Using a Bar-B-Que smoker is a great way to create succulent meats. Many different types of smokers are available ranging from inexpensive vertical models to very expensive mobile rigs. They can be heated by wood, charcoal, gas or electric. But regardless of the style or heat source, all Bar-B-Que smokers are designed to perform the same task – cooking meats at low temperatures over long periods of time in a dense cloud of aromatic smoke. After hours of cooking in a smokey space, meats will absorb the aromas that creates the signature taste for smoked Bar-B-Que. Regardless of the type of smoker you use, the following tips can help produce tasty meals every time.
Tip 1: Clean your smoker before every use. All smokers are designed to integrate several components working simultaneously to create a proper smoking atmosphere. The heat source warms wood chips which produce a thick cloud of smoke that is held within a cooking chamber. Before using, be sure to clean out old ashes or wood chips and thoroughly clean the cooking grate. This will assure proper operation of your unit and produce better tasting food.
Tip 2: Use the right kind of wood chips. There is a large variety of wood chips available including oak, hickory, mesquite and fruit woods. Each kind produces distinctively different aromas and flavors. However, not all wood chips are suitable for use in a smoker. Only use chips that are specifically designed for a smoker. This will assure the creation of thick smoke and reduce the chances of flair-ups, which can ruin the taste of meats.
Tip 3: Thoroughly soak wood chips before use. Soak all chips for at least an hour in water before placing them in your smoker. This will create more even burning and denser clouds of smoke.
Tip 4: Prepare meats before smoking. While meats can be smoked without adding anything, the best smoked Bar-B-Que is created with marinades, brine and rubs. Using these preparations will bring out richer flavors and hold natural juices in the meat during the smoking process. Be creative. There are many resources available on preparation techniques and some of the best smoked Bar-B-Que has arisen from people adding their own unique ingredients to basic recipes.
Tip 5: Use both external and internal thermometers. All good smokers have a thermometer attached to the unit that can be read from the outside. An external thermometer allows you to constantly monitor heats levels in the chamber without raising the cover and releasing the smoke. An internal thermometer will be needed to check the temperature at the interior of meat to assure it is properly done.
Tip 6: Know how long your food needs to stay in the smoker. Smoking times will vary in length and temperatures depending on the types of meat you use. Softer meats, such as fish, generally take less time and heat to prepare. Thicker and larger meats, like briskets and thick ribs, can require up to six hours of cooking at higher temperatures. Times and temperatures required for smoking various kinds of meat should be included in your unit’s Operating Manual. This information is also accessible on many websites.
Tip 7: Regularly monitor and add more wood chips and heat if needed. Check your smoker every few hours to be sure that temperatures have remained level and there is adequate smoke. These factors are essential for great smoked Bar-B-Que. Ideal smoking temperatures usually range between 200 and 230 degrees. The smoke should be consistently thick and aromatic.
Tip 8: Never serve under done meats. Before removing meats from a smoker, always use a reliable internal thermometer to ensure that meats are thoroughly cooked. Because smoking is best done at lower heat levels, it is essential to check internal heat temperatures before serving to avoid possible health problems. Internal meat temperature must be at least 165 degrees for safe consumption.