Smoking meats are considered a scrumptious art form for many smoke-masters. There are unlimited ways to change the flavor and tenderness of smoked meats. The results are based on the smoker, temperature, length of cooking time, type of wood for smoking, meat, and seasoning. Smokers are designed to cook at a lower temperature for long periods of time. The result is a tender flavorful cut of meat that is sure to delight your taste buds. The temperature and length of time that smoked meats are cooked vary considerably. or more details, see this very detailed Smoking Times and Temperatures Chart.
It may seem complicated and overwhelming to begin smoking as a hobbyist. Although, it can be simple when you break down the steps and materials. Starting with the type of smoker, there are numerous types of smokers that you should consider. Electric smokers can be a great asset if you do not want to keep charcoal or propane on hand. Some electric smokers will load smaller amounts of wood at a time. Since electric smokers do not have the wood directly on the fire, pre-soaking is not recommended and a simple water spray is best.
Charcoal and propane smokers often brown meats better than electric smokers and tend to create a deeper smoked flavor. Both these types of smokers need to have wood chip soaked in water at least 2 hours prior to smoking. When soaking woodchips, beer, stock, or water can be used prior to putting the wood in the smoker. Seasonings can be added to this wood mix but are only recommended for propane or charcoal smokers. This is because of the direct infusion of woodchips to the flames.
The common types of wood for smoking include hickory, apple, mesquite, almond, cherry, maple, oak, pecan, and much more. Hickory wood chips are well-suited for smoking thick sliced bacon, beef brisket, a large ham, pork spareribs, and pork loin roast. Applewood chips are great for venison, quail, pheasant, rabbit, and thick sliced bacon. Mesquite wood chips are best with pork belly roast, beef brisket, and beef spareribs.
Almond chips are great when smoking a whole chicken, a whole turkey, rabbit, and goose. Cherry wood chips are best with a whole duck, rabbit, quail, pheasant, venison, and salmon. Maple wood chips are best for cooking salmon, trout, whole chicken, thick cut bacon, and pork baby back ribs. Oak wood chips are best with pork shoulder roast, pork butt roast, beef center cut loin roast, beef brisket, venison, and beef spareribs. Pecan wood chips are best for pheasant, quail, Cornish hen, sturgeon, bluefish, rainbow trout, and salmon.
Smokers are not just dedicated to meats only. There is a variety of vegetables that are delicious when cooked in a smoker. The best method when smoking vegetables is to create a foil tray with a single layer of vegetables. The vegetables should be placed on the top two racks so that meat drippings are not saturating them. Some of the best vegetables to use in a smoker are tomatoes, onions, russet potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, zucchini, summer squash, artichokes, asparagus, bell peppers, chili peppers, garlic, and mushrooms.
Many smoked meats and vegetables hold up very well in the freezer for later meals. So, go ahead and load your smoker up with meats and vegetables. Vegetables also can be put in a food processor after smoking and create flavorful marinades for future casseroles or meats. There is an endless array of techniques for pre-preparation needs prior to smoking them. There are marinades, dry rubs, brines, and spice infusion using meat flavor injectors. Smoker marinades and techniques can be found here.
If you have a meat smoking or any other wood burning question, give Wisconsin Firewood a call at 414-769-9663. We stock “Absolutely the Finest Firewood You Can Buy!” We deliver too!
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