A recent conversation was overheard that revolved around the common question “can you smoke lobster tails?” Though they may be “fragile” compared to other things that are smoked, the answer is absolutely yes!
Smoking lobster tails low and slow versus steaming or broiling them imparts a delicious smokiness that can significantly elevate the flavor of the meat even further, without overpowering them and ruining their delicate yet rich flavor profile. And you can have delicious, plate-ready lobster tails in an hour!
But, some extra care and attention will be needed to help ensure that you end up with a good final result. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be intimidated, we’ve got you covered. They’re actually easier than you may think.
In this article, we’ve broken down some pro tips for how to smoke lobster tails perfectly:
A major part of getting good results when it comes to smoking lobster tails is to start with fresh, good-quality lobster. Ideally, you want to go with cold water tails (versus warm water lobster) for the best flavor and texture.
No matter which type you get, make sure it does not have a fishy smell or look slimy. Fresh lobster will have a neutral smell and may even smell slightly sweet. You’ll also get the best taste from lobster tails that were freshly caught or fresh-frozen. Also, avoid any lobster that is rinsed with or soaked in sodium tripolyphosphate or other preservative chemicals.
Important note: Make sure you have enough lobster for the number of people who will be eating. In general, you should plan for two 6-7 oz tails per person.
For best results, you are going to be smoking the lobster tails over indirect heat. So, make sure your grill/smoker is set up for two-zone cooking. This means one side is the direct heat side and the other side is the indirect heat side. Cooking the tails over indirect heat will ensure they cook through without overcooking.
Remember, lobster is a delicate meat. So, if you are using wood pellets or chunks as either your main fuel source or a secondary source for flavor, you don’t want to overpower it with a strong flavor of wood. Avoid things like Mesquite or Hickory wood.
Your best bet is to go with a lighter/mild fruitwood. Some good options are Maple, Applewood, or Cherry wood. Both of these will impart a deliciously light smoke flavor with a hint of sweetness.
It is important to let your smoker preheat to the proper cooking temperature before you put the lobster tails on. You are going to be cooking the lobster between 225°F to 250°F. So, if you let the smoker preheat while you are prepping the tails, you’ll be good to go.
The most important part of prepping the lobster tails before smoking them is to carefully put a slit in them. This is the best and easiest way to help enhance their taste even further. Slitting the shell allows both the smoke and the melted butter to get down to the lobster meat.
First, make sure that the tails are not frozen at all. Rinse them in cold water and then place them on a cutting board, with the top of the tail facing up. With a pair of kitchen scissors, carefully cut the shell down the middle of the tail, just until you reach the fin. Gently pull the shell apart, just slightly, enough to expose the meat. The meat should be visible but still attached to the inside of the fin.
It’s important to be very careful not to break or crack any more of the shell beyond this. After slitting the tails, rinse them again under cold water to wash any broken shell fragments away.
Important Note: The lobster tails are going to go onto the grates with the slit side facing up.
Make sure to also grab some skewers (wood or metal will work). Lobster tails, similarly to shrimp, will often curl up when cooked in a smoker/grill. So, skewers work well to prevent this from happening by holding the tails straight. For each lobster tail, just carefully push through the exposed meat and out the tail fin at the other end. If you are using wooden skewers, make sure you pre-soak them so that they don’t burn in the smoker.
Bonus tip: Brushing a light coating of olive oil onto the lobster tails after you skewer them will help prevent them from over-charring.
Source: Dinner at the Zoo
For best results when smoking lobster tails, baste the lobster tails with the butter halfway through the smoke (roughly at the 20-minute mark) rather than right when they go in the smoker. Then, the meat will be hot enough for the butter to melt, while also still giving the lobster enough time to cook in the juices.
When basting halfway through, make sure to save about a quarter of the butter mixture to baste again right before pulling the tails out of the smoker.
(Portioned for 4 lobster tails) -
In a small saucepan, combine the butter, lemon juice, black pepper, minced garlic, and sage. Then, just put the pot on the cooking grate in the smoker next to the lobster tails. For a little added spice, you can add a ½ teaspoon of paprika to the butter mixture. Once the butter has fully melted, remove it from the heat, stir thoroughly to mix everything well and allow the mixture to cool slightly.
Like with many items cooked in your smoker or grill, it is important to smoke the lobster tails to the proper internal temperature versus trying to rely on a specific amount of cooking time. So, make sure you have a good digital meat thermometer on hand and place it in the thickest part of the tail’s meat.
