Learn how to prepare any meat for smoking - DIY Guide
Smoking meat has become increasingly popular over the years. This specific type of preparation brings out all the rich flavors and makes for delicious meals. We have comprised some basic guidelines for DIY meat smoking.
Make Sure You Know Your Smoker
Choosing and using a smoker is a fun part of preparation. The only things you need to make sure of is to read the instruction manual to know how to operate the smoker properly. You need to know how strong your smoker is, so you don’t dry out the meat.
Choose the Right Type of Wood
Wood for your smoker is chosen based on which meat you are going to be smoking. For example, you can use Hickory for pork and beef, but never for chicken and seafood. On the other hand, Alder is an excellent choice for poultry, fish, and seafood. Do the research beforehand so you can nail the taste and serve some savory dishes.
What Meat to Choose
If you are a beginner, we suggest you start with meats which are the easiest to smoke. These are beef ribs, corned beef, brisket, pork spare ribs, pork shoulder, pork crown roast, even ham. What is more, chicken and turkey are probably the easiest to prepare and smoke. As far as fish goes, you can always smoke lobster, tilapia, and trout.
How to Prepare the Meat
The biggest question is how to prepare meat for smoking? Well, there are quite a few recipes, but there are some golden rules you can always go by.
It can be sliced thinly, so it smokes faster. It is also good to slice it thin because it will absorb more flavors. The goal is to smoke it evenly and thoroughly.
First off, the classic seasonings you can’t go wrong with are salt pepper, a bit of brown sugar, and some chili flakes or paprika. That is the only the basic seasoning. The marinade should contain more ingredients. The ingredients in the marinade will depend on the type of meat you are preparing. For example, mustard goes well with pork. So you can always rub mustard onto the pork. For fish, you can use garlic or garlic powder and lemon juice. Just keep in mind that you want the meat to be as juicy as it possibly can. For most meat, barbecue sauce is the best choice.
The Longer it Soaks – the Better it Tastes
The meat should be left in the marinade overnight. This is a golden rule everyone goes by. It will enhance the flavors and let it soak in the taste. People usually leave it for 8 or more hours in the fridge.
Extra tip: Remember to take it out of the fridge for at least an hour before you start smoking it. Leave it in room temperature so it can gradually warm up.
How Long Should the Smoking Last
Smoking can be calculated easily. The usual rule you should go by is to add a half an hour for each pound of meat. Though you will get an approximate time frame of the smoking process, you will have to monitor the meat all the while.
Keeping an eye on the progress is very important. It will actually determine the duration of the smoking. You will have to take into account the strength of your smoker, the type of meat, how thinly is the meat sliced and at what temperature will you prepare it.
The meat should always be smoked slowly and with a lot of patience. The slower it gets ready, the more tender it will get. Some meat will take longer to prepare than other meat. For example, pork and beef will take almost double the time you might need for chicken or turkey. Try finding the recommended time of smoking for meat type in the manufacturer’s manual of your smoker.
How To Prepare Your Smoker
Clean up your smoker beforehand. Use regular cooking oil to wipe it down inside and out. The next thing you’ll want to do is to heat it up.
The meat shouldn’t be put it until the smoker reaches the recommended temperature. Position the meat in the smoker so you can move it around quickly. You will need to change its positions later to make sure it is evenly done.
Don’t Be Afraid to Use Foil
To make the process go faster, you can use tin foil to cover the meat. What you need to remember is that this has to be done in the mid-smoking process. You cannot do it in the beginning as that’s the time when it will absorb the smoke the most. The best way to go about it is to let the meat smoke for 2 or 3 hours and then cover it with foil. You can uncover it for the last hour but never leave it on for too long. It can severely influence the taste of the meat. What is more, it should be uncovered for the last hour because that’s when it gets its delicious savory crust. Remember to look at the recipe and see if the foil is included.
Buy a Thermometer
Invest in thermometer for measuring the temperature. This can help you monitor the meat and how it’s coming. Make sure to place it in the central part of the piece so you can get an accurate result. That is a helpful tool for both beginners and experts.
What is The Right Temperature
As a rule, every meat is prepared differently and at different temperatures. What is more, every smoker will emit a different type of heat. You need to monitor the progress constantly to know when it’s done. Poultry is usually best prepared at 160 – 165 degrees, while for pork a good 225 degrees are recommended. As for steaks the temperature should be lower depending on how rare you want it prepared. Still, you’ll need to check your recipe and determine by looking at the meat how it’s coming along.