1. Smoking Low & Slow:
The general aim with this type of cooking is to break down tougher cut meat cuts over a long period of time, rendering these cuts tender and juicy. Cooking temperature will need to be maintained low, generally 150°C and below.
2. Maintaining temperature:
Maintaining a low and even temperature is critical for a good smoking session. You will have to tweak charcoal height, air dampers and charcoal configuration to achieve a consistent, low temperature. Don’t get frustrated if you are having trouble! This takes time to perfect but once you have it down, you’ll be consistently making fantastic smoked food!
3. Charcoal configurations:
This is another great method for controlling your cooking temperatures and involves the placement of the charcoal in the charcoal basket.
Techniques can range from the “minion” to “snake” method or simply the amount of charcoal you use.
4. Adding additional moisture when required:
During the smoking process large cuts of meat, when cooked Low & Slow for a long period might start to lose moisture. There is a couple of things you can do to add back moisture – either on it’s own or in combination:
- Wrap your product in foil for the final few hours of smoking. This helps keep the moisture from escaping and will help protect that great bark you’ve created from burning.
- Use the heat diffuser plate for a more indirect method of cooking
- Use water or apple cider vinegar to spray thick cuts of meat periodically to help add back moisture.
5. Bark should be dark:
The “bark” or “outer layer” of your meat can be rich, sweet, chewy and crusty. In fact it’s one of the things that makes the meat great. The chemical reactions that take place between the compounds found in your smoke, the fat, and the rub or spice you use makes for a nice dark bark on the outside of your meat. To get great smoke for the braai, try to achieve a pale, almost blueish smoke throughout your cook.
6. Take Notes:
When your beginning your smoking journey, it really helps to take a few notes of your cook so that you can go back and remember what you did. Especially for long cooks (+2 hours) when smoking Low & Slow - you don’t want to forget your steps so you can repeat your process in the future. Learning from what went well and what didn’t can up your game for the next round of smoking until it becomes second nature for you.
7. Choosing your type of fuel:
The Firesmith Hero Smoker & Grill is designed to be used with either briquettes or charcoal. Both work well but there are a few things to consider when deciding what to use for your cook:
- Briquettes typically burn more consistently but they can contain additives and generate more ash. So buying the correct brand which offers natural ingredients is important.
- Lump wood charcoal burns hotter, which is great for searing meat and can be made with specific woods that leave a trace of their essence on the food. Lump wood charcoal doesn’t don’t burn as consistently as briquettes though so temperature control is harder.
- When starting out we recommend you use briquettes first and if possible using natural briquettes, where no artificial chemical binders or additives is used. This will allow your meat to retain that pure delicious taste and not be harmful to your body in any way.
- When using charcoal make sure to buy lump wood charcoal which burns more consistently than normal charcoal.
8. Smoking with wood
First thing to remember is that you cannot use “normal wood”. We wanted to make a product which is easy to use, no fuss and that ensures consistent grilling or smoking (or both) at the right temperatures and right amount of fuel you will need for your cooking duration. Our charcoal basket used in the Hero Smoker & Grill is designed exactly for that purpose – to hold the right amount of charcoal or briquettes when filled for a great cooking and smoking experience. With normal wood, coal creation might not be sufficient in terms of what is needed nor might it actually fit into the coal basket. We therefore recommended you stick to either lump wood charcoal or briquettes. You can however add wood chips, small wood chunks on top of the lump wood charcoal or briquettes to further infuse your food.
9. Don’t give up:
Smoking is both an art, and a science. It’s not something you’re going to master the first time out and takes lot of practice to get consistency in the food you deliver. So don’t give up if something didn’t work out like you thought it would. It happens and practice makes perfect. Keep on learning, keep sticking at and enjoy the process towards becoming a smoking master!