Remove the tails from the smoker when the meat’s internal temperature reaches 135°F. At this temperature, the meat should have turned an opaque white and/or pearly color.
Remove the tails as soon as they reach this temperature to avoid overcooking. Once removed from the heat, the internal temperature of the tails will continue to rise by a few degrees. Ideally, you want them at 140°F when you are serving them.
Bonus tip: Make sure to serve the smoked lobster tails with lemon wedges and extra melted butter mixture on the side! Plus, a light, crisp glass of Chardonnay will pair very well with the lobster also.
If you’re looking for something different to cook in your smoker and are craving seafood, why not try smoking lobster tails? These make a great option if you want to have a nice dinner with family or friends or even for a random Tuesday night.
If you follow the pro tips above, you’ll be well on your way to confidently smoking lobster tails to delicious, buttery perfection.
Do you know of any other tips for smoking lobster tails? Plan on smoking lobster tails for the first time after reading this article? Leave a comment below and tell us about it. We want to hear from you!
If you want to give more great backyard BBQ recipes a go, check out our step-by-step virtual Championship Backyard BBQ Classes. Taught by some of the top competition Pitmasters and Grillmasters, these 20 videos will teach you a variety of delicious recipes with all of the insider tips and techniques you need to know. You can master your backyard smoking and grilling today!
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One of the most critical aspects of smoking a delicious brisket is preventing the meat from drying out. We’ve talked before about the different ways you can keep meat moist while smoking. One of these ways, used by some pitmasters, is lightly spritzing the brisket while it is cooking (unwrapped).
Spritzing brisket can be an effective way to not only add moisture during a low-and-slow cook but, when done properly, also aids in the caramelization that occurs on the exterior crust during the Maillard reaction. The liquid from the spritz also aids in the formation of that pink smoke ring just below the surface of the meat because the moisture attracts smoke.
So, are you wondering what to spritz brisket with? In this article, we’ve covered 7 great options of liquids to use for spritzing the meat. But first, there are a couple of important things to note about using a spritz on your brisket (or any other meat).
There are a couple of important things to keep in mind when spritzing brisket. Firstly, it is important not to overdo it. One of the best things about a properly smoked brisket is the perfectly crisp exterior crust, aka bark. But, if you overdo it with a spritz and add a ton of excess moisture to the outside of the meat, it can soften the exterior crust and prevent proper browning. So, err on the side of caution when you are using a brisket spritz.
The other thing to keep in mind is not to spritz the brisket too early. You need to wait for the exterior crust to form on the meat first. If you don’t, there’s a high probability that your spritz will wash your rub/seasonings off the outside of your brisket and take your chance of that delicious bark with it. To prevent that from happening, let the brisket cook for about 90 minutes first. Then, lightly spritz it every 45 minutes (unless otherwise specified) while it is cooking unwrapped.
There are some tried and true liquid options for spritzing your brisket while it is smoking. Don’t be afraid to get creative and try something new for your next brisket. No matter what liquid you use, make sure that it is thin enough to easily be sprayed through a spray bottle without clogging it up.
Here are 7 of the most common options of liquids you could use:
This is one of the most commonly used liquids for a brisket spritz, especially for Carolina-style barbecue. Apple Cider Vinegar is often mixed with a little bit of water or apple juice to slightly dilute it. The acidity of the vinegar effectively breaks down the spices in your rub to help aid in the formation of the exterior bark. It helps the bark become deliciously crunchy and dark.
And don’t worry–using apple cider vinegar won’t leave a strong vinegar taste on the finished brisket. The vinegar flavor cooks out, similarly to if you were to cook with wine.
Apple juice is another popular spritz option. The sugar in the juice helps give the exterior bark even more delicious caramelization and a slight sweetness. Any liquid that is high in fructose will caramelize and helps add a nice layer of brown, crispy bark. If you want to cut back on the sweetness of the juice, just dilute it with a little bit of water before adding it to your spritzing bottle.
Beer is great for not only drinking while you are cooking but also as a spritz to give your meat extra moisture. Beer sticks to the brisket very well, adds a deliciously hoppy taste to the crust, and similarly to apple juice, because of the slight sugar content in beer, it will aid in the caramelization of the meat’s exterior. Dark ales or stouts do very well as a brisket spritz. The flavor pairs very well with the meat and the seasonings commonly used.
