The taste you get from smoked meat is uncomparable to other cooking methods and of course, the best way to do this is with a BBQ smoker. Smoking meat can be a fun activity when you know what you are doing but not every type of BBQ smoker can provide the same meat taste and juiciness. For this very reason, we’ve decided to take a look at the different types of BBQ smokers, their benefits as well as what it takes for the ideal meat smoking session. Without further ado, let’s talk details.
Benefits of BBQ Smokers
• The first and most important reason why a lot of people go for smokers instead of grills is that it’s easier to control the temperature even by the hour. Of course, for that, you’ll need lots of experience – but even if you are just a beginner – with barbecue smokers you’ll be able to have a pretty consistent temperature range which is of great importance for the taste of the meat. You can’t achieve this with a grill.
• The fact that you are cooking the meat with smoke is enough to know that the flavour will be unique and incomparable to that of meat prepared on a grill. The nitrogen dioxide that gets released from the burning wood mixes with the moisture in the meat and forms nitric acid which is that juiciness I was talking about earlier. Again, the process is unique and so is the smoky flavour.
• The tenderness of the meat you get from a proper smoking session is a unique experience too as the meat is so tender that it just slips from the bone and melts in your mouth.
How to Smoke Meat Properly
• Keeping it steady and going slow is the best practice to make sure you preserve the protein and smoke out the tough collagens from the meat. In other words, this is how you tenderize the meat while giving it that smoky flavour. Of course, this will take time to master but keeping the temperature between 100°C and 110°C will make the meat succulent and help retain its nutrients.
• Brining the meat keeps it from getting dry during the smoking process, due to the salt in it which makes the proteins more water-absorbent. The electrical charges of the sodium and chloride ions from the salt are what actually makes the proteins lose less moisture. To make a good brine base, add three tablespoons of salt to one-quarter of water. You can throw in some spices or herbs too.
• A simple way to control the temperature of barbecue smokers is to let in air from time to time using the intake (near the firebox) and chimney baffles. Oxygen is the fuel for this process and in order to maintain the right temperature, you need heat. Heat is best transferred through the air and by fully opening the two baffles at the beginning and then by only adjusting the intake baffle, you’ll have a pretty good run at it.
• Adding chunks of wood into the fire is a great way to get the best flavour out of your meat, but make sure to put them a little bit to the sides rather than in the central part of the fire. This way they will burn more consistently and it will take more time for them to smoulder – this is done without soaking the wood as moisture can prevent the coal from burning.
• In order to further absorb the smoky flavour, you should add moisture to the smoke and the meat. There are two ways you can do this, either by placing a metal rack over the coals in the firebox with a water pan on the grate or by spritzing water later on – just make sure you don’t go overboard with it.
• Charcoal barbecue smokers are most popular with old-school barbecuers who usually prefer them since the flavour of a charcoal smoked meat can’t be replaced by modern smokers. Although these smokers are cheaper, you will definitely take more time and effort when starting them and maintaining their temperature. Also, you’ll need to get charcoal every time you want to use the smoker.
• For those of you who want to get the purest flavour possible, wood smokers are the best option. However, they are quite a hassle when it comes to maintaining optimal temperature and keeping them clean. Because of this, they are not recommended for beginners.
• Similar to wood smokers, pellet smokers are way easier to use than their previously-mentioned counterparts. All you need to do is just load the pellets in the smoker and leave it like that. You don’t need to fill them up with big chunks of wood that you need to oversee all the time. However, keep in mind that just like electric smokers, they are also on the more expensive side.
• Speaking of electric smokers, although being more expensive they are actually quite convenient as you only need to turn the dials in order to maintain a consistent temperature. This smoker works by heating up a metal rod which makes the wood smoke, but the flavour is far from what you get with charcoal and wood smokers.
• Propane barbecue smokers are also quite convenient and they are a good alternative to electrical ones. If electricity happens to be a liability for you, a propane smoker is really the best solution in this case. Instead of a rod, they make a gas-fueled flame in order to smoulder the pellets. These smokers are also eco-friendly since propane is a clean-burning fuel.