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I like it to keep things simple. Life is already too complicated so why complicate smoking meat - weíre just trying to have fun here and a good meal to boot so . . . remember keep it simple! That being said letís first define what barbeque is† and what it is not:
Smoking Meat or BBQ is not throwing a burger and hogs on a grill turning up the gas and toasting them until they are charred. That is called grilling and it isĖnot Barbeque!
Smoking Meat or BBQ is slow cooking at low temperatures with tiny wisps of thin blue smoke, which allow the natural juices of the meat to break down the tougher tissues until itís falling apart tender.
Iím not going to tell you to go out and buy this or that brand of smoker, or that you need to smoke with this wood or that, or that you need to use wood, gas or electric smokers for a good smoke. That is up to you.
Any smoker can produce a great smoked meat and BBQ if you follow a few simple rules! It doesnít have to be expensive. Iíve been using a very inexpensive Brinkman bullet style water smoker for some time now and my Qís are as good as the guys that have smokers worth more than my family car! Ė Itís the cook not the smoker that makes a good BBQ!
SO Ö . . . where do we begin?
Before you get started you need a few things at a minimum to smoke meat.
a. a smoker or grill (with a container to hold wood chips)
b. a fuel source (wood, propane, electric, or charcoal)
c. wood chips, chunks or logs (if you have a logs burner)
d. at least one good thermometer two is better
e. Utensils forks or tongs for grabbing food
f. Gloves (Heat resistant for the smoker things do get up to 250į)
Iím going to assume you have already built or purchased some form of smoker and that you know how to produce heat (if you donít click here to make fire or here to look at a few smokers that are available). Notice I said heat not smoke. There is a difference. We donít want a roaring flame here this is not Burger King! This is about smoking food Ė low and slow. Low temperatures and slow cooking. Make sure you have plenty of fuel to produce heat.
We need wood to smoke. Where do we get wood for smoking? Donít go out to the local lumberyard thatís not what we want itís probably full of chemicals. Unless you have a stick burner (most people donít) we want small chucks of wood no bigger than the palm of your hand or wood chips similar to what you might put around your garden shrubs. (But donít use this type they are chemically treated). They can be purchased at most department store chains in the BBQ section (not the landscape section) or online. You can also make your own from the trimmings of your backyard hardwood and fruitwood trees.
My brother Ėin-law has a wood stove and generates lots of wood chips and chucks when he splits the logs. He saves the hardwood and fruitwood scraps for me and I collect these chips and chunks and use them for smoking. Do not collect the bark it doesnít make as good a flavor. I also have a bunch of dwarf fruit trees in my yard and I save the limbs and branches from pruning for smoking wood. Just let then sit in a dry place with good air flow for about 4 to six months. I use fall trimming in the spring, and spring trimmings in the fall so thereís always plenty in the wings. There also a good selection available online and I have listed a few places I use in the Smoking Meat Menu.
What kind of woods is good for smoking meat?† Hickory and Mesquite are probably the most common and can be purchased at Wal-Mart or most hardware stores but you can use most hardwoods and fruitwoods. Click on the link below to download a PDF file of woods used for smoking meat and other foods and suggestions for when to use them:
UPDATED 8/30/2008: †Wood Smoking / Flavor Chart
New woods are being added† all the time and as I get better information some changes will be made so check it once in awhile to be sure you have the latest most up to date version. Some woods once thought to be bad have proven to be good to smoke meat with so I will try to keep abreast of the changes as they arise.
Thermometers. You simply cannot smoke food without a least one good thermometer! You need to carefully monitor your smokers heat output and your meats internal temperature to produce good BBQ.
Here are a few popular models. I suggest if you go with the digital you also have a dial thermometer for a secondary or back up incase your batteries go dead. If you get a dial thermometer make sure itís adjustable (little nut behind the face on the probe).
Taylor Dial Thermometer
Range 50įF to 550įF and 50įC to 285įC. Adjustable temperature indicator. Stainless steel 12" stem with adjustable pan clip
Maverick Remote Cooking Thermometer - ET72
The Redi-Chek Remote digital probe means you can take the receiver with you, up to 100 ft away (1/3 the length of a football field), and still stay updated on the cooking temperature of your food.
Maverick ET-73 Redi-Chekģ Wireless Remote Smoker Thermometer
remote sensor/transmitter monitors the temperatures of both the meat and the smoking chamber and transmits them up to 100 feet to the displaying receiver
Polder Dual Sensor Thermometer
A cooking thermometer
and timer in one! Dual sensing probe measures temperature of food and oven.
Dual sensor in a single probe, Monitor food and oven temps at the same time Actual temperature range: 32įF to 572įF† Presettable alarm temperature range: 86įF to 572įF† 10 hour count down feature† Includes stopwatch and overtime count-up feature as well
Utensils Ė- anything you need to lift, turn, grab or carry your food. Get it washed and ready before you get started! Things to keep around:
Heavy-duty wide aluminum foil around for wrapping your prize
Plastic wrap for sealing in the juices
Zip lock bags extra large, large and small
High temperature gloves are very important to prevent burns when things go wrongĖ and they will! Get them and use them.
Fire extinguisher - anywhere you play with fire you should have a fire extinguisher. An ABC type extinguisher will suit you well. If you donít have at least one in your kitchen shame on you!!
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†The Smoke Ring - A linked list of BBQ websites
A complete list of The Smoke Ring members
© DJx2 2007