To be adept at the art of being a man, a man needs a certain set of necessary skills; these include but are not limited to, making fire, setting up a tent, know how to rig a fishing hook, and knowing how to possibly chase wildlife away with a sharpened stick. Apart from these, a man also needs to know how to handle, treat, spice, smoke, grill and cure meat. There is nothing as manly as having the knowledge on how to create that perfectly smoked rump that oozes with juices and flavors. Well, if you don’t know how to do this, here’s a detailed guide.
1 – Get the proper equipment
If there is anything that is going to help you along this endeavor, it’s getting the right tool for the job.
You need a knife and we don’t mean the Swiss pocket knife that you got from Uncle Jimmy when you were five years old, we mean a proper chef’s knife that is going to last you somewhere between 20 years and the rest of your life. This type of knife has clean edges, a sturdy and comfortable handle, a good stainless steel or ceramic blade that holds a sharp edge. You definitely will not find a chef’s knife in a block set. These are singular items and they always hold at least a limited lifetime guarantee.
Our personal favorite is this knife by Shun. It’s sharp, lightweight, forged from VG-10 Stainless steel and 32 layers of high-carbon Stainless steel and it looks cool with its Damascus steel patterns.
BUY | $135.00
Ceramic Knives are somewhat different; they are harder (8.5 on Mohs Scale – 10 is the hardness of diamond), lighter and rarely need to be sharpened but when they do, they need to be diamond sharpened. Our personal favorite ceramic chef’s knife is this one by Kyocera.
BUY | $99.95
Obviously, you are going to need a smoker. There is a large selection of smokers out there but they are all built around 3 principle modes of action that have their own pros and cons. These three modes are Electric, Gas and Wood/Charcoal.
Electric is by far the easiest since you can control the temperature via a dial. This dial modulates the heat coming from an element which in turn causes the wood to smoke. It’s also simple because you could set your desired temperature and leave it, with occasionally adding more wood and tending to your meat, and you’re done. The con, it uses a lot of electricity and might work you out a lot depending on your electricity costs. Our personal favorite is this model by Masterbuilt that gives you 730 square inches of cooking space, has a RF control, a viewing window and simple side tray for wood chip loading.
BUY | $379.99
Gas, for obvious reasons, is much cheaper than electric but it requires a bit more attentiveness. This method works by using a propane tank and a gas flame to get the wood smoking but it uses quite a lot of propane. You need to have at least two bottles handy in case the one runs out while you’re smoking that brisket. Since you’re controlling the temperature manually, you also need to check regularly but it is still an easy model to use. One of the best on the market is this one by Smoke Hollow that has 326 square inches of cooking space, a brass burner with push-ignite button and a view window.
BUY | $254.63
Wood/Charcoal smokers are the most difficult to use and need constant attention but if you learn how to tend to it properly, the benefits are huge compared to other smokers. It allows you to get a far richer and aromatic flavor than its counterparts and the ability to actually use a wood/charcoal smoker gives one a certain satisfaction that’s difficult to explain. This is where the true art of meat smoking comes in and it’s easy to see why aficionados recommend this method above all others. Undoubtedly one of the best smokers out there is the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker/Smoker duo. The 22-inch model gives you 726 square inches of cooking space, it has a built in thermometer and the temperature is easy to regulate via the adjustable ventilation holes on the bowl and lid.
BUY | $199.00+
2 – Wood Types
Now, with the equipment out of the way, we can focus on the wood chips and desired flavors that you’ll get from each. There’s a large variety of smoking wood out there but we’re going to focus on the 5 most popular ones.
Apple: With a sweet and fruity flavor, this wood is excellent to use for meats such as pork and poultry but it creates a lighter smoke than other wood types.
Cherry: This wood type is also mainly used for fish, poultry and pork. It has a very mild and fruity flavor but blends well with other wood such as hickory or oak.
Hickory: Boasting strong flavors, Hickory is the traditional wood that’s used for smoking red meats. It gives an excellent flavor to ribs and chops.
Mesquite: Being among the most pungent smoking woods, Mesquite delivers a potent flavor to meats such as poultry, fish and even vegetables, if used correctly. Using too much could ruin your meat but the potency can be diminished by mixing it with other wood types.
Pecan: Coincidentally, this wood mixes very well with Mesquite and it provides a medium sweet and nutty flavor. It’s good to use for roast, briskets and ribs.
You can purchase all of these wood types brought to you by Weber in 3 pound bags.
BUY | $3.99+
3 – Meat Selection
When it comes to smoking, you can literally smoke any type of meat from beef to turkey, fish to pork and you can even smoke vegetables, if you like. However, we’d like to give you some pointers when choosing beef. When it comes to smoking, the way that you select your meat is somewhat different to grilling. You really want a piece of meat that has a lot of marbling in it; you want those fatty bits in the meat because the act of smoking actually turns the fats into natural gelatin that preserve moisture and add flavor to your meat.
4 – Brining
Brining is an important step in any smoking endeavor that you want to undertake. Brine is a simple solution of salt water and you need to soak the meat that you want to smoke for at least 10 to 12 hours before you want to cook it. Brining allows the meat to retain the moisture that it would otherwise lose during the smoking process. However, leaving it too long makes the meat too salty so to make sure that you counteract this, we suggest a brine mixture of ¼ cup of coarse salt, ¼ cup of brown sugar and 4 cups of water. This is a basic recipe that can be used for all meat types.
5 – Spices
Believe us when we say that there is a massive difference between the spices that have been laying in the cupboard for 6 months and fresh spices when it comes to smoking. Obviously, the spices that you choose will have to synergize with the smoking flavor that you want but use fresh spices. We highly suggest this set of BBQ spices by BBQ Bros Rubs to get that perfect Carolina, Memphis and New Orleans flavor to your meat.
BUY | $20.95
6 – Smoking!
How you like your meat cooked is entirely up to you. A few pointers though, the practice of mopping helps to keep your meat moist and there are plenty of mopping recipes out there. So, you’d want to mop every 30 minutes or so. Also, a rule of thumb with smoking is that lower and slower is better since you don’t want the cell walls to burst and release all the juices. A good temperature to keep it at for red meat is about 225 degrees Fahrenheit and for poultry, approximately 250 degrees. And remember, longer is better, so for ribs you’re looking at about 5 – 6 hours cooking time but it is so worth it!
Now you know everything there is to creating your own selection of smoked meats and we bid you good luck with your new found skill!
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