Why Would I Want to Smoke my Meat?
Smoking meat on a charcoal grill goes beyond the taste, it’s an art form. Not only will smoking your meats give you a nostalgic feeling, there is a definitely a sort of alchemy that can’t be achieved with any other type of cooking. It’s nostalgic because mankind has been cooking meat over a fire for the last 1.8 million years.
Today, we have perfected the art of preparing the most delicious beef short ribs or the flavorful pork shoulder using the most simply of grills. Now it’s your turn! In this guide, we’re going to walk you through how to use an offset smoker to prepare the best-smoked meals with a basic charcoal grill setup.
Pros and Cons of using an Offset Smoker Charcoal Grill
You can stoke the fire or add wood chips, chunks, logs, or wood pellets without opening the cooking chamber.
Unlike smaller top-lid grills, offset smoker grills are typically designed like a barrel. Which means you are able to smoke larger quantities of food.
There are no electrical or moving parts that you have to worry about replacing.
Easily change the smokey flavor by adding different wood chips (ie: apple, cherry, hickory, and oak)
Some of your more heavy duty offset smoker charcoal grills can be pretty hefty. If you are considering getting a bigger grill, that weighs hundreds of pounds, get ready to purchase a grill trailer to help you maneuver your new backyard beast.
Unlike other grills, building a steady fire requires patience. Some offset smoker grills require 1 – 2 hours to maintain a solid temperature that you’ll need to complete a successful cook. However, after you learn how to smoke your meats properly, it will be well worth the wait!
What are the Steps to Smoke?
Step 1: Prepare your chimney starter. I typically only fill my chimney about halfway before I light it. After you light your charcoal, wait until your briquettes have white corners to signify that they are at the appropriate temperature. By preheating your coals, you will prevent bitter creosote (ash/soot) from forming on your meat.
Step 2: Make sure that both exhaust hatches are open. If you attempt to start your charcoal grill with the each exhaust closed, you won’t only keep your grill from rising to the proper temp, but you will end up choking out your flame.
Step 3: Carefully pour in the hot briquettes into your offset smoker box of your charcoal grill.
Step 4: Our friends at AmazingRibs.com said it best, “cook with charcoal, not wood.” Unlike using other types of grills, you don’t need to soak your wood chips or chunks when you’re using an offset charcoal grill. Even though soaked wood absorbs a small percentage of its weight in water, adding wet wood will only serve to cool your coals. Thus, causing fluctuating temperatures to happen.
Step 5: You’ll notice that you’re going to start seeing and smelling the smoke from your wood. Feel proud that you made it this far! At this stage, you’re going to want to keep an eye on the temperature. Depending on what you’re cooking, you’ll want the grill to climb to about 225 – 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Most grills will have a temperture gauge on them, like the one below.
Step 6: Bring on the meat! Add your cuts directly on the proper grates of your grill.
Step 7: Be ready to rotate throughout your cook. A quick lesson about fire. Since your heat source is located on one side and not directly underneath your meat, it’s only logical that the meat located furthest from the offset smoker box will not cook as fast as the meat located closest to the offset smoker box. Make sense? Good! Your PyroAnalytics lesson is over. Now keep rotating your meat, from left-to-right every so often so that it can cook evenly.
Step 8: Adjust the temperature if necessary by using the ventilation doors. This is where it moves from more of a Science into an Art. Be patient and watch how well your meat cooks. Close or open as many doors as you need to learn what your grill requires to pull off the most successful cook.
Step 9: Be careful not to over smoke your meat. Instead, start by only adding a few wood chips at the beginning of your cook. If you notice that you’re losing out on that beautiful vapor, try adding in 3 – 5 new wood chips every 30 minutes to get you that desired flavor that you’re looking for.
Step 10: Enjoy your tasty rewards! Use a meat thermometer to make sure that your meat has cooked all the way through. However, once you’re done cooking go and enjoy some mouth watering home-cooked BBQ!