Saturday, September 11, 2010

How to Use a Smoker Basics

How to Use a Smoker Basics Revisited!

Curing and smoking meats is an ancient method used for preparing all types of meats. Before refrigeration was available for food storage, this process was a primary food preparation process for enhancing flavor and preventing spoilage. The same procedures can be modified and used to prepare many other types of meats.

Salt is the main ingredient common to all curing and or smoking processes. It contributes to the flavor and texture of the meat, and discourages growth of spoilage microorganisms that could render the meat inedible. Additional ingredients are often used to enhance the flavor and improve the appearance of the finished product. In some cases the addition of sugar counteracts the salty flavor, drying, and toughening that results when only a salt brine is used.

Additional preservatives like potassium nitrate or sodium nitrate were used in the past to protect against the bad "cooties" like the growth of spoilage organisms like Clostridium botulinum that causes botulism. Today, many people prefer to avoid use of these preservatives due to possible health risks. When nitrates are used, the cured meats exhibit a pinkish color.

The basic ingredients for curing include salt, sugar, preservatives like saltpeter, flavors like sauterne wine and spices like pepper, onion or garlic.

The curing solution and meat are kept cool to discourage possible growth of microorganisms. Temperatures of 35 to 40 degrees F. are ideal during the curing phase. After the curing process is complete, carcasses are removed from the brine and allowed to drain. Additional brine can be removed by rinsing in cool water. Before smoking, allow the carcasses to dry slightly to improve the adhering of the desirable smoked color.

Various woods are used to smoke the meat. Each type of wood contributes a distinctive effect on the flavor and color of the finished product. Woods frequently used include hickory, oak, maple, mesquite, apple, cherry, plum, and peach. Soft woods are never used due to the presence of resinous substances in the woods.

The internal temperature of the meat at its deepest point must reach 160 degrees F. or higher. If this temperature is not attained, additional cooking in a conventional oven is necessary to produce a safe product. Using a cooking thermometer ensures complete cooking. Smoking at 185-190 degrees F. during the first 2-3 hours, followed by lower temperature.

So this is the scoop ... don't forget the basics!

Friday, March 12, 2010

How to Use a Smoker - I Want an Aussie Beer Truck

We all know when you learn how to use a smoker that there is always a leaning curve ... sometimes the BBQ smoking recipes turn out great and other times ... not so much ... but ... with one of the Aussie Beer Trucks on hand I don't think your guests would care ... LOL!

I'm gonna get me one of these "bad boys" for my next "smoking event"!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

How to use a smoker - Secret Pictures of Pulled Pork Off

How to use a smoker tries to report the facts, but Brewski Bob is being quite secretive about the whole pork pullin' affair ... I finally received these pictures ...

Julies Jalapeno stuffed peppers ... I have only tasted Aunt Patti's version of these delightful appetizer's and let me tell you, they were mighty fine. In fact I don't know if it was the peppers or just "that time of life" that sent me into extreme hot flashes! All in all, I had to give them a 10 on the "give me another Margarita" scale.

Here is the actual "pullin' part of the party ... notice the concentration on all the faces ...

Now as you all know, I was not able to taste test any of this succulent piggie and only have Brewski's word that he was the winner ... I have yet to receive the confirmation pictures ... I know he is from Chicago area, so I will give him another week ... LOL!

How to use a smoker ... tells all on pulled pork off!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Pulled Pork Pull Off - Chicago Style ... OH MY!

This event was submitted by Uncle Brewski and Aunt Patti, Batavia IL.

Just a quick note here ... I am concerned that we still do not have corroborating photos. After all UB states that he was the winner ... and after all the are quite close to Chicago and we all know about that .....

In addition, I did not receive any over night bribes ... er ... samples ... lol!

