If you are a huge fan of smoked meat or seafood, chances are you have tried these classic delicacies at five star restaurants or at a friend’s place. But have you ever tried making them on your own at the comfort of your home? If not, now can be a great time to start because all you need is to know which meats taste the best when smoked and which cuts you should be choosing from.
There are endless cuts available in the market nowadays. Each and every cut has to offer a different texture and flavor when smoked. The following are the top 5 meats that you can smoke on your smoker to enjoy these fine dishes at home with friends and family.
The Ultimate 5 Meats to Smoke on Your Smoker
Though rich in fat, no other meat tastes as good as pork does. Most meat lovers usually tend to prefer pork meat for smoking due to their juicy and tender texture when smoked to accuracy. Even though there are a lot of other ways to cook pork, smoking it lets you get a taste of all those remarkable flavors that you may have missed out on until now. Not to mention, it also goes perfectly with any spices or sauce that you want to use for marinating it.
If this is your first time smoking a piece of meat on your smoker, you should definitely start with smoking pork cuts. It is the easiest to cook and even if things don’t go as planned, you’ll still end up with an absolutely mouthwatering slice of meat. Most beginners usually go for pork ribs since they are comparatively low-priced than the other cuts and is also very easy to cook. All you need to do is use your favorite spices, sauce or oils to get a taste of better and unique flavors.
So, before you head out to the store, you need to familiarize yourself with all the different cuts that are available in the market and what you can make with each of these cuts. The following includes the basic cuts of pork that you can find in the market:
- Loin – Rib roasts, Tenderloins & Pork Chops
- Leg – Roasts & Hams
- Side – Bacon & Spare Ribs
- Shoulder – Ground Pork & Sausages
- Picnic Shoulder – Small Picnic Hams & Ham Hocks
Listed below are some of the cuts that you might like to try smoking on your smoker.
- The Back Ribs
Commonly known as baby back ribs for its smaller size, these are the go-to cuts of pork that people usually buy on a daily basis. As mentioned before, pork ribs can be cooked very easily and the texture of the meat is undeniably soft, tender, juicy and full of flavors. If you’re a beginner, there is no need for you to panic since it doesn’t take much to cook this delicious slice of meat.
- Spare ribs
This particular cut of pork is not as tender as the back ribs. In fact, it takes a little bit of effort and practice to cook this one. Though full of more flavors, this slice of meat can be a little hard to cook since it is larger in size and the meat is not as delicate as the other cuts of pork.
- Pork butt
Cut off from the shoulder blade, this cut tastes heavenly and also comes with a lot of fat. One thing that most people like about this cut is that it can be deboned. The fat in this cut keeps the meat as moist and flavorful as possible.
However, there are a lot of other cuts to choose from and you can smoke every little cut of meat into something delicious to flaunt off your culinary skills. No wonder people choose pork as the best meat to smoke on their smoker since there is a list of great dishes that you can make which includes, Cured Bacon, Smoked Ham, etc.
Unlike pork, beef takes a couple of hours to smoke to perfection. If you want that beautiful crispy glaze on the outside and juicy and tender meat on the inside, it will take you hours before you are able to present a slice of meat on the dinner table. Due to the fat and connective tissue with a complex pattern, it takes longer to cook the meat.
You can rest assured that it is definitely worth the wait and is full of lots of juicy flavors. All you need to do is set the heat in the medium-low setting and wait for a couple of hours before it’s finally ready to be served.
Just like pork, beef also has a variety of cuts to help you choose from and the following include the best cuts that you can find in the market to smoke. (Try to choose the cuts which contain more fat to ensure that the meat is soft and juicy)
If you are a beginner, this cut is not suitable for your first attempt at smoking since it is quite hard. It requires a lot of patience, barbecuing skills and experience to master the art of cooking this slice of meat. Chefs who have mastered the skill of smoking beef brisket admit that it is the best and most popular cut of beef that you can smoke on your smoker. Not to mention, it brings about a challenge for people who love barbecuing outdoors.
However, the time and effort are definitely worth it because once cooked, you’ll be left with a plate full of juicy and tender meat ready to be eaten.
- Beef ribs
Though the meat is a bit hard at this cut, the beef ribs taste incredible when cooked to perfection. You should know that even the shortest ribs are usually very large in size and hence, it will require a lot of hard work. You may even have to wait for a good 8-10 hours before the meat is finally cooked because of its hard texture. Once the fat between the tissue layers melts away, you’ll be able to see just how tender and juicy the meat is.
You can also chop up the ribs separately for shorter pieces when you get back home. If you do not have the tools to chop up the meat, ask your butcher to do it for you.
