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By Peyton Hines
Once you know how to use a smoker, cookouts will never be the same again. If you have ever been tempted to toss your grill and try smoking your meat but didn’t know how to use a smoker, fear not! Using a smoker is easier than lighting a barbeque and it produces tastier meat.
A smoker is a piece of equipment that cooks food over heat created by burning wood, rather than burning coals. Once you have the know-how to use a smoker you will be able to make terrific food with unbelievable flavor. The secret to knowing how to use a smoker is all in the wood. Each type of wood used in a smoker creates a different flavor to the food. Mesquite wood gives your steak or your salmon a robust flavor, while oak or hickory adds a completely diverse flavor.
The first thing to do is find a location where there will be as little traffic as possible. Usually cooking with a smoker will take some time and occasionally the smoker will be left unattended so it should be in an area where children and pets are not likely to go. Wind conditions should also be taken into consideration so that smoke is not entering the house or interfering with outdoor activities.
A typical smoker has two barrels at the bottom. Build a fire at the base of the barrels with whatever type of wood you choose to cook with. Heat the wood for at least an hour. Those who know how to use a smoker will tell you that the key to making the best meals is to know just how long to heat the wood, and how much wood should be added to the steamer once you start. You want the wood to burn at a nice even temperature. This takes some practice so don’t despair if you don’t get it right the first time. The more you use the smoker the better you will become at deciding when the temperature of the wood is correct.
Once the wood has been thoroughly heated, you can add your food. You will need to monitor the temperature on a regular basis while the food is being smoked. Cooks who know how to use a smoker will tell you to that it takes practice to know when to adjust your flues and your dampers but that keeping the right temperature is the key to turning out delicious smoked food.
You have tons of options when cooking with a smoker. Not only can you pick between lots of different types of wood to give your food flavor, you can also experiment on smoking lots of different types of foods. Cooks who know how to use a smoker to their advantage not only smoke more than one kind of meat at a time (try smoking a turkey and steak at the same time) they also try different foods. Wait till you try chili in your smoker!
Seriously, once you know how to use a smoker, there is a whole new world of cooking experiences waiting for you!
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