In the last decade, grilling food has become extremely popular thanks to improvements in BBQ equipment. It seems like everyone has a grill master in their family. Grilling is certainly a great option for creating tasty meals, but smoking, as in smoked food, is as satisfying as any other form of cooking and is quickly gaining in popularity.
Choosing a smoking vault is not as difficult as some folks think. There are four types of smokers: electric, propane, charcoal and hardwood. All are capable of creating mouth-watering creations. Some folks prefer the charcoal or hardwood varieties as they believe they produce more flavor than electric or propane models. But just like with charcoal BBQ grills, the hassle and mess of the briquettes and soot are some of the reasons electric and propane smokers are more popular. Both types generate even, consistent heat and the cleanup is minimal when compared to charcoal or hardwood types.
Once you have determined what kind of smoker you want to buy, picking the size is next on your list. Steve McGrath of www.CampChef.com says, “Size equals capacity. The smaller smokers are nice, but if you are going to go to the effort to smoke food it’s nice to do a bunch of food at once. I recommend starting with a mid-size unit such as the Camp Chef 18-inch vault.”
Although smoked food offers a delicious detour from your everyday cooking and grilling, it does have one major drawback: time. Unlike with your BBQ grill, it does take time to smoke foods, so plan ahead. You can smoke several meals at the same time and then seal and store food for future enjoyment. A smoked brisket can take a day or more to smoke. Weather conditions such as wind can also influence the process, increasing the amount of time needed to smoke food properly. A good rule of thumb for heavy meats such as briskets is one to one-and-a-half hours per pound to smoke. If you have a 5-pound brisket, you’re looking at five to seven-and-a-half hours on the smoker. Smoking jerky can take 24 hours, while smoking an average-size unfrozen salmon filet will take about two to three hours. But don’t let the length of time deter you from enjoying delectable smoky foods or the enjoyment of do-it-yourself smoking; smoked food is certainly worth the wait.
On to the fun part: creating mouth-watering, flavor-infused foods with your smoker. Although jerky is what is traditionally associated with smokers, today nearly every type of food — from meats, fruits and vegetables to even desserts — can be created in a smoker. Choosing the variety of wood to use in the smoker is important. Hickory wood offers a rich, traditional smoky flavor, but fruit tree wood such as apple or cherry wood will infuse sweetness into the food. Mesquite wood adds flare to ribs, briskets and steaks. By adding a few jalapenos to the racks in the smoker, all the flavors will blend to create a savory southwestern flavor. Another popular combination is using cedar wood for smoking salmon filets and cherries for a delicious sweet-cedar dish. Adding additional flavors like fruit juices as marinades or spices and dry rubs will also bring outside flavors deep into the food.
Summertime is the perfect time to discover the fun and exciting world of smoking vaults. The combinations of flavors and possibilities are only limited to your imagination.
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