If you are new to using a smoker, the best place to start your learning curve is with the basics. Continue reading to review some frequently asked questions about smoking meats, including wood chip options, recommended temps, and more.
Which Foods Are Best To Smoke?
You have various options to choose from when it comes to selecting a food to smoke. AS for meat, the most popular cuts include ham, pork ribs, pork shoulder (Boston butt or picnic), and beef brisket. Aside from your typical cuts of meat, you can also smoke cheese, vegetables, seafood, shellfish, nuts, fruits, spices, hard boiled eggs, and more!
Which Cut of Meat is Best for Pulled Pork?
By far, the most popular cut of meat to use for smoking pulled pork is pork shoulder. This is for a few good reasons. Not only is it pretty affordable compared to other cuts, it is also readily available at most grocery stores, butcher shops, and artisanal meat shops. It is also very forgiving since it does not dry out as quickly as other types of meat.
What are the Benefits of Smoking Meat?
Smoking meat, compared to other traditional methods of cooking, provides a unique set of benefits. First, the best cuts of meat for smoking are also some of the cheapest; so you can feed a large crowd on a tight budget. Furthermore, a smoker delivers exceptional flavors and tenderizes even the toughest cuts of meat. In addition to tenderness, flavor, and cost-efficiency, smoking meat is also beneficial because it can prolong the quality of meat through preservation and curing.
Which Wood Chips Should I Use for Smoking Meat?
There are several wood chip options you can use with your smoker, all of which offer a range of smoke and flavor levels. The type you use will largely depend on the cut of meat you are cooking with. Once you are more familiar with smoking meats, you can go by personal preference. Common wood chip flavors for smoking include any fruit or nut variety, such as apple, pear, cherry, peach, and mulberry, as well as the classics, like maple, hickory, pecan, and oak. Avoid using Eastern cedar, cypress, elm, eucalyptus, liquid amber, pine, redwood, fir, spruce, and sycamore. These trees are high in resin and oils that cause a thick smoke when lit.
What Temperature Do I Smoke Meat? And For How Long?
The temperature and time you use for smoking your meats will depend on the size and type of meat, as well as, personal preference. Traditionally, smokers are meant to cook “low and slow”, so you can expect to smoke meats between 250 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit, for as long as 6 to 12 hours, give or take. For instance, if you are smoking a whole chicken, you would set your smoker at 250 degrees Fahrenheit and smoke it for 45 minutes per pound of meat.
What Tools Do I Need to Smoke Meat?
You cannot create smoked meat masterpieces with the proper tools and provisions. Aside from your meat and smoker, a basic meat smoking kit will contain a quality meat thermometer (preferably digital), water pans, wireless dual probe transmitters, flavor injectors, a charcoal chimney, and misting bottle.