Tips on Smoking Meat for Christmas

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Christmas CandyHello and welcome to the Christmas edition of the smoking meat newsletter! I hope you have not put away your smoker for the winter since there is no better time to cook than around the Christmas holiday.

Nothing smells better on a cold day than a smoker with a ham, turkey, ribs or even a prime rib wafting out over the neighborhood.

If you have put it away, then you have ample time to get it back out and get it ready for smoking something to join the thousands of us who enjoy the experience all year long even in cold, snowy weather.

The end result is always worth it!

Over the past couple of newsletters, I have shown you how to do a couple of nice Christmas dishes including smoked duck and smoked pork sirloin roast. In this edition, I am going to try and give you some last minute tips for smoking to make sure you have a great experience and one that you will want to repeat every chance you get.

I will also direct you to some of the more popular newsletters that have been written over the past 8 years and especially ones that will benefit your holiday cooking.

I want to wish all of you a very merry Christmas.. from my home to yours!

 

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Christmas Smoking Tips

Smoking Brisket

  • Purchase a whole packer brisket for best flavor in the 9-11 pound range.
  • Trim fat to about 1/4 inch then score the fat horizontally, vertically and diagonally at 1" intervals to allow the seasoning and the smoke to get to the meat a lot easier.
  • Use mustard or cooking oil to moisten the surface of the brisket before adding rub as this will help the seasoning to stick to the meat.
  • Use about 1-2 cups of my rub recipe on the brisket for amazing flavor and crust.
  • Place the brisket fat side up directly on the grate for a nice bark and to allow the fat to melt and baste the brisket.
  • Keep the smoker at about 225 degrees to keep the rub from burning and to end up with a great tasting brisket
  • If you are using a charcoal, electric or gas smoker, keep the smoke flowing for at least 4-6 hours for a nice smoky flavor.
  • I recommend hickory, mesquite and pecan or a mix of these for a great flavor.
  • Cook the brisket in a foil pan for super juicy brisket. The downside is that the bark or outside of the brisket stays soft instead of forming a crust. Fat side up x 2 hrs, fat side down x 2 hrs then back to fat side up until it's done.
  • Brisket is NOT done and will NOT be tender enough until it gets to about 200 degrees internally. Be patient and use a digital probe meat thermometer to let you know when it's done.
  • Brisket is usually figured at about 1.5 hours per pound however, let the temperature rather than the time determine when the brisket is done.
  • Let it rest for at least 20-30 minutes once it's done before slicing it to retain the tasty juices.
  • Slice across the grain to accentuate the tenderness of the meat.
  • If it doesn't seem juicy enough, mix a couple tablespoons of my rub recipe with a cup of beef broth and pour over the slices just before serving. NO more dry brisket.

 

Smoking Pork Butt

  • Buy the bone-in butt or boston butt instead of the picnic for best flavor. (my opinion)
  • Apply a light coat of yellow hotdog mustard to help the rub/seasoning to stick real good. (don't worry, your pulled pork will not taste like mustard when it gets done).
  • Pour on about 1 cup of my rub recipe and massage it in real good. Make sure to get the rub into every nook and cranny.
  • If you are using a charcoal, gas or electric smoker be sure to keep the smoke flowing for about 6 hours to get that nice smoky flavor all the way through this thick piece of meat.
  • Keep the smoker at about 225-240 to keep the rub from burning and to slowly prod the pork to it's full tender potential.
  • Pulled pork is perfect when it's cooked to an internal temperature of 205 degrees. It will almost fall apart on it's own and you probably won't need bear claws to get the job done.
  • Estimate time for pork at about 1.5 hours per pound + 2 hours padding, however let the temperature tell you when it's done rather than the time.
  • If you like, you can wrap the pork butt in foil once it reaches 160 degrees and let it finish out it's time with just heat. This will speed things up a little usually and helps to hold in the moisture.
  • To make foiling the pork butts really easy, place the meat down in a foil pan with a large piece of heavy duty foil in the bottom and hanging over the side. When it's time to foil, you can just pull the foil up and over the top of the butt to wrap it.
  • Pull/shred the pork while it is still hot even if you are going to save the pulled pork for later.
  • If it gets done early, simply bring your smoker down to about 180 degrees or so and hold it there until dinner time or you can place the foil-wrapped meat down in empty ice coolers wrapped in a thick towel. Fill in any remaining space with more towels, blankets, pillows, etc.
  • If refrigerated, you can reheat in a covered container with a little beef broth, water or apple juice (just a cup or so usually) added to the bottom until the pulled pork is a good eating temperature.

