I have been reading about (and enjoying) smoked foods throughout my life. I’ve even tried smoking in my Weber grill.
How do I do this with as little effort possible and achieve a decent to better than decent piece of smoked meat?
It began with a Google search of Food Smoking Forums. There are actually a lot of forums on the web of people that have a passion for smoked foods and love bestowing their knowledge upon newbie’s such as myself. The forum I found that seemed to be very active with a good community of “food smokers” was Smoking Meat Forums (SMF).
Browsing SMF led me to find a 5 day Food Smoking “eCourse”. Jeff Phillips (aka @tulsajeff) Jeff will send you a 5 day course that really gives you the basics. You receive this course in the form of daily chapters that are e-mailed to you. Of course, with each chapter comes a bunch of links to things offered by Jeff, such as his rubs, but overall the chapters are well written with an emphasis on providing you with the basics. You can sign up for his course here (I have no affiliation with this site, by the way).
*** Of course you will use your subscription e-mail address and not your personal e-mail addy when signing up. ***
I was able to stop at my local Lowes and pick up the new smoker. I decided to go with the Master Forge Double Door Liquid Propane Gas Smoker for $150. It seemed to have some pretty good reviews both on Lowes’ website as well as on SMF.
Between what I learned from the eCourse and some quick browsing on the Smoking Meat Forums I was able to knock out an unbelievable rack of ribs on my first time out.
A couple of things I learned:
- Yellow mustard is your friend – Use yellow mustard to help bond your spice rub to your meat. Apparently it will burn off during cooking, leaving just the flavor of the spice. I did it and it worked for me.
- Search for “dry rub” on AllRecipes – You will find tons of recipes to choose from. Pick anyone. If you have a recipe that you recommend please post it in the comments section.
- Salt in your rub can be bad – Too much salt can cause excessive drying. Think of this when you are searching for a rub.
- Go for the chunk wood – When buying wood to smoke, get chunks and not chips. You should see both at the store when buying it. When I used chips I wound up with flames pretty quickly. The chunk smoked longer and never caught fire. If I were going to use chips I would probably soak them first.
- Use the 2-2-1 method – it is discussed in the eCourse for baby back ribs (which should be your first smoke, in my opinion). Basically means smoke for 2 hours, cover with tin foil and cook for 2 hours more, and then remove from foil and cook for 1 hour. An idiot can follow this.
- Keep the temperature consistent – this is why I liked the propane smoker as opposed to a charcoal smoker. It seems like the charcoal/wood smoker is more work. I need the lazy approach, hence the propane. I recognize that the purist will may argue that I am not authentically smoking meat. So be it. At the end of the day I have something that tastes pretty damn good. Perhaps if I continue to delve deeper into this “hobby” I shall “graduate” to a more traditional smoker, but I am happy with this for now.
- Smoking times – You only really need to provide smoke for the first hour or so. After that it is just slow cooking.
I recognize that I have A LOT more to learn, but I have gotten some of the basics down. I think I’ve given you a good starting point if you are looking to jump into this “sport”. There are some “mods” you can do to this smoker (as with most smokers), such as installing an oven gasket around the door to help prevent smoke from escaping from anywhere but the smoke stack (smoke DOES leak).
Here is a picture of my first rack of ribs. The picture was taken with my Evo – unfortunately, it didn’t come out as clear as I would have liked it. The ribs were gone in 10 minutes. They were fantastic.