The tradition that meats are best served when grilled, especially during barbecue hangouts, is only one of the many ways to enjoy your sumptuous meats. There are different modes of preparing meat, from pan-broiling, pan-frying, stir-frying, and yes, you guessed it – outdoor grilling.
Smoking has recently emerged as another great way to prepare your usual meat choices. Before you go into an argument at your next barbecue about the differences between grilling and smoking, it is essential to know and distinguish these different methods.
Grilling vs. Smoking Meats
Grilling is a cooking method wherein you cook minor cuts of meat over a hot, burning fire fueled by either gas or charcoal. Grilling should be hot and fast – as dishes are served right away within less than an hour after being cooked at a high temperature.
Chops and steaks require being cooked as high as 450 F to 500 F if grilling is your way to go. The rationale behind having to cook meat at high temperatures under such a short amount of time is that the tenderness of the meat is prioritized. Cooking the meat for longer than the prescribed time for grilling may also cause drying out the item.
Also, barbecuing, which is often confused with grilling, involves cooking large slabs of meat over low fire. The slow process can take several hours to cook the meat to barbecue perfection. Since barbecued meat needs a little smoke, you may include wood chips in your low fire for cooking.
On the other hand, smoking is closer to barbecuing than grilling. The food is cooked directly from the smoke of fire from wooden chips such as hickory, apple, cherry, mesquite, each unique flavor to the smoked meat. The cooking time takes as long as 24 hours, and you can do it at even lower temperatures than barbecuing.
Among the three meat cooking procedures, smoking is the most intricate and needs more expertise. The method usually requires having a smoker, but your charcoal grill can do just fine if you don’t have one. Carefully choosing your produce for smoking is also a vital part of the process. Here are some of the best meats for smoking, as highly rated by smokehouses all around the world:
1. Beef Brisket
Beef brisket is a favorite staple when it comes to smoked meats. Meat suppliers take the meat from the cow’s chest. Smoking is notably the only way to go when it comes to cooking this, as the meat is known to be inedible and tough. Time is the essence when preparing beef brisket, and smoking is the perfect process for having that melt-in-your-mouth meaty goodness.
2. Pork Butt or Shoulder
Pork meat from these parts is often used for “pulled pork” dishes. If you are a beginner in meat smoking, you can start with pulled pork, as this is a much cheaper option than working with a brisket. This meat is also more forgiving when it comes to preparation than its beef counterparts.
Recommended rubs for pulled pork to pack on some flavor on the meat is a sweet-red rub. This consists of paprika plus brown sugar. You can add a kick to flavoring by sprinkling in chili powder. Moreover, the ideal wood chips or chunks you can chuck in your smoker or charcoal grill should lean towards neutral-tasting wood.
Turkey is often associated with Thanksgiving, but who says you can’t have it at any other time throughout the year? Turkey has a lot of flavors and can fill up the appetite for a crowd. You can serve this for your next family gathering or even for a special occasion over a celebration for two.
However, one challenge about smoking turkey is that it is notorious for having low-fat content. If you are not cautious, you might draw out too much juice from the turkey meat and leave it too dry, leading to it losing its flavor. In this case, butter is the key to retaining the turkey’s juiciness when cooked in your smoker.
You can enjoy having a tasty smoked turkey by putting applewood into your charcoal grill/ smoker for that “fall” flavor. Cooking time can be for 2 hours only, which is quicker than smoking beef and other meat cuts.
4. Pork Chops
You can add pork chops to your list of beginner-friendly meats for smoking. They are also packed with flavor, versatile, and are much simpler to prepare. Make sure that your meat cut is one inch thick because any thinner than that may result in dry meat after smoking.
The wood flavors that match smoking pork chops are apple, hickory, and maple, to name a few. The process is also shorter than the usual meats such as beef brisket, which will only take 1 to ½ hours, thus saving your waiting time to satiate your hunger.
Interestingly, smoking is not only limited to meat. You can also use it to prepare fish, such as salmon. This is great for those who are not big fans of meat or want a lighter meal but still want that smokey flavor.
Salmon is a highly sought variety when it comes to smoking than most of its fish counterparts as its high oil content ensures that it won’t dry out when undergoing the smoking process. The key to excellent smoked salmon is its marinade. You can have it marinated in a combination of lemon and garlic or a mixture of soy sauce, honey, garlic, paprika, and your choice of other spices.
Whether you are a beginner in meat smoking or a veteran who is often designated to prepare meats for your next barbecue hangout, these meats are sure mouthwatering staples you can add to your arsenal. Although it entails an intricate process, you can become a master in the meat smoking department with the right mix of patience and time.