A smoker will add a certain luxury to your cooking. It will add a tenderness and a much saught after taste, a taste that you can only get from smoked meat. Masterbuilt smokers are some of the best in the business. They are well made and they produce both electric and charcoal smokers as well having an excellent website containing Smoker recipes and other information.
The best Barbecue and smoker recipes
A wood chip tray easily allows you to add whatever smokey flavour you desire and there is plenty of room inside to cram as much meat as you and your family can eat. The timer will take care of the cooking but as you probably know when it comes to smoking the slower you cook the better!
The best Masterbuilt smoker
Masterbuilt produce a number of meat smokers but to be honest the only difference in most cases is the size, see the list below for the three most popular smokers:
- Masterbuilt 20070910 Electric Smokehouse Smoker
- Masterbuilt 30-Inch Electric Smokehouse Smoker
- Masterbuilt 20070311 40-Inch Electric Smokehouse
As we stated above each model is pretty much the same, the only difference being cooking space and a viewing window so you can see what is going on.
Types of meat smoking
Cold smoking is when the food is smoked without the cooking heat. You can cold smoke practically any meat and most cheeses but meats are usually cooked beforehand.
Hot smoking is the classic type of smoking, the type that you imagine when you think about it. Hot smoking will done on food that is already cooked and the smoking process will be reheating the meat.
Smoke roasting is when the food is cooked by the smoking process and is usually a long, drawn out process but tastes great. The traditional smoking oven is actually a smoke roaster.
Electric or charcoal smoker?
In times gone by the only option would be a charcoal smoking pit. Times have changed and we now have the option of electric or charcoal. Some people say that you just cant get the same flavour with an electric smoker but in reality you really won’t be able to tell the difference.
Electric smokers are every bit as good as their charcoal counterpart the difference being that you need a source of power. This may be a problem if you are out in the wild but in your own back yard it makes far more sense to go with an electric model.
The electric smokers are basically a low heat oven with a space for your wood that you are going to use for the smoking. They will usually have a 24hr timer and a number of racks for the meat. An electric heater will heat the inside to the point where the wood will start to smoke, flavouring your food.
Can I make my own smoker instead?
A smoker is a relatively simple device. When you look how it works and break down what it is you can begin to see how easy it is to make a smoker at home.
A smoker basically consists of three things:
- A container to hold your food and everything else. A good container will keep the smoke in and the oxygen out. The idea is to cook the food in a hot smoky place but not with a massive amount of flame. By keeping the oxygen out you can maximize the amount of smoke without causing your smoke source to set on fire and burn away.
- A heat source is essential to cook your food and cause your wood to smoulder and smoke. In ye olden days the only heat source available was charcoal but modern smokers are often electric powered, an electric heater producing enough heat to cause your wood source to smoke but not enough to set it on fire.
- A source of smoke is usually provided by introducing wood chips to a separate tray at the bottom of the smoker. As the oven heats up the wood chips begin to smoulder and smoke, giving your food the smoked taste you are looking for.
Obviously there are Other smokers as well. Weber and Bradley produce some fantastic smokers that are pretty reasonably priced.
Using your imagination it isn’t to difficult to come up with a workable design. Home made smokers can really be made from anything but a popular option is a charcoal powered smoker and are usually created from empty barrels. This allows plenty of space inside for a meat tray, an area for the smoking wood chippings and space at the bottom for charcoal.
It isn’t quite a Masterbuilt Smoker but it works! And you can literally make them out of anything, here is one made out of a filing cabinet:
Which Smoker wood?
However you get your smoker there is one thing that you simply can not do without. Your Masterbuilt smoker will need some wood to create your smoke that will flavour your food. This is the element that is going to flavour your food so don’t just run out and grab any old piece of timber, you need to be a bit more considerate. There are a couple of wood types that simply aren’t suitable for smoking food, namely cedar, cypress, elm, eucalyptus, pine, fir, redwood, sassafras, spruce, and sycamore.
The good news is that there are far more varieties that you can use and will make your smoked meat taste unbelievable! See the lengthy list below for some great ideas for smoking woods.
Acacia wood burns very hot so you should really only use a small amount and limit the number of hours you cook for.
Alder is well suited to fish and poultry as it doesn’t over power the flavours. This is the traditional wood that was used to smoke salmon.
Almond is sweet and nutty and goes with practically any meat.
Apple is great with pork but will discolor chicken skin
Apricot is sweeter and milder than Hickorey but is great with pork
Ash burns fast so you may need to keep topping it up but it has a great, unique flavour.
Birch is great with poulty.
Cherry is the most popular smoking wood and it simply goes with anything. You must try Cherry smoking.
Fruit can be used with ham or poultry.
Hickory is good with beef or lamb but it can be extremely over-powering if it is used excessively.
Lemon produces a good wood that can be used to smoke almost any meat.
Lilac is a popular wood for smoking cheeses but it also goes great with lots of other meats.
Mulberry produces a similar smoke to apple.
Oak is the most versatile of all the woods for smoking, it goes with anything but especially great with beef.
Orange can be used with any meat, the wood is very versatile and goes with anything.
Pecan is often used a milder alternative to hickory, it burns very cool and you end up with a very subtle flavour.
Walnut should be mixed in small quantities with other woods because it has a tendency to overpower the flavour otherwise.
You should experiment because everybody has different tastes.