Friday night topic: Smoking and slow-cooking

So it turns out both Geoff and I got Bradley electric smokers for Christmas this year. I’m pretty excited to try mine, but I haven’t even unboxed the thing yet.  (Must finish Radeon review first!) One of my initial steps, though, is to collect some recipes to try. Smoked pork ribs are probably going to be my go-to dish, but I’m willing to try all sorts of things.

Do any of you have experience with slow-cooking or smoking meats (or, heck, veggies)? If so, what methods have you tried, what cuts of meat, and what recipes? Any conspicuous successes or failures? Advice for a n00b? Discuss.

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    • Jeepman007
    • 8 years ago

    Have had my Brinks electric for about 2 yrs. LOVE IT.

    Favorite thing to smoke it pork tenderloin. Usually use either salt/pepper or my own red pepper/salt/garlic powder/salt mix. Just lightly dust and smoke away. Digital prob is the way to go. don’t want to open the thing up letting heat escape.

    Just cooked 2 loins and brought to work today. I sold 2 cookers. 🙂

    Holidays I do a turkey while the wife does one in the oven. Smoked turkey is always either finished or taken home by family. Seem to always have left over oven roasted.

    Make sure you soak the wood chips. I like the large chips. Also water smoking keeps the meat moist.

    Best way to cook IMHO. Fantastic taste and easy.

    • Thrashdog
    • 8 years ago

    I scored the Kansas City Barbecue Society (“every animal has a right to be barbecued!”) cookbook in a gift exchange this year, and I want to eat [i<]everything[/i<] in it. Seriously, I'm flipping through it right now looking for something to suggest, and every time I turn the page I think I've found a new favorite. Right now, though, I'm looking at a recipe for smoked, bacon-wrapped burger rolls that I can practically taste just by looking at the recipe. ...and would you look at that, [url=<]it's in the Google Books preview![/url<]

    • lilbuddhaman
    • 8 years ago

    How many times have you used “I have to finish the Radeon review” excuse with the wife (to get out of honeydo’s) so far?

    • delsydsoftware
    • 8 years ago

    I got a Little Chief smoker last year. I don’t have a thermal jacket for it, so I can’t slow cook things with it in the winter time. But, it’s great for 15 or 20 minute smoke flavoring. Just tossing a whole chicken in there for 15 minutes imparts enough flavor for roasting in an oven. The first month I had it, I think i ran every type of meat and wood you can think of through there, and I didn’t come up with a single dud.

    I have a ton of different types of wood chips (alder, mesquite, hickory,apple, cherry). They all have their uses, with alder being better for gamey meats like venison. I think experimentation is the key, really. I cold-smoked some cheeses last year using the hickory chips, and those turned out really well. One thing I will say is that alder and cheese don’t mix, in my opinion. I think the alder flavor is a little too strong.

    • Voldenuit
    • 8 years ago

    We have a slow cooker but no smoker. We cook a lot of stews in it – pot roast, goulash, stroganoff. I find that it’s best if I brown the meat (plain or marinated) lightly in a pan before putting it in the slow cooker. 4+ hours of cooking are usually good for us.

    My tip if you’re cooking stews is to sautee a bay leaf in oil and put it in the stew. You can put root vegetables (carrots, potatoes, turnips) in at the same time as the meat, but delicate vegies (mushrooms, celery, green beans) should be put in 1-2 hrs before the end.

    If you’re going to put in wine, reduce the pan after browning the meat and then put the wine in, it’ll taste better than if you just pour wine straight in the slow cooker, which will often turn out vinegary or tannic.

    EDIT: If you’re cooking stroganoff, don’t put the sour cream in the slow cooker – put it in at the end. If you intend to keep leftovers, mix the sour cream only into the portion you intend to eat tonight. As a low fat alternative, you can use greek yogurt instead of sour cream, the same precautions apply.

    • Byte Storm
    • 8 years ago

    I do a lot of smoking in the spring to fall time (here in New England, winter can overpower the heat you need in all but ceramic smokers)

    My suggestion is to start off simple with ribs. They take the shortest amount of time to reach that perfect flavor and texture, and are fairly forgiving for people unfamiliar with the subtleties of smoking meats. Go with either a Baby Back or St.Louis cut. The higher quality the better.

    First you want to trim the thin membrane off the underside of the ribs. If you are not confident in your knife skills, or have never peeled the silverskin off a tenderloin, have your butcher do this for you.

    Once your ribs are prepped, take a paper towel to them to get them dry on the outside, and then put a very light coating of Vegetable Oil on them. Once coated, liberally apply some [url=<]Memphis Dust[/url<]. I love this stuff, but have since altered it to suit my tastes (4 years doing the Q). Incidentally, the site I just linked you is an AMAZING resource of Recipes and Techniques that you will want to learn at some point down the road. Leave the meat for at least a few hours in the fridge, I do it overnight. Pull the meat out and let it sit while you heat your smoker to 225 F. Put as many chips/chunks as your Instructions recommend for whatever smoke level you are looking for. When the smoker starts going strong, put the meat inside, and let them cook for 5-6 hours for St Louis, 4-5 for Baby Back. Change chips/chunks as needed. You'll know they're done when you can wiggle the bone in place to where it almost, but not quite, detaches from the meat. You want it to come off the bone clean when you eat it, not fall off when you pick it up. Start checking at the low end of the time frame. Sit for 15 minutes, then cut and serve with or without sauce, and a large package of napkins.

    • TheEmrys
    • 8 years ago

    I’ve done a fair amount of smoking meats over the last few years.

    I’d recommend a good book. I’m a big fan Steve Raichlin’s books. Many of his recipe’s can be found at That’s where I got my recipe for Smoked Turkey. Awesome recipe for that.

