When you decide that you want to smoke a piece of meat, it is generally because you enjoy the rich flavor that only smoking your meat at home can create. There are many different variations on the smoke box construction, but the general physics of the process work the same no matter where you are or how the box has been made.
- The first step to any good smoked meal is to get all of the supplies you will need together before you start. First of all you should have a smoker that is functional; seals intact on all surfaces for best heat retention, racks intact to support desired meats, and all vents movable. Since most smokers are left outside, rust can become an issue for seals and moving parts. Find a wire brush in the tool box or ask your neighbor for one so that you can brush away all unnecessary grime and rust that may interfere with the process.
- Second of all, you need a good piece of meat that will feed all of your friends coming over for the party you're going to have. Third you need a case of beer to drink because smoking is a long process and requires a close watch to keep the temperature regular for the 4 to 5 hours it takes. You will also need gloves for handling the hot smoker and adjusting the temperature and fire. Let's not forget the wood chips either. Any store that sells meat for smoking should also sell the wood chips you will need so head down to your local meat market and stock up. And if you don't already have a thermometer on your smoker, get one that you can stick in the meat because the temperature is the key.
- Once you have your smoker all cleaned up and ready to rock it is time to start the fire. There are two chambers in most smokers, the fire chamber and the cooking chamber. The best way to make the fire in the lower chamber is with hickory wood chips, oak wood chips, or a combination of both. There are two ways to control the flame in the smoker; the flue on the fire side, or the flue at the top of the smoke stack coming out of the cooking barrel. The wider you have the two, the more oxygen gets to the fire thus increasing the intensity of the flame.
- Make sure you have a proper piece of meat to smoke. The bigger the better when you are going to the trouble of smoking it. Nice big 7 lbs pork tenderloin is always a good choice, or smaller depending on the size of your party and the amount of left-overs you desire.
- Once you have your meat selected, it is time to start seasoning that sucker with a good dry rub. Most dry rubs are heavy on salt and light on pepper because the salt will cook off, but the pepper will just get too spicy if you add too much. So cover your meat in salt with a little pepper and I like to use garlic salt and cumin to add a little extra kick. After you have all sides of your chosen pork or beef covered, wrap it tightly in saran wrap to keep the flavor close and force it into the meat.
- Stoke that fire until the internal temperature of the cooking chamber is 250 degrees Fahrenheit and you are ready to start smoking. Throw your meat on the middle of the rack evenly and don't touch it for 4 to 5 hours. Keep checking on the temperature; you don't want it any hotter than 250 and no lower than 230 or you will under cook or burn your meat.
The smoke will seep into the meat on all sides about two inches and the heat will cook the inside of the meat. After about 4 hours of cooking, wrap the meat in aluminum foil and let it cool for half an hour and then you are ready to enjoy the best meal you may have ever prepared.