When barbecuing, how important is smoke to you when it comes to flavouring meat or vegetables? In other words, how often to you attempt to grill with smoke?
Many people, it seems, don’t have the confidence to experiment with different types of woods and therefore flavours to their food.
Not all barbecues have built-in smokers either. Dedicated smoker boxes are great for flavouring and are easy enough to use precisely because you can decide how much – or how little – smoke you actually want. Even if your barbecue doesn’t have a dedicated box it’s still possible to smoke with it. You can smoke with a gas grill using soaked wood pellets wrapped in aluminium foil with air holes.
Add smoke to enhance your barbecue flavour
The best kind of woods for smoking are generally believed to be hickory and oak. Both lend a lovely taste to the food but watch you don’t go over the score and allow the meat to smoke for too long – then it’ll just taste of wood. Those who smoke a lot suggest smoking meat for around half the length of time it would take you to cook it.
A good tip is to start smoking your meat early on as once it starts to cook the meat becomes more impenetrable to the smoke.
Smoking your meat not only adds flavour but also tenderises. The most popular meats to smoke tend to be pork, ribs and the rather tough textured brisket.
Experts all agree that the basics of smoking any kind of meat is being able to regulate the temperature of your barbecue. Smoking requires cooking for longer and at lower temperatures than ordinary grilling (to allow the flavour of the smoke to cling to the meat). This also results in a sweeter flavour to the meat.
The smoke should never be stagnant as this would make it over-smoke one part of the meat and result in a bitter taste.
Brisket should have all its fat still on it before you lay it on the barbecue. Be prepared for a long cooking time – around two hours per pound of weight. Don’t use too many sauces or spices on it but learn to love the simple flavour of wood smoking.
To get the most flavour out of smoked fish go for fatty types such as trout or salmon fillets. Salmon tends to be smoked using alder and oak goes well too. When cooking keep the temperature low for the first two hours then turn up to finish off.
A thermometer to check the temperature of the bird is crucial here (remember to test the temperature of the flesh and not the bones as these tend to be higher in temperature). For best results the bird you’re about to smoke should always be fresh (not frozen). Fruit woods, such as apple, tend to work best for smoked poultry. Don’t be alarmed by the colour of your smoked bird. The actual smoking process can cause it to turn pink. Take our word for it though – it’s still edible!