How to use a smoker? I get that question a lot. Is it the same as a regular BBQ grill or is it something different altogether? Well, yes and no ….
Throughout mans history, smoking food, and meat in general, has always been one of the basic parts of cooking and preserving our foods. Our ancestors also recognized the great taste that smoke infused into the foods we eat and that it was a terrific benefit! It is this delicious smoked taste that has carried over into the modern world with BBQ smokers to fit every pocket book and lifestyle.
So, what is the real difference between the afternoon BBQ grill and the serious smoker? The main difference is the temperature of the heat used and the amount and kinds of smoke that is involved in the whole cooking process. Regular BBQ uses a higher heat and the food cooks much quicker. Take a steak for instance. Four minutes per side for many steaks and you have a perfect medium rare, where as smoking a rack of ribs will take several hours to get just right. With your steak, you do not want flare ups or smoke. The burned charcoal is just not the best taste for your steaks, compared to a YUMMY Mesquite smoked pork butt.
With properly prepared pulled pork or ribs, the smoked meat will be falling right off the bone and lip smacking delicious! The secret is slow cooking in a BBQ smoker with low heat … as low as 200 to 220 degrees. With home BBQ smokers, BBQ can be cooked as well as any restaurant or competition cooker as long as you pay attention to a few details.
The really cool thing about smoking meats is the fact that the smoking tends to tenderize cheaper cuts of meats and of course, if you start out with expensive cuts, your taste buds will be singing Mama Mia! Even less experienced cooks have a lot of success with smoker grills because the slow cooking and low heat means the food will never dry out or be over cooked. Smoking meat takes so much time, all you really have to do is put the food on the racks and smoke will start to form from the meat's own juices dripping down. All that's really left is making sure the fire stays going for the time needed if you are using a charcoal or wood smoker. Electric smokers even take the worry away from the fire going out … what could be easier?
Check on it every hour or so and you should be good to go for a great smoked meal that will make you the neighborhood cook-off KING!
So when anyone asks me how to use a smoker, I tell them “slowly” and don’t get too hot!
For some terrific tips and tricks on how to use a smoker and killer BBQ smoking recipes, pick up a copy of Competition BBQ Secrets .... you will be glad you did!