Smoked meat is a healthy addition to your diet compared to fresh meat. Some of the benefits of smoked meat include low-fat content, longer shelf life, and more palatable. To enjoy all these benefits, the meat smoking process has to be done perfectly. There is no shortage of smokers for beginners that you can purchase to master this craft.
Here are ten meat smoking tips for beginners to help you become an expert in this culinary meat preparation technique.
Rub Kosher Salt on the Meat
Rub or dry-brine the meat with half a teaspoon of quality kosher salt for a minimum of two hours before cooking. You can also do this the previous night to add flavor and kickstart the denaturing process. The essence of the denaturing process is to ensure that the meat does not lose too much moisture during the cooking process.
Get it Out of the Fridge
It is advisable to remove the pound of meat from the fridge for two to three hours before placing it in the smoker. This ensures that the internal temperature of the meat is near the desired temperature before the smoking process begins. In addition, shaving off sometime before starting to cook also helps to ensure that the meat is at the optimal moist level.
The Key is Maintaining Slow and Low
The secret to smoking meat like a professional is by doing it slowly and at a low heat setting. As the saying goes, smoking meat is a labor of love. Allow the meat to smoke slow and at a low temperature for an extended period of time. Most chefs prefer smoking meat at 225 degrees.
Note that there is a difference between a burnt bark and a nicely cooked one. If the marination or rub has sugar, consider the fact that most sugar varieties easily burn as they cannot withstand high temperatures.
Like any other cooking technique, it is imperative to carry out extensive research to avoid making mistakes. Consider the amount of time that you will need to prepare the meat and the expected time of arrival for the guests.
For example, if you intend to prepare a shoulder or a large brisket, you may have to stay awake overnight and toss it into the smoker just before you retire to bed. As mentioned earlier, make sure that the temperature is set low. Go an extra mile and set the alarm to wake you up twice or once at night to check on its progress.
Type of Wood
There are some woods that emit certain flavored smoke that can add taste to your meat. On the same point, some woods go well with certain types of meat. For example, mild wood such as alder is ideal for smoking fish while sweeter woods such as pear, cherry, and apple are best used to smoke chicken or pork.
Other moderate woods such as oak can be used to smoke beef, chicken, or pork. Heavier woods such as mesquite can be used on virtually any type of meat.
Be Careful Not to Overdo It
Overcooking is one of the mistakes that you should avoid at all costs especially if you are smoking the meat for friends or family members. The secret is just making sure that the temperature is right and giving the meat enough time to cook. Note that the rub and smoke are just there to complement the meat’s natural flavor.
If you are using heavier wood such as oak, the cooking time should be less compared to when using lighter or mild wood.
Don’t Open the Smoker Unnecessarily
It is very tempting to check on your meat repeatedly before serving it. Unknown to most people is that such an action that seems harmless can ruin the entire process. Limit the number of times that you open the smoker door to check if everything is in order.
Use that opportunity to check if you need to replenish the wood supply, mop the meat, or refill the water pan. Every time you open the smoker door, heat escapes from the smoker, and the temperature drops. As a result, you will have no option but to cook for a longer period.
Leverage the Meat Thermometer
The secret to smoking meat perfectly is making sure that you maintain the right temperature. Stop guessing and use a meat temperature to know when the meat will be ready. The modern meat thermometers allow one to check the temperature without having to open the smoker. Knowing the temperature will also help you to estimate the cooking time.
Wrap the Ribs with a Foil
When smoking pork butts or ribs, it is recommendable to mob it with a mixture of bourbon or cider with apple juice in a ratio of 3:1. Once you put it, wrap it with aluminum foil before placing it in the smoker to prevent loss of moisture. The steaming effect as a result of the foil ensures that the meat falls of the bone and becomes as tender as possible.
Give the Meat Time to Rest
Resting smoked meat is one of the steps that most people miss. Even though its not mandatory, it will help hit the ideal temperature. However, the meat should still be wrapped in the foil when out of the smoker to ensure that the juices are evenly distributed. Ideally, thick meat cuts should be rested for at least 30 minutes.
Meat smoking is one of the medieval era cooking technique that has stood the test of time. Make sure that you prep for the process well to get the best results. Friends and colleagues who are conversant with smoking meat can also point you in the right direction. We understanding finding the right smoker can be a challenge owing to the fact that there are so many options in the market. We got your back though, here is an updated list of smokers for beginners to help you save time on research and make the right decision.