Hello fellow smoker and smokers in training! Welcome to the smoking meat newsletter where I do my best to share fresh, relevant material to help you learn the art of smoking meat.
As we have been accustomed to doing several times each year, we are featuring some very good questions and my incredibly witty answers right here on the newsletter.
It is a win win situation for everyone.. everyone learns together.
If I don't know the answer I will research the subject and test my findings to come up with the correct answer.
Turkey Day is Coming!
Don't forget that turkey day is just around the corner and I will be doing a full blown newsletter around the first week in November on how to smoke the best turkey you have ever eaten.
I plan to include lots of pictures and some brand new tips for making your friends and family squeal with delight when they taste it.. ok maybe not squeal but they will definitely be singing your praises around the Thanksgiving table;-)
If you are feeling a little apprehensive about it, please don't fear, I promise to walk you through every step of the process and make it extremely easy.
If you want to go ahead and buy your turkey ahead of time don't buy one over 12 pounds. If you need more turkey than that then buy two smaller ones.
You also want to try and buy turkeys that are marked "MINIMALLY PROCESSED" and do not have the solutions added into them if possible. If this is not possible then find the lowest percentage of solution and I will help you make it work.
Questions and Answers on Smoking Meat
Gas Smoker Too Hot
Q: dear Jeff need to know how you regulate the flame on gas smoker low for smoking to get temp @ 200 or 225.
A: If you are having a hard time getting your gas smoker to a lower temp then there are only a couple of things you can do to help regulate this:
1. Decrease the gas at the bottle to create a smaller flame. Just barely turn the handle about 1/2 inch or so open.
2. Prop the door open a little to let some of the heat out.
Tough Pork Shoulder
Q: Had a 7lb pork shoulder in my electric smoker had temp. set at 200, cooked it for 10hours.Tried to make pulled pork, but it would not shred. What did I do wrong?
A: It sounds like it may have not gotten to a high enough internal temperature. I recommend using the internal temperature of the meat rather than the time to tell you when the meat if finished.
Pulled pork needs to reach 190-200 degrees to be tender enough to shred easily. At 200 degrees for 10 hours it was most likely only at around 165-170 which is still a fairly tough pork shoulder.
I take my pork shoulders to 205 degrees F before shredding and I never need bear claws or any other tool. I just stir it around and it falls apart into perfect shreds.
Use a digital probe meat thermometer that stays in the meat while it cooks to monitor the temperature that way you know for sure when it is done and tender. You can find these on Amazon.com online or you may be able to find one at Lowes, Walmart, HomeDepot, etc. Any place that carries barbecue/smoking equipment.
Modification for Electric Brinkmann
Q: Jeff: Great ideas (modifying brinkmann smoker). I have a brinkmann electric, and would the same modifications apply to this unit? A: The same modification do not benefit the electric model. Your heat is controlled by the wattage of the heating element. Unless your smoker has a controller that allows you to set the heat you are pretty much stuck with the heat settings built into the unit. Most electric models made by Brinkmann usually cook at about 250 degrees or so. That is a little high for some things but it is not bad. I have eaten some really mean brisket smoked in a Brinkmann electric;-)
How to Setup Smoker for Smoking
Q: My husband and I are confused about how the smoker works. Do you put wood and lump charcoal in both the firebox and in the smoker side? or just the firebox?
A: The firebox is where you put the charcoal. You lay wood in the form of chips, chunks or sticks on top of the coals to create smoke. The smoke enters the food chamber (the larger part of the smoker) where it mingles with the food and makes it taste all kinds of good.
Make sure the vent on the firebox and the chimney are open enough to allow the smoke to exit quickly.
Alternatively, if your smoker is large enough you can use splits or wood to build a fire right in the firebox. The wood burns and creates heat as well as smoke to both cook and flavor your food.
I have heard of folks placing coals in the larger part of the smoker just under the grate to grill the food but I recommend using a separate grill unit for this purpose.
If you have a problem with the wood chunks burning up too quickly you can soak them for about an hour in a bucket/bowl of water before use.
How Long to Keep Meat in Fridge
Q: Thanks for the recipe for pulled pork. I have made it a few times and it comes out terrific each time. I want to make some for a tailgate party. Only thing is that the only day I have time to make it is a week earlier (on Sun). Will it keep in the frigid for a week or do I need to freeze it?
A: Great question.. different types of meats will keep for different amounts of time safely in the fridge. According the USDA you have about 3-4 days to use pork once you cook it, after that it should be thrown out. check out this handy PDF chart
Tough Skin on Chicken Thighs
Q: When we put our chicken thighs on the Weber to smoke our skin is very tough no matter what we have done so far. Any suggestions? Thanks
A: You have a few options:
1. Smoke the meat a little hotter (275-300) than you would other things. This will get the chicken done faster but he skin will usually be more crisp and a lot less rubbery.
2. Take the chicken from the smoker about 15 degrees shy of being done and finish it on the hot grill or even in a hot oven.
