Some outdoor cooks prefer barbecue while others prefer the slower method of smoking. While both methods have their advantages, many swear by the distinct flavor advantages of smoker cooking. While cooking with heated smoke will take considerably longer than with straight heat, it is a more flavorful way of cooking.
Typically, smoker cooking has an offset fire chamber, which provides a means of the heat and smoke from the burner to pass over and through the meat. The flame itself never comes into contact with the food and therefore will not burn it. Neither will the oils and juices that drip from the cooking meat ignite short bursts of flame that can cause flare ups and scorched food.
The type of wood used in smoker cooking also helps determine the flavor with most people using hickory to provide a heavy smoky flavor to the meat. Apple and pecan wood is sometimes added to lighten the wood smoke flavor and wood from fruit trees will make for a slightly sweeter flavor.
Smoker Cooking Not For The Impatient
When smoker cooking it must be realized that this type of cooking cannot be hurried. It is going to take time to properly cook your food in a smoker. On average, depending on the cut of your meat and temperature at which you maintain the grill, smoker cooking a four-pound piece of meat will take over two hours. By comparison, the same size slab on a conventional grill will take less than an hour.
There is no limit to the types of meat you can cook in a smoker, beef, pork, poultry and fish and there are many recipes available to offer instruction on how to prepare them all. Some of the more popular meats for smoker cooking are spare ribs, large fish fillets as well as beef briskets. A four pound whole chicken will take about four hours to be thoroughly cooked in a smoker. The best way to tell if the chicken is done is to insert a thermometer into the thick part of the bird without touching any bones and making sure it reads 165 degrees.
You can rub the chicken or other meat with spices to prepare it for smoker cooking and add other sauces during and after. If you a smoker cooking without an automatic turning device, you will need to turn it occasionally to ensure even cooking and browning.