 

Smoking Brats/Sausages

  • Brats are super easy and require very little effort, furthermore, they are always great when friends are over.
  • Smoke at 225 degrees or whatever temperature your smoker happens to be at for other items.
  • Do not overcook these.. they are done in about 2 hours. Much longer and they will be tough and overcooked.
  • Most other sausages including boudin are great on the smoker and can pretty much be smoked in the same manner as brats. (hint: there is nothing better than boudin and fried eggs for Christmas morning breakfast)

 

Smoking Ribs

  • (for spare ribs only) Remove the skirt or flap of meat that runs down the center of the meaty side of the ribs. Just cut it off even with the top of the slab.
  • (for spare ribs only) Save the flap/skirt meat and cook it along with the ribs for some tasty treats. Be sure to add some rub to them. They will take about an hour or two to get tender depending on how thick they are.
  • Remove the membrane by prying up this thick piece of skin at one corner of the bone side of the ribs and pulling it clean off. Use a paper towel or some catfish pliers for a better grip.
  • Apply a light coat of yellow hotdog mustard or a little olive oil to moisten the outside of the ribs.
  • Sprinkle my rub recipe onto the top and bottom of the ribs thick enough that you can no longer see the meat. This is perfectly seasoned.
  • Spare ribs need at least 6-7 hours in the smoker at 225 degrees. Baby backs will need 5-6 hours depending on how meaty they are.
  • I like to apply smoke the entire time the ribs are cooking even if I am using a charcoal, electric or gas smoker. Be sure to apply at least 2-3 hours of smoke for a nice smoky flavor.
  • It is almost impossible to check the temperature of ribs with a thermometer so it is best to just check for tenderness. When they get tender enough, they are done.
  • To test for tenderness, hold them at one end with a pair of tongs and when they bend almost 90 degrees, they are probably about right for eating.
  • If you like ribs that are "falling off the bone" then you need to use the 3-2-1 method as described below:
  • If you like "wet" ribs then apply some of my sauce recipe a couple of times beginning about 30 minutes before the ribs are done and then again about 10 minutes before they are finished.

 

3-2-1 Ribs (Spares)

  1. Place the spare ribs directly on the grate, bone side down for 3 hours.
  2. Wrap the ribs in foil. Splash on about 1/4 cup of apple juice just before closing them up and place the wrapped ribs on the grate for 2 hours.
  3. Remove the ribs from the foil and place them back on the grate, bone side down for a final hour.

Note: Baby backs can be done this way as well except that it is more of a 2-2-1 method with 2 hours on the grate, 2 hours wrapped then a final hour unwrapped and on the grate to finish up.

As with anything, these are estimates, I recommend that you do them exactly to the plan the first time, then adjust to your liking for future rib smokes. The longer they stay in the foil, the more tender they will be. You may prefer them a little less tender and that might call for a 3-1.5-1.5 or similar.

  • More information HERE

 

Smoking Chicken Quarters/Pieces

  • I recommend chicken quarters or chicken pieces instead of whole chickens for easier serving, better portioning and faster cooking.
  • If you have time, I highly recommend brining the chicken for a juicier finish. Read more on brining here.
  • The best way to season chicken is to place it down in a large zip-loc bag, pour about 1/4 cup of cooking oil then about 1/2 cup of my rub recipe per 6-8 pieces of chicken. Close the bag and shake/roll to coat the chicken. This method gets the seasoning under the skin as well as on the skin and is perfectly seasoned.
  • Smoke chicken at 250-275 for crispier skin.
  • Apply smoke the entire time the chicken is cooking, the chicken cooks fast and you need as much time as possible for the smoke to flavor the meat.
  • Use a digital probe meat thermometer to make sure the meat is 165 degrees at it's thickest part before serving.
  • Chicken pieces such as thighs/legs will take about 1.5 to 2 hours depending on how hot you run the smoker. Chicken quarters will take 3-4 hours.
  • If you want to sauce the chicken, apply my sauce recipe liberally to the chicken about 30 minutes before it is finished smoking/cooking.
  • If you do need to cook a whole chicken, consider butterflying (spatchcocking) it as explained HERE.

 

Prime Rib

  • These are a little pricey sometimes but they are worth it for a really special Christmas meal. Have the butcher go ahead and cut the bones off for you or you can have him make a cut down the bones so that they are still barely attached. Also have him tie it up for you. This keeps the prime rib together while it cooks and makes for a nicer presentation at the dinner table.
  • Apply a little olive oil all over to help the rub to stick then apply a pretty good coating of my rub to the outside of the meat. The course spices called for in my rub recipe also makes for a very nice presentation.
  • Smoke the prime rib at 225-240 for 4-6 hours or until it reaches about 135 degrees. This is medium rare and is where we like it. I do recommend medium rare for this cut but if you prefer it to be a little more or less done, then do so.
  • I recommend pecan for the prime rib but I also love cherry or an oak/cherry mix as well.
  • Once the prime rib is finished cooking, immediately take it off of the smoker grate and let it rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.
  • If the butcher did not remove the bones completely, make a cut perpendicular and right next to the bones. Slice all the way down with your knife pressing against the inside of the all the bones at once to completely remove the bones from the roast.
  • Slice the roast into 3/4 inch thick steaks
  • These are very easy to smoke and extremely easy.. just don't overcook it. Use a good digital probe meat thermometer and make sure you remove it just as soon as it hits your goal temperature.
  • More information HERE

 

