Good day friends!! Welcome to this May 2009 edition of the smoking meat newsletter. With all of the rain we have had in my neck of the woods.. the smoking has been quite hampered but I have used the time wisely to do some writing and other useful things.
Here in the Tulsa area we have had more than 15 consecutive days of rain.. I for one am ready for some nicer weather. I guess the fish are happy;-)
At any rate.. let's get right into the questions and answers that I have prepared for you this month. All of these questions have been sent in by readers and most of them are picked due to them showing up multiple times from different people. This tells me that it is something that needs to be covered.
Smoking Meat Question/Answer Session
How to Smoke Chicken Pieces
Question: We are wanting to smoke some cut up chickens! Do we follow your recipe for whole chicken? Any help would greatly be appreciated!
Answer: Cut up chickens will take slightly less time than a whole chicken in most cases. I love to do chicken quarters which is basically the leg and thigh attached together. These will require about 3.5 to 4 hours at 225-240 degrees.
I sometimes smoke them a little hotter (250-275 or more) to crisp up the skin. This speeds up the cook time considerably and in my opinion does not affect the quality of the end product.
I have written a small tutorial on smoking these chicken quarters at http://www.wyntk.us/food/smoked-chicken-quarters.shtml
Smoking with Plum Wood
Question: Can you use plum tree wood to smoke meat with?
Answer: Can you ever! Plum wood is absolutely delicious. My favorite use for plum wood is in smoking turkeys. It gives the turkey a unique and wonderful flavor that is one of my favorites.
Make sure the wood has been cut and stored in the dry for about 6 months before using it.
Smoking Beans under the Meat
Question: When baking beans with meat, do I put them on the top or bottom rack?
Answer: I like to place the pan of beans directly under the ribs or pork shoulder (or other meat) to catch some of the juices. I also like to put a little of the meat in with the beans for extra flavor. Be sure the beans reach 165 degrees or so before serving to make sure everything is safe.
Smoking Wild Turkey Breast
Question: Looking at smoking wild turkey breast. No skin just breast meat. Would I need to wrap some bacon around the breast to keep it from drying out? I will brine it, however. Any suggestions?
Answer: Several things I would do here.. definitely brine the breast as you mentioned. Second, I would recommend that you wrap the breast in cheese cloth if you can find it. I have seen it in specialty cooking stores but you could also find it at amazon.com or similar.
In addition to cheese cloth, you are absolutely correct in that bacon will add a little fat to the equation which will melt during the cooking process and help keep the breast basted and juicy.
In the absence of cheese cloth you can just wrap in bacon but make sure the bacon is attached gently with toothpicks so that it stays put and protects the meat.
I like to soak the cheese cloth in melted butter before wrapping the breast to help it adhere a little bit and the flavor is not bad either;-)
Ribs are too Tough
Question: Jeff, smoked some ribs last weekend used apple chips and an electric smoker. took them out at 170 which took a little over 5 hours. I used your awesome rub mix on them. the flavor was awesome but they were pretty tough. any ideas?? I looked at the safe temp for pork and it says 160. was 170 too high? 5 hours not long enough?
Answer: The short answer is no.. 170 was not too high for the ribs. Even though the pork is safe to eat at 160 it may not necessarily be tender at that point.
The trick is to cook it for however long it takes it to get tender without drying it out. To accomplish this feat even better and especially if you like the ribs to be of the "fall off the bone" variety, you can try the 3-2-1 method which is simply smoking the ribs for 3 hours right on the grate. After the 3rd hour you wrap the ribs in foil, splash on a little apple juice and smoke them for 2 hours. After 2 hours have lapsed you remove them from the foil and once again place them unwrapped right on the grate.
This last hour can be used to glaze them, sauce them, whatever while they are finishing up.
Remember to let the temperature rather than the time tell you when the meat is finished cooking/smoking.
I have written a page about this very subject at http://www.wyntk.us/food/3-2-1-rib-method.shtml
By the way, glad you enjoyed the rub recipe;-)
Using a Brinkmann Water Smoker to Cook Chicken
Question: I received a Brinkmann smoker for Christmas and just cured the smoker. I am ready to smoke some chicken. Do I just sit the chicken thighs and breasts on the metal grill above the water basin, or do i put it in a pan or foil? I have no instructions? Please help.
Answer: I get a lot of requests for instructions on the Brinkmann smokers. I can tell you that in most cases the charcoal pan is on the bottom, the water pan above the charcoal pan and the meat can sit on the grate(s) above the water pan.
I can also direct you to a link where you can download the manual for your specific smoker at the brinkmann website:
Scroll thru the pictures and when you find your specific smoker, click on it for a electronic owners manual.
Bark or No Bark.. That is the Question
Question: I've saved some branches from trimming my apple trees. I want to use some of the wood for smoking. Do you need to strip the bark? Does the wood need to be dry or can you use it green? Thanks…
Answer: I get a lot of questions about the use of wood and how long it must be dried, etc.
I highly recommend using dry wood since green wood can produce creosote, a nasty chemical, in your smoker and on your food.
I define dry as wood that has been cut into usable pieces and has been stored in the dry for at least 6 months.
A good way to tell if wood is ready to use, look at a cross section or end of a cut stick or log. If it is dry it will generally have cracks that start in the middle of the piece and run toward the outside.
This is not fool proof but it is a pretty good indicator that the wood is ready to use.
Thank you for the Question About Smoking Meat
That will be all of the questions I will answer in this issue. I hope you learned something new from this and if you have a question that has not been answered here then send it to me using one of the forms on the smoking-meat.com website or simply reply to this newsletter and submit your question.
I appreciate all of the kind words and emails that I receive telling me that the website and newsletter have helped you learn and/or improve your meat smoking skills.
I am here to serve your needs in learning to smoke meat so feel free to shoot me an email telling me how I can do that best.
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