How to use a smoker

Sunday June 28, 2009

The day arrived for the “Pulled Pork Pull Off” as a wonderful 82 deg, low humidity bright sunshine, clear sky Midwestern beauty! A welcome relief from the 90+ temps with high humidity we have endured for the last week. Actually the “day” arrived a little earlier for the contestants. Contestant “A” started his Pulled Pork process about midnight and was up every couple of hours to check on things. Contestant “B” chose a more technological approach, loading the Pulled Pork smoker about 10:30 p.m. and letting technology take it from there.

The next morning after the smoke had cleared, so to speak, “A” packed up his equipment and
transported it to the Pull Off site to finish off the Pulled Pork process with “B”. Arriving shortly
thereafter were the Bloody Mary fixin’s, followed by a wonderful breakfast of bacon, egg strata, and a fruit medley. I'll have my Mary with extra tabasco, please!

After the staff was fueled up for the tasks ahead, we were off for the neighbors to round up the needed picnic tables, chairs, roasters and coolers necessary for a successful event.

Both contestants had their Pulled Pork entries done right on time, and as the guests began to arrive, the meat was moved from the cooking process to the resting stage. A little later, as the Pulled Pork pullin' commenced, everyone was eager to lend a hand hoping to get a tasty preview of the treat to come.

Many great appetizers were available, including a special treat from the “Kitchen of Julie”, extra tasty stuffed and grilled Jalapeno Peppers that were promptly consumed …. immediately followed by urgent requests for additional beverages!

Pulling complete and all of the other goodies in place service began. Jessica acted as the Official Judge for the Pulled Pork Pull Off. She manned the voting station asking the guests to cast a vote, by secret ballot, for their favorite Pulled Pork “A” or Pulled Pork “B”. The Pulled Pork was identified as “A” and “B” rather than by name, so as to help to minimize any voting irregularities that we are so accustomed to here in Chicago! Judge Jessica also requested the guests vote for the Pulled Pork, as cooked before adding any sauces, in order to judge the Pulled Pork and not the sauce. All were happy to oblige, as it meant a chance to return to the Pulled Pork station to reload their plates!

As usual there was an abundance of delicious sides to be enjoyed by all, but the Pulled Pork was the main attraction! Many commercial sauces were available, but by far “UB and Unks’ Not for Sissy’s Pattin Sauce” along with “Bens’ Carolina Mustard Sauce” were the favorite Pulled Pork condiments.

With all but Precinct Chas reporting, Judge Jessica announced that the voting was to close to project a winner.

The Bago competitions continued, along with Hillbilly Golf and everyone was quite content to enjoy the wonderful desserts while waiting for the vote to be tallied!

Precinct Chas finally arrived was counted and Judge Jessica gathered the crowd to announce the winner of The Pulled Pork Pull Off. Although the numerical vote totals were not revealed (hmmmmmmmm?) YIKES!

She announced the Winner of the Pulled Pork Pull Off is contestant “B” also known as Uncle Brewski. Contestant “A” a.k.a Ben was awarded a runner up prize of a gift card for a local BBQ restaurant! After the contestants shook hands and exchanged pleasantries Uncle Brewski, in a courageous display of sportsmanship, presented Ben with a copy of his secret Pulled Pork recipe. Ben was quite grateful and overwhelmed that Brewski would share his prize winning recipe, only to open the envelope to find a blank sheet of paper! YOU Rascal!

A good laugh was had by all and the hinges on the cooler lids began squeaking, indicating that the party had just begun!

How to use a smoker in Batavia ... count me in !

Friday, June 26, 2009

Brewski Bob - Shows How to Use a Smoker!

The pulled pork off is scheduled and I can hardly wait ... maybe he can overnite some to Florida!

How to use a smoker ... let's see what the judges say!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

How to Use a Smoker to BBQ Ribs .. or something ...

When you learn how to use a smoker you also can keep in mind that you don't need to use a traditional smoker. Every now and then I use my regular grill, on low with a foil packet of soaked wood chips.

