A Great Way to Smoke Meat!

Smoking meat is the process of infusing meat with the smoke particles while burning a selected wood. Doesn’t really sound like that big of a deal, does it? It isn’t really, but there ways to do it that give different flavors. One example is cold smoking. Almost no one does cold smoking anymore because the process requires two chambers — one in which the smoke is created and the other to hold the meat to be smoked. This process used to be done primarily in stone houses. Since the process required several days to complete, the exterior of the meat dried out as a natural side effect of the smoking. The meat is not cooked in the cold process.



The cold smoke process gave way to the hot smoke process which is, in truth, much safer from a food handling perspective because the meat is cooked during the smoking process. In most hot smoke processes, although the meat gets cooked during the smoking, the process takes several hours and the food is cooked using very low temperatures.

So now let’s talk about what makes the smoke. Hickory, mesquite, apple wood or other flavorful woods are often sold in hardware, department and even grocery stores. The wood is dried and must be soaked with water in most cases to produce a smoke when heated. By soaking the wood, more steam is created than smoke. And the steam looks like smoke which obscures the issue. A better way to produce real smoke even from thoroughly dried wood is to ignite the wood and when burning well, cut off the flame’s oxygen supply by dumping something on the wood such as sand or damp leaves. Burning the wood in a pan or kettle that has a tight lid can work, too. Get the wood ignited and a good flame going, then put the lid on the pot for a few seconds, cutting off the oxygen. Take the lid back off and you have a good supply of smoke for awhile.

For a true smoke, using green wood is the surest and most flavorful method of producing a heavy, aromatic smoke. Green pecan (hickory), mesquite or fruit wood infuses the meat with an amazing flavor. It is also possible to produce a heavy smoke flavor on your selected meat.

For a real treat, use green mesquite to smoke a whole turkey. Use branches of mesquite about as big around as your index finger or smaller. Cut into usable lengths and put right on the source of heat. Leave the cover on the meat for at least four hours before lifting the lid (for a whole turkey over 13 pounds). If you are unable to obtain green mesquite, check the reference below for a source.

To be safe with your meat, always use a meat thermometer to insure that the internal meat temperature is 160 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

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