If you want to bring your barbecuing game to a new level, you need a smoker. Whether you’re barbecuing brisket, ribs, or a pork shoulder, the flavor and tenderness is what counts. Remember that true Southern BBQ isn’t done hastily — go low and slow for the perfect tender meat. And what’s a barbecue without a really tangy, sweet, rich sauce to go over top, and some tantalizing sides like coleslaw, baked beans, and cornbread? Of course, the thing to really master is the meat and with a BBQ pit smoker or custom smoker grills, you can achieve all the flavor you’re looking for. Indeed, over 80% of consumers said they have three or more grilling accessories, showing that they’re looking for ways to customize the experience. We’ll talk a little about the process of smoking, what kinds of meat you should perfect, and how to find a smoker that fits your needs, given all the variety on the market.
How Does Smoking Work?
The saying “low and slow” refers directly to BBQ smoker cooking. Essentially this means that the meat (or whatever else you’re smoking!) will get cooked all the way through, without getting too dry (thanks to the low heat). Things can be smoked anywhere from a couple of hours to a few days, depending on what you’re cooking and how much time you have!
The food you’re cooking should be put on a cooking rack that’s removed from the direct heat. Burning wood makes the smoke that flavors the food, but it’s the indirect heat that cooks the food over the course of time.
However, just because wood is burned for the flavor doesn’t mean that’s what has to fuel your BBQ smoker. Indeed, gas or electric heat can be used, as can charcoal, and wood pellets. Charcoal is actually the most common type of fuel.
What are the Different Kinds of Smokers?
The main two types of smokers are either a vertical smoker or a horizontal smoker. Vertical smokers fall into place above the heat source and a water pan is put between the racks and the heat source. The water turns into steam, which helps keep the food from drying out.
Horizontal smokers look more like a regular hooded barbecue, but have a separate chamber that’s offset that holds the charcoal and wood. The indirect heat comes from this chamber.
There are also pit smokers, vault smokers (for larger quantities), and BBQ smoker grills, which can have dual purposes.
Unless you’re competitively smoking or have a business, you likely don’t need a vault smoker and pit smokers are on the larger side, so if you have a smaller backyard, they might not be the best choice.
More than type, you might ask yourself what kind of fuel you want your smoker to run on. As mentioned before, propane and charcoal are the most popular fuel choices, but this preference can certainly narrow down your options (which isn’t always a bad thing).
What Kind of Meat Should I Get For Barbecuing?
Now, many people will have different opinions on what kind of meat you should have for barbecuing purposes. However, brisket is always a popular choice for Southern BBQ, as is pulled pork, sausages, and ribs. Almost 90% of grill owners in the United States said they typically barbecued beef — and if you’re going with beef, go with brisket.
If you’re doing a more “traditional” grill, you can also add some hot dogs and hamburgers, though it isn’t really in the spirit of a true Southern BBQ. But those are always popular choices for cookouts or picnics.
Keep in mind that whether you’re cooking pork, brisket or other types of beef, lamb, or veal, they all should reach 145 degrees Fahrenheit on the inside to make sure that they’re safe to eat and fully cooked. Keep a meat thermometer (or a grill thermometer) by your side as you barbecue.
Get your BBQ on with the right equipment. With a smoker, you can finally achieve that old-school taste you’ve been craving.