With summer approaching, it’s only natural that you’ll want to start planning your outdoor cookouts. From planning recipes to inviting guests, you’ll want to make sure that your grilling techniques are up to scratch. What could be more rewarding than pulling off a delicious BBQ for all your friends and family?
If you’ve always dreamed of being an outdoor grilling pro, especially when it comes to electric smokers, then you’ll love these tips and tricks for becoming a next-level grill master this summer. You’ll be searing steaks and marinating meats like a Michelin star chef in no time.
Season Your Smoker Before Using it For the First Time
Before you use your electric smoker for the first time, you should season it. This is because chemical residue can sometimes be left in the interior of the smoker by the manufacturer. These residues could include solvents, cleaning fluids, among other unsafe and inedible compounds.
By heating the smoker before you use it, you are eliminating these chemicals, therefore making it safe to cook on. Doing this also ensures the smoker operates more efficiently, as the first burn seals the cooking chamber’s interior.
When speaking from a flavor perspective, the extra layer of smoke will enhance the authentic BBQ taste when the time comes to cook.
Don’t Oversmoke Your Foods
Although the additional layer of smoke after seasoning your electric unit is beneficial, it’s important to note that there is such a thing as too much smoke, even when striving for a classic smoky BBQ flavor in your meat.
When you go overboard with smoking, the meats and other foods cooking can lose their unique flavors, and the seasoning is overpowered.
One tray of charcoals or pellets is enough for infusing an authentic smoky taste without overriding the flavors of other foods. Start with fewer coals and add more as you go until you reach your preferred smokiness.
Cook Chicken Dishes on a Higher Heat
When it comes to cooking chicken on an electric smoker, it’s important to remember that it’s different from red meats such as steaks and burgers.
While you can sear a steak in no time at all, to achieve the best results with your chicken dish, cook it on high heat for around 1½ to 2 hours.
The ideal temperature for cooking poultry is roughly 275°F. High heat is essential because chicken is one of the most critical meats to cook thoroughly. If served undercooked, it can be hazardous to your health.
When cooking chicken on your electric smoker, the best way to check that it has cooked through is with a meat thermometer. The internal temperature must reach at least 165°F before the chicken is safe to eat, so an accurate thermometer reading is an excellent way to ensure your food is cooked properly.
Finish Poultry Meats in the Oven
Many chefs suggest finishing chicken off in the oven if you want to serve your guests the best smoked poultry dish possible. Because the extra heat from the oven can crisp the skin more effectively than electric smokers, you’ll get a more satisfying finished product by cooking the poultry on the electric smoker until it’s almost done, then transferring it into a preheated oven for 10 minutes. Apply this tip for your next alfresco dining session. Your guests will love it.
Open the Vents Fully
Compared to charcoal or wooden grills, the vents on an electric smoker should be open at all times. The vents on electric smokers release the smoke, whereas, on other grills, they are for adjusting airflow to manage the temperature.
By leaving the vents open during a cooking session, you are preventing the smoke from becoming stale. Stale smoke can add an unsavory flavor to your dishes and ruin the overall taste. Keeping the vents open also prevents the build-up of creosote which is the tar-like substance responsible for clogging grills and smokers.
The only time you should close the vent is after your smoking session is over. At this point, it will suffocate the oxygen flow and cool down the charcoal, so it’s ready for disposal.
Brine Pork and Poultry Before Smoking
To achieve the wow factor when cooking white meats, many chefs recommend using a brine solution to soak them before smoking. Meats such as pork, turkey, and chicken benefit from being marinated in brine, as it infuses lots of delicious flavors.
Brine solutions are straightforward to make. Simply mix sugar and salt in cold water, then add seasonings. The seasoning possibilities are endless from celery salt, peppercorn, bay leaves, fresh parsley, and even citrus-fruit slices. Just make sure you soak the meats in the solution for 24 hours or 12 hours overnight at a minimum.
Chefs love to use brine before smoking because it moisturizes and tenderizes the meat, adding rich flavor to your smoke-infused dishes.
Be Aware of Different Temperature Settings
It’s essential to be aware of the specific heat settings that different meats require for proper cooking. With chicken cooking best around 275°F, other types of meat will do better at lower temperatures.
Temperatures around 200ºF to 225°F are perfect for allowing the smoke to penetrate and tenderize a cut of meat. The low and slow method is ideal for smoking tough meats, such as chuck and brisket. The extended cooking time allows the meat to break down and caramelize, ultimately leaving the cuts infused with the authentic sweet BBQ flavor.
White meat, red meat, thick and thin cuts all require different smoking temperatures and techniques. Smoked fish cooks best when smoked below 150°F for the first two hours. Increase the temperature to 200°F just before it finishes cooking. Being aware of the nuances between each type of meat you cook ensures you achieve the most delicious final result every time.
Put The Chef’s Secrets To The Test
By applying these tips and tricks for cooking on an electric smoker, you’ll be sure to take your skills to the next level.
From seasoning your smoker before using it to cooking certain meats at different temperatures, you’ll not only serve a dish bursting with flavor each time, but you can feel confident that your food is cooked thoroughly, so it’s delicious and safe.