Barbeque parties are hit during summer, and even during spring when the sun is out. There are instances wherein smoked barbeque are served in these parties. But not everyone has the patience to sit through the entire process of smoking meat, even if the traditional form of barbeque is done by smoking. This is because the entire smoking process can take even up to twelve hours, wherein the meat is slowly cooked over low temperature, but if done correctly, the outcome is definitely worth “eat”.
The technique of serving perfectly smoked meat can be mastered through three “P”s: practice, perseverance, and patience. So if you want to try smoking meat, follow these tips:
Make a Plan
Since smoking will definitely take most of your time, it is best to plan ahead. Identify a target serving time and anticipate when you should start smoking based on your target. Prepare all the necessary ingredients and tools that you would need, ideally a day before you hit the grill. Also, prepare a “Plan B” for resiliency because you might hit a little bump here and there with “Plan A” especially when it is your first time in smoking.
Prepare the Grill
The grill is actually the whole setup where you will cook the meat, so this includes the coal in the kettle grill or smoker.
The coal in a kettle grill can be arranged in two ways. The first arrangement is a parallel configuration wherein the coals are prepared on two sides of the grill. The middle portion is for a pan of water that will add humidity to the setup. The other arrangement is a wreath configuration wherein a layer of coals is arranged around the edge of the grill. Put wood chunks as a second layer to enhance the smoky flavor of the meat. In a similar manner, the middle portion is still for the pan of water that will seal in the moisture, which is important in smoking.
If you are using a smoker, put a bed of unlit coals under a few lit coals. These unlit coals will burn over time. Smokers are customized for slow cooking and this is the reason why it is best to use a smoker for your first smoked barbeque. However, there are different types of smokers such as an offset smoker, a pellet smoker, charcoal smoker, a wood smoker, an electric smoker, and a propane smoker to name a few.
An offset smoker has two chambers, one is where the meat is grilled, and the other chamber supplies the fuel to cook the meat. The best offset smoker has a wide cooking area and efficient smoke control. A pellet grill has a chamber where wood pellets are inserted to stabilize and maintain the temperature of the cooking chamber. Hence, the best pellet smoker has effective temperature control.
A charcoal smoker is considered the cheapest smoker, while a wood smoker offers the most genuine smoked flavor. An electric smoker has digital controls for monitoring and adjusting the temperature while a propane smoker efficiently burns up wood chips. Familiarize yourself with these types of smokers to identify which type of smoker you own and be able to maximize its benefits in smoking meat.
Choose your meat.
Technically, all meat cuts can be grilled or smoked. But of course, different meat cuts cook over different periods of time. Briskets, shoulder, and ribs are good cuts for your first smoked barbeque because these are usually the tough cuts, which can only be tenderized by slow cooking, such as smoking. Meat cuts such as tenderloin, are not for smoking, but rather for grilling, hence, steaks are more appropriately grilled than smoked.
Keep a constant temperature.
It is important to keep constant temperature during the whole time that the meat is being smoked. To keep a constant temperature, avoid opening the lid of the cooking chamber to peak on the meat. This is the reason why offset smokers have a separate chamber for fuel so that coal and wood chips can be added to keep a stable temperature, without having to open the cooking chamber.
A water pan also keeps the temperature inside the cooking chamber stable by retaining heat and sealing in the moisture. Additionally, offset smokers also have a thermometer to help you monitor the temperature. Apart from keeping a consistent temperature, it is also best to keep a low temperature for slowly cooking the meat.
Less is more.
This saying is true in slow cooking smoked meat, which is why salt and pepper are sufficient seasonings just to heighten the smoky flavor. But instead of just rubbing the salt on the meat, prepare a salt and water solution. Soak the meat you will smoke in this solution for a whole day before cooking. This will give the meat its juicy finish.
Smoke wood already enhances the flavor of the meat, but different types of smoke wood generate different flavors. For instance, oak wood is best for beef and pork while fruit woods are best for chicken barbeques. There are large wood chunks and there are also wood chips infused in water that are perfect for smoking. To seal in the moisture in the slow-cooked meat, wrap it in foil and put it back into the smoker. Give it a few minutes more before taking it off the grill.
Enjoy the Tradition
Grilling and smoking are traditional ways of cooking and preserving meat. Before, the size of the chambers used for smoking was significantly huge and made of clay wherein meat were hung on the ceiling. Smoking and cooking these meat took days, but the cooked meat can last the whole winter. Although the process of slow cooking smoked meat has evolved, it is still practiced until today. With the advancements in technology, there are a lot of differences in the techniques and devices used. Smoking barbeque might seem so simple, but one thing holds true: that there is still a lot to learn.