Source: Founders Brewery
Spritzing brisket with broth is a safe option if you are worried about your brisket becoming too sweet or salty. Many of the other liquid options for a spritz contain sugar, salt, or have a high acidity. This isn’t a problem, but it does affect the flavor of the meat. So, broth is a more neutral flavor option for a spritz.
Broth is low in fructose, so you won’t get that sticky sweetness that you would from using apple juice or beer. The spritz mixtures that are higher in sugar content do tend to caramelize the crust a little bit better, but the differences in the bark are subtle.
Butter makes for a good alternative to using oil as a brisket spritz. It is commonly used as a mop sauce but can be melted down and thinned so that it can be sprayed. Just melt the butter to a liquid consistency and add water until it is thin enough to easily use in a spray bottle. Make sure to keep the liquid butter warm so that it doesn’t solidify and clog up the sprayer.
Using butter as a spritz won’t add a strong flavor to the meat but works well to add moisture to the exterior. If you want to control the salt content of your brisket and avoid making it too salty, use low-salt butter.
As long as your rub doesn’t have a high salt content, Worcestershire Sauce is another good liquid option for a brisket spritz. It will give you a strong but delicious extra layer of flavor on the brisket. If you find the flavor of the sauce too heavy on its own, just add some water to thin it out.
Because it does have a stronger flavor compared to other options we’ve covered, you’ll only want to spritz the meat roughly every 90 minutes throughout the smoke (compared to 45 with other liquids).
Source: The Kitchn
Sometimes the simple way is a good way to go too. If you want to give your brisket some extra moisture without messing with the flavor, just use plain water. It will get the job done and allow you to focus on imparting your desired flavor into the meat through a brisket injection and exterior rub.
There are a variety of other liquids that can work as a brisket spritz and are more “unusual” options that you could try. These include:
If you ask different pitmasters, you’ll find that it is a matter of personal opinion/preference as to whether to spritz or not. It won’t hurt to try and see how you like the results. As you can see, there are quite a few liquid options out there to suit everyone’s tastes. Don’t be afraid to experiment and find out what you like the best!
Have you or do you regularly spritz your brisket? Know of some other liquid options to use? Leave a comment below. We want to hear all about it!
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These in-depth, online BBQ classes will not only teach you how to cook these cuts of meat perfectly in your smoker or grill, but you’ll also get insider information and cooking secrets straight from the pros like you won’t find anywhere else online.
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One type of food that takes on a whole different, mouth-watering flavor profile when grilled is fish. This is especially true for salmon. Not only is grilled salmon absolutely delicious but it is also very healthy for you. Plus, salmon’s density is perfect for high-heat grilling.
But, when it comes to grilling salmon, there are some important things to keep in mind to ensure that you end up with a good result. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered there!
In this article, we’ve put together the most important pro tips on how to grill salmon to a flavorful and juicy result every time (even if you’re fairly new to grilling!):
If you’ve read any of our other blogs on tips for grilling specific items, you may have noticed a trend with the first tip. But it rings true with anything you are cooking on your grill or smoker. The higher quality you start with, the better result you’ll end up with.
So for salmon, you want to consider the specific type and if it is wild-caught or farm-raised. There is a wide variety of different types of salmon, which all range in flavor and how well it holds up on the grill.
The “premier” salmon in both taste and size is King salmon (aka Chinook), with its high fat content and succulent taste. But, this type will also be the most expensive. If you don’t want to splurge on the King variety, sockeye is another good option. Sockeye salmon is low in sodium, full of omega-3 fatty acids, and rich in distinct salmon flavor.
Wild-caught salmon will have a more robust flavor and will be leaner. This is because wild salmon have to work harder for their food than farm-raised salmon. Like any type of protein, higher fat fish will have a more mellow and buttery taste. So, if you or those you are feeding are more mild fish fans, a high-quality farm-raised option would be the way to go. No matter if you get wild-caught or farm-raised, fresh and never frozen salmon is your best choice.
Another important factor is the thickness of the filet. Ideally, you want to get filets that are between 1-inch and 1.5-inches. Center-cut salmon filets are usually a great choice because they will be thicker and more uniform.
When selecting your salmon, besides considering the specific type of salmon, you also want to go with skin-on filets. The skin will help hold the salmon together and protect it from sticking to the grill or drying out. Plus, when grilled, the skin takes on a delicious crunch. But, if you don’t want to eat the skin, it's easy to remove after it comes off the grill.
