Summer is here, and there’s never been a better time for a cook-out. Given that the average American consumes 222.2 pounds of red meat and poultry per year, your backyard barbeque’s success depends on the food you serve.
As Homer Simpson once said, you don’t win friends with salad!
Have you thought about using a smoker for your next party? People love the delicious taste and tender texture, and the smoking process is easier than you think.
If you’ve never used a smoker, you might not know what the best smoking meats are. We have you covered. Read on to learn about the best meat to smoke for beginners and how to throw an unforgettable summer party.
Chicken is a versatile meat and is a crowd-pleaser. The problem is, people don’t know how to prepare it properly. Roasting a whole chicken in the oven can be a delicious Sunday afternoon dinner, but too often, the results are a dry and flavorless meal.
Roasting a chicken in your oven during the summer months will turn your kitchen into a sweltering swampland. Also, traditionally roasted chickens are boring. Serving dry, bland chicken will have nobody coming back for seconds, and you’ll spend the next two weeks making chicken salad trying to get rid of the leftovers.
Smoke your chickens. The flavor is incomparable, and proper smoking keeps the meat moist. Smoking a whole chicken is also a fantastic way for beginners to explore the slow and low style of smoker cooking.
The best part about smoking chickens is the process only takes a few hours rather than a whole day. You can also smoke multiple chickens at the same time to feed a large number of people.
1. Choose the Right Wood
Smoking is all about infusing the flavor profile of the wood with the meat. Think of your wood choice the way you would think about a wine pairing. You need wood that compliments the meat’s flavor. Woods with subtle, fruity flavors like applewood or cherrywood are a great match.
If you want a deeper, more traditional barbeque flavor, try hickory or pecan.
2. Heat the Smoker
Preheat your Char-broil electric smoker to 275°F. Like an oven, your smoker must be at temperature before you start cooking your chickens. Adding them while the smoker climbs temperature will change the cooking time, and you risk turning a juicy meal into a hunk of sawdust.
Take the time it takes to heat your smoker to do other necessary prep work.
3. Rub and Wrap Your Chickens
Coat the chickens with olive oil, and use a generous amount of flavor rub. You can buy these rubs premade, or you can make your own.
After you’ve seasoned the chicken, tie the legs together with kitchen twine and make to tuck the wings behind the shoulder blades.
4. Smoke Away
Once you’ve completed the prep work and your smoker is at the correct temperature, place the chickens in the smoker. You want to smoke your chickens until the breasts reach an internal temperature of 165°F and the thighs 175°F. This process should take no more than three hours, and it’s vital to keep the smoker lid closed.
Americans love beef, and smoked beef brisket is a classic dish that’s sure to please the carnivores in your crowd. There are many easy smoker recipes for brisket, and it is less challenging than smoking lean meats like tri-tip or flank steak.
The best part about smoking brisket? It pairs well with your homemade barbeque sauce, but it also tastes great on its own. These options make it the best beef to smoke.
1. Choose the Right Wood
The magic of a smoker is always in the wood. Beef brisket has a deep, profound flavor, and you need wood that will stand out with it.
Most chefs prefer the bold flavors of oak, hickory, or mesquite. The flavor produced by fruity woods tends to get lost in the taste of the beef.
2. To Trim or Not Trim
Beef briskets have a large fat cap. Some chefs don’t bother to trim, but not trimming can lead to a chewy brisket that’s a challenge to eat. Most home cooks recommend cutting the fat cap. You don’t need to be a butcher to perform a simple trim.
Trimming will also reduce the cooking time.
3. Season Your Beef
Preheat your smoker to 225°F. While it’s heating, season your brisket. Classic Texas-style brisket requires little more than a liberal coating of salt and pepper.
Coarse salt like Kosher salt works best for seasoning your brisket, and opt for the brighter flavors of fresh-cracked black pepper. If you want to buck tradition, you can add a little garlic powder to your seasoning mix. Don’t go nuts on the seasonings, though.
Beef brisket is a flavorful cut, and you want the rich beef flavors to meld with the smoke.
4. Smoke Away
Smoking is the most time-consuming step. At 225°F, you need to smoke 90 minutes per pound.
During the smoking process, be sure not to agitate or move the meat too often. Turn halfway through your estimated cooking time. A mop of oil, water, and vinegar will keep your brisket moist on the inside and crusty on the outside.
You cannot slice your brisket immediately after removing it from the smoker. Slicing it too soon will cause all the juices and fat to flow out, leaving behind a dry and flavorless meal.
Before your brisket reaches the desired internal temperature of 185°F, cut the heat and wrap it with butcher paper. Let it sit in the cooling smoker for at least half an hour. This resting process locks in the juices and helps the center reach temperature without overcooking the thinner parts.
The Best Smoking Meats for Beginners
Once you master the art of smoking whole chickens and brisket, you can experiment with other types of meat. You’ll find that the flavor and ease will keep your smoker in use all year round.
Remember to match these best smoking meats with the proper wood, and make sure you have the time to go slow and low. Pretty soon, you’ll be smoking for nearly every meal.
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