There are all kinds of ways to prepare meat these days. You can bake it, broil it, throw it on the grill, or you can smoke it.
That last option- smoking- is growing increasingly popular for the delicious taste it offers. It’s a great way to really bring the full flavor out of any meat.
With that said, though, most people have no idea how to use a smoker correctly or how to get that “smoke” taste you often find at restaurants.
Really, though, it’s not as hard as you might think. As long as you have a quality wood smoker and can follow some simple tips, you can smoke meat with ease.
Always Soak Your Wood Chips
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when attempting to smoke meat is failing to soak the wood for smoking that they use.
When wood chips for smoking are not soaked prior to smoking, the meat just plain doesn’t taste smoky. That’s because the cooking process is not slowed down enough to let that smoke flavor really sink in.
For best results, you should always soak your wood chips in water for at least half an hour prior to cooking. This will give you that smoky flavor that you have been craving!
Understand that Different Woods Produce Different Flavors
When you’re just getting started with meat smoking, it’s easy to assume that smoking is smoking. In other words, you may think that all smoked meat will taste the same and that all meat can be smoked in the same manner.
That’s really not true though. With some experimentation and a little trial and error, you will quickly find that different woods produce different flavors. Plus, you will see that some types of wood work better with some meats than others.
For example, smoking with cherry wood tends to add a sweet flavor to meat, making it a great choice for meat that would otherwise be bland, like turkey, or meat that you do not intend to season in any other way.
Likewise, mesquite wood is a common favorite among meat smoking enthusiasts for the strong flavor it offers; it tends to enhance the “smoky” taste to the fullest degree and can work with just about any meat, especially steaks and ribs.
Apple wood is another common choice for its sweet, subtle flavor, and maple wood is great for those who want to combine both sweet and smoky together.
You can do your research to learn about different woods and the flavors that they produce, as well as the types of meat with which they work best. Or, you can just learn by trying new things. Either way, the more you experiment, the better the food you will produce!
The Longer You Smoke, the Better
In addition to educating yourself on the different types of smoking wood, keep in mind that, more often than not, the longer you smoke a particular piece of meat, the better.
Smoking meat is similar, at least in this regard, to using a slow cooker. The longer you leave meat in a slow cooker, the more tender and flavorful it gets. The same is true with a smoker. The longer you smoke meat, the more flavorful, tender, and smoky it will be.
Of course, you should always keep recommended smoking times in mind, but, as a good general rule of thumb, the longer you smoke your meat, the better!
So if, for example, a recipe calls for meat to be smoked from 4 to 6 hours, smoking for 6 hours would almost always be your best bet.
Rubs are a Good Idea
It is definitely true that smoking meat produces an intense, delicious flavor.
However, if you really want to intensify the flavor and tenderness of your meat, it is a good idea to use some kind of rub or seasoning powder on it before you smoke it. For best results, use a powder or rub that is specifically designed for smoked meat.
It’s also a good idea to let your rub sit on the meat for at least two hours. For even better results, try letting the rub stay on overnight. This will create a much better flavor and will make cooking easier as well by locking moisture into the meat as it cooks.
As you can see, smoking meat isn’t all that difficult. You simply have to know what you are doing to generate the best possible results. Some of “knowing what you’re doing” comes from trying new things and from experience. However, you can improve your results a lot faster by also following these helpful tips.