If you happen to be reading this, you have an interest in becoming the next god of the coals and start Smoking Meats. I myself have found myself jonesing for the perfect Beef Brisket and being on a constant search for perfect pulled pork. Finally, I took the plunge and started immersing myself into this amazing world of flavor.
I grew up in California, Idaho, and Utah, and was not exposed to good BBQ like I would have been if I grew up in the Midwest or the South. Since I have expanded my horizons, so has my desire to make the best and most flavorful meats that I can. Here are some tips and secrets to get started in one of the most rewarding forms of cooking. With some practice, your family and friends will think you too are a God of the Smoker. Below are some great tips for getting started that I have compiled to help us all in getting started with our flavor journey.
Probably the one part of the experience that causes the most contention and confusion between people who are smoking meats is the Smoker itself. All smokers use different types of fuel to create heat and smoke to infuse the meat with flavor. The heat slowly cooks the meat, while the smoke penetrates and flavors the meats. Over the years, man has created several different ways to cook meat and put that smoke flavor in the meat.
Most people who have been in the game for quite a while definitely have their preference. Here is a list of some of the different types of smoker:
- Vertical Water Smoker – Fuel on the bottom, a water pan to control and regulate the temperature, and an upper chamber to fill with meat.
- Offset Smoker – Fuel (Wood, Charcoal or Pellets) is burned on one side of the smoker and connected to another chamber that holds meats and the smoke travels through an opening to heat and flavor the meat. This is an indirect type of cooking.
- Box Smoker – Much like a Vertical Water Smoker, the Box Smoker has fuel source on the bottom of a “cabinet” and racks going up. These can have a water pan also. This is usually for those that want to cook a lot of meat at the same time.
- Drum Smoker – A Very simple way to go and usually a DIY project. The drum acts as a smoker. These usually have very poor insulation and will go through a lot of fuel.
- Smoker Oven – These have an electric smoking element that causes fuel to smolder.
- Komodo Grill – A versatile cooker that can be used to grill as well. They are made of ceramic and usually painted Green.
- Pellet Grill – Uses pellets as fuel and feeds the chamber using a hopper and auger feature. Pellet Grills can be combined with other Box Smokers or Offset Smokers.
The Accessories for Smoking Meats
- Butcher Paper – This one is a must if you want to keep your meat moist throughout the cooking process. Once your meat develops that coveted crust, you wrap it to keep the moisture inside and to lock in the flavors.
- Spritzer Bottle – Every hour (sometimes each 30 minutes) you need to give your meat a little spritz. You can use water, Apple Cider Vinegar, or Apple Juice to give your bark a nice tang.
- Meat Claws – Essential for Pulled Pork and shredding chicken.
- Temperature Probes – There are so many different options. Ones that plug into the outside of the smoker, ones that are manual, and ones that connect to your phones over wifi and let you know the temperature when you are not even near your smoker.
- Flavor Injectors – Essential for getting flavor deep down in your meats. If you want your meat to be super moist and delicious, a good flavor injector will pay huge dividends.
With all of these accessories, some can get a little pricy, some cost less than $5. But if you view it as an investment and take care of your tools, they will last you quite a while.
Learning to smoke some serious meats takes a long time to get right. A lot of late nights, early mornings, and I’m sure there will be some disappointments, but that is where the fun and learning happens. In my personal experience, I would buy a huge piece of meat and find a rub at Cabela’s or Lowes and have at it. The best way to learn is simply by doing. So get at it!
Smoking Meats is definitely a lifestyle and one that you are constantly tweaking to get right. You will not be a god at the beginning, so be patient with yourself. Watch YouTube videos of others and their experiences. Find some spice rubs on Pinterest, stick stuff in the smoker that you wouldn’t expect. Experiment! And most of all, have fun.