Why use a charcoal smoker?
Friends who use charcoal smokers will tell you that the charcoal smoking process produces meat with a delicious smoky flavour that is tender.
What is a charcoal smoker?
A charcoal smoker is a piece of equipment that smokes food over a long period of time with low, indirect heat generated by burning charcoal. It allows the meat to cook evenly and gradually as opposed to traditional BBQ's that often cook meat with flames in minutes.
What is in a charcoal smoker?
There are 4 main parts:
1) The Firebox - This is where the heat is generated. Here is where you place the charcoal and add wood chips to generate flavour.
2) The Water Chamber - This is above the fire box and is used to regulate the temperature of the charcoal smoker. You don't want it to be too hot. This produces steam to help with the cooking of the meat.
3) The Cooking Chamber - Where the food is placed.
4) The Lid - This keeps the smoke inside. The lid will have a vent that is used to release the smoke and steam as required.
How do I used a Charcoal Smoker?
1) Prepare your charcoal and wood chips - Basic charcoal is fine. Wood chips add flavour. Hickory, cherry and apple wood are some popular choice. Soak your wood chips in water for 30 minutes prior to use.
2) Fill your water chamber with COLD water about three quarters full.
3) Light your coals - Using lighter fluid is fine. Let the coals burn until they are a thin layer of white ash.
4) Add your meat to the cooking area. Most people like to rub salt and some other flavour's into the meat prior to starting the cooking process. It's completely up to you.
5) Control the temperature. The ideal temperature is between 100 to 120 degrees celsius. Vents will allow you to maintain this temperature. The lower vents allow more oxygen into the smoker, allowing the coals to burn at a hotter temperature. The top vent lets the air escape which will cool the coals. Some smokers have an in built thermometer to track the temperature. To be safe, most meats need to be cooked to an internal temperature of 63 degrees celsius and poultry to 74 degrees. You may need to invest in a thermometer.
6) Add the wood chips. About a quarter of the way through the smoking process, add the wood chips that you prepared earlier to the fire box amongst the coals. You want them to burn slowly, so by soaking them in water prior to use, this will help this.
7) Watch your food cook. This will take a long time. To figure out how long you need to smoke your meat, you have to take three factors into consideration: the type of meat, the thickness of the meat, and the temperature of the smoker. On average, you will need 6 to 8 hours, but brisket can take up to 22 hours.
I hope you found this article helpful and enjoyable.
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