    I like to recommend people start with some of the most forgiving pieces of meat (hard to screw up) with very, very easy recipe’s for sauce/rub. The easiest/best recipe I’ve found to start with is a bone-out pork roast/shoulder. Get yourself a large can of peaches in heavy syrup, 2 Tbsp of brown sugar, 2 Tbsp of Chili Sauce (heinz or whatever), and 1 tsp of ginger, salt and pepper. Throw it in a blender (with the heavy syrup!), or a few rounds in the Ninja/Magic Bullet till you get a nice puree. Throw the roast in a large ziploc bag with half of the puree. Let sit overnight.

    Get the smoker up to temperature with a nice trickle of smoke coming through. Put the roast on. You’ll want a nice little drip pan so cleanup is easier. Then just let it go, adding wood and water as needed. You’ll want to baste the roast every hour or so with more of the puree. It develops a very nice, sweet crust to it. It will blacken a bit, but its good. Remember to rest your meat for 10 minutes before you slice it. Then drizzle the rest of the puree over it and call it good.

    Its a 4 hour smoke time, so you want to plan accordingly. When you are getting ready to start, here are the most important things to remember:

    Wood chunks will last longer than wood chips.
    Always soak your wood for ~ 1 hour – wet wood smokes better, with less ash swirling.
    Don’t over smoke! This is a big problem for most people new to smoking.

    Here is my rule of thumb for easy wood choices:
    Pork: fruit woods like peach, apple, and cherry. Pecan is also very good.
    Beef, poultry, and fish: stronger woods like oak or hickory.

    Mesquite tends to come out a bit overpowering, so if I’m using it, I’ll mix it with an oak or hickory. I just usually avoid it, myself.

    Now, you want something amazing? You can smoke your own cheeses. It’ll look funky a few times, but its all about turning it way, way down to where it barely smokes at all. Its a great cold-weather item to smoke.

    Some of the things I love to smoke are Baby back ribs, turkey, beef brisquet, pork roasts (I’m a big fan of loin since its very cheap and very good).

    Keep a good store of bacon when you are smoking. For dryer meats or very hot days, you can put some bacon over the meat and it’ll help control the dryness very well.

      • thermistor
      • 8 years ago

      I’m glad you mentioned mesquite. Not a smoker myself, but I really enjoy a Texas mesquite barbeque, any kind of meat is yummy. Have to dial in the flavor on the taste buds…perhaps mesquite is a bit overpowering.

      Happy new year.

    • SomeOtherGeek
    • 8 years ago

    Oh man. The good ol’ days. Used to smoke salmon in an old shed. Just cut up the salmon in strips and hang them from the roof. Set a couple of charcoal grills without the charcoal and use wood chips (red cedar was the best) instead. Smoke until the fish is dry. Usually 2 days. Easy job for jerked fish for the year. Awesome tasting and good for hiking, camping and snacking. Man, I gotta get back into it.

    • 5150
    • 8 years ago

    I started smoking with a normal propane grill and a crappy smoke box. I’ve since “graduated” to an ECP “El Chipo Brinkman” fully modded. I think it makes some damn nice Q, and everybody I’ve had over have never tasted anything like it before, but in MT we don’t have a lot of people throwing out a lot of good smoked meat. A packers’ cut brisket is by far my favorite, but pork butt is great too.

    There’s no special trick to BBQ though, just go low and slow until it’s done, not until dinner time. You can’t rush it and you got to be patient. And damn if I’m not feeling these Jack and Cokes.

    • chuckula
    • 8 years ago

    I just got a smoker too (not as fancy as yours though). Any particular meats that are recommended for use with it? I’m thinking ribs, but if there is an easy meat for a first-timer to try out, any advice would be appreciated.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 8 years ago

      My dad is big into brisket and says its the easiest of all hes tried smoking in his smoker.

        • 5150
        • 8 years ago

        Brisket is my favorite but it’s impossible to screw up a pork butt. Definitely start with that if you’re a first timer.

    • jensend
    • 8 years ago

    The fashionable thing these days is sous vide i.e. vacuum-sealing the meat and cooking at a relatively low and very carefully controlled temperature for quite a while. I don’t really understand the pull that has on folks- seems like a lot of effort to go to and I don’t know what the return is.

    Then again, I never have had the most “discriminating” taste. I enjoy cooking but I’m not anywhere near picky enough to ever be really good at it.

      • just brew it!
      • 8 years ago

      Wouldn’t sealing the food up before cooking it defeat the main purpose of a smoker (i.e., to impart a smoky flavor to the food)?

        • Bensam123
        • 8 years ago

        Vaccum sealing method doesn’t involve smokers. I believe he was just talking in general. You usually put seasoning and/or a sauce in with it too.

        • jensend
        • 8 years ago

        Sous vide isn’t smoking but it is slow-cooking; he asked about both. People put some kind of marinade etc in for flavor.

    • Narishma
    • 8 years ago

    I do all my slow-cooking on a [url=<]tajine[/url<] I got from a trip to Morocco. It's not much work, you just put all the stuff (oil, meat, spices, veggies) in it and let it cook over low heat for an hour or so, checking from time to time to see if it needs water. You can use any kind of meat and veggies you have lying around.

    • oldDummy
    • 8 years ago

    awhile back a friend had a london broil smoked in strips.

    Great stuff. Not healthy but good.

    Don’t know how it’s done…sorry.

      • albundy
      • 8 years ago

      london broil is very lean. why would you think its unhealthy?

    • Umbragen
    • 8 years ago

    If you ever want to have another GOOD pastrami sandwich, you can either go to a handful of places in New York or you can make it yourself. I cant imagine a better use for a home smoker.

    • Hattig
    • 8 years ago

    Smoked fish is popular. Dunno what kind of fishing you have in the area though to make it worthwhile (i.e., cheap).

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