Smoking is a method of cooking meat that does take some knowledge and patience, but the results are ALWAYS worth it!
With some time and practice, YOU can become an expert at this technique. We promise that your friends and family will thank you for doing so!
Below are TEN TIPS to help get you started on your meat smoking journey.
1. Go Low And Slow
The best way to smoke is slowly over a low, indirect heat using wood smoke - this traditional way makes meats so moist and tender that you can cut it with a spoon!
2. Control The Heat With A Water Pan
Temperatures fluctuate while smoking, and this can cause foods to dry out. If you're cooking for longer than an hour with charcoal, use a pan of water to add some humidity.
3. Don't Overdo The Smoke
A common rookie smoker mistake is adding too much wood. This can cause the food to taste bitter. Also, the smoke should flow out gently like a stream, not a train engine!
4. White Smoke = Good. Black Smoke = Bad
This tip is self-explanatory! Clean streams of white smoke layers your food with incredible aromas of smoky wood. But if your fire lacks enough ventilation or the food is directly above the fire, blackish smoke can lead to unpleasant tastes.
5. Let the Air Flow
Keep the vents open on your charcoal grill and position the lid vent on the opposite side of the coals so the smoke swirls over your food properly. If the fire gets too hot, close the top vent almost all the way.
6. No Peeking!
Every time you open a grill, you lose heat and smoke—two of the most important elements for making a great meal. Open the lid only when you really need to tend to the fire, the water pan, or the food.
7. It's Okay If The Bark Gets Dark
The meat should have a dark mahogany crust that is nearly black. This is called "bark", which is the result of fat and spices with smoke developing a caramelized crust over the meat.
8. Be Patient, Don't Wander Off
Smoking is a relatively low maintenance style of cooking, but you still need to be mindful and concerned for safety. Don't leave the fire unattended, and check your temperature every hour or so. You may need to add more wood, charcoal, or adjust air vents to keep things going.
9. Let The Smoke Speak
You're smoking meat to get a particular flavor, so don't upstage that smoky deliciousness with an overpowering marinade, heavy-handed seasonings, or thick coats of sauce.
Unless you're a master chef, or just plain lucky, it's unlikely that you'll get it perfect on your first attempt. Don't get discouraged! Try different times, meats, wood chips, etc. Practice makes perfect!