Taking your salmon right out of the cold refrigerator and putting it on the grill can cause it to cook much faster on the outside before the inside is even close to being done. So, for even cooking, you need to let the salmon sit out at room temperature for about 20 minutes before you are going to grill it.
Once you are ready to start grilling, make sure to set the salmon filets on a paper towel-lined plate or pan and pat them dry first. This will speed up the searing process and help prevent them from sticking to the grill grates. If you have marinated the salmon, blot away as much marinade as you can before grilling.
Make sure to brush both sides of the salmon with an even coating of oil to further prevent them from sticking. It is important to use a neutral-flavored oil that has a high smoke point, like avocado oil or grapeseed oil. Light olive oil is another good option as well.
One of the best things about grilled salmon is its distinct, natural flavor. So you don’t want to mask that with a ton of seasonings. Remember to go light and even just a pinch of salt and pepper on each side is enough. Season the salmon after you have oiled both sides.
*Bonus tip: Always season fish just before you put it on the grill to prevent moisture loss and the chance of a flare-up.
A two-zone cooking setup is ideal for grilling salmon. You want to have a hot, direct heat zone for searing and another indirect, lower heat zone for slower, gentler grilling. The two zones will enable you to properly sear the salmon on the direct heat side and then transfer it to the indirect heat side to finish cooking.
If you are cooking on a charcoal grill, just make sure all of the hot coals are on one half of the grill. For a gas grill, simply turn the burners on one side to low and the other side to high.
Before your salmon goes on the grill, you need to let the grill properly preheat to 450°F. This is one of, if not the most important tip to ensure success when it comes to how to grill salmon. A smoking hot grill will ensure that the fish doesn’t stick to the grill and you will easily be able to lift it away when it’s done cooking.
Start grilling your salmon skin side down. The skin provides a layer of protection between the grill grates and the flesh of the fish as it cooks. So cooking it skin side down first will allow you to cook it a majority of the way through and help it hold together better when you flip it over.
Don’t panic, the fish may stick to the grates at first, but after roughly 6 to 8 minutes, the skin will become crisp and release naturally, allowing you to easily flip the filet.
You want to keep the lid of the grill closed while grilling salmon. This will enable you to maintain a more consistent cooking temperature and create a very similar environment to an oven.
Don’t try to keep flipping the fish throughout the cook. To ensure that the fish holds together without falling apart or sticking to the grill grate, you are only going to gently flip it once after it is about 90% of the way cooked. You are only flipping it to the non-skin side to brown it for the final 1 to 2 minutes.
Salmon cooks quickly on the grill so make sure you are paying attention to it! To avoid overcooking it, you want to aim for a final internal temperature of 140°F. But don’t forget about carry-over cooking. The salmon will continue to cook for a few minutes once you’ve pulled it off the grill.
To prevent the fish from overcooking, transfer it to a plate when it has reached an internal temperature of 125°-130°F. Then let it rest for a few minutes to reach the final desired temperature before serving.
Cedar wood planks provide a perfect surface to grill salmon on. Not only do they help prevent the fish from sticking to the grill but they also impart that delicious wood-smoke flavor into the salmon. You’ll get even more of that charred wood flavor than you would just cooking the salmon directly on the grill.
Check out our article on grilling on wood planks for more info on this method and how to do it properly.
Cooking mouth-watering grilled salmon is much easier than some people may think. By following the tips we covered above, you’ll be well on your way to knowing exactly how to grill salmon perfectly every time. The most important things to remember are to start with quality salmon, preheat the grill until it is smoking hot, and use two-cooking zones.
Once your salmon filets come off the grill, serve them up with a slice of lemon, a cucumber dill or tartar sauce, some grilled asparagus or another veggie, and maybe even a glass of Pinot Noir for a delicious finish.
Now, if you want a step-by-step grilled salmon recipe, check out our online video/class for Sweet Heat Cedar Plank Salmon Bites for only $7.98!
Do you know of another tip for how to grill salmon that we should add to the list? Plan on grilling salmon soon? Leave a comment below and tell us all about it!
If you really want to kick your backyard cooking skills up to a whole new level, check out the full set of Championship Backyard Cooking Classes here at BBQ Champs Academy today! Taught by Champion Grillmasters and Pitmasters, these online video classes show you exactly, step-by-step how to cook 20 delicious grilled or smoked recipes!
