Barbecuing and grilling are two interchangeable terms used by many people to describe a lovely Sunday morning putting burgers on the grill. However, there is a huge difference between grilling and barbecuing. Grilling is to cook food by exposing it to open flames, as the high temperatures will cook the food quickly. On the other hand, barbecuing is cooking the food by letting the smoke of the fire go through it, which will take more time to cook, but it leaves the piece of steak juicier and full of flavor. If you have heard about meat smoking and you want to discover how it’s done, this guide will show you how smokers work and what you need for a perfect piece of meat.
What is Smoking?
Smoking is an ancient technique that has been used for countless years. It was used mainly for preservation as people in the old days wanted to preserve meat to consume it at later times. This technique is still used today, but not as much as before because there are many ways to preserve meat right now. The more common smoking technique nowadays is barbecuing the meat by cooking it slowly over indirect heat for a long time, allowing the smoke to give the meat a tasty flavor and texture.
What Are The Different Types of Smokers?
There are different types of smokers that will assist you in smoking meat. They are categorized depending on how they generate heat.
- Wood Smokers: these smokers rely on wood to produce heat. They have a steep learning curve, and because the temperature fluctuates easily, they need constant attention to keep them at a constant temperature. However, they produce the purest flavor out of any other smokers, but you have to learn the basics of smoking before using a wood smoker.
- Charcoal Smokers: charcoal is the fuel source for these smokers. They don’t need as much attention as wood smokers, as once the coal is lit, it is easy to adjust the temperature. Some people prefer the charcoal flavor, and others add wood chunks or chips to add more flavor though it’s not similar to wood smokers’ flavor.
- Electric Smokers: they produce a different flavor because the heat is produced by a heating element instead of a live fire.
- Gas Smokers: you need to add wood chips or chunks to barbecue the meat as the gas produces heat without smoke. These smokers usually consume propane to produce heat.
- Pellet Smokers: these smokers use condensed wood (pellets), and they are thermostatically controlled, which means you turn them on, set the temperature, and they will do the rest of the work. However, the quality of the smoke isn’t as good as the traditional wood smokers.
How Smokers Work?
Each smoker has their own way of how to smoke meat. For example, vertical water smokers have 3 main parts. The firebox which has the heat source is at the bottom, the water pan above it to keep the meat from drying out, and the smoking chamber where the meat is. So, how does an offset smoker work? These smokers have 2 main parts; the firebox and the main cooking chamber where you place the meat on top of the grates. They use metal plates with small, medium, and large holes to offset the heat coming from the firebox. Other smoker types include box smokers, drum smokers, and smoker ovens.
What Do You Need For a Perfect Piece of Meat?
First of all, you need to choose the meat you need to smoke, as tough cuts of meat such as pork butt, spare ribs, and briskets are ideal for smoking. Use the smoker that you feel most comfortable using based on your experience, but if you care about flavor, you should use a wood smoker. You should have enough fuel sources, whether they were wood, gas, charcoal, or electricity—research what type of wood is suitable for your smoker. Depending on the smoker type, you may need a smoke box, water pan, spray bottle, or drip pans. Finally, you need some practice to smoke the perfect piece of meat.
Smoking leaves a flavor that is difficult to replicate through other means of cooking. Cold smoking is used for preservation and to flavor the meat, while hot smoking, also known as barbecuing, cooks the meat low and slow to tenderize rough cuts. You have to know what the different types of smokers are to choose the one that fits your style and be prepared with items you need to smoke the perfect piece of meat.