Beginner's Guide to Smoking Meat
Cooking with a smoker can be the ideal way to add more flavour to your meat but let's face it - a smoker can be very intimidating for beginners. It does not have to be so intimidating! Let us help you get from smoking amateur to pitmaster with this guide.
Smokers are the ideal way to get more flavour into your food. This cooking method will break down proteins in the meat. Because of this, it will be more tender. Smokers will also preserve your meat for a longer period. The smoke will help build an acidic coating on the meat, which makes it impossible for bacteria to survive on its surface. Because of these benefits, many people want to try smoking their food. But how can you use your smoke to get the best flavour? Let’s look at some of the things you need to know.
The Type of Wood You Use Matters
When you start with a smoker, you’ll find that there are a lot of types of wood pellets. Each of these will give your meat a slightly different flavour. However, it isn’t the only thing that will impact the way it tastes. For example, the rub that you are using and the temperature of the fire will affect the flavour.
The best way to find out which type of wood you like the most is to experiment. Stay with one type of wood for a while. Try it with multiples types of meat. This will give you a good idea of how it tastes. Then, try the second type of wood and repeat the procedure. Over time, you’ll learn which ones you like the most. As a general rule, lighter woods will go best with meats like chicken and seafood. Heavier woods will pair best with things like pork and beef.
You’ll also need to decide what form the wood will come in. There are three options to choose from. You can either have chips, chunks, or pellets. Each of these has pros and cons. It’s often best to decide based on cooking time. Chips will burn quickly while chunks burn longer. Pellets offer a more consistent cooking time. But you’ll only be able to use them with a pellet grill.
Don’t Flip the Meat
One of the biggest mistakes that people make is flipping the meat. This is a good idea when cooking on a grill. But when you are smoking, you aren’t applying direct heat. Because of this, both sides of the meat will cook evenly. When you open the smoker, all the smoke that you have built up will be released. This will extend the cooking time.
Use a Meat Thermometer
When you’re smoking meat, it can be difficult to know when it’s cooked. You don’t want to disturb it too much. The best way around this is by using a meat thermometer. If possible, use one that relies on Bluetooth. This ensures that you’ll be able to monitor it remotely. The meat that you are cooking will dictate what the best internal temperature will be. A quick online search will tell you what the right temperature will be.
Season the Meat
To get the best flavour from the meat, you’ll need to season it. How you do this will depend on the type of meat that you are cooking. Generally, you’ll want to rub salt over the skin. This will help break down the protein, making the meat more tender. You might also want to consider using a wet brine. This combines salt with things like lemon and other flavourings. The meat will be left to sit in the wet brine for an extended period. Often, it will be left to sit overnight.
The other way of seasoning your meat is by using a dry rub. This lets you add additional flavour, but you don’t want to overpower the meat. This is meant to be skin deep. Because of this, you will be able to apply the dry rub just before you cook the meat.
Use Light Smoke
When you’re smoking meat, you don’t want a heavy stream of smoke. This will give the meat an acidic flavour. Instead, the stream of smoke should be light and almost invisible. How heavy the smoke will be will depend on the amount of wood that you have added. The right amount of wood will depend on how long you want to cook it.
Pick the Right Smoker
There are dozens of types of smokers on the market. Each will operate in a slightly different way. The offside smoker is the most traditional. It’s perfect for cooking a lot of food at once. It’s also one of the cheapest types of smokers to run. If you want some tips on finding a great one for your backyard, check out this list of offset smokers.
Cooking with a smoker can be the ideal way to add more flavour to your food. As we’ve seen, this doesn’t need to be difficult. A few simple changes can make all the difference. So, use these tips to start making delicious smoked meals today.
Article by: Nathan Bowers
February 25th, 2021