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Smoking meat like the pros is not hard, you just have to have a little patience and the right technique. That’s right when we say BBQ we are not talking about grilling hamburgers or hot dogs. We are talking about slow smoking meats until perfection that your guests will love.
Check out these BBQ tips and learn how we smoke our meats here at David’s.
Prepare the Meat
There are several things you should do to prepare the meat.
First, you should let it warm up to room temperature before you start cooking it. This allows it to cook more evenly and prevents it from drying out around the edges.
Unless you are cooking a very thin cut of steak, we recommend this step for all other meats. For large roasts (prime rib) this could take up to 4 hours. If you don’t feel comfortable with this it is not necessary, but will produce a better final product.
Another optional step is to brine the meat. This adds water into the muscle cells and helps prevent drying out as well. Check out this video to see how to brine chicken wings.
Finally, before you cook, you need to season your meat. At the very least add some salt. However, you can find many different rubs at your local grocery store or create your own!
Prepare the Sauce
You can, of course, purchase your sauce from the store, but what’s the fun in that? It is just as easy to make your own and then you can flavor it however you like. For a quick and easy recipe, check out this video:
Prepare the smoker
Whether you are using gas, wood or charcoal, you will need to get your grill or smoker hot. The temperature needs to reach a minimum of 225 degrees and up to 350 degrees depending on what you are cooking.
Different types of wood will give you different flavors, we recommend to try several to see what you like. We mostly use oak but popular choices include cherry, pecan, and hickory.
Some pitmasters like to soak their wood in water for an hour or so before using it to give more smoke flavor. If you have a small pit where the meat will be close to the firebox this isn’t really necessary.
Control the Temperature
This is probably the most important piece to the smoking puzzle. Successful bbq depends heavily on maintaining a constant temperature.
If you are using gas or electric, this is not an issue. But with wood or charcoal, you will need to monitor the temperature every 45 min to an hour.
If your pit does not have a rotisserie you will also need to be aware of any “hot spots”. You may need to rotate your meat every so often to ensure even cooking.
One way to help control your temperature is not to open the smoker! It’s hard to resist not to peak but it’s best not to. Get yourself a probe thermometer so you don’t even have to worry about it.
How long to cook
Cooking times can vary depending on:
- Size of the cut of meat
- Type of meat
Brisket is considered a tough cut of meat so you will need to cook this to at least 185 degrees internally depending on your desired level of tenderness. Sorry, no medium rare on this one. Do not go over 205 degrees or you risk drying out the brisket.
It’s best not to rush this to prevent drying out so we recommend cooking brisket at 225 degrees. If you have a whole brisket with the point attached it could take 12-18 hours to finish.
To speed this up, you can wrap the brisket in foil after the first few hours. This prevents evaporation known as the “BBQ stall”. This trick can also be used with a pork shoulder.
As with brisket, ribs are also a tough cut so you will also need to cook these at 225 until they reach 185 internally.
However, ribs are much thinner so they should only take 4-6 hours to complete.
You have the option of cooking chicken at 225 if you want to slow smoke them and they will take 3-4 hours but you can also cook them at 350 as you would in an oven for 45 min to an hour.
Try to cook these to 165 degrees internally, no more and no less.
You will cook these exactly like you would a brisket. 225 degrees for 12-18 hours until you reach 185-205 degrees internally if you want pulled pork.
If you want to slice these you could cook them to 165 which are great for sandwiches.
In our opinion, and this is what we use in the store, pork collars make the best sliced pork for sandwiches.
Cook these at 225 only until they reach 145 internally. They should only take a few hours depending on how big they are.
They will be some of the juiciest slice pork sandwiches you’ve ever had!
Definitely cook salmon at 225 unless you feel comfortable cooking over high heat as it is easy to overcook. It is highly recommended to brine salmon as well to help prevent drying out.
Cook until 145 internally and it should only take 45 min to an hour depending on the size of the filet.
Rest the meat
Just like cooking any type of meat you should let it rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing or carving.
This allows the juices to be reabsorbed into the meat and helps prevent it from leaking out as you cut it.
With some of these meats, it is obvious how to cut, like with ribs or chicken, just follow the bones.
However, with brisket and other types, you need to slice against the grain. You should be able to visibly see muscle grains running in one direction, you will want to slice with your knife perpendicular to these.
This ensures your guest will be able to bite through a tender piece every time.
Enjoy with friends and family
Of course the best part about slow smoking a BBQ is being able to share with loved ones. So take a minute to enjoy your hard work with family and friends.
Have them bring the drinks and sides!