Smoking as a cooking method requires a little know-how and some practice as well. It is important that you have a good Smoker, as it will give you the best results from the cooking or smoking of the meat. Smoking imparts flavor to the meat and also helps in tenderizing the meat. Although popularly meat has been used to smoke, you can also smoke various other foods like cheese, nuts and some vegetables as well. Here we will look at how to cook on a smoker!
Different types of food require various temperatures at which it will be smoked perfectly. The temperature has to be maintained throughout the process of smoking. If a person is new to smoking, it will require some practice on maintaining temperature control. For e.g. 200 to 220°F is the ideal temperature for smoking meat. Smoking is a slow cooking method, which enables the smoke to penetrate the meat to impart flavor and also to tenderize the meat in the process. Smoked meat tends to have a sweet flavor, this is because the connective tissues – collagen breaks down in sugars when slow cooked.
It is essential to know how to cook on a smoker and to ensure that the meat is completely exposed to the smoke and the smoke is constantly moving. Too much smoke build up can cause the meat to taste bitter. Most smokers come with an inbuilt thermometer to determine the temperature of the smoker. In addition to this, you can use a meat thermometer to find the internal temperature of the meat. Depending on the type of meat, the internal temperature can range from 145 to 180°F, while smoking.
Another important aspect of smoking is the type of wood used. The wood imparts specific type of flavor to the meat. Hardwood is the one which is traditionally used, examples being, Hickory, Oak, Pecan, Mesquite etc. Sweet flavored woods are Apple, Maple and Cherry wood. All types of wood goes well with a specific type of meat and imparts its distinct characteristic to the meat.
Whether the wood chunks or chips need to be soaked in water prior to smoking is a matter of debate. Some people think it is crucial step before beginning to smoke, while some experts’ advice to skip it completely. Most smokers have a water pan in-built. The water helps in keeping the meat moist and tender. Instead of water, other fluids can be placed in the pan to impart additional flavor to the meat. Fruit juice, wine, beer, sauce etc. can be used while smoking.
During long smoking process, the water pan will need to refill as it should remain full. The smoking process will take longer time if the outside temperature is very low. Ideally the smoker should be used only outdoors, away from any electric points. Food to be smoked should be placed in a single layer, away from each other, so that its entire surface is exposed to smoke. The smoker should not be opened frequently, as that would prolong the smoking process. Replenish the wood as and when required along with water and other seasonings.
Hope you enjoyed this post on how to cook on a Smoker.