Great BBQ and smoked meats the easy way

I’ve enjoyed grilling and smoking game and domestic meats in hunting and fishing camps from Canada to Mexico, and lots of places in between. At home, I’ve become the self-appointed outdoor cook. I love the smoked flavor that hardwoods and fruitwoods give meats and I cook outside throughout the year. Even in the dead of winter, when most folks prefer to do their cooking indoors, smoke can be seen rising from my smoker. You see, I’ve discovered what I consider to be the easiest, most convenient way of creating great tasting barbeque and smoked meats: I smoke with electricity! 

Now, don’t misunderstand me, I’m definitely not a Johnny-come-lately to the old style of preparing smoked meat and barbeque. I’ve lost many hours of sleep in years gone by, staying up to feed wood to a wood fired smoker. And, I’d be the last to renounce wood smokers. They definitely have the capabilities of turning out great tasting food IF you have the time and are willing to lose the sleep necessary to keep them cooking all night when preparing large cuts such as pork hams, shoulders or briskets. The trick to turning out good BBQ is cooking on low temperatures, 190-200 degrees, for a long period, often 12 to 15 hours. 

I use a Smokin Tex smoker/oven that is so easy to operate I’m convinced my grandsons can become BBQ chefs. I’ve taken my unit on many hunting and fishing trips and actually transformed recently harvested game and fish into tasty smoked or barbecued meats right there at camp. My model is large enough to slow smoke about 40 pounds of meat and its operation so simple that I can describe how it works in one short sentence: season the meat and load it into the smoker, put about six ounces of wood into the smoke chamber, slide the enclosed metal box over the heating element inside the smoker, set the thermometer on about 225 degrees, close the door and walk away. Chickens are tender and thoroughly smoked in about four or five hours, ribs are tender and well smoked in about the same length of time. Briskets and larger cuts should be slow smoked at least 12 hours. I’ve left them in the smoker set at 200 degrees up to 16 hours and the results is always the same - excellent barbcue that rivals any I’ve eaten at the best restaurants. The magic of smoking meats at low temperatures is that it matters little if those whole chickens stay in the smoker four or eight hours, the end result will be tender, smoked chicken. Electric smokers are not only for the hunter or fishermen. They are ideal for working ladies or men who  want to cook dinner for themselves while they work.

When I first began cooking with electricity, I doubted if only 6-8 ounces of wood would give a good smoke flavor to meats. In the tight smoke chamber of the unit, this amount of smoke thoroughly permeates the meat. It’s not necessary to add more wood while the meat is smoking. What type of wood to use is a personal choice, I’ve smoked with everything from hickory to peach wood with great results. We have several pear trees on our property and I’ve found pear to impart a mild smoke flavor that we really enjoy. The key is to use well seasoned wood; green wood gives the meat a bitter flavor 

When asked how to season meats for smoking,  Scott Wallace with Smokin Tex is quick to point out that the seasoning and taste of the finished products depends upon the flavor desired by the individual. “Some folks really enjoy the flavor of jalapeno pepper, others like a bit more garlic or a sweeter flavor imparted by adding a little brown sugar. Black pepper, paprika, salt, garlic powder and a little brown sugar makes for a good dry rub but there are many pre-packaged dry seasonings on the market to choose from. Experimenting is the thing that makes smoking meats so much fun. Some like to inject larger cuts with a liquid marinade and some wish to keep it simple and season with salt and pepper. You can’t go wrong if you follow your taste buds!” tips Wallace. 

To learn more about smoking meats with electricity, visit www.smokintex.com. Be sure and check out the recipe section while on the website. 

Mark your calendar for Luke Clayton’s Outdoor Winter Ron- Da –Voux  December 14 in Greenville on 4 wooded acres adjacent Henley Auto Supply. More details at www.catfishradio.org. Campfires, outdoor cooking, hunting and fishing talk. This will be a lot of fun, folks and Luke will be on hand to visit with everyone. 

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