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"How to Smoke Meat"
Taking the Guesswork Out of Smoking Meats
If you're interested in learning How to Smoke Meat or to simply get a few pointers, you found the right website. It's really not very difficult to smoke your favorite meats to perfection. It takes a little know-how, a little experience and a smoker that will get the job done. The smoker doesn't have to be very expensive to provide you with excellent results. You can buy an adequate smoker for less then $50. For example, you can buy a Brinkman charcoal smoker with a water pan and temperature gauge for between $40 and $50. The end result will be just a tasty as a smoker costing considerably more.

The one thing that all smokers have in common is that they all have covers to contain the smoke. Smoking meat is a slow cooking process that takes several hours over low heat. Many smokers utilize indirect heat which means that the heat source is not located directly under the meat, but off to one side. Many indirect smokers today have a wood box which was added on the side of the smoker. This is the location of the heat source. If you are in the market for a smoker, simply do a little research before buying one. Some indirect smokers are quite expensive.

Before smoking any meat, you will need to purchase the wood chips that you will be using. Some of the most commonly used woods are Hickory, Mesquite and Apple. You cannot go wrong if you used a combination of all three for your smoking. If you prefer a milder tasting smoke flavor, consider Ash, Alder, Birch, Maple or Pecan wood chips. Never use Cedar, Cyprus, Elm, Eucalyptus, Fir, or Sycamore since they will impart a taste to your meat that is very similar to turpentine.

You will need to have wet wood chips available until your meat has been removed from the smoker. When you place your meat in the smoker, scatter a hand full of wet wood chips on the charcoal. They will begin to smoke within a few minutes which flavors your meat. When the smokes stops, simply add some more wet wood chips to the charcoal. You may need to stir your charcoal occasionally to keep your fire hot enough to maintain the temperature needed.

Make sure that the meat that you are going to smoke will be at room temperature by the time that you place it on your smoker. You should adequately season the meat prior to smoking it. Spices, rubs, marinades and barbeque sauces can be used for this purpose with excellent results. After trying a few different techniques, you will find the one that you really prefer.

If you're using a Brinkman smoker (pictured above) or one that is similar, smoking meat is really quite simple and straight forward. You will first fill up the pan with charcoal which is located at the bottom of the smoker. You will then ignite the charcoal. While you are waiting for the charcoal to get hot enough, place the wood chips that you are going to use in a container of water. Let the charcoal burn until the top of the charcoal is covered with a gray ash (30-45 minutes). The charcoal is now ready. You will then fill up the water pan which is approximately located in the middle of the smoker. Then you will place the grate in the smoker above the water pan and place the meat that you are going to smoke on the grate. There is only one more thing left to do. Put the cover on the smoker and relax.

Note: As a word of caution, do not uncover your smoker very often. This action simply impedes the cooking process since the temperature drops every time that your smoker is opened and additional time is required to regain the cooking temperature. If you have to look, make it quick!

