Slow smoked chicken, ribs, and brisket are staples of traditional American barbecue. The deep smoky flavours and fall-off-the-bone tenderness is a hallmark of the low-and-slow (low temperature, cooked over a long time) cooking technique. Originally, open pit fires were used for the slow cooking process. Luckily, now with a smoker box, wood chips and a gas barbecue, backyard chefs can taste the smoky flavour of wood and cook with the convenience of gas.
Here are some helpful tips for adding smoky flavour to your next backyard meal:
- Wood chips should be soaked in water for at least an hour before using. Drain them and add them to a stainless steel or cast iron smoker box.
- Fill the smoker box two-thirds of the way with chips and place the box on either the heat plate above the burner or on the cooking grids.
- Add wood chips 5 – 10 minutes before putting your meat on the grill – raw meats take on smoky flavours much better than even slightly cooked meats. Having a smoky environment to start will enhance and deepened flavours.
- Smoked meats will have a deep pink ring on the outside – this indicates how deep the smoke has penetrated your meat.
- Hickory is probably the most famous smoking hardwood. It imparts a strong hearty flavour to meats and is used mostly to smoke pork shoulders and ribs.
- Mesquite is one of the most popular woods, it is sweeter and more delicate than hickory, and is a perfect complement to richly flavoured meats such as beef, duck or lamb.
- Apple has a sweet, mild flavour and is used mostly with pork and game, but can be used for poultry as well.