JOEL W. WHEAT Enlarge
(ARA) - Grilling is one of the great American rites of summer, but your average burgers and brats can only take you so far. If you're looking for a way to take your barbecue experience to another level, adding a smoker to your arsenal can really help you bring more flavor to your gatherings.
You might think using a smoker would be labor-intensive and time-consuming compared to using a standard grill, but smoking is actually easier than you might think. Smokers are also versatile and comparable in price to a nice grill, making buying one affordable for anyone who takes their barbecue seriously.
"Smoking is a great method for adding flavor to ribs, wings or a pork roast," said Masterbuilt CEO and cookbook author John McLemore. "It's also as simple as preparing your meat, placing it in the smoker and letting it cook while you spend time with your guests on the patio. Once it's done, your meat is ready to serve."
McLemore offers the following tips for those who are looking to try their hand at smoking:
* Before you cook anything in your new smoker, season it by filling it with a handful of wood chips and setting it to its highest temperature with the air vents open. Let it run for about two hours, adding wood chips twice during the process.
* Part of the fun of a smoker is that you can use multiple types of wood chips to add different flavors - from standard mesquite and hickory, as well as the less common, but flavorful, apple or pecan. Repeat the process of seasoning your smoker with each new flavor.
* An electric smoker can make for simple and convenient barbecuing. For example, the Masterbuilt Electric Smokehouse features a digital thermostat and remote timer that make it easier to monitor your roast.
* If your meat reaches your desired temperature before you are ready to serve, simply wrap it in aluminum foil and reduce the smoker temperature until mealtime.
* Overloading the smoker with food may cause uneven cooking and extend cooking time. It's best to allow enough space for proper heat circulation.
* If you're smoking wet ribs, apply barbecue sauce about an hour before you are finished cooking and wrap with aluminum foil. If you prefer a dry rub, apply the seasoning before placing the meat in the smoker.
* Barbecue sauce isn't the only thing you can use to flavor meat. For example, try mixing things up by complementing your pork roast with peanut butter to add a delicious nutty flavor.
Super Smokers Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings
2 1/2 tablespoons black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon seasoned salt
5 pounds chicken wings, rinsed and dried
1 cup honey
1/2 cup hot barbecue sauce
3 tablespoons apple juice
Apple or pecan wood chips for smoking
In a small bowl, mix together the black pepper, onion powder, chili powder, garlic power and seasoned salt. Place the chicken wings in a large resealable bag. Pour the dry rub into the bag and shake to coat the wings. Marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temperature or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
Preheat smoker to 225 F. Place the wings on the top rack of the smoker and cook for 25 to 30 minutes. Turn wings and cook for another 25 or 30 minutes, or until done. While the wings are cooking, mix the honey, barbecue sauce and apple juice in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until warmed through.
Remove the wings from the smoker and place in a disposable aluminum foil pan. Pour the warm sauce over the wings and toss to coat evenly. Return pan to smoker on middle rack and cook for another 25 minutes. Remove from the smoker and serve immediately. Serves four to six.
Game Hens with Asian Citrus Baste
4 game hens
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 green onions, minced
2 tablespoons brown sugar (firmly packed)
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 fresh large lemon, juiced
1 fresh large lime, juiced
1 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce
Season hens with one teaspoon of salt and one teaspoon of pepper. Split each game hen in half. In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix garlic, onions, brown sugar, cilantro, one teaspoon pepper, lemon juice, lime juice, orange juice, soy sauce and hot sauce. Reserve one cup for basting. Pour the remainder over hens and marinate for six to eight hours in the refrigerator.
Preheat smoker to 225 F. Place hens in smoker for 1 hour 30 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the hens is 165 F. Using the cup of marinade, baste hens several times during smoking. Serves eight.