Smoking is a slow-cook method that makes use of smoke to enhance flavor and tenderize meats. The smoking process typically goes on for over 30 minutes per pound of meat but it can take longer.
Many great, lean meat cuts tend to dry out and become unpalatable after being cooked for this duration. But there are also poor cuts of meat that have high amounts of fat and collagen which can become tender and packed with flavor.
The lengthy and slow smoking process does a number of things to the meat. It lets the connective tissue or gristle (collagen), which is a property that makes meat tough, to soften and become converted into a number of sugars. This cycle also imparts sweetness to the meat and at the same time, makes it tender.
The best meats for smoking are usually meats that are tougher cuts like the brisket and whole turkey. Here are some suggestions for smoking that you can try out with your meat smoker.
Barbecue, smoking and grilling enthusiasts love pork, and the rib part is the best pork part that you can cook in a smoker. Ribs contain a high amount of fat and collagen, which is well-matched for smoking. They are also affordable and you can find them in most grocery stores.
The woods used in smoking pork ribs are apple and hickory. As soon as the meats are smoked, they turn into lovely, moist and tender hunks of meat with a complex flavor that has a hint of sweetness.
However, they need to be prepared correctly prior to smoking. Smoking pork ribs requires some groundwork. You have to remove the tough membrane located at the back of the rack, but this can easily be drawn away. Ribs often come in two parts—the central part and the lower part which are connected by ligaments.
Butchers and meatpackers split them, and they are often sold individually, but it is easy to find a section in one piece. Many like to separate the segments for cooking, but experts often say that smoking them whole will provide a better flavor. If you want to smoke them whole, you have to consider the size of your smoker.
People love Cornish or rock hens and serve them together with potatoes, vegetables, and rice. It packs plenty of flavor compared to turkey or chicken.
However, it does tend to dry up during the smoking process, so brining the meat is always suggested. You must brine the meat for an hour per pound. They also go well with rubs, and mesquite wood for smoking.
One of the best meats for smoking is beef brisket. Brisket is a chewy, tough and nearly flavorless cut of beef, so it is not favored by cooks for use with certain cooking methods. However, it matches the purpose of a smoker and significantly acquires the benefits of smoking.
The collagen is melted during the process, and wraps the meat with its moistness. The fat melts away and deeply penetrates the meat; thus, the meat turns into a tender hunk of meat that is packed with flavor.
You have to keep in mind that in order to get a great output with brisket, you have to allow the meat to undergo a long and slow smoking process; the breakdown of collagen will take some time. Brisket does not entail a lot of preparation though. You can also add rubs or brine the meat.
Another food item included in the list of meats for smoking is turkey. The whole turkey that was cooked with the smoking process has a sweetish, creamy taste that is capable of absorbing the wood smoke. However, it will require some prep work before the smoking process. You have to first brine the meat in order to avoid it drying up while smoking.
Brine the meat for an hour per pound, give it a rinse and allow it to dry. You can also apply a rub to the meat if you prefer. Also, it is recommended that you keep enough water in the drip pan during the process and let the turkey rest after cooking for 20 to 30 minutes prior to carving.