A smoker is an appliance that is used to cook food with the help of heat and smoke. It has the same functions as a barbecue grill, only it does not make use of fire. The food is positioned by the side of the primary heat source instead of being set up over the flames. This lets the food cook slowly and take in the smoky flavors culled from the smoke.
If you want excellent authentic smoky flavors, you have to fuel the device using wood compared to gas or electricity. You have to allow the flavor from the wood to further enhance the taste of the meat. But how do meat smokers work then? We will explain in this article.
Difference between smoking and grilling
The process used in smoking is different from that used for grilling. For a successful smoking, a longer cooking cycle and low heat are required.
Usually, with grilling, you use higher temperatures to cook the meat, ranging from 400°F or more. With smoking, the temperature required for the procedure only ranges in the 200-275° degree range. That’s how a meat smoker operates—through lower temperatures.
Factors affecting the cooking process
So how do meat smokers work for bigger cuts of meat? It will take around an hour or more than an hour for every pound of pork or beef. The cooking time differs and it depends on the precise temperature, the kind of meat, and smoker used. Downsized vertical water smokers will require longer cooking times, though the average is 1-1.5 hours.
Cooking the food will also be prolonged if you frequently open the device. With grilling, you will have to open the lid of the grill a number of times in order to turn the meat and guarantee that no flare ups from the grill will occur. But when it comes to smoking, you should reduce the number of times you open its door.
The temperature for smoking is lower and the meat is situated away from the primary heat source so flare-ups rarely happen. Turning the meat during a smoking process will be reduced to 1-2 times, unlike grilling. Keep in mind that every time you open the door of a meat smoker, heat escapes and this leads to an extended cooking duration.
Meats good for smoking
You can smoke any kind of meat in a smoker from beef, chicken, pork and sausages. Meat can take a number of hours to cook in a smoker. so if you want it cooked faster, you can precook the meat.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture suggests making use of a stove or microwave to precook the meat, if you quickly move the meat to the smoker, or else it will lead to microbial growth in the meat. To kill microbes or bacteria, the temperature has to reach 145-165°F over the course of cooking.
How do meat smokers work on fish? In order to smoke fish, you have to soak the fish in brine for around 30 minutes. You can make your own brine by mixing brown sugar, salt, pepper, lemon juice, onion powder, and water. The proportions will be based on the amount of sourness you prefer so, test a variety of proportions or refer to a recipe for instructions.
The smoker works by means of a process called hot smoking and this means that after soaking the fish in the brine, you have to set the fish inside the device on the heat. Smoking fish usually take 8 hours to accomplish based on the kind of fish and cut.
You can also smoke other foods like cheese and nuts. With cheese, you have to leave the cheese outside the refrigerator for a moment so the air will harden its exterior. To guarantee that the cheese will not melt, you have to use a bigger smoker to keep the cheese away from the heat source as much as possible.
Smokers are not a challenge to use but they do need more focus and maintenance over the course of cooking compared to a gas, charcoal, or electric grill.
You can purchase a meat smoker through brick and mortar kitchen equipment stores, or you can buy one online. You can also make one yourself if you are quite handy with DIY setups. There are meat smoker plans that you can refer to online that can serve as a guide.