3. Basting the chicken skin with olive oil or butter while it cooks will help a lot even at smoking temperatures.
Using Plum, Pear and Apple Wood
Q: Can you use wood from pear trees or plum trees? I have been cutting on some apple, pear and plum and was going to use them. I am getting an electric smoker, an Old Smokey brand, so I only need chips.
A: Absolutely and if you don't I will come down there and .. well you get the idea;-) Plum is one of my favorites as well as apple and pear. The smoke from these woods taste wonderful.
Just make sure the wood is in the dry for 4-6 months before you use it.
If you are going to chip it and you are antsy to use some right away, you can place some in a pan and oven dry it at about 200 degrees for a couple of hours.
Smoking Ribs on Gas Smoker
Q: hi there this is the first time for me at smoking, my girls got me a gas smoker for christmas ,was wondering if you could help me with my first smoke i have 6 slaps of ribs im going to use one of your sweet rubs, was wondering how long i would have to have smoke and what temp,and time and what kind of wood pls help and thank you in advance
A: That is a lot to answer in this one email;-) However, to make it real quick and easy you should definitely remove the skin on the bone side of the ribs, coat the ribs with a thin coat of regular yellow mustard then apply a generous amount of rub to both sides of the ribs.
Set up your smoker to maintain about 225 degrees F. My favorite wood is pecan these days. I also like mesquite, oak, apple, etc.
For the gas smoker you will most likely be using chips so fill up the chip box and light the smoker. You will have to play with the flame a little to make it maintain your temperature but you will figure it out quickly I am sure.
Place the ribs bone side down right on the grate and close the door. The ribs will take between 5-7 hours depending on what kind they are and what size they are. Baby backs will be around 5 hours while spare ribs will take closer to 7 most likely.
You will know when they are done since the bones will be poking out of the meat and if you grab a couple of the bones on the end and pull them in opposite directions, they will start to tear apart.
You can also use a meat thermometer, ribs are done and tender at around 172 degrees. Here are a couple of articles that you should read on the subject:
http://wyntk.us/smoking-ribs (shows how to remove membrane)
http://wyntk.us/3-2-1-rib-method (special method for super tender fall off the bone ribs) http://smoking-meat.com/smoking-ribs
How to Use a Charbroil Silver Smoker
Q: This is the grill I have. Charbroil Silver Smoker I have struggled with smoking so I need some advice. Ive used a little bit of charcoals to get a fire going and then use oak to finish being the heat/smoke for the rest of the meat. Sometimes i get creosote, sometimes I dont. How should I be smoking and using the wood? Is it big pile of coals and small pieces of wood? I have a ton of oak. Thanks.
A: I actually have one of those smokers and it is perfectly fine to use it as you do with a start up of coals and then the rest wood or you can actually start with some small kindling and to all wood completely.
The issue with using wood is that you have to have sufficient airflow or it will create creosote so what I recommend is to make sure the chimney is open all of the way and the firebox vent should never be closed beyond about half way.
This makes sure that the smoke can exit quickly which prevents the creosote from forming on the meat. As you get comfortable with the unit and it is not having a problem with creosote you may be able to close the chimney a little to get more smoke flavor if you like.
You can also use a separate burn barrel to burn your oak and just shovel in the coals to your firebox as they start glowing.. this will give you less risk of creosote and since you have a ton of oak, this could be a very good option.
Make sure your wood is not green.. i.e. it has been cut and in the dry for 4-6 months.
Another option is to use lump charcoal entirely with just a single small stick (approx. 1 inch in diameter x 12 inches long) on top of the coals for your smoke. When that piece burns up you just add another one if you need more smoke.
My Famous Recipes
If you want to buy the store variety then by all means do so but if you want to wow your family with the best rub and sauce you have ever tasted then you can do that with my very own rub and sauce recipes.
I offer the recipes that allow you to make this right in your own kitchen and you will find the kids as well as other family members trying to sneak bites of it right out of the pan!
It is that good!
Here are a few emails I have received from some very happy customers:
Jeff, I have tried allot of "bottled" sauces and a few home made ones to……This stuff is GOLD! It was a big hit Labor day
I am making a lot of the rub for my kids in Tampa, Las Vegas and Denver. It is the best. They have the sauce and rave about the results.
I have purchased and used your Rib Rub and love it! I recommend your website to anyone who inquires how I transform a raw piece of meat into the slice of heaven currently in their mouth.
I purchased your rub and sauce recipe a month ago. I have tried almost every brand on the market, nothing comes close to this! It is good on anything. I can't keep from eating it while it is simmering on the stove!
just wanted to tell you I finally bought your rub and bbq sauce recipe. They were as you said a big hit. Good job.
I can not thank you enough and feel very lucky to have stumbled across your site. Last weekend I made your rub and put it on a Boston Butt roast and on a slab of ribs, both were fanfreakintastic.
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You deserve the very best and is 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 NOTE: My system is automated which means you should get a download email within MINUTES of ordering..check your spam/junk folder first then contact me to get the recipes sent to you as an attachment.