And if you want to take it up a notch and learn how to master cooking competition-caliber barbecue, grab your BBQ Champs Academy All-Access pass today! These in-depth, online BBQ classes will teach you exactly how to cook several different cuts of meat in your smoker or grill perfectly, with insider information straight from the champion cookers, like you won’t find anywhere else online. You’ll also get all the pro cooking secrets and tips.
Make sure to also stay on top of all the latest competition BBQ news and insider info by subscribing to the BBQ Champs Academy YouTube channel today!
One great side item that always goes with barbecue (and grilled chili!) is delicious bread. Not much beats a piece of soft, warm bread to help soak up that extra barbecue sauce on your plate. So, why not bake bread directly on your grill or in your smoker while you’re cooking your meat and other sides?
You may not have ever thought about making bread anywhere other than in your kitchen’s oven. But a dry, hot grill makes for a perfect outdoor baking “oven”. Almost any bread recipe can be successfully done on a grill. Though to ensure you end up with a good result and not a charred chunk of dough, there are some important tips to keep in mind.
In this article, we’ve put together some of the things you need to know on how to make bread on the grill perfectly every time.
Firstly, it is important to note that bread will bake much faster on a grill than it does in a kitchen oven, sometimes up to twice as fast. This is because of two things: the fact that the grill can get much hotter much faster and it also produces more convection than your oven does due to the airflow through the vents.
On a grill, you’ll be baking the bread using a lot more heat than you would traditionally use to bake bread. So, to end up with a good result for your bread, you’ll need to maintain a consistent medium-high cooking temperature (375 to 450°F) and bake the bread over indirect heat.
Using indirect heat (using a two-zone grill setup on a charcoal or gas grill) will ensure an even and thorough cooking process. Remember, if the grill is too hot directly under the bread, the outside of it will burn, while the inside remains doughy. Alternatively, if the cooking temperature is too low, the bread will not have the delicious crunch that you are aiming for.
The other good thing about a two-zone cooking setup is that if you check the bread and it looks like the bottom is browning too fast, you can simply move it closer to the cooler part of the grill.
Like when cooking many other things on the grill, when baking bread on the grill, it is very important to adequately preheat the grill before putting the dough on. Putting it on a cold surface will increase the chance that the dough will stick to the grates and can result in it baking unevenly.
So, crank your grill’s temperature up to closer to 450°F to get it ready and then you can bring it down slightly just before your bread goes on.
Also, if you are doing a no-knead bread in a cast-iron pot (like a Dutch oven) or using a baking/pizza stone, make sure to preheat these accessories as well before you add the dough.
As mentioned above, maintaining a consistent grill temperature that is not too hot is a critical part of successfully baking bread. A trick to being able to do this is by using thermometers. First, you want to have a digital grill thermometer or oven thermometer on hand. Place it on the grill near your bread to monitor the cooking temperature.
You also want to have a digital instant-read thermometer with a needle so that you can monitor the internal temperature of the bread. The bread will be done when it has reached an internal temperature of 205°F and golden brown on the exterior.
Unless you are extremely comfortable with operating a smoker, you probably wouldn’t dive right into smoking a full packer brisket on your first try smoking meat. The same idea applies to baking bread on a grill.
If it is your first time, a good starting place is with pre-made frozen dough. This will allow you to get the hang of controlling the grill’s heat properly for bread. Once you are comfortable with that, you can try a no-knead bread recipe. Usually, these recipes involve putting fresh dough in a cast iron Dutch-oven pot. So then you are not having to worry about the bottom of the bread burning. Once you feel that you have mastered that method, the next step would be to try a traditional bread recipe.
Source: Big Green Egg
If you are going to be baking bread dough directly on your grill grates, make sure that they are lightly oiled first. This is especially true for flatbreads or pizza dough. A light coat of oil will prevent your dough from sticking to the grate and help ensure even cooking across the bottom.
The last thing you want is for your bread to end up with a soggy interior. The way to prevent this from happening is to allow the steam to escape by slashing the top of the loaf or rolls in a few places. Usually, two or three quarter-inch deep slashes is enough to do the trick.
If your bread keeps getting too dark too quickly, try putting the dough on a baking stone (aka pizza stone). These thin pieces of stone can help the dough cook thoroughly and evenly without burning the bottom.
But, not all baking stones are made to withstand the high heat of a grill. So, make sure the one you have or get is grill-safe. If the stone you have says it shouldn't be used for broiling, don’t put it on your grill!
