Smoking meat is easy if you know the basics, right approaches, proper tips, and tricks for this.
Are you a beginner thinking of experiencing meat smoking? Are you looking for the basics and a handful of tips to make perfect smoky meat from the beginning? Then congrats dear! You have found the right place to quench your thirst.
Rather than working hard, it’s better to work smart. If you can’t tell right from wrong then no matter how hard you try, you may end up in disappointment. You need to start with the very basics with smoking meat several times, gradually you will learn to prepare it perfectly.
What is Meat Smoking
Before diving deep into the tips and techniques for meat smoking, let’s first gain the proper knowledge of what meat smoking is exactly? Well, if you want one little definition then we will give you one- it is the method of cooking that will make your barbecue the real barbecue.
We can elaborate on it a little more. Smoking meat refers to one of the two processes, either preserving meat or barbecuing it. The first one is an old, traditional method used for thousands of years for meat preservation. This way the meat is preserved by keeping the meat for a long time under proper heat and smoke.
But in today’s time, this term is mostly used to point out the second method, barbecuing, cooking the meat slowly using indirect heat for a long time. This process gives the meats a fine and juicy texture and infuses them with a smoky flavor and unique aroma. And in this article, we are going to talk about this delicious meat cooking method.
Meat Smoking Tips for Beginners
Have a good grip on the following information and utilize the tips every time barbecuing to collect some good experience from the beginning of your meat smoking journey:
1. Know Your Meat
It all starts with the meat. So, It is very important to choose the right kind of meat for smoking. The result of your cooking depends on the type of meat you are using. The flavor, moisture, texture, and techniques of cooking vary depending on the meat. When selecting meat, things like composition, texture, and color should be kept in mind.
Meat containing Fat and collagen tends to give the best flavor. When the meat sets in the smoker, fats, and collagen provide a good amount of moisture which helps to tenderize the meat and give it a fine juicy flavor. But rather than choosing meat with just a big fat cap, select a piece with intramuscular fat and collagen. This allows the fats and collagens to fill and penetrate the whole piece.
Some solid standby options are brisket, pork butt, ribs, Chicken wings. Fish, lamb, and beef are also some good options to consider.
2. Decide Cut Sizes
How much time you should keep the meat in the smoker depends greatly on the cut of the meat pieces. So you need to treat the different cuts differently. Lean cut meats dry out quickly on the other hand a fat cut of meat takes a longer time to be cooked in the right texture. For instance, you can’t smoke chicken breast the same way as pork butt, if you do, the chicken breast may taste like leather.
3. Select the Right Smoker
If your smoker is not good enough then all the techniques you learned and all the preparations you have made will go in vain. So, you do not want a smoker that will ruin your whole excitement of having a nice, fine, smoky meat.
As a beginner, it is normal for you to feel a little lost while selecting a proper smoker. Visit website to get better knowledge about smokers. A few smokers that you may want to have a deeper look at are as follows:
- Kettle Grills: If you want to smoke small amounts of meat, then kettle grills are perfect for you. As the airflow and temperature is a little hard to control in this smoker, It is a good option for those who want to smoke meats occasionally
- Pellet Smokers: You can choose Pellet smokers. This wood-burning smoker is more hands-free and contains high technology. It is capable of giving the perfect and delicious smoky flavor of burning wood.
- Off-set Smoker: in this type of smoker, you can use either wood or charcoal as fuel, and some may have bot options. Use the fuel depending on the flavor you want to achieve. But, ensure to avoid the cheap ones as their poor construction can impede the proper heat retention and leak smoke.
- Kamado Grill: kamado grill is another type of grill that uses charcoal as a source of fuel. This ceramic made smoker is good at maintaining a consistent temperature. This smoker is versatile, it can also be used to bake or grill and enjoy outdoor cooking.
4. Take the Right Wood
The reason for meat smoking is to get the flavor of wood and all that delicious smoke in the meat. The types of wood chosen have some effect on the flavor of the final product.
When it comes to meat smoking, hickory wood is a very common choice as it imparts a pretty strong smoky flavor. Oak is also a popular choice as it works well with almost any kind of meat smoking. This well-rounded wood is also easy to find. But If you are someone who likes to have his barbecue sweet, then you may try woods like apple or mesquite.
You should try to avoid sappy woods like pine, as they produce huge smoke which can make the flavor of your meat bitter and unappetizing. Look for woods that are finely dried and it will be even better if you can find woods that are properly aged. Kiln-dried woods have less moisture thus the woods burn better and faster while making much temperature. On the contrary, in the naturally cured woods, a bit of water is left that creates more smoke, burns a little slower, and adds a more smoky flavor.
But it is important to remember that the same kinds of wood from different territories can burn a little differently as they are impacted by weather, climate, soil, etc.
5. Have the Prior Preparations
There is some prior preparation that you need to take for a perfect smoky meal at your dining table.
- i) Rubs: Rubs enhance the flavor of meat in a great way. But not all kinds of rubs go well with all meat. Some meats need only a little sprinkle of rubs while others may call for a good coating. You need to decide depending on the cut of meat you are using.
- ii) Salt: Don’t put the salt in the rub. Some make the mistake of adding the salt to the rub. Rather than doing that, add salt in advance, in the preparation process.
Applying the salt separately like this is called brining. You need to salt the thin cuts one or two hours before cooking. But thick cuts need to be salted the day before cooking. Dry brining is important for smoking meats. The salt melts properly on the wet surface of the meat and goes all the way deep in the meat.
6. Maintain the Temperature
Cooking at the right temperature is crucial. You may use a digital thermometer to measure the heat. We believe it is a better option than a clock. Take a thermometer and stick it in the middle of the thickest piece of your meat to measure the temperature.
No matter how long we have been cooking, if the meat is not cooked at the correct internal temperature then you have to return it to the smoker. The time can get prolonged or shorter depending on the recipe. The type of meat, the amount you are cooking, the size of the pieces, and also the wood decide the smoking time.
7. Have Patience
It is said that with patience success comes. So have some patience dear. Don’t just open the smoker and peak into it after every few minutes. And flipping it frequently is highly discouraged. As the heat source is an indirect one, the meat will cook slowly but evenly.
Although we are giving you tips, it is undeniable that you can learn the best by trying. You may fail once or twice. But who cares? You are not going to invite the town on your first go anyway! So don’t worry much and take the plunge when the cravings for trying out something new kicks in.
Flavor varies from person to person. So try to figure out which one goes with your taste the most. Use different meats and cuts. Add different spices and try new combinations. Don’t forget about wood options. Eventually, you will find out you are doing pretty well.