For starters, a smoker grill is a specially designed horizontal chamber that comes fitted with a chimney and a firebox that feeds smoke into the adjacent cooking chamber. The smoker grill is responsible for those fantastic smoky flavors we all love.
There are various ways to fire up your smoker. Choose whichever fuel or energy source works best for you. You can opt for a smoker that runs on charcoal, gas, wood pellets, or electricity. It boils down to your personal taste.
If you enjoy spending time out in your backyard while waiting on some tasty smoked ham or a twist on your all-time favorite mac and cheese with that woody smoked flavor, then here is a rundown of how to get your smoker grill going for the best result.
How Do You Control the Heat on a Smoker Grill?
To control the heat, you have to understand what temperatures are best for smoking and how to measure them.
Start by Monitoring Your Smoker Temperature?
You want to keep your smoker’s temperature between 225o to 250oF, which is ideal for smoking meat. Most smoker grills come fitted with a built-in thermometer. However, they only take temperatures at the top of the smoker rather than the food you are smoking. Invest in a temperature probe or a meat thermometer to maintain a consistent temperature for that slow cook.
Controlling Your Smoker Grill Heat
Opening and closing your smoker vents adjusts the amount of oxygen entering it. The more air you have going into your smoker, the hotter it gets, and the less air you allow, the cooler your smoker becomes.
What Do I Do If My Smoker Is Too Hot?
If your smoker goes above 250oF, then you know it’s getting too hot, and your meat is going to be overcooked. Keep your cool, pun intended, and simply reduce the airflow going into your smoker grill by closing off the air vent. Like I’ve already mentioned, maintaining a consistent temperature is the key to smoked meat that is juicy and tender.
How Do You Keep Meat Moist When Smoking?
To get all the goodness of a cut of meat, you have to lock-in the moisture because nothing is as disappointing as dried-out meat. Here are some pointers on how to keep your meat moist.
Dry-rub Your Meat
The critical ingredient for retaining moisture in your flavorful dry rub is salt. Salt denatures the meat preventing it from drying out.
Consider the Type of Meat and Its Cooking Time
Not all meat is the same. Tougher meats need to smoke for a much longer time than leaner cuts of meat. Furthermore, these larger, tougher meats, like a generous cut of brisket, can retain their moisture even after long smoking periods of between 6 to 14 hours because of their fat content.
For leaner meats like chicken breast to stay moist during smoking, you need to marinate or brine them before placing them on the smoker grill. Pork chops and chicken breasts only need to be under the smoker for 1½ to 2 hours.
Medium-sized meat portions that include your steak or ribs have a cooking time of 4 to 6 hours.
Keep Your Smoker Grill Lid Closed
Simply put, no peeking is allowed if you want to achieve good results on your BBQ.
Keep a Steady Temperature
We’ve already touched on temperature, but I think this point needs further emphasis and clarification. Poor temperature control is a one-way ticket to a bad result. It doesn’t just boil down to your smoker grill temperatures being too high or too low. Fluctuation in temperature is just as bad as these two extremes.
Add Moisture to the Meat during Smoking
Spray your leaner meats continuously throughout the smoking process. You can use plain water or add some dry rub spices to the water. Include a fat source like butter in your spray.
Allow the meat to Rest
Once off the heat, rest your meat for 30 minutes at a minimum.
Does Meat Stop Absorbing Smoke?
How long meet continues to absorb smoke has been an ongoing debate among BBQ-lovers for a while. Does meat stop absorbing smoke after 140oF? As far as I can see, there is very little data to back this up. There are some strong arguments on both sides. Let me know what your thoughts are on the subject.
Should You Wrap Meat in Foil When Smoking?
Wrapping your meat in foil is a great way to enhance your BBQ flavors, as it limits excessive smoke on the outer layer of the meat, giving you better flavor and color. The timing is what you need to get right. Make sure to punch a few holes at the top of the foil using a fork for the release of smoke. Only wrap your meat in foil when your meat has reached around 150oF to 160 oF. There is, of course, the controversy around the use of aluminum foil paper.
In a Nutshell
So what is the secret to getting those winning reviews for your smoked meat? It’s all in how you use your smoker grill and treat your meat!