Smoking meat has recently grown in popularity as a cooking method. This is due to the delicious, smoky taste that it brings to food.
With that said, however, using a smoker correctly isn’t always easy, especially if you are new to this cooking method.
Fortunately, learning how to use a smoker, including those with drip pans, isn’t all that difficult. You simply have to follow a few tips and learn some basic skills, like how to clean drip pans.
Cleaning Drip Pans
Obviously, it is important to know how to properly cook with your water smoker. However, knowing how to clean up properly can also save you a lot of worry.
One good rule of thumb to follow is to always line your pan with foil before using it. This will make for a much easier cleanup process.
Fat and water will leak into the pan while you cook. Once you’re done cooking, simply allow this mixture to turn solid. From there, you can peel away the substance left behind and toss it. Be sure to tie it securely in a bag so that it does not attract pests who enjoy the smoky, fatty smell as much as humans do!
Consider Using the Drippings as Gravy
One thing you may want to try, if you’re looking to increase flavor and enjoyment, is to use the drippings that you collect as a gravy for your meat.
This is a nice alternative to throwing them out.
If you want to try this, add water and perhaps a splash of beer, apple juice, or wine- something acidic- to your drip pan.
As you cook, you can periodically spoon some of what you have collected over your meat. Doing so should make it more tender and add a sweet flavor into the mix.
Try Lava Rocks
This next tip might sound a little bit crazy, but you can make your meat so much better by using red lava rocks (you can find them at lawn and garden shops!) into the bottom of your drip pan or water pan.
Obviously, you’re not going to want to use this water for gravy, but you can use it to get meat that is incredibly tender and delicious. These rocks work to put moisture into the air while the meat smokes, helping it to be more moist and to cook more evenly.
Remember, the Fridge is Not Your Friend
In addition to following these “pan tricks,” something else that you can do to enhance the flavor of your meat is to always remember to take your meat out of the fridge before you smoke it.
A good idea is to take it out about an hour or so before you smoke it. This will help keep the meat moist and tender since it isn’t going from super cold to super warm too quickly.
You may not think this step is a big deal or that you can easily skip it, but you’ll definitely notice a vast improvement in the quality and taste of your meat by following this one simple step.
Avoid Lighter Fluids
When smoking meat, it may seem like the easiest option is to toss some lighter fluid on your wood or coals.
However, that is really not a smart move since it can make your meat develop a “chemical” taste and can sometimes even be dangerous, depending on the type and quality of lighter fluid that you are using.
You are much better off lighting your charcoal or wood naturally. Just be sure to keep lighting wood or charcoal as needed so that you can keep your smoker at a regular temperature, thereby promoting optimal taste and flavor.
Choose a Tough Cut
Another thing that you can try when smoking meat is to always go for tougher cuts of meat.
One big benefit of this is the fact that tough cuts of meat are cheaper, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are lower quality.
In fact, they are ideal for a smoker since the slow cooking process will gradually break down the fat and tissues in the meat, allowing all of those soft, tender morsels and their flavors to seep into their food.
And, while there are lots of tough cuts you can try, some of the best include:
- Corned beef
- Pork roast
As you can see, smoking meat, properly using a drip pan, and even cleaning everything out after all of the cooking is done is not as hard as you may have been led to believe.
Sure, there is a lot of learning to be done, but that’s easy if you’re committed to being the best smoking chef you can be. Follow these tips to start, and you should be well on your way to “good smoking.”