Once upon a time, smoking was used as a way to preserve meat’s freshness. In the years since the invention of the refrigerator, smoking meat has become a favorite past time of expert grillers and backyard barbeque enthusiasts alike. In short, smoking meat is the art of cooking your cut at a relatively low heat (usually between 200 and 250), using just the smoke from your fire source. Different types of meats call for different types of smoking, but when done right, smoking can turn even some of the worst slabs of meat into a tasty meal. The following are the five most common types of smoking today.
1.) Wood Smoker
Without question, smoking meat over a wood fire is the gold standard. Like the wheel, sometimes things last for thousands of years because they work. Wood smokers come in many shapes and sizes, but unless you are cooking for an army, the key thing to remember is that less is more. The biggest mistake first timers make is using too much wood and building too big of a fire. Remember, the smoke is what cooks and flavors the meat, not the fire!
2.) Wood Smoker 2 (Because it really is the best way to do it!)
Cheating a little bit right off the bat, but if you are going to learn how to smoke meat, than you should be willing to at least try the classic way. That said, since a big part of the flavor from this style of cooking comes from the smoke itself, the type of wood you burn can make a huge difference. Most fruit and nut woods can burn without the smoke overpowering the meat flavor. Hickory, apple, and oak are great woods to get you started.
3.) Charcoal Smoker
Charcoal is a great alternative to wood because of its diversity. Although actual charcoal smokers can be found for relatively cheap, you can also experiment with a covered grill by pilling the charcoal on the opposite side of the meat and cooking it “low and slow.”
While many barbeque lovers swear against gas smokers, the fact is they are a great, easy way to begin to learn the craft. With enough practice, you may even be able to start to replicate that wood smoke taste. A lot of practice.
Convenience is the key to the electric smoker. Simply put, for those of you in an apartment or a place where an open flame is not allowed, an electric smoker offers an easy way to connect with your rugged outdoorsman.
Guest blogger: Mark Lynch is a guest writer for Le Cordon Bleu culinary schools.