to smoke meat, you must choose your wood wisely. Hardwood chunks are large golf-ball-sized pieces of wood that burn slower than chips. If you’re smoking anything for longer than thirty minutes using conventional methods wood chunks are superior to chips.
You’ll need to wrap your wood chips or chunks in aluminum foil if you’re using your gas grill for smoking. This prevents them from igniting during the process.
Whether you choose chunks or chips, you should soak them thoroughly in water for at least 30 minutes before you start.
If you’d like to add another element of flavor to your meat, soak the wood in beer, apple juice, or wine beforehand.
You can also try brushing a few drops of liquid smoke onto the meat or adding it to your marinade mix. This seasoning, which is commonly used in pre-cooked barbecue products, can be purchased at your local supermarket.
When you’re using an electric smoker it’s as simple as placing about 4 cups of chips into the chip tray for every hour of smoking.
Seasoning your Food
Although the wood you choose definitely adds an element of flavor to your meats, the correct seasoning takes it to the next level. You can mix and match different spices you like to determine which combination you like best.
If you don’t want to experiment on your seasoning mix, you can always try some popular barbecue seasoning combinations. You’ll find hundreds of recipes online for excellent rubs that go well with smoked meat. If you’re venturing into the realm of smoked brisket, try this recipe for the best results.
- 1/4 cup of paprika
- 2 tablespoons of kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons of garlic power
- 3 tablespoons of maple sugar
- 1 tablespoon of black pepper
- 1 tablespoon of onion powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
To make the rub, combine all the ingredients in a container and seal until needed. When you’re ready, rub your brisket all over with the rub and place it in the smoker immediately.
You can use this rub for most types of smoked beef.
If you’re doing chicken in the smoker try this mix:
- 2 tablespoons paprika, chili powder, cayenne, and fresh cracked black pepper
- 1 tablespoon of garlic powder, kosher salt, and onion powder
- 1 teaspoon of thyme
Mix the ingredients and rub your chicken inside and out.
For smoked salmon, a combination of brown sugar, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, ground cayenne pepper, and ground black pepper does the trick. If you’re cooking a bigger piece of meat, you may need to adjust the recipe’s measurements to ensure your barbecue won’t lack flavor.
Tending to Your Smoker
Leaning how to smoke meat is an art form. While your meat’s cooking you’ll need to pay close attention to your smoker.
You need to try and keep the smoke at a constant temperature by replacing the wood frequently throughout the process. Check the ideal temperature for each meat your cooking beforehand and refill the water pan regularly with hot water.
With an electric smoker, you only need to set the temperature at the outset, place the water pan in its designated place and seal the doors.
Check on the smoker every now and again. If you notice it’s stopped smoking you probably need to replenish the wood chips or water.
Avoid opening the door of your smoker unnecessarily as this can reduce the smoke and delay your cooking time. Test your smoker if you’re buying a new one before you cook a big batch of meat. This way, you can see if your food cooks evenly or if you need to make adjustments throughout the smoking process. Trying out a small batch will also give you an idea as to how long your smoker takes to fully cook the meat.
More Great Meals
Be sure to try out the tips in this meat smoking guide at your next summer barbecue. A little extra effort goes a long way towards ensuring the best flavors for you and all your guests.
Browse some more of our blogs for more top cooking tips and healthy eating advice.