Authors: Jeff Phillips
Tags: #ebook, #book
Table of Contents
Where to Purchase Smoking Equipment & Supplies
Copyright © 2012 by Jeff Phillips
Whitecap Books. Ebook released in 2012
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Publisher: Michael Burch Editing: Taryn Boyd, Lana Okerlund and Theresa Best Cover Design: Setareh Ashrafologhalai and Michelle Furbacher Photography: Michelle Furbacher Food styling: Michelle Furbacher, Laurie Abigail Phillips, and Jeff Phillips Illustrations: Setareh Ashrafologhalai Epublication created and edited by Jesse Marchand
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Phillips, Jeff, 1970–
Smoking meat : the essential guide to real barbecue / Jeff Phillips.
Includes index. Print ISBN 978-1-77050-038-9Epub ISBN 978-1-77050-161-4
1. Cooking (Smoked foods). 2. Cooking (Meat). 3. Smoked meat. 4. Barbecuing. I. Title.
TX835.P55 2012 ~ 641.6'16 ~ 012-901016-X
The publisher acknowledges the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (
) and the Province of British Columbia through the Book Publishing Tax Credit.
I WAS BORN
in Concord, North Carolina, but was raised all across the United States due to my dad’s love for traveling, and I’ve always had a keen interest in food and cooking. Right out of high school and throughout college, it was not uncommon for me to treat my friends and family to food that I cooked or grilled on my little hibachi.
Just a few years after I was married, I was given a small Brinkmann smoker—the one that looks like R2D2—and I set out to learn how to use it. I was determined to make the most of that smoker no matter how many folks told me it was cheap and hard to use. This sparked in me a
love for the taste of smoked meats and a passion
for barbecue tools and techniques. In this book,
I share the assorted and tasty smoking adventures that followed.
I read every barbecuing book in our local library and everything else I could find on the subject, and I found myself turning out some of the best-tasting meat I had ever made. I cooked for anyone who would let me, and I would find any excuse for a get-together so I could experiment with a new type of meat to share with unsuspecting test subjects. Before long, I was being asked to cook for anniversaries, parties, and church events, and I especially loved cooking for all of my relatives on holidays.
Several years and many trial runs later, my wife, Abi, along with other members of my
family, encouraged me to put all of my knowledge onto a website so I could share it with others.
The more I thought about it, the more the idea made sense. From very meager beginnings, my website,
, has grown to more than 300 pages of information on the subject, and we have 130,000 newsletter subscribers. There are 32,000 forum members at
, as well. Pretty good for something that started as a hobby.
At the beginning, I worked on the website during the evenings, and I was a manufacturing engineer at a local company during the day. But in April 2009, after being laid off from my day job due to downsizing, I decided to go into the smoking meat business full time instead of putting myself back in the job market. That was possibly one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Within the next few months I was asked to write this book and I was featured in the Tulsa World, our local newspaper. These events were instrumental in letting me know that smoking meat is what I was born to do. My passion became my dream job: getting paid to play with fire.
This book will equip you with the basic knowledge you need to produce succulent slow-smoked food over hot coals and wood, right in your own backyard. It is written for anyone who wants to learn more about smoking meat, regardless of whether you are a novice or a seasoned pitmaster. It will help you produce food that will make you a legend in your neighborhood and maybe even in your town.
Some of my methods may be out of the box, but others may not follow what purists have taught for years about smoking meat. I’m all about doing what works, even if it hasn’t always been done that way. These pages are meant to kindle a fire in both you and your smoker, and to help you become the best pitmaster you can be.
Appréciez le voyage! (Enjoy the journey!)
When you think of smoking meat, you may be picturing old methods of curing meat whereby it is cold smoked for days or even weeks on end, which allows it to be left out of the refrigerator. That’s not what this book is about. What I do is called “hot smoking”: the method of simultaneously cooking and smoking meat (or other foods) at temperatures of 200°
, in less than 24 hours in almost all cases. From this point on, when I use the short form “smoking,” I am talking about hot smoking. Although I touch on cold smoking in this chapter and include a few recipes for cold smoking cheese and a few other food items, the subjects of cold smoking and curing meats are fodder enough for books of their own.
SO WHAT IS SMOKING
and why is the device for it so aptly called a smoker? To make it very simple, smoking in today’s world is the application of heat and real wood smoke to food to give it that comforting smoked flavor that most of us enjoy so much. There was a time when people cooked all of their food over a wood fire and the smoked flavor was the by-product of that method of cooking. Today, we have the option of cooking food in the oven, in the microwave, or on the grill, etc. with no smoke whatsoever if we so desire. To add the smoke flavor, we have to change our usual method of cooking to one that includes smoke from certain types of wood. The devices that have been designed to help make this method easier and more efficient are called smokers.
I will explain the different types of smokers and how they work, but suffice it to say that all smokers are the same in that they have a heat source fueled by wood, charcoal, gas, or electricity and, with the exception of the ones that are fueled by sticks of wood, a way to create or provide real smoke by adding chips or chunks of wood above the heat or even directly on the coals. Smokers have carefully placed vents or openings to create sufficient draft, which causes air to flow into the area of the smoker where the heat source or the firebox is located, mix with the smoke, and flow in and around the food in the smoke chamber, gently kissing it just before exiting out the other side via the chimney or exit vent. The vents are usually adjustable, to control the temperature of the smoker and/or the speed and volume of the air/smoke mixture. As you use your smoker and get used to its individual quirks, you will learn how to “make it tick” so that you can maintain the proper temperature and get the smoky flavor just the way that you and your family like it. By allowing the heat to cook the meat at very low temperatures and the smoke to flavor the meat for several hours, you will end up with some of the most tender, juicy, and flavorful meat on the planet.
Many of you may be wondering why you need a smoker when you have a grill; after all, you can get some pretty good flavor from grilling, especially when you use wood chips with the charcoal or even over the gas burners, but smoking is where tasting is believing. The secret to smoking is the long hours in which the meat has contact with the smoke. In order to use these long hours, we slow the heat down to a crawl, grab a drink, a chair, and some good music, and wait it out, knowing that the result will be worth it. I will explain how to use your grill as a smoker in later chapters, but you will have to change your thinking somewhat when it comes to outdoor cooking!
Armed with the knowledge of what smoking truly is and what a smoker is, and with the methods that I teach you in the following pages, I’m confident that you will get the best results, whether smoking meat is a fairly insignificant pastime for you or your most passionate hobby.
I’m a no-rules kind of guy when it comes to smoking meat. I’ll give you some guidelines to help you get started, but I encourage you, and even expect you, to experiment wherever you feel comfortable to make these methods and recipes your own. My methods are based on my own experiences and experiments, and they don’t always jive with other methods. For me, it’s all about flavor—whatever makes my taste buds happy. If an unconventional technique makes food taste good and it’s safe, then who am I to tell you it’s wrong?
TYPES OF SMOKERS
Before we get into what type of meat to cook, or consider the best fuel, or sort out the types of wood to use for flavor, I have to introduce you to the various styles of smokers so you can decide what’s best for you. I have a massive collection of these things in my barn, something that makes my wife just roll her eyes. In her utter lack of understanding, she often asks, “Why do you need this many smokers?” I have to explain to her (all over again) that I must have these various devices so I can write reviews on them and tell other people how to make them work properly. I’m not sure she buys the story entirely, but truly, there are as many different types of smokers as there are days in a year. Fortunately, many of them share similar properties, which allows me to group them into categories.