Smoking meat was invented as a method of preserving meat but it has evolved to become an art form. It is all thanks to advances in culinary technology and years upon years of trial and error. There is a wide variety of modern methods for cooking meat but smoking has withstood the test of time. Its ability to lock in the flavors of the meat is simply unparalleled.
Barbequing is the modern term for smoking meat. It involves exposing meat to indirect meat for long periods of time so that the smoke gives the meat a unique flavor and texture. If you want to smoke your meat the right way, then there are a few things that you should know such as:
Meats to Smoke
Finding the right meat to smoke is much like hunting for the right prey. The main goal should be to find meat that will benefit from the slow cooking process that is smoking meat.
The meat you use makes a significant difference to the eventual result of smoking it. For starters, you should ensure that you get the meat from a quality source.
Getting cheap meat from the back of the store might be good for your wallet but it will not be great when smoked. The best bet is to go to your local butcher where the meat is fresher and likely to be from a reputable source.
The meat for smoking should also be fattier and tougher. The slow process of smoking meat will destroy the tender cuts. The fat will provide plenty of moisture for the meat to become tender and to ensure the flavor is absorbed into the meat.
Popular meats for smoking include pork butt, pork shoulder, ribs, chicken wings, and steaks. However, the beef brisket is the foremost choice for smoking meat.
The type of smoker you use will have a tremendous impact on the results of smoking meat. Therefore, you should choose a smoker that will give you the best results. There are several types of smokers.
The first type is an electric smoker which utilizes an electric rod to heat the wood which then produces the smoke to heat the meat. They have a dial to adjust the temperature hence they are the best for temperature control but they are also the most expensive.
Another type of smoker is the Offset Smoker. An offset smoker explained in Meadow Creek’s guide as a smoker that is designed to cook with indirect heat for a “low and slow” barbecue. Simply put, the offset smoker is mainly for old-school barbeques using wood.
Propane smokers are like electric smokers with the difference being they use propane gas instead of electricity to heat the wood. They are simple smokers that are great choices for people without electricity.
Charcoal smokers are favored by barbeque masters because they believe charcoal locks in more of the flavor than propane or electricity. The issue with the charcoal smoker is that you have to manually keep the fire alive.
Wood smokers ensure the purest flavor of the meat among all smokers. Like charcoal smokers, they require the most attention to keep the fire burning. Wood smokers should not be used by beginners.
Wood for Smoking Meat
One of the primary reasons for using wood to smoke meat is that the flavor of the wood is imbued in the meat. Therefore, the type of wood you use will have a substantial effect on the meat’s flavor.
There are certain types of wood that are commonly used to smoke meat. Alder is used because of its light and naturally sweet flavor. It is especially fantastic for smoking white meat like fish and poultry.
Applewood is another favorite type of wood for smoking meat especially pork, fish, and poultry. It imbues the meat with a nice, fruity flavor.
Hickory is a type of wood used to smoke meat predominantly for its strong, smokey, and distinct flavor. It is eerily reminiscent of bacon.
Pecan burns cooler than other woods used to barbeque. It gives off a fruity flavor and is best used to smoke large meat cuts like brisket and pork roast.
Maple wood will imbue meat with a sweet and delicious flavor as well as darkening the meat you are smoking. You can use it alongside other types of wood like oak and alder primarily to smoke ham and poultry.
As far as pungent woods are concerned, mesquite has to be the strongest of them all. If you are new to smoking meat you should refrain from using it because it will overpower the meat. You should also avoid using the wood on large cuts.
Contrarily, oak is a type of wood that is great for smoking large cuts like beef brisket. Oak has a very subtle flavor that becomes more apparent the longer you smoke the meat.
Preparing the Meat
Before you smoke the meat, you will have to prepare it. One process that is integral to the smoking of meat is brining.
When brining the meat, you need to apply a large dose of salt evenly into the meat. You also need to give it enough time to penetrate the meat. The process is called a dry brine.
Salt is the only seasoning that will penetrate the meat and it also helps to make it tender. Brining is best for fish and poultry or any meat with little fat as it makes the meat flavorful and juicy.
A wet brine is when you mix salt and other spices and mix them in water. It may also include vinegar or lemon juice. When you apply them to the meat, you will let it marinate for about 24 hours. It will help the meat absorb more moisture which will result in a juicer-finished piece of smoked meat.
You can also use a variety of sauces to prepare the meat. You can use any of the vinegar-based sauces or prepare one of your own. However, most barbeque experts recommend using the sauce after the meat is ready.
It would be impossible to say everything about smoking meat as it is a topic that is very broad. However, if you can learn the above facets of smoking meat, you should have a good final product especially if you are a beginner. The best way to learn how to smoke meat is to do it.