Smoking Meat Question and Answer Session

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Welcome friends to the August edition of the Smoking Meat Newsletter!

In the June issue we did a special issue where I answered questions sent in by website visitors. The response I received was so overwhelming that I decided to do it again.

I really enjoy answering these questions since it is not just something that I just "want" to talk about but rather something that some of you really need to know in real life situations.

With no further ado.. let's get right to it!

 

Question and Answer Session – Take 2

These are some actual questions sent in by visitors to Smoking-Meat.com and these are the actual answers that I sent back to them:

Q: What type of wood do you suggest for Brisket? Also, how many hours do you actually run smoke against the Brisket and after how many hours do you stop the smoke and just continue to cook? Thanks.

A: For brisket my personal favorite is mesquite although alot of folks use hickory, pecan and oak as well as various fruit woods.

I think brisket does well with a robust smoky flavor that you get from woods like mesquite and hickory but that is entirely my opinion;-)

If I am using a charcoal smoker, I keep the TBS (thin blue smoke) flowing until the brisket reaches about 140-145 degrees at which point I just let the low heat slowly finish it off to perfection.

It really cannot be measured in hours since every brisket is different.. size is a factor and the natural tenderness of the brisket will determine how soon it reaches it's target. It is best to use a digital probe meat thermometer that can be left in throughout the smoke.

I think the important thing to remember with large hunks of tough muscle is that it must be cooked at low temps to get a resulting tenderness. High heat will just make it tough and although it will taste great, it will be better off made into shoes.

I try to keep the heat on briskets just as low as I can and have been known to maintain as low as 210 degrees for most of the cook time.

Related links: How to Smoke Brisket, Juicy Smoked Brisket, 4 Secrets to Smoking Brisket

 

Q: I am a huge fan of pulled pork sandwhiches. Good pork on a fresh role is a true favorite of mine. I want to perfect a recipe and system for making these. Of course i want the pork to be smoked for hours in my smoker so it is soft and tender just like my ribs were.

When I go to the butcher what cut of pork should I ask for to make fantastic PULLED PORK SANDWICHES.

A: My favorite cut for pulled pork is none other than Boston Butt. As you probably know, the pork shoulder is usually cut into 2 pieces, one of them being the Picnic and the other the butt or Boston butt as it is commonly known. the picnic can be used but does not have the fat content that the butt has. The fat is what keeps the meat juicy all the way through during it's long time in the smoker.

A lot of the fat melts away during the cook time and if you cook it properly, it will yield some of the best pulled pork you ever ate.

Rub all over with yellow mustard, massage in some good memphis style rib rub making sure to get it into every nook and cranny and let it sit while you get the smoker ready.

Smoke fairly heavy with mesquite or your favorite wood until the internal temperature of the meat reaches about 145-150 degrees. I then wrap in heavy duty foil and continue to cook it until it reaches 200-205 degrees at which point I remove it from the heat, wrap in a thick towel and place in a cooler for about 2 hours. Once you open the foil, it will literally fall apart and a little stirring is all that is required. The meat will melt in your mouth.

You can pull it just as soon as it reaches 200-205 but it will not be as tender that way.

Related links: How to Smoke Pulled Pork, Pulled Pork Recipe – Carolina Style, Easy Pulled Pork Directions

 

Q: Jeff, every time I have smoked whole chicken the skin doesn't get crispy, is this normal?

A: I am afraid that you have experienced the "rubbery" chicken skin that everyone frets about… at the low smoking temps the meat gets wonderful but the skin just does not benefit that much.

The only way to get it crispy is to smoke the chicken a little hotter than normal (around 250-275 degrees) and about 10 minutes or so before it gets done throw it on a really hot grill to finish it up. This should get you closer to the crispy skin you are looking for.

Related links: How to Smoke Chicken

 

Q: Does it take longer to smoke 15 lbs of ribs compared to 8 lbs? Thank you.

A: Technically no… you may see a very slight difference only due to the fact that with double the ribs you also have double the cold mass that the heat must overcome initially but probably not enough to worry about a whole lot especially if you let them sit on the counter for about 30 minutes before placing them in the smoker.

I like to use my biscuit analogy… you set the oven on 450 to bake you biscuits and regardless of whether you do 1 pan for the family or 2 pans because you have company coming for breakfast, the biscuits still get done in 12-15 minutes.

The same type of thinking applies to the smoker.. the heat is working on all of the meat at the same time so multiple pieces do not increase the cook time.

Related links: Smoking Ribs

 

Q: I hope this doesn't cause my subscription to your newsletter be cancelled.
I don't own a smoker but I have a charbroil commercial series gas grill
that I like because of it's versatility. It doesn't have a smoke
generator like some of the hugely costly models and my wife stopped from
buying one of them by using her feminine wiles on me.

Now, I'd like to do some mild smoking on the thing so I'm coming to you
for advice. How is the best way to do this? It seems to me that you will
be able to answer this better than most. Any suggestions?

A: It is possible with a few considerations. If I am thinking of your grill correctly, you have 4 burners that run parallel with each other front to back. You should be able to burn either 1 or perhaps 2 of them on one side for the low heat and for getting the chips to smoke. On the other side, leave the burners off and this is where you will sit your meat.. as far from the heat as possible.

Some folks have trouble getting the chips to smoke properly on a gas grill.. I have had some luck wrapping them in a large piece of foil into a sort of pouch and then poking some holes in the top to let some smoke escape. Lift the grate and try to sit this pouch right down on top of the burner where it is right in the flame if possible.

Make several of these pouches ahead of time and when it stops smoking you can quickly replace it with a new one.

You can also place a small pan of water on the grate above the chip pouch to get some humidity into the smoker and to help control the temps a little better.

With a little creativity you should be able to turn out some pretty good barbecue with this indirect style of smoking on your gas grill.

Some items that go great for the limited space of grill smoking are:

Whole chickens
Ribs cut in half
Ribs on a rib rack if your grill is at least 22" deep
Pork Butt
Country Style Ribs
Chicken Quarters
Whole Turkey
Turkey Legs

 

Q: I am just getting into the hobby that is smoking meat. I have been reading your site and I think it is great. I am looking at the thermometer you show on your site. I am afraid the cord will melt in the smoker, what is it made of??

A: The cable/cord is braided metal and does not melt.. you probably would not want to dangle it in the fire but will do great in the smoker.

I have 5 and have been using them for several years now.

 

Q: Jeff: I made a stop on the way home from grocery and ended up staying about 45 min. forgetting about the turkey lunch meat, pork chops and raw chicken breasts in the car. It was about 80 outside. What should I do? I was still cold to the touch when I got home.

A: Poultry especially spoils very quickly… I have a rule that simply says, "when in doubt throw it out". If you end up paying a doctor bill for someone who gets sick, it will be much more than what you paid for the grocery items.

We have all been in your shoes at some point in time.. it hurts to throw away money like that but look at it as saving someone from possibly getting sick and you can feel good about your decision.

Related Links: Meat Safety

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Comments

  1. R. Cave says

    Help! The smoker died with a nice pork butt in it and we didn’t discover the problem for over 2 hours. The temp of the butt was only 114F when I put it in the oven at 350F to finish it. It has been in the oven now for almost 4 hours and is close to the 190 mark. Will it be safe to eat?

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