Posted On: 09/15/2010
In this month's feature, Smoked-In Flavor, Sauce contributor Dee Ryan shared her delicious experience with a smoker that she received as a gift. Want to infuse that delectable smokiness into your own foods but don't have a smoker at home? Don't worry, we've got you covered.
Smoked nuts, fish and ribs sound great, but what if you don’t have a big ol’ smoker sitting in your backyard? No worries, it’s easy to transform your charcoal or gas grill into a smoker with nothing more than a basic 99-cent item you can get at the grocery store: a small, disposable aluminum “pound cake” pan.
Soak about two to three cups of wood chips of your choice in water (you can also use juice, beer or soda) for 20 to 30 minutes. Then, drain off the excess liquid and put the chips in the disposable pan.
Indirect heat is important when smoking. So if you’re using a gas grill, remove the grate, turn on only one burner and, if you’re cooking meat, put about a cup of water into a drip pan and place it on the cool side of the grill beneath the grate. Place the pan with the wood chips on the hot side and replace the grate. Position whatever you’re smoking on the cool side of the grate.
For a charcoal grill, it’s the same concept; build your fire, push your coals over to one side of the grill and, underneath the grate, put a drip pan with water on the cool side and your chips on the hot side.
You now have a smoker, so get your food on that grill, close the top and walk away. No, seriously – don’t peek. You want to keep all of that firery smoke in the smoker, not perfuming the neighborhood, so get yourself a beer and find something else to do. In an hour or so, you might want to add more soaked chips, and in a couple of hours, if you are using charcoal, you may need to add more hot coals.
Remember that the mantra is low and slow – you want to keep your heat as low as possible (use the vents to let only a little air in to keep the fire going) and keep the food cooking at that low temp for as long as possible. Nuts, cheese and small pieces of meat might only need one or two hours on the grill; pork butts, ribs and whole chickens or turkey breasts can be left on for four to six hours or more. And if you are smoking salt, you will need at least 12 hours of smoke. Of course, always make sure that meat and fish have been cooked to standard safety temperatures.
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