So Here goes ... one of my all time favorite how to BBQ ribs recipes .. the video shows the last portion on grill the , but not the 4 hours before and all the prep involved. Let me tell you this, I spend more time preparing my ribs for the grill than I did dressing up for the Senior Prom ... LOL!

You'll notice that I always keep my copy of the Competition BBQ Secrets close at hand ... it is my "smoker Bible"!

Find the meatiest baby back ribs ... Costco has been selling some "dandy" ones recently. I like to cut them up into manageable slabs then rinse in cold water and pat dry. Now for the dry rub .. you can throw some spices in from the cabinet ... like cumin, Caribbean jerk, cinnamon, cayenne or whatever floats your boat that day or Carolina Sauces makes an awesome Bone Suckin' Rib Rub

I like to throw the rub into a large Ziploc, then shake the slabs to evenly coat and sear them in a hot cast iron skillet ... quickly and without burning them transfer in to a shallow glass baking dish ... once in the baking dish pour in a full can of beer, any kind will do ... this adds great flavor and keeps the ribs mighty moist ... then layer some fresh basil leaves from your herb garden and slices of sweet vidalia onion ... cover and pop into a 325 degree oven for 3-4 hours ... no peeking , now!

BigAl takes over from there .. it seems he uses beer in his portion of the BBQ, also ... but mostly for drinking and occasionally putting out a fire ... OH MY!

You have to see it to believe it ....

We used apple chips soaked in water for the smoke and some of Freddie Mitchell's famous Barbeque sauce that we bought when we visited Freddie Mitchells Brothers BBQ restaurant up in Lakeland.

When it came time to eat, the ribs literally fell off the bone. The meat was moist and exploded with flavor in your mouth ... even Houdini Clarke got in some major tongue action whipping it around the bone. Once you learn how to use a smoker ... you will never go back!

Monday, June 8, 2009

How to Use a Smoker - Tips from Freddie Mitchell, Pro

How to use a smoker ... it is always a lot of fun to get barbeque tips from a "pro" .... in this case, from Freddie Mitchell, former Philadelphia Eagle Wide receiver, number "84"!

Freddie is the proud owner of Freddie Mitchell's Brothers BBQ restaurant in Lakeland Florida and he really knows how to BBQ Ribs. He was even there when we came by helping out behind the counter and charming all the guests ... he even had time to come over and smooze a bit with Houdini Clarke, our Maltese and BBQ expert!

What can I say about "Brother's BBQ" well, the barbeque sauce was amazing ... it had a mustard base for sure, but the depth and richness of the sauce ... oh my! Right now, they sell it in the restaurant, but they are unable to ship it at this time. We bought a quart and plan on driving back to Lakeland to get more!

Succulent ribs and awesome chicken ... I'm drooling while I write ... LOL! Freddie told me that they do a lot of catering and will bring the smoker right to your event ... how cool is that? Talk about having fun in your own backyard!

Now for all of you that can't just drive up to Lakeland Florida to visit Freddie Mitchell's for his BBQ, you can get a great taste all your own with Bone Suckin' Sauce Gift Set - Mild the dry rub for pork ribs is KILLER!

Happy Smokin'

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Smoke Your Turkey for Fun and Flavor!

Did any of you get a new backyard toy for Christmas called a smoker? Do you know how to use a smoker or is this all new for you? One of the best ways to have fun learning about that smoker is to try a turkey .... now I know that you think that you are "Turkeyed" out about now ... after Thanksgiving and Christmas, but chances are those were roasted turkey's ... smoking your turkey is a whole new ball game of flavor delights!

First off you must choose your turkey ... the best choice is a fresh bird if possible. When you freeze a bird ice crystals will make some of the cells burst and this will make your turkey meat more dry ... it is a biology thing ... lol! Anyway, fresh is best. I also try to not use a turkey that is larger that 12 pounds ... it simply takes too long to get the meat up to temperature and stay in the bacterial food safety range.

