10 Tips for Smoking Meats

Great ideas for perfectly smoked meat and poultry!

By FamilyTime

 If you have joined the legions of backyard chefs who have taken up smoking meat and poultry, we have some tips that might make the experience even more satisfying. Of course, you can also smoke vegetables, fish and even cheese! But most of us start with meat when we learn how to use the smoker, which is also called a "cooker."
  1. Use the amount of hardwood chunks, chips, pellets or charcoal recommended by the manufacturer of the cooker. Using more will produce too much smoke and the flavor of the food will be “off.” Chicken and other poultry will turn unappealingly gray.

  2. Experiment with different types of hardwood, from apple to hickory to maple and mesquite (which is not officially a hardwood, but still delicious!).

  3. Pat all food dry before putting it in the smoker. This applies to foods that are marinated, brined, rubbed with a spice mixture, or not prepped at all.

  4. Some brined foods should be rinsed and then patted dry before smoking. Others require patting dry only. Follow the recipe carefully.

  5. Poultry smoked with the skin on does not shrink as much. You can remove the skin after smoking, if you desire.

  6. Smoke chicken wings and backbones when you smoke larger pieces of chicken and save them (they freeze well) to impart a smoky flavor to soups and bean dishes.

  7. Smoke raw sausage, not those that are pre-cooked or already smoked.

  8. Choose meats that hold up to long cooking, such as briskets, thick chops, and pork roasts.

  9. Use an instant-read thermometer to determine when the food is done. Remember, smoked food takes a lot longer to cook than grilled food.

  10. Barbecue sauces are for flavoring the meat or chicken after it’s smoked. In some recipes, it’s brushed on the meat during smoking but usually toward the end of cooking time (and called a “moppin’ sauce”) but usually it’s served alongside the finished dish.

Many people who start smoking can’t stop! It becomes a passion that you can indulge all year long, even in on cold winter days. It does not require the same tending that grilling does and the results are always distinctive and intoxicating. Happy smoking!