Man has been smoking meat since the dawn of time. It used to be a simple task, perhaps dangling a piece of wild boar over a fire. The smoke preserved the meat while transforming it’s texture and flavor. Our ancestors smoked stuff without investing a small fortune in bullet smokers, apple wood chips, or other elaborate gear.
Smoking equipment and jargon is intimidating, but you must conquer your fear to make bacon, pastrami (tongue and brisket), tasso ham, or homemade hot dogs. I honor our ancestors by keeping my smoking routine as low maintenance as possible. Here are my answers to some common questions:
What kind of smoker do you use? I’m currently using a grill that our landlord left in the backyard. You could try smoking with a kettle grill. Advantages of this grill is its size and the thermometer that monitors the temperature of the fire.
What is your smoking setup? I place the meat on the rack furthest from the heat and place a baking pan full of water on the lower rack. This creates steam that keeps the meat moist and moderates the temperature by absorbing the fire’s heat. If the thermometer says the fire is too hot, I sprinkle some water on the fire. Adjusting the airflow by opening and closing the vents on the side also controls the temperature. We check up on the smoking every hour or so.
What type of wood do you use? I mostly use fallen wood from our yard and neighborhood. It’s environmentally responsible and free. Pictured below are some mesquite logs cut by Dustin’s father.
Aren’t you afraid you’re going to poison yourself? No.
LOLZ, you’re such an amateur. Don’t you know that the wood you use imparts a specific flavor? Yes. I’m lucky that most of the wood is oak and pecan. I avoid smoking with cedar, but it’s not the end of the world if some winds up in the fire. I’m not interested in running out and buying a bag of hickory chips.
What is the difference between cold smoking and hot smoking? Think of a piece of delicate smoked salmon compared to the texture of a grilled salmon fillet. Most smoked salmon (think lox) has been cold smoked so that smoke has been applied to it without heat, and it never cooks it at all. This is impossible to do without fancy equipment, so you will do all hot smoking.
To summarize, my goal is to get as much smoke flavor on the meat without cooking it too much or drying it out. Monitor the heat of that fire! Family members recently took pity on us and generously gifted us a bullet smoker, so we’ll use that soon. I’ll let you know how it goes.