Next, you may want to "brine" your bird. I have smoked turkey both ways, with and without brine, I think that brining gives you a moister, juicier end result, but sometimes I don't give myself enough time to brine. I normally have a 12 pound turkey and I let it brine for about 12-24 hours.


  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup salt (1 1/2 cups Kosher or coarse salt)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 fresh tarragon leaves or 1/4 cup dried tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper


The water you use should not be chlorinated .... I use reverse osmosis water. If you don't have easy access to good spring water. Boil it first, let the water cool and then add all other ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Place Turkey in large non-metallic dish and cover completely with brine. Remove Turkey from Brine, rinse thoroughly and dry. Coat with olive oil.

I also like to use a dry rub ... I always say, in for a penny, in for a pound ... it just gives extra flavor. Experiment and try one of the Seasonings and Dry Rubs from Club Sauce. Do not stuff the bird ... with the extra long cooking times you never know if the dressing will reach the correct temperature to kill the 'bad cooties'. You might try putting in some aromatics, though ... this would be slices of lemons or oranges of your favorite fresh herbs.

Now you are going to get your smoker ready and up to temperature. You should have already made your choice of smoking woods and soaked in preparation. A great source of different and exotic wood chips is Uncle Robby's Great and Audacious Wood . I like to use apple or hickory myself, but as you learn how to use a smoker, experimentation is the key.

OK, bring the temperature up on your smoker to between 230F and 250F. You can plan on 30 minutes per pound at 230F or 25 minutes per pound at 250F. Remember your goal is to have the "coolest" part of your Turkey reach an internal temp of 165F ... so for this you will need a reliable meat thermometer ... you can go high tech with a digital or a simple one. Amazon offers a bunch of really cool ones including this wireless one Oregon Scientific AW129 Wireless BBQ Thermometer with Probe Thermometer and Remote

Lightly oil your grilling surface and place your bird breast side up. You will have to monitor not only the bird's temp, but the smoker temp and the amount of wood chips ... you want to be ready to add more when needed. Once the internal temperature has reached 165F in at least 2 spots, you are ready to take the turkey out and let it rest covered with foil on your carving board for at least 15 minutes. This will allow the meat juices to redistribute and keep the bird super moist YUMMO!

As you slice, you will also notice that the meat is slightly pink ... this is from the smoking ... not to worry ....

Now get ready to enjoy some of the best, lip smacking turkey around!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Planked Salmon for SUPER Taste!

When you are learning how to use a smoker, consider the super simple "planking" of your food.

For instance, I love to use a cedar plank for cooking salmon on the grill ... it takes a lot less time than traditional smoking, but the flavor is outstanding!

This is so simple to do. Next time you are at the lumber yard you can buy a plank of untreated cedar and have them cut it into pieces .... or you can take it home and do it yourself .... Now if this seems like too much work, you can always buy the cedar planks online ....

Tomlinson Cedar Plank 12 Pack, 1/4 Inch x 6 Inch x 8 Inch are great to use and no hassle at all!

The key to any plankcooking is too soak your plank for about an hour before you plan to use it .... remember, you want the aromatic smoke not an all out fire! If your wood does catch on fire, just a spritz of water should take care of the situation!

I like to oil up the salmon and then sprinkle with S & P ... some people like to add things like sliced onions, fresh dill, lemons and so on. You are only limited by your imagination!

Get your grill hot ... about 400 degrees and then place your planked salmon on the indirect heat (next to the flame) depending on the thickness it should take about 15-20 minutes to get to a delicious medium. You never want to over cook your salmon and dry it out ... it should be juicy and bursting with flavor .... OH MY .... my mouth is watering just thinking about it ... lol!

Planking also is great for an outdoor presentation .... really gives your guests that Pacific Northwest ambiance .... I remember growing up in Seattle and attending large Indian gatherings where this type of smoked fish was the star of the show.

Remember, when you are learning how to use a smoker be creative, have fun and enjoy your outside time.