Charcoal Smoker Instructions
Charcoal Smoker Instructions
Using a charcoal smoker is a relatively simple procedure, requiring the cook to make several decisions as to how the food is to be prepared well in advance of the smoker being fired up. Once all the preliminary steps have been taken care of, setting up the smoker, adding in the food, and beginning the smoking process is straightforward.
The question of marinating the food and in what as well as whether a dry rub will be applied and for how long are decisions that need to be made and acted upon a day or two in advance. Typically, a roast may sit in a brine solution for 24 hours and then a dry rub consisting of any number of spices applied to soak into the meat overnight. Alternately, marinating a boneless turkey breast in a mixture of white wine and apple juice for 24 hours before it is smoked can also be quite delicious.
Preparing the Wood
Choosing the wood to match the food is another decision to be made a day in advance. Hickory and mesquite are commonly used with both beef and pork while apple can be a pleasant match for poultry. The wood is commonly sold in either chunks or chips with pellets now gaining in popularity. Chunks will last longer than chips or pellets and the decision as to which to use will depend on how long you need the smoking process to last. A general rule, the thicker the food, the longer it will need to smoke. Whether or not the wood should be soaked in water, or any other liquid, and for how long is another decision that the chef needs to make, one that will usually create quite a heated argument when cooks get together.
Putting it All Together
Once the food is ready to go and the wood has been soaked, or not, it is time to assemble everything. The first step is to fill and then light the charcoal, preferably without using lighter fluid. When the coals are ready to use, evenly coated with a light gray ash, add the wood on top of the coals. Directly above the charcoal and wood some smokers provide a drip pan, which serves two purposes. The drip pan can be filled with the marinade, which provides a constant source of moisture as the food smokes and it also collects the drippings for a gravy. Finally, the food is introduced to the racks. Make sure to leave space around the edges so that the smoke will be able to reach all around the food. Fish needs to be smoked skin side down or some fish varieties will fall apart during the smoking process. Remember, smoking is a low temperature cooking process and a smoker should be regularly monitored. Opening or closing of the air vents will increase the heat or reduce it and if the temperature gets too high, you should use a spray bottle to spray the coals lightly to cool the temperature down.
Boren's Laws of the Bureaucracy: 1. When in doubt, mumble. 2. When in trouble, delegate. 3. When in charge, ponder.