Discover the Joy Of Smoking Food At Home

Posted on Wednesday, 17th November 2021

Now, you’re probably thinking something along the lines of “it’s nearly winter, isn’t smoking food the kind of thing you’d do in summer?” Well, not necessarily. The flavours of smoked food stay fantastic all year round and as long as it’s not raining, nothing is stopping you from smoking on colder days. You don’t have to stand outside with the smoker all day, after all.

Regardless of what part of the year it is, you can still master smoking and make restaurant-quality food from the comfort of your home. So next time you have a craving for some pulled pork sandwiches, a smoked tomato soup, or some delicious hot smoked salmon with pasta, you don’t need to spend a load of money eating out. Instead, you can impress your friends (and yourself) with your own home-smoked food.

Buy the Right Grill or Smoker
First of all, you need something to smoke in. There are some tricks that let you smoke food in your kitchen, but these will only provide light smoke and some of them carry a fire risk. If nothing else, you’re far more likely to set off your fire alarm. You also have the option of using liquid smoke, but it’s not the same as the real thing and won’t provide that coveted smoke ring.

Rather, the gold standard of smoked food is achieved by using a proper grill or smoker. There are several different types of smokers that will work nicely. Some smokers are designed like a cylinder, where the fire is lit at the bottom and the smoke travels upwards to cook the food above. Others, known as offset grills or smokers, work by placing the fire in a secondary chamber. This secondary chamber is connected to the main part of the grill by a pipe that allows the hot smoke to reach the food.

Traditionally, people use either wood or charcoal to fuel their smokers. They’ll light the fire, then periodically add more fuel to keep the fire going. These kinds of smokers require almost constant attention to control their temperature. The temperature can be raised by adding more fuel and stoking the fire, as well as opening up vents to let more oxygen in. Conversely, closing these vents will lower the heat and keep the fire burning for longer.

Another option that is becoming popular is the pellet grill. Rather than being fuelled by wood or charcoal, these grills use wood pellets. When you set your desired temperature, these pellets are automatically fed into a firepot. As you can imagine, this makes smoking much easier and more accessible for beginners.

There are pros and cons for both options, as charcoal grills can reach much higher temperatures than pellet grills, which some cooks may prefer. However, pellet grills are convenient and easy to use, making it much easier to create perfect smoked food.
Whatever option you choose, make sure to do your research to make sure the grill is right for you. The best pellet grills, for example, are built to last and can keep a consistent internal temperature, making it so you can’t go wrong with your latest smoking project.

Other Equipment
Unfortunately, you need more than just a grill to get started on your smoking journey. First of all, you will need to find fuel. If you have a pellet grill, then you may need to use the pellets designed for that grill.
Charcoal smokers need the charcoal that fuels the fire, but you should also invest in some wood chips or chunks to add the wood-smoke flavor to your food. Wood smokers, as you’d expect, need wood as well. Different types of wood add different flavored smoke, so choose carefully.

As well as your basic barbeque equipment, such as heatproof gloves and barbeque tongs, you should also invest in a good thermometer. The thermapen is widely considered one of the best probe thermometers that you can get, as it’s accurate and provides a fast reading.

Hot Smoke and Cold Smoke
Before you start smoking, it’s best to know the difference between hot smoking and cold smoking. In short, hot smoking actually cooks the food, while cold smoking simply infuses it with smoke.

Hot smoking is easier to get into, as you don’t need to worry about keeping the temperature at a very low temperature. When you cold smoke, you need to keep the food below 86°F or it will begin to cook, but this temperature risks bacterial growth. Most cold smokers aim for temperatures between 50-68°F.

This article concentrates on hot smoking, which can produce some fantastic cooked food.

What You Can Smoke
You might be surprised to learn that you can smoke pretty much anything that you can cook in the oven. The most popular smoking recipes concentrate on meat or fish, and for good reason. For example, pulled pork that’s been smoked is incomparable with pulled pork made in the slow cooker. There’s no better way to get that smoke-infused crust or the perfectly rendered fat that makes pulled pork so mouthwatering.

An underrated subject for hot smoking is salmon. While people are used to cold-smoked salmon, which is the stuff that goes wonderfully on a bagel with cream cheese, cucumber, and dill, they may be unaware of the hot-smoked stuff. It’s not as easy to find in the stores, which is a crying shame because it’s moist, flaky, and deliciously smokey when done right.

You can also smoke vegetables in your grill. Smoked tomatoes can revolutionize your pizza sauce, for example, and smoked butternut squash can be a show stopper all on its own. Experiment with it and you’ll discover your signature smoked dish or ingredient.
While you can smoke almost anything, you do need to bear in mind that the type of wood you use heavily impacts the flavor of the end product. So, make sure that the wood goes with what you’re smoking and doesn’t overwhelm it. Some woods are more gentle and almost sweet, while others carry a heavy smoke flavor that’s best for robust meats.

This is a collaborative post.

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