There are a couple of different ways to get a smoked flavor for your food. Liquid smoke, that comes in a bottle from the grocery store or wood chips/chunks, these are purchased anywhere charcoal is sold. Let us touch on the use of wood. To start with any wood that is hard and free of sap is good for making smoke. If the tree makes fruit or nuts then the wood is typically good for smoking.
We are going to use hickory as the wood in this piece so each time you see wood know that we speak of hickory wood. Why smoke your food? Well, smoking adds flavor and it tenderizes too. It can turn the worst cuts of meat into the best meal. When bbq’ing with smoke remember, smoking can take anywhere from 1 hour to 20 or even more depending on the flavor you are wanting or your food/meat you’ve chosen.
If you have never used wood to smoke before, start small. A great way to experiment with wood is by actually using it on the grill. Instead of taking 20 hours to cook a brisket with the hickory when you’ve never tried it before, try putting it to the test next time you cook up some burgers or steaks. One of the great things about bbq is all the experimenting. Wood smoke is what gives bbq cooking its “outdoorsy” flavor. For your first time use a cup of presoaked chips on your grill with your hamburgers or steaks and see if you like it.
When using gas grills the best method is to put the presoaked wood chips in a smoker box or wrap them in a piece of aluminum foil poking a lot of holes in it. This keeps your grill from getting dirty with ash. Now, get the wood close to the heat because you need the heat to smolder the wood to let off the smoke. If you are using a charcoal grill or a smoker then you can put the wood directly on the hot coals or also place them in a smoker box.
Remember now there are two reasons to keep the temperature low.
One is to give the smoke enough time to sink in and the other is to naturally tenderize the meat. Slow cooking gives the natural fibers in meat time to break down and become tender. Another basic rule of smoking is to place the meat inside the smoker at least in the middle so that it is surrounded by smoke. You want a good thick cloud of smoke all around the meat all the time. This is so you give it the kind of time it needs to envelop the flavor into your food.
Also, good temperature control is a must. Meat smoking is best done in the range of 200-220 degrees. Make sure you bring the meat to at least 165 degrees on the inside to be safe to eat but don’t go too far above this or you may “toughin” up the meat instead of keeping it tender.
Two thermometers are best for smoking. Put one inside the smoker in the area where the meat sits so it will tell you the temperature inside the smoker and one meat thermometer actually in the meat to tell you the temperature of what you are smoking.
The last thing to remember is to continue to practice and have lots of patience. These are the secrets to whether you burn the wood or not? When smoking you are slow-cooking the food or meat so you must give it plenty of time to absorb the flavor of the hickory smoke.
The last thing