In the last decade, grilling food has become extremely popular thanks to improvements in barbecue equipment. It seems like everyone has a grillmaster in their family and grilling is certainly a great option for creating tasty meals. However, smoking (as in smoked food) is as equally satisfying as any other cooking method, and it is quickly gaining in popularity.
Choosing a smoking vault is not as difficult as some folks think. There are four types of smokers:
You can create mouth-watering creations with each. Some folks prefer the charcoal or hardwood varieties as they believe it produces more flavor than electric or propane models. However, just like charcoal barbecue grills, the hassle and mess of the briquettes and soot is one of the reasons electric and propane smokers are more popular. Electric smokers get their power source from electricity while propane units rely on propane gas, just like the kind you use for your barbecue grill. Both types generate even, consistent heating. The clean-up is minimal when compared to charcoal or hardwood types.
Now that you have determined what kind of smoker you want to buy, picking the size should be next on your list. Look for something that will work best for you; size equals capacity. The smaller smokers are nice although if you are going to go to the effort to smoke your food, it’s nice to do a lot of food at once. Most smoking experts I have talked with recommend starting with a mid-size unit.
Although smoked food offers a delicious detour from your everyday cooking and grilling, it does have one major drawback and that is time. Unlike your barbecue grill, it does take time to smoke foods—any food—so plan ahead. You can smoke several meals at the same time and then seal and store food for future enjoyment. A smoked brisket can take a day or more to smoke. Weather conditions, such as wind, can also play a part in the smoking process and increase the amount of time needed to properly smoke food.
- A good rule of thumb for heavy meats, such as a brisket, is 1 to 1.5 hours per pound to smoke.
- If you have a five-pound brisket, you’re talking 5 to 7.5 hours on the smoker.
- Smoking jerky can take 24 hours.
- Smoking an average size unfrozen salmon filet takes about 2 to 3 hours.
Don’t let the length of time deter you from enjoying delectable smoky foods or the enjoyment of do-it-yourself smoking since smoked food is certainly worth the wait.
Onto the fun part, and that is creating mouth-watering, flavor-infused foods from your smoker. Although jerky is traditionally associated with smokers, today nearly every type of food including meats, fruits, vegetables and even desserts can be cooked in a smoker. Choosing the variety of wood to use in the smoker is just as important as the type of food you put in it. For example:
- Hickory wood offers a rich traditional smoky flavor.
- Fruit tree wood, such as apple or cherry, infuses sweetness into the food.
- Mesquite wood adds flare to ribs, brisket or steaks and if you add a few jalapenos on the smoker racks all of the flavors blend to create a savory rustic southwest taste.
- Another popular combination is using cedar wood for smoking salmon filets and cherries for a delicious sweet-cedar dish. Incorporating additional flavors such as fruit juices as marinades or spices and dry rubs will also bring outside flavors deep into the food.
Fall is the perfect time to discover the fun and exciting world of smoking vaults. The combination of flavors and possibilities are only limited by your imagination.