Although barbecuing is the typical way most of us cook outdoors, cooking with a smoker is gaining in popularity. Even though the smoked heat method takes considerably longer than your basic charcoal grill, cooks say that the distinctive taste of smoker cooking is well worth the wait.
Smoker cooking is a form of cooking where the smoke from burning wood prepares your foods. Heated hard wood chips, such as mesquite, hickory and oak are placed in a smoker, which not only cook the food, but also add a unique flavor from each wood type. The typical wood smoker has a separate fire chamber, which allows the heat and smoke to pass through the food being prepared. In smoker cooking, food never comes in contact with an actual flame as it does with charcoal grilling. As such, there are no dripping oils, bursts of flames or charcoal burnt food.
Cooking with a smoker allows for a whole range of flavor opportunities. The type of hard wood chips you choose will provide the unique flavor for your smoked food. Hickory typically provides a heavy, smoky flavor to foods, and is often used when smoker cooking a turkey. Wood chips made from apple or pecan trees produce a lighter smoke flavor and will produce foods with a light, slightly sweet smoked taste, often used with a white fish fillet.
Patience and allowing oodles of time to prepare a meal is the key to successful cooking with a smoker. Foods cooked with heated smoke take considerably longer to cook than foods slapped on the barbecue. Depending in the size of the food you are preparing, and the temperature you are cooking, smoker cooking takes hours longer than typical grilling. A four pound piece of meat that will cook in 45 minutes on a barbecue will most likely take at least two hours in a smoker. A four pound chicken will need about four hours in the smoker before it is done. The best way to tell if meat is thoroughly cooked is to use a meat thermometer. Chicken that is thoroughly cooked has a temperature of 165 degrees.
There are endless possibilities when smoker cooking food. Any type of meat, poultry or seafood can be prepared for cooking by a smoker. Experimentation will allow you to find the perfect wood chip for each of your favorite meat types. Rubbing spices on your meat prior to smoker cooking, as well as adding sauces while meat is being prepared adds even more flavor to your food.
Steaming vegetables is also ideal for cooking with a smoker. The cooking with smoke process seals in not just the taste, but the nutrients as well. Smoker cooking is the simple way and tasty way to add more veggies to your diet. Many of your favorite recipes can also be prepared via cooking with smoke. Chili is a smoker cooking favorite for many cooks. Your smoker will most likely come with a cookbook filled with new recipes to try.
So when you have the time and are yearning for food with that unique smoky flavor, consider smoker cooking for your next meal.