When it comes to how to bake bread on the grill, it’s actually a lot easier than you may have anticipated. By following the tips we covered above, you’ll be able to enjoy delicious grill-baked bread today. The most critical things to keep an eye on are the cooking temperature of your grill and the internal temperature of the bread.
Also, another good accessory you may want to have on hand is a baker’s peel (aka pizza peel) to easily move the bread on and off the grill.
If you try baking bread on the grill for the first time or have some other tips on how to do it properly, leave a comment below. We want to hear all about it!
Do you want to kick your backyard cooking skills up to a whole new level? If so, check out the Championship Backyard Cooking Classes here at BBQ Champs Academy today! These step-by-step video classes, taught by Champion Grillmasters and Pitmasters, show you exactly how to cook 20 delicious grilled or smoked recipes!
And if you want to dive into cooking competition-caliber barbecue, grab your BBQ Champs Academy All-Access pass today! Taught by Pro Grillmasters and Pitmasters, these online BBQ classes will teach you exactly how to master several different cuts of meat in your smoker or grill like you won’t find anywhere else online. You’ll also get all the in-depth insider tips and cooking secrets.
Also, to stay on top of all the latest competition BBQ news and insider info, make sure to click “Subscribe” on the BBQ Champs Academy YouTube channel today!
*Feature image for this article courtesy of Big Green Egg.
One saying we definitely agree with is that “a grill just makes everything taste better”. This also applies to chili! If you want to elevate your chili to a whole new and even more delicious level, try cooking it on the grill. You can easily impart that great sweet and smoky flavor into the meat and veggies of the chili and kick the flavor complexity up a notch.
Plus, grilled chili makes a great option for a large backyard gathering or tailgate party because it’s so easy to make and feeds a crowd.
To cook chili on the grill, you need a heavy-duty pot to use that can withstand the high heat of the grill/smoker. Kitchen pots often have plastic parts (usually on the handles) that can be damaged in the heat. Cast iron is always a great option for your outdoor cooker and a cast iron dutch oven will work perfectly for your grilled chili.
If you do not have a dutch oven and don’t want to buy a new one, you can use a large pot but absolutely make sure it is grill-friendly.
As with many things that are cooked on the grill, the fresher the ingredients the better results you are going to get. So, for your grilled chili, try and avoid canned items as much as you can. Instead, opt for fresh tomatoes (to make your own grilled tomato sauce), dried beans, fresh peppers, etc. The extra work will definitely be worth it.
It’s important to make sure that your veggies (and pieces of meat if you are using something like steak and not ground meat) are cut small enough. So, chop onions, peppers, jalapeno, and other similar items into ¼-inch pieces before they go into the pot. If you are using grilled steak or chops, cut those into ¾-inch cubes.
One of the best things about chili is the robust, meaty flavor profile. So, don’t be afraid to use a variety of different spices and liquids to build a complex and delicious flavor. Remember, besides meat, the base of your chili is going to be tomato. So, think of things that will complement both tomato and meat flavors.
Besides salt and black pepper, of course, some other good examples include chile peppers (especially chipotle peppers), minced garlic, paprika, cumin, oregano, cayenne seasoning, beef broth, and even ale.
For best results, you want to preheat your grill or smoker to at least medium heat, which is between 350 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Before you add the soft/liquid ingredients (tomato sauce, broth, water, vinegar, etc.) you have to partially cook the other ingredients.
So, at this higher temperature, the meat will properly cook through, the veggies can be grilled and softened just enough, and you’ll get that delicious char-grilled flavor. Then, you can move on to adding the liquids and seasonings to the pot with the meat and veggies and lower the temperature to finish cooking the chili.
Dry beans do not cook very well if they are cooked in/with acidic foods, like tomatoes and onions. By cooking your dry beans separately, they will end up with a better texture and won’t get too mushy. So, just make sure to wait to add the beans to the tomato mixture until AFTER they are cooked.
Source: The Spruce Eats
Once the meat has been browned and the veggies softened, add your remaining chili ingredients (except beans, see above) and lower your cooker’s temperature. The temperature should be lowered to between 250 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, you should let the chili slowly simmer for about an hour to an hour and a half to cook the rest of the way.
A good rule of thumb to follow is to add the cooked beans to the chili once it has simmered for at least 60 minutes. Then, let it simmer for about 20 minutes more with the beans.