Needless to say, there isn't any other method of cooking meat or poultry that provides such a fantastic flavor. Smoking is the best method to tenderize tougher cuts of meats which include, brisket, ribs and pork shoulder. The slower and the longer that you smoke your meat, the more tender it will become and the better tasting it will be. Use our Meat Smoking Chart below as your guide.
Meat Smoking Chart
Beef Approximate
Cooking Time
Smoking
Temperatures
Internal
Temperature
  Brisket to Slice (8-12 lb.) 1 1/2 Hours per lb. 225° F - 250° F 185° F
  Brisket to Pull (8-12 lb.) 1 1/2 Hours per lb. 225° F - 250° F 205° F
  Beef Ribs 4 - 5 Hours 225° F - 250° F 175° F
  Hamburgers 30 - 40 Minutes 225° F - 250° F Your Call
  Prime Rib             Rare
  Prime Rib             Medium
  Prime Rib             Well Done
10 Minutes per lb.
15 Minutes per lb.
20 Minutes per lb.
225° F - 250° F
225° F - 250° F
225° F - 250° F
125° F
135° F
145° F
  Ribeye (Whole)   Rare
  Ribeye (Whole)   Medium
  Ribeye (Whole)   Well Done
20 Minutes per lb.
25 Minutes per lb.
30 Minutes per lb.
225° F - 250° F
225° F - 250° F
225° F - 250° F
125° F
135° F
145° F
  Tenderloin           Rare
  Tenderloin           Medium
  Tenderloin           Well Done
20 Minutes per lb.
25 Minutes per lb.
30 Minutes per lb.
225° F - 250° F
225° F - 250° F
225° F - 250° F
125° F
135° F
145° F
Pork Approximate
Cooking Time
Smoking
Temperatures
Internal
Temperature
  Baby Back Ribs (1 1/2 - 2 lb.) 4 - 5 Hours 225° F - 250° F Until Tender
  Baby Back Ribs (2 1/2 - 4 lb.) 5 - 6 Hours 225° F - 250° F Until Tender
  Boudin 2 1/2 Hours 225° F 165° F
  Breakfast Sausage 2 1/2 - 3 Hours 225° F - 250° F 170° F
  Ham - Bone In 1 1/2 Hours per lb. 225° F - 250° F 160° F
  Pork Butt to Slice (6 - 8 lb.) 1 1/2 Hours per lb. 225° F - 250° F 170° F
  Pork Butt to Pull (6 - 8 lb.) 1 1/2 Hours per lb. 225° F - 250° F 205° F
  Pork Chops 1 1/2 - 2 Hours 225° F - 250° F 160° F
  Shoulder to Slice (6 - 10 lb.) 5 - 8 Hours 225° F - 250° F 175° F
  Shoulder to Pull (6 - 10 lb.) 8 - 12 Hours 225° F - 250° F 205° F
  Spare Ribs 5 - 7 Hours 225° F - 250° F Until Tender
  Whole Hog (Up to 85 lb.) 16 - 18 Hours 225° F - 250° F 205° F
Poultry Approximate
Cooking Time
Smoking
Temperatures
Internal
Temperature
  Chicken (2 1/2 - 3 lb.) 2 - 2 1/2 Hours 275° F - 300° F 170° F
  Chicken (3 1/2 - 4 1/2 lb.) 2 1/2 - 3 Hours 275° F - 300° F 170° F
  Chicken Quarters 1 1/2 - 2 Hours 275° F - 300° F 170° F
  Chicken Thighs 1 1/2 - 2 Hours 275° F - 300° F 170° F
  Cornish Game Hens 2 - 3 Hours 275° F - 300° F 170° F
  Turkey (12 lb.) 6 1/2 - 7 Hours 250° F - 275° F 170° F
  Turkey Breast 4 - 5 Hours 250° F - 275° F 170° F
  Turkey Legs 3 1/2 - 4 Hours 250° F - 275° F 170° F
  Turkey Wings 2 1/2 - 3 Hours 250° F - 275° F 170° F
Fish Approximate
Cooking Time
Smoking
Temperatures
Internal
Temperature
  Catfish 2 - 3 Hours 225° F - 250° F Your Call
  Fish - Fillets (4-6 oz.) 1 1/2 - 2 Hours 225° F - 240° F Until Flaky
  Fish - Whole (4-6 lb.) 3 1/2 - 4 Hours 225° F - 240° F Until Flaky
  Salmon - Cooked Fast 3 - 4 Hours 200° F - 225° F Your Call
  Salmon - Cooked Slow 24 Hours 70° F - 80° F Should be Done
Shell Fish Approximate
Cooking Time
Smoking
Temperatures
Internal
Temperature
  Crab (Steamed) 15 Minutes per lb. 220° F - 225° F To Taste
  Lobster (Steamed) 15 Minutes per lb. 220° F - 225° F To Taste
  Shrimp (Steamed) 15 Minutes per lb. 220° F - 225° F To Taste
Wild Game Approximate
Cooking Time
Smoking
Temperatures
Internal
Temperature
  Duck (4-5 lb.) 3 - 4 Hours 225° F - 250° F 170° F
  Goose 30 Minutes per lb. 225° F - 250° F 170° F
  Pheasant 2 1/2 - 3 Hours 200° F 170° F
  Rabbit (3 1/2 lb.) 3 1/2 - 4 Hours 200° F 160° F
  Venison Roast 1 - 1 1/2 Hours per lb. 225° F - 250° F 160° F
Vegetables Approximate
Cooking Time
Smoking
Temperatures
Internal
Temperature
  Corn on the Cob 1 1/2 - 2 Hours 225° F Your Call
  Eggplant - Sliced 1 - 1 1/2 Hours 225° F - 250° F Until Tender
  Garlic Cloves 1 1/2 Hours 225° F Until Soft
  Mushrooms - Button 30 - 45 Minutes 225° F Until Tender
  Mushrooms - Portobello 1 1/2 - 2 Hours 225° F Until Tender
  Onions 1 - 1 1/2 Hours 225° F - 250° F Until Tender
  Potatoes 2 - 2 1/2 Hours 225° F Your Call
  Squash 1 - 1/2 Hours 225° F - 250° F Until Tender
  Zucchini 1 - 1/2 Hours 225° F - 250° F Until Tender
Note: The approximate cooking times are strictly estimates and should not be considered actual times. There are several variables that you should take into account when smoking meats... the thickness and weight of the meat, the weather conditions and the type of smoker being used. This being said, make sure that you check the internal temperature to determine when the meat is done.

Article: How to Smoke Meats
Author: Ray Zimmerman
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