Smoking Basics: A Comprehensive Guide
Smoking meat is a classic technique in the world of BBQ, designed to infuse meat with a savory, smoky flavor and create a juicy and tender texture. Whether you're a seasoned pitmaster or a beginner, smoking meat is a fun and rewarding way to take your cooking game to the next level. So go pick out your favorite 6-pack and some wood pellets, check the weather and call up your friends. It's about to get good!
Before you get started, there are a few things you'll need. First and foremost, you'll need a smoker. There are many different types of smokers available, so choose one that fits your budget and lifestyle. Additionally, you'll need wood pellets or chips for the smoke, as well as your choice of meat. Finally, you'll need some spices or a seasoning rub, as well as something to help the spices stick to the meat. A simple solution like mustard, mayo, or olive oil can work great for this.
Choosing Your Meat
Larger cuts of lean and fatty meat are ideal for smoking because they require lower temperatures and longer cook times in order to tenderize the meat. Here are some recommended cuts from North 44 Farm:
Now that you have your smoker and your meat, you're ready to get started. Here's a step-by-step guide to smoking your meat:
- Season the meat liberally with your choice of spices. A simple salt, pepper and garlic rub will never fail, but this would also be the perfect opportunity to use your favorite dry rub or spice blend. Covering the meat with a thin layer of mustard, mayo or olive oil followed by the seasonings can help the dry rub stick to the meat and create a darker and more uniform bark. Wrap the meat in plastic wrap and refrigerate 12-24 hours.
- Take the meat out of the fridge 30 minutes to an hour before cooking and set your smoker to 225 degrees.
- Unwrap the meat and place in the center of your smoker. Cook with the lid on until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 160 degrees on a meat thermometer.
- At 160 degrees, take the meat out and wrap in foil, parchment paper or pink butcher paper. Add a good splash (about 1/4 cup) of liquid inside the wrap, underneath the meat. This can come from the beer in your hand, juice from the fridge, coffee, water or stock.
- Return the wrapped meat to the smoker and smoke until the internal temperature reaches 200 degrees. At this temperature the meat thermometer should insert with no resistance, like room-temp butter.
- Remove from the smoker and wrap in a large towel for better thermal insulation. Rest in a cooler or turned-off oven for 1-2 hours.
- Shred or slice against the grain and serve!
Tips and Recommendations
Continually check the temperature of your smoker. If the temperature gets too high, your finished product could finish tough and dry. Resting the meat for at least 1-2 hours allows the liquid at the center of the meat to distribute throughout the entire cut, creating a juicier and more tender result.
When it comes to serving, consider pairing your smoked meat with pickled veggies like red onion or jalapeno, white bread, and coleslaw for a complete and satisfying meal.
Remember, smoking meat is a slow process and can take anywhere between 4-16 hours depending on the size of the meat. So be patient and clear your schedule!
There's nothing quite like the satisfaction of biting into a tender, juicy piece of meat that you've smoked yourself. Get out there and start smoking!