Okay Readers, For the next 5 days I am going to go into BBQ mode. I will share with you techniques, recipes, and other useful information on how you can have some fantastic Q right in the comfort of your own home. BBQ is a great escape for me. Something about getting up early and starting a fire, tending it all day and coaxing the best flavor and texture out of a piece of meat I find very relaxing and rewarding. Especially when I see friends and family enjoying the fruits of my labor. Spending the day manning the smoker, keeping the temp just right and the smoke flow all in sync, basting when needed, Just makes for a great day for me.
BBQ means different things depending on your location. Back home in Maine, it usually meant grilling hamburgers and hot dogs and chicken outdoors on a nice summer day. When I crossed the Mason Dixon Line it took on a whole new meaning for me. BBQ down here is typically talking about Meat that is cooked low and slow over indirect heat, with some type of fruit or nut wood providing smoke for flavoring. It is a long process but the end results are melt in your mouth tender meat with a great smoky flavor that if done right should really need no sauce, other than to compliment the flavor.
If you are going to smoke your own BBQ you need the right equipment. Starting with a Smoker. These come in several varieties, but I am going to show you the basic 2.
The Offset Smoker
This is my personal preference. It has a large cooking surface and a deep well underneath to catch drippings and also to put a liquid pan to keep moisture in the mix. The smaller tube is the fire box, where the coals and wood for smoking are added to keep the temp and amount of smoke regulated.
The Water Smoker
This one is good for smaller space confined areas, and cooking smaller cuts. The fire is built and maintained in the very bottom. The next level is the water pan, followed by the cooking surface at the top. You can also put a grate over the water pan and cook there as well, the temp will be a bit higher in this section.
Most Smokers for home use come with a temp guage in the lid. These are accurate to an extent but for my money I us an oven Thermometer placed on the back of the cooking rack. It gives me a lot better control of the heat and lets me know when I need to make an adjustment. You can pick one up at most Dept stores or Hardware stores it will look like this:
Next you will need a water pan if you are using an offset smoker, The water Smokers come with one. I usually use a good size Baking pan. Like this:
And just because it is called a water pan, doesn’t mean you have to use water. I personally use either Apple Juice or Cider in mine. Just to add another layer of flavor.
Okay, You’ve got all this stuff, now you need something to generate the heat and smoke. Now I recommend using Lump Charcoal and not briquettes as the base and main heat source of your fire. And I also recommend this particular brand:
I have used most of them, and this one gives me what I want, consistently. And please do not use lighter fluid to start it with. Get yourself a Chimney Starter: They are easy to use, and you don’t end up with the lingering taste of lighter fluid.
There are many types of wood you can use for smoke. Hickory, Oak, Mesquite, Apple, Pecan, And so on. The ones you want to stay away from are woods with a high pitch or sap content. You will not like the results. I personally prefer Hickory for most of my preparations. I just like the flavor that it imparts.You can buy hickory chunks at most stores that sell grilling and outdoor products. You will want seasoned and dry wood to use as you will be soaking it in water prior to putting on the fire. This way you get smoke without spiking your heat index.
A couple other items you will need are a spray bottle This you will use for spraying liquid onto the meat as it is cooking. This gets done at regular intervals during the cooking process. The other item that you should have is an instant read thermometer You will be looking for a target temp to tell when the meat needs to be pulled from the cooker.
That should be a basic equipment list to get you started. The next posts will be about using this stuff to turn out some great BBQ for your friends and family. Next Up: Pulled Pork!!
Cook from the heart, taste the love