- Classic Steak
There is nothing in this world that tastes better than a classic smoked steak. It has a smoky and crispy-grilled texture on the outside and a juicy and soft texture on the inside. However, you’ll need to smoke it to the right setting and check the temperature from time to time to have the juiciest steak meal served at your table.
When buying from the store, make sure to ask for a slice which has a bone in it because those cuts tend to have even greater flavors than the boneless ones.
If you love smoking beef, do not pause yourself to the cuts mentioned above only. There are endless cuts to choose from and you can make a lot more incredible dishes like Beef Tenderloin, Corned beef, etc. from them.
Not only is this meat cheaper than pork or beef but it is also easier to cook. There is a variety of divine dishes that you can make with this type of meat and it is best if you use poultry as the first meat to smoke on your smoker. It will give you a basic idea of how to smoke pork or beef on your smoker if you already have a good experience in smoking poultry.
Chicken is the most common type of meat that people consume almost every other day. There are endless dishes that you can make with chicken, beginning from fried chicken to chicken wings, people have tried it all and they absolutely love it.
In some ways, chicken is easier to cook than a whole turkey. First of all, it is very cheap and hence only takes a few minutes to cook (depends on how you cook it). It is widely available in the market and can be a very good option for you to smoke it in your smoker before you switch to more complex meats like turkey, beef or pork.
As mentioned above, chicken can be cooked in various ways. The ones mentioned below are only two of the most popular and delectable dishes that can be made out of chicken. You can always try using a recipe book or popular cooking channels to create more exotic dishes out of chicken.
- Smoked chicken wings
Chicken wings are all about the sauce, oils and spices that you want to use on it. There are no boundaries whatsoever to what spices you can use to make the perfect chicken wings. You can always experiment to see which ones taste better.
They taste incredible when smoked and only take about 90 minutes to cook. The heat has to be set to its lowest setting since the pieces are really small and there is a higher possibility of burning them if the heat is way too high.
- Rotisserie-smoked chicken
A whole chicken is usually harder to smoke in a smoker since it doesn’t really hold strong flavors. Also, you’ll notice how the skin is not crispy when you finally take out the chicken from the smoker. On top of that, most of the flavors are usually absorbed by the woods used to smoke it.
Apart from these, the flesh itself takes on a hard and chewy texture if not cooked properly. Hence, most people generally prefer to cook it the rotisserie style. Smoking it the rotisserie style makes you can feel the crisp on the outside and the whole chicken itself has a striking smoky flavor infused in it. However, try to use cherry or apple wood for better results while smoking the chicken.
Smoking a turkey can be both tiresome and time consuming due to its larger size. However, smoked turkeys taste better than the ones which are just popped into the oven. Turkeys are full of flavor once cooked properly and is usually a more holiday meat since it is made the most during the time Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Whiskey smoked whole turkey – One of the most popular dishes that people make with turkey is the whiskey smoked whole turkey. A lot of people inject butter into the meat before putting it on the smoker to make the meat tender and moist. It takes about the same time as the oven baked turkey but is usually more flavorful and juicy if compared.
Poultry meat doesn’t end here. You can also smoke meats of game hens, ducks, etc. to create a range of other delightful dishes like tandoori, orange chicken and many more.
Though rarely smoked, lamb is one of the best meats that you could try smoking on your smoker. It has a diversity of flavors to offer you with and the meat is tender and juicy. The fat in it is what makes the meat so soft and easy to eat.
- Lamb shoulders
Lamb shoulders are highly rich in terms of fat and when smoked, it offers a mouthful of flavors that you may have never tried before. The juicy texture of the lamb makes it very easy to consume and you can marinate it with your preferred or go-to spices to make it taste more distinctive.
It can be very hard to find a good quality of lamb shoulders in the market. But, if you want to enjoy all the flavors that it has to offer, invest in a better butcher shop with better quality cuts.
- Lamb legs
Lamb legs taste as good as the lamb shoulder cuts. However, it can be a very hard cut of meat to cook if you are not experienced in smoking meat on the smoker. This is mainly because the lamb leg consists of a large bone with a lot of meat on it. Hence it gets very difficult to smoke it evenly on each side.
Last but not least, seafood can also be a great option for smoking if you love smoked fishes. Some of the most popular smoked seafood include salmon, trout, catfish, shrimp, etc. It is needless to say that seafood usually contains a great deal of flavors in it already and do not really require that much seasoning while smoking.
- Smoked salmon
Smoked salmon is one of the most common seafood that people consume. It consists of deep-juicy flavors and with each and every bite you take, you’ll be left craving for some more.
The art of smoking a meat to perfection is a difficult one. Though it is not impossible to master it since there are so many resources and tools available nowadays. There are endless recipes available on the internet as well as in recipe books and you have an even better scope of creating something different due to the availability of the diversified cuts of meat in the market.