There are many different methods of cooking meat. I don’t mean the kind where you cook it by sticking a large iron thing on top of it, but rather the way they used to do it back in the day before people had any idea what was happening with food science. The techniques can be divided into two categories, those that smoke or best pellet grill the meat, and those that just cook it right up.
I will not be talking about the latter here because it’s pretty much like grilling except without the smoke. It’s also called pan-frying or frying, which is technically incorrect because it’s not actually fried. Rather than fry it, these meats are cooked by searing them over high heat until the outside crusts off while keeping the inside nice and moist.
The former method involves smoking or grilling the meat. This is done either at room temperature or refrigerated (which is more common). In the case of smoking, wood chips or pellets soaked in water are added to the smoker along with the meat. These provide flavor and aroma as well as moisture retention.
Meat that is smoked is usually quite delicious, especially if it’s been aged for a long time. There are several types of smokers available, and they come in various sizes and shapes. One of my favorites is the Pellet Smoker from Weber. It has an automatic feeder and a rotating rack so that you can easily turn your meat quickly to avoid charring.
You can use this smoker to make all sorts of things, but one of its most popular uses is to smoke beef brisket. If you’re unfamiliar with brisket, it’s a cut of beef that is sometimes referred to as “the holy Grail” of barbecue. It’s a big hunk of meat that’s very fatty, and it has a distinctive smoky taste and texture to it. You may have heard of it being called St. Louis style. Well, actually it’s Kansas City style. But whatever, it’s good!
If you want to learn how to smoke anything, then this article is for you. Here are some tips that I’ve learned from my own experience:
Start small –
A pellet smoker is perfect for smaller cuts of meat, such as steaks. But for larger cuts like briskets or whole chickens, you’ll need to get a bigger smoker.
Make sure your pit is clean –
Dirty pits are never pleasant places to work in. Cleaning out your pit is relatively easy, even if you’re using a pellet smoker. Just take care of the ash and put everything back together properly. Check out our cleaning guide for details.
Use wood pellets –
When using a pellet smoker, you should always use hardwood pellets rather than briquettes. They will give you better results in terms of both flavor and efficiency.
Do not overload your pit –
Overloading a pellet smoker is dangerous and could cause damage. Always keep your meat weight within reason. If you’re dealing with larger pieces, you may want to consider getting a second pellet smoker.
Don’t overcrowd your pit –
Don’t cram your smoker full of meat. Put one layer of meat in the middle of your pit, then add another layer on top of that. Make sure to leave space between each layer.
Monitor your temperature –
Pellet smokers typically run anywhere from around 150°F to 300°F. This means that you can control the interior temperature of your meat by controlling the temperature of the smoker. To monitor your temperature, I recommend using a thermometer. Be careful not to touch the side of the pit when inserting the thermometer so you don’t mess up the temperature reading.
Take your meat off the pit when it’s finished –
If you have a larger piece of meat, such as a brisket or a whole chicken, take it off the pit when it reaches the desired internal temperature. Then allow it to rest for at least 20 minutes prior to slicing or serving.
Check the temperature with a meat thermometer –
It’s important to know the proper temperature of your meat. The easiest way to do this is to insert the thermometer at a point halfway through the thickest part of the meat. Then pull it out and read the temp. Remember to remove the thermometer when removing the meat from the pit or else you risk burning yourself.
Use charcoal or gas –
There are pros and cons to using charcoal versus gas for grilling. Generally speaking, charcoal is easier to manage than gas since you don’t have to worry about maintaining proper pressure and having a steady flow of propane. It does require more preparation though, and it takes longer to light the coals. Gas, on the other hand, is faster since you don’t have to deal with the physical process of lighting coals. It also requires less prep work, although it still needs to be turned on and off once in a while.
Get rid of excess grease –
Grease is bad for your grill if you don’t get rid of it. Use paper towels to soak up extra grease, and then wipe down your grill grate after each use. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly to prevent spreading bacteria onto your food.
Buy quality equipment –
It’s important to invest in quality equipment for your grill. For example, I wouldn’t buy a cheap grill grate unless I absolutely needed it. If I already have a great grate and it gets damaged, I’d probably end up buying a new grill anyway. However, if I were going to buy a new grill, I would definitely look for a grill that offers dual burners, which allow you to adjust the heat level separately from the airflow.
Go heavy with the seasoning –
Seasoning is extremely important for grilled foods. You have to season your grill before using it, and you should season your meats and vegetables before putting them on the grill. Seasoned grill marks are an absolute must.
Remember to clean your grill after each meal –
After cooking, it’s important to clean your grill. This prevents buildup of gunk on your grill and makes for healthier meals next time you use it. If you have a gas grill, simply spray an oven cleaner solution over the hot surface and let sit for five minutes. Then, wipe it away. For charcoal, you can use a wire brush to scrub the grill. Remember to wear gloves whenever handling the coals.
Be mindful of flare ups –
Flare ups happen when something burns beyond its limits. This can happen when you’re grilling something that doesn’t have enough fat on it. This can lead to a lot of smoke and flames, which is not what you want. To avoid this, you should try to use a lighter fluid based marinade instead of oil.
Hopefully, these tips will help you get started with smoking and grilling. Have fun experimenting with all sorts of meats, and happy grilling!