How to Combat the Cold/Wind

  • As is the case sometimes, you may find yourself having trouble with your smoker due to cold, blustery winds. Your best defense is a good windbreak made from pieces of plywood or some other large flat pieces of material that you can secure into place giving the smokers a break from the wind.
  • You can also use water heater blankets to help insulate the smoker as long as you don't cover up any vents or get too close to the firebox. This may not be an option for some smokers.
  • Placing the smoker in the doorway of the garage for protection on three sides. Make sure the smoke is able to get outside and is not filling up the garage. This works best when the wind is not facing the door.
  • Allow extra time since even if you are only able to maintain 210 degrees, it will still cook the meat only a little slower.
  • If it gets extremely and unbearably bad, you can apply smoke to the meat for a couple of hours then finish cooking the meat in the house oven. This is not a crime and it will end up a thousand times better than if it had no smoke flavor at all. Do what you have to do is my motto in these cases.
  • Be sure to add boiling water to the water pan so your smoker does not have to spend it's energy in heating the water.
  • Keep the door closed at all times unless you absolutely have to open it to add water or fuel. Forego basting and mopping in these cases in lieu of keeping the heat in the smoker.

 

Smoker Tips

  • If you have a water pan, use it.
  • Apply smoke for at least half of the estimated cook time if you are using a gas, electric or charcoal smoker. I like to apply smoke the entire time the meat is in the smoker whenever possible.
  • Get the smoker going an hour or more before you need it to allow the metal to heat up.
  • If you are having trouble getting the temperature high enough in a bullet smoker, leave the water pan dry so the smoker can apply all of it's energy to heating up the smoker instead of heating the water.

 

Help for Specific Smokers

 

Some other Useful Information

 

My Recipes

Folks.. you just have to try my recipes for rub and barbecue sauce. As so many people have told me, it can actually make a huge difference in the success of your outdoor cooking for family and friends. I even have folks who do not use or own a smoker who use the recipes in the kitchen on things like fried chicken, oven ribs (yep, different strokes for different folks), and even things like fried potatoes.. it really is that good and that versatile.

You have to try it to truly experience the "WOW"!

Whether it is ribs, brisket, pork shoulder or even something simple like chicken or chops, every time I use my rub and sauce I am blown away by the flavor all over AGAIN!

I always think to myself, "I sure hope everyone can try this.. it is too good to go through life never having experienced this!"

I am not being dramatic.. just try it and you will join the ranks of those who know if I'm lying then I'm dying! This stuff is Fan-flavor-tastic and you need it in a bad-bad way;-)

Here are a few testimonies from other folks who decided to go for it and are glad that they did. Be sure to send me your testimony once you try it and realize that you have just tasted of HEAVEN.

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Jeff, I did a smoked pork roast yesterday and used your recipe both for the pork and for your Smoky Barbecue Sauce.  Everyone loved it.  My wife said the sauce was the best she had ever tasted and I have to agree.  Fantastic. ~ Barry
 
 
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Hello Jeff I recently purchased your recipe for rub-n-sauce and just wanted to let you know that its off the chart. well worth the cost. I am cooking for about 50 family and friends at lake Texoma this weekend and cant wait to see everybody's reaction ~ Jack
 
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Jeff, You truly are the man. Bought your rib rub and your sakes alive sauce and love them both. Keep up the good work helping people like me learn to cook good BBQ with smoke. ~ Matt
 
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Jeff, I was smoking a Boston butt Saturday night for dinner Sunday and decided to try your bbq sauce. I have to say this is hands down the best sauce I've ever had and I've tried a lot of them. Its very easy to make, inexpensive and taste excellent. I will be using this recipe for a long time. ~ Doug
 
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Jeff,
Your Rib Rub is to die for, I have used it on all meats including Venison and I have to say you have created a master piece, Thank you for letting us common folk into your smokin life.~ Kevin

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You deserve the very best and it is completely within your grasp! Only $18.95 and worth every penny. Not only do you get the best rub and sauce recipe available, you are supporting this website and helping to make sure the bills get paid so we can keep on doing what we do to teach thousands and thousands of people across the world the art of smoking meat.

Order Recipes | Read Testimonies

 

What to Expect Once you Order

Here's how it works:

  1. You order the recipes
  2. My automated system emails you a download link
  3. You click on the link and download the recipes and the free gifts to your computer

If you DON'T get the email with the link:

  1. Check your spam/junk folder (sometimes they get caught there)
  2. If you can't find it, email me and let me know you didn't get it
  3. I will send the recipes and login info to you as an attachment in an email
  4. You let me know you got it, we are both happy campers!

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Comments

  1. Sean says

    Sir, I gotta say that I LOVE your recipe books for smoking meat.

    It helped a lot during last Thanksgiving and Christmas. My friends and family simply loved the my smoked meat, although I know that I need more practice in the future.

    Really appreciate it. Sean

  2. David says

    Merry Christmas to you too Jeff and loved the recipes as usual. Am planning to hold a get together for close friends this time and will be looking at replicating your spare ribs recipe but with a little twist using my trusted electric smoker :)

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