Kitchen Talk - So you want to start smoking?
Over the past two weeks we have covered some of the basics around BBQ. While many of you already know all this stuff, we wanted to provide information for those of you new to grilling and work up from there.
Take Heather, for example, one of our Township27 team members. Despite a lifelong love of cooking, the grill was still intimidating. Using the guides over the past two weeks, Heather grilled her very first tenderloin steaks over the weekend, to a perfect internal 145°F. She used No Missed Steak, the grill, a timer, and a meat thermometer.
So, you want to start smoking?
Smokers are huge these days! Eggs, Traegers, pellet smokers, electric smokers. It seems like if you know you know, and if you don’t, you just nod and smile.
For those who want to test the waters without making the investment, this week is for you. Let us help you use your regular gas grill to try out smoking and see what you can do.
Any store that sells BBQ equipment will carry smoker boxes. The investment is small, from $15 and up, depending on brand name or features, like what it is made out of (stainless steel to cast iron). Either one will work very well, we have both and use our cast iron smoker box most, no real reason other than it might hold and distribute heat a little better.
Again, this is a small investment and there are endless options! Hickory, pecan, applewood, cherry, mesquite! Try small quantities to begin with and experiment with a few different types to find out what you like.
Again, there really isn’t any magic to smoker chips, it’s almost impossible to “get it wrong” – they all do a great job, and it really comes down to personal preference. Don’t let wood chip choices intimidate you. You can in fact use apple instead of oak or hickory for beef, the slight flavour difference is almost undetectable – what you’re looking for is the smooth wood fire flavour, which will come through on all of the chips.
Soak the Chips
Some folks prefer to not soak the chips beforehand. If you choose not to soak you will get smoke earlier in the cooking time but run the risk of the chips burning out and losing smoke as you cook.
We prefer to soak the chips in water for 30 minutes prior to cooking.
Prepare your meat like you would normally do prior to grilling. For dry rubs, rub a generous amount over the meat 10-15 minutes prior to cooking. For marinades, follow your usual marinade times or instructions.
Remove the grates off half of your grill.
Place the soaked chips in the smoker box and place the box on top of the shield above the burners where you just removed the grates.
Light your grill and turn the temperature to high underneath the smoker box. Turn the temperature to low underneath the rest of the grill.
Preheat your grill to a range of 225-250°F.
We are going to cover two techniques this week – traditional smoking and reverse sear.
The traditional method required some advance planning, as the cook times are longer because all cooking is done at a low temperature – low and slow!
Once the grill is heated to temperature, put your meat on the grill on the side that is turned down to low, or the side without the smoker box on it.
Using the times below as a guideline, check the meat periodically to check for internal temperature. When internal temperature has been reached remove the meat and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Times and Temperatures
The website Smoked BBQ Source has great charts to give you time guidelines by type of meat, smoking temperature and desired finished internal temperature.
The Smoking Meat Geeks have this handy quick reference chart.
Appearance – Is this burnt?
When smoking, meat can often take on a burnt appearance. Don’t worry, this is completely normal! This is called the crust, or bark and is often the tastiest part of the meat, so if you’ve got bark, you’re doing it right.
Reverse Sear Method
The second method of smoking that we want to introduce is the reverse sear method. This allows you to smoke the meat over a shorter period, but still get great flavor from the smoke.
Follow the directions for traditional smoking. Cook the meat according to the guidelines below and take it off when it reaches the internal temperature below. This is not the final cooked temperature, just the temperature you take the meat off the grill to prepare to sear.
Let the meat sit while you turn the grill back up to high. When the grill reaches 450-500°F, place the meat back on the hot grill and sear each side for 5min.
Remove from grill and let rest 5 minutes before serving.
What Else Can I Smoke?
The easy answer is anything! Smoking adds flavor and complexity to each dish, and as you become more comfortable you will learn what you like and want to experiment.
Beef, chicken, pork - small and large cuts
Casseroles (Mac ‘N Cheese, Butter Chicken)
Fish & seafood
Tell us what you like to smoke!