If you like your meat juicy, tender, and sweet, then meat smoking is your answer. While you can roast, pan-fry, or barbeque your meat to perfection, there’s nothing quite like smoking to add flavor and tenderize a range of meat cuts.
Meat smoking is somewhat of an art. It takes a certain amount of technique, patience, and the right equipment, of course. But this being said, almost anyone can learn to smoke meats if you’re a lover of outdoor barbeques.
The only trick is knowing which meats to smoke — so if you want to learn more, the rest of this blog is for you.
The Process of Smoking Meat
There are two key principles when it comes to smoking meat: low and slow. This means that you have to cook your meat at a low temperature, which usually takes an extended amount of time. A good rule-of-thumb to keep in mind when timing your meat smoking is that it takes 30 minutes per pound of meat.
However, this depends on the type and cut of meat. Another general rule you want to keep in mind is to avoid lean cuts of meat. They will only dry out when cooked/smoked for an extended amount of time. What you really want to invest in are the tougher cuts of meat that tend to respond well to this length of cooking.
What you may view as ”poor” or low-quality cuts of meat are actually the best for meat smoking. This is because of their tougher nature and the fact they soften up and tenderize well over time. The more fat and connective tissue in a cut of meat, the better!
As the fat melts and the connective tissue breaks down, this is what gives smoked meats their incredible flavor and texture. To add to this, the meat takes on a delicious, smoky flavor as the smoke takes its time to infuse into the meat. What more could you ask for, really?
A Run Down of the Best Meats to Smoke
Now, before you head to a butcher shop or supermarket to purchase your cut of meat, you ought to know a little about the equipment you need for meat smoking, first.
If you already have a barbeque, you can fashion your own meat smoker from that. Better yet, you can buy barbeques today that offer their own meat smoking section. Otherwise, you might want to invest in a specific meat smoker of your own if you’re really serious about this hobby.
You’ll also need to find the right wood for meat smoking and invest in a meat thermometer, the best brisket knife, and other carving tools for when your meat is ready to be served. Now, let’s get into the best cuts for smoking.
As a general rule, stick to low-quality cuts such as beef brisket, pork shoulder, pork/beef ribs. By nature, they are tough and chewy, but after smoking meat, they are fall-apart, melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The great news is that these cuts of meat are also very forgiving and affordable.
These are some popular options you might want to play around with:
- A Texan-smoked beef brisket — this is probably the most common cut of meat to start out with if you’re new to meat smoking
- A smoked New York strip roast — strip roast is ideal for those Sunday roast dinners, it’s incredibly juice, tender, and a crowd-pleaser
- Smoked prime rib — if there is anything you must try, it’s slow-cooked, smoked prime rib, slathered in garlic butter
- Smoked pork ribs — you want to start out with either baby back ribs or spare ribs and opt for a spicy, chipotle rub for an extra kick
- Smoked pork shoulder — also known as smoked pulled pork butt, this is the best option if you have a large crowd to feed, and please
- Barbeque smoked pork belly — pork belly is beautifully versatile and you can remove the top layer of skin and crisp it up to snack on as pork crackling
- Smoked whole chicken — while you may not typically think of smoking chicken, it makes for delicious, soft, and tender meat
- Smoked chicken breast — this is the ultimate way to cook up a chicken breast and keep it for the week ahead, tossed in salads, sandwiches, and tacos
- Smoked pork chops — pork chops are not always the most popular cut because are they are difficult to cook correctly, but meat smoking solves this
Bear in mind that meat smoking is a process of trial and error. The great thing about this new hobby is that the meat cuts are cheap and meat smoking is difficult to get completely wrong (unless you have the incorrect equipment). Most of the time, your meat will taste good anyway, even if the smoking is not 100 percent perfect at first.
As become a little more comfortable with meat smoking you can move on to the larger, more technical cuts of meat. You want to start off small with a pork shoulder, then move onto ribs or brisket. There are also certain cuts of meat you want to avoid putting on the smoker.
Remember this — any cut of meat that is considered high-quality or ”good” is not ideal for smoking. Ironic, isn’t it? But it’s great news for your wallet! So, for example, don’t opt for pork tenderloin, a lean roast, or expensive cuts of beef like fillet, rib eye, or sirloin.
The only reason for this is because these meats just aren’t tough or robust enough to withstand heat exposure over long periods of time.
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We hope this blog on the best meats to smoke has left you with some inspiration if you’re looking to take your barbecuing to another level! Remember to start off small, and keeps things low and slow for the perfect cook.
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