Smoked meat is tender and flavorful, but it takes hours to prepare correctly. While it may seem like a daunting task, it’s really quite simple. There are two keys to smoking meat: low heat and a lot of patience. Low heat helps the meat retain the tender juiciness you love, but it takes a lot of time. This means that you’ll have to start smoking the meat long before you intend to serve it. Even if it’s your first time smoking meat, you can create a masterpiece by following these basic instructions.
Pick The Right Smoker for Smoking Meat
First, you’ll need to pick out the right smoker. There are lots of different kinds of meat smokers, and getting the right one is really a matter of finding what fits you best. Check out our detailed guide to getting the right meat smoker.
Use Wood Chips for Smoking Meat
Using wood chips in your smoker will give your meat that unique smoked flavor. Soak them in a bowl of water for at least an hour. Soaking your wood chips will make more smoke and help to reduce flames and charring. If you have smaller wood chips, wrap them in aluminum foil and puncture some holes in the bottom to keep them smoking longer. When it comes to meat, hardwoods such as oak, apple, pecan, mesquite or hickory are ideal.
Season Your Meat And Prep It For Smoking
Marinate or apply a dry rub to your meat. Whether you’re using homemade BBQ sauce or one of our BBQ sauces, slather it on liberally and make sure to save some for later. For health and safety concerns, don’t let any marinade touch the raw meat if you plan to reuse it. For a different take on smoked meat, try seasoning the meat with a savory rub before smoking it, then slather it with barbecue sauce when you take it out of the smoker. Experiment with different seasonings and marinades when you’re smoking meat.
Make sure to completely thaw your meat to room temperature. This will ensure that it will cook evenly.
Prep and Fill Your Smoker
Heat up your smoker in a well-ventilated outdoor area. Place your woodchips above the burning coals or the far left or right burner if you’re using a charcoal smoker. Place your meat on the grates away from the heat source. Indirect heat is the key to good smoking.
Be Patient When You’re Smoking Meat
It will likely be a few hours before your meat is done. Use a meat thermometer to determine whether or not it is ready. The temperature of different meats may vary, but as a general rule of thumb, poultry should reach about 165 degrees, pork should reach 160 degrees and steaks, roasts or chops need to reach 145 degrees.