Some of my favorite Memorial day foods are, of course, burgers and hotdogs and then there's ribs, brisket, chicken and a whole assortment of sausage links, boudin and even smoked bologna if you are in the Oklahoma area.
This is a collage of tips and how-to information that I think you will find very useful as you prepare for your cooking on this Memorial day holiday. If you have further questions, allow me to recommend Smoking Meat Forums where you can usually get an answer to your question within mere minutes.
And now.. let me give you a few quick tips to help ensure that your Memorial day cooking is a huge success!
Burgers and Hotdogs
I guess one of the main things that lots of folks do on holidays is hamburgers and hotdogs and while this is normally fare for the grill, I often do these in the smoker and trust me when I say that it adds a lot to the meat to spend a little time with some smoke. The last burger/dog party that I hosted had folks asking for take-home bags.. they were amazed at the wonderful smoky flavors on the burgers and even the hotdogs.
Place burger and/or hotdogs on the smoker grate, sprinkle my rub on the burgers or just some salt/pepper for added flavor. Keep the smoke going the entire time if you are not using a wood fired smoker.
Note: Hamburgers and hotdogs will take about 1 hour in the smoker at 225-240 degrees.
These can also be done on the grill as usual.. with smoke. Turn the grill down just a little lower than what you'd normally cook them and if it's charcoal, just throw on some wood chips or put a foil chip packet on top of the coals for some good smoke flavor.
If it's a gas grill, you can lay a foil chip packet just over one of the burners and get some good smoking action. Turn that burner on high until the packet starts smoking then you can turn it down a little to keep it smoking without catching fire.
Here's how to make those foil chip packets:
Just a note: these chip packets can be used anytime you grill and/or they can be placed on top of the charcoal in your charcoal smoker to keep the smoke going. Make several ahead of time so they can easily be replaced as needed.
How to Grill a Perfect Burger
Place burgers on grill with medium high heat. Once you see the juices start puddling on top of the meat they are ready to flip over. Flip and cook an additional. 2-3 minutes for best results.
Once you flip them consider using my rub recipe generously on the top of the burger. The rub melts into the beef juices and creates a wonderful flavor that is second to none on the burgers. If you don't use my rub, be sure to salt and pepper both sides really well as they cook.
Smoking Pork Ribs
Ribs are not difficult regardless of whether you use baby backs or spares. The key is to remove the membrane, use a good rub for flavor, and let them smoke cook until they are as tender as you like them.
On spare ribs you will want to remove the flap of meat that runs along the bone side of the ribs
Remove the Membrane:
Apply my rub recipe to the ribs in a layer that is just thick enough so that you can no longer see the ribs. If you like, you can apply a thin layer of yellow mustard first to help the rub to stick or you can use some cooking oil like canola or even olive oil if you don't want to use the mustard. This can be done the night before or right before you place them in the smoker and is really up to you.
Smoke cook the ribs for 6 to 7 hours at 225-240 degrees or until the ribs get as tender as you like them.
I usually lift them up by one end with tongs and when they bend about 90 degrees and almost break in half, they are done. It's that or just take a bite and see if they are tender enough.. that's always a good option;-)
And finally, here's a video that I did a year or two ago that will walk you through the entire process:
I wrote a really good brisket smoking article on this back in July 2009 and I don't think I can really do better than what I've already done in that newsletter write up.. be sure to give that a read if you are wanting to do brisket as it covers everything you need to know about smoking brisket and is chock full of great brisket smoking tips
Here is an article that I wrote back in 2010 that shows you how to smoke whole chickens, chicken quarters and even boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Definitely worth a read if you are looking to smoke up some chicken this holiday.
Note: almost all poultry is best if it is brined first. Be sure to read my page on brining meat if you are doing chicken or turkey as this can play a huge part in making sure the chicken or turkey is juicy and tender.
Smoking Brats and Sausages
I don't want to go into a lot of detail on brats, sausages and boudin except to say that these make excellent treats and are really great for holiday get togethers and events.
My one word of caution is to not overcook brats.. they should be smoked at 230 degrees for about 2 hours and that is plenty. Any more than that and they will become tough and not as good as they could have been.
Some sausages can handle a little overcooking.. not the brats.
Boudin is amazingly good smoked.. about 2-3 hours at 230 degrees and some good mesquite, pecan, oak or hickory and you are good to go.
Smoke, Wood, Fire: The Advanced Guide to Smoking Meat – Unlike the first book, this book does not focus on recipes but rather uses every square inch of every page teaching you how to smoke meat. What my first book touched on, this second book takes it into much greater detail with lots of pictures.
It also includes a complete, step-by-step tutorial for making your own smoked “streaky” bacon using a 100 year old brine recipe.