Getting started with smoking

Getting started with smoking

Smoking beef and lamb infuses a natural, smoky, aromatic flavour and brings an unrivalled tenderness to your favourite cuts of beef or lamb.

Smoking meat on the barbecue suits our Aussie climate and is a sure-fire way to impress your guests. A standout cooking method in America’s southern states, it infuses a natural, smoky, aromatic flavour and brings an unrivalled tenderness to your favourite cuts of beef or lamb. 

While you can invest in a purpose-built smoker, you can also take your barbecue, stove top and oven to innovate and make affordable and and delicious beef and lamb meals

What is smoking?

The art of smoking food is not new. Long before the invention of fridges, smoking preserved the shelf life of meat using two types of smoking techniques: hot and cold.

Cold smoking
Cold smoking is a means of flavouring and preserving rather than cooking. Using low heat (around 12-22°C), wood-infused smoke penetrates the food, removing moisture and preventing the spoilage of fats. Before starting this process, foods are often cured in sugar/salt combinations to help draw out moisture and encourage flavour absorption. The result is a saltier, more pronounced smoky taste, typically found in cold smoked foods such as sausages.

Hot smoking
Hot smoking over wood cooks and infuses food with exceptional smoky flavour so it’s ready to eat immediately. In the traditional barbecue world, this method has die-hard fans especially in America’s southern states renowned for barbecued beef cooked to perfection, using the low-heat, slow technique that delivers tenderness and a great flavour to beef and lamb. 

Getting started – what you need

The smoker
Most of the items you need to get smoking are already in your kitchen. Smoking can be achieved using a wok, the oven, the stovetop or the barbecue. More dedicated, regular smoking artisans can purchase purpose-built smokers where there are a range of starter kits and sets available.

Smoking chips
Smoking chips are usually hardwood or fruitwood and as a rule, you can experiment with wood from any trees with edible fruits. Different woods impart individual flavours to your meat. If you’re not sure where to begin, hardware and barbecue specialty stores along with some supermarkets offer gourmet culinary wood chip ranges, especially formulated to suit a variety of beef and lamb cuts.

WOOD

CHARACTERISTICS 

 Acacia

 Not as strong as mesquite. Burns hot, so use smaller amounts.

 Almond

 Sweet, nutty taste.

 Apple

 Adds a light, fruity and sweet taste. 

 Ash

 Light, distinctive and slightly sweet. Burns fast, so perfect for adding a quick flavour infusion.

 Cherry

 Sweet, mild and slightly fruity. 

 Hickory

 Strong and smoky. Good for quick smoking, or low and slow for an intense flavour hit.

 Lemon

 Medium flavour with a subtle hint of fruit. Ideal with beef.

 Lilac

 Mild, sweet smoky flavour that pairs beautifully with lamb.

 Mesquite

 Sweet, light and especially good with ribs and lamb. Good for quick smoking to impart great flavour as it burns hot and fast. 

 Oak

 Heavy smoke taste that’s not overpowering. 

 Pecan

 Lighter and more subtle than Hickory, with a delicate flavour.

 

Expert Tips: 

  • Try different combinations with different meat cuts.
  • Do not use Pine, Cedar or green woods for smoking.
  • If you’re a beginner, start by using a small amount of wood to test the flavour. Then gradually add more to taste.
  • Wood chips should be soaked in water 30 minutes in advance. If time permits, soak for up to 24 hours for maximum effect. This ensures the chips smoulder, rather than burn.

Ideal smoking accessories

  • A good pair of barbecue mitts.
  • Long tongs for stoking the wood.
  • Meat thermometer to ensure an accurate temperature is reached.

ACTIVITY

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