Understandably, the smell of your chili cooking on the grill will be intoxicatingly delicious. But, to cook properly, it has to stay covered except to stir it occasionally. So, make sure you’ve got a tight-fitting lid on your dutch oven/pot.
Ground beef is the most commonly used meat in chili. But, don’t be afraid to try different meat options in your grilled chili. Some other good options include diced steak, diced pork chops, ground turkey, bison (ground or chunked), or venison (ground or chunked).
Sometimes, depending on the type of meat you use, once the chili is almost done and ready to serve, you may see some fat that has risen to the surface. This is totally normal. Just use a spoon to gently skim the surface of the chili to remove any excess fat before serving it.
No chili is complete without some good toppings in each bowl. So, make sure to have an array of toppings available so people can get creative and discover their favorite combination. Some good chili topping options include:
To round out your chili meal, you could serve it with grilled corn bread or focaccia bread and a fresh tossed salad. Don’t forget dessert either! While you are cooking the chili you could be cooking a delicious grilled dessert as well.
Check out our article on grilled desserts for a bunch of great ideas!
Compared to stovetop cooking, cooking chili on the grill is still super easy but will help elevate the flavor as you’ve never experienced before. You may even end up saying that chili was meant to be grilled in the first place!
By following the pro tips we’ve covered above, you can help ensure that your grilled chili turns out perfectly every time.
Have you cooked chili on the grill before? Do you plan on trying it soon? Leave a comment below and tell us all about it. We want to hear from you!
If you want to really elevate your backyard cooking skills, make sure to get our Championship Backyard Cooking Classes here at BBQ Champs Academy today! Taught by Champion Grillmasters and Pitmasters, these classes show you step-by-step exactly how to cook 20 delicious grilled or smoked recipes!
And if you want to start cooking competition-caliber barbecue, make sure to grab your All-Access pass today! In these first-of-their-kind online BBQ classes, you’ll learn exactly how to master several different cuts of meat in your smoker or grill, straight from the Pro Grillmasters and Pitmasters. With BBQ Champs Academy, you’ll get all the in-depth insider tips and cooking secrets like nowhere else!
Plus, to stay on top of all the latest insider info and competition BBQ news, make sure to subscribe to the BBQ Champs Academy YouTube channel today!
With the Fourth of July quickly approaching, you may already be thinking about the big gathering of family and friends that you are planning and what you are going to be cooking. Chances are, most of that cooking will be done outside on the grill.
When it comes to outdoor cooking for a large gathering, Americans aren’t the only ones who have mastered it, cherish it, and love to do it as much as possible. South Africans are another culture that knows a thing or two about cooking big feasts over a large wood fire.
If you have spent any time around a South African, there’s probably a good chance that you’ve heard them mention doing a “braai” (pronounced “bry”). This often weekly tradition, which is much more than a simple BBQ, is a huge part of South African culture and something that has been growing in popularity throughout the U.S. And there’s no surprise that this is happening. Americans and South Africans clearly have a shared love–delicious grilled food.
In this article, we’ve broken down exactly what a braai is, what it involves, and why you should try it today.
To put it simply, a braai is the South African equivalent of an American barbecue. A common (and very frequent) practice in any South African household, a braai is a fundamental part of South African culture and is a gathering of friends and family around a wood-fire grill in celebration.
Even through South Africa’s turbulent past, braaing is a tradition that continues to tie the nation together. It is one of the few things that are not specific to one cultural or ethnic group in South Africa–everyone braais. (There are 4 ethnic groups and 11 different languages in South Africa.) For South Africans, the simple act of cooking food over a fire is something that everyone feels connected to—no matter who they are and what language they speak. It’s a social gathering where friends are always welcomed as family.
Compared to the American BBQ that you are used to, South Africans take the gathering/cooking at a much slower pace. A braai is a special “meat-fest” that can often last for hours on end.
Also, a traditional braai is cooked over local hardwood, like kameeldoring wood, which gives the meat and other sides a distinct flavor. Apple wood is another wood species that is good for braaing and is more available in the U.S.
One important point to note is that a braai will never be cooked on a gas grill. Traditionally, the grill itself will be an open grill that has a diamond-patterned metal grill grate (aka grid) or regular grill grates and a large, flat fire pit. (Like these Kudu grills.) If you don’t have a braai-specific grill or plan on getting one, you’ll need at least a kettle grill or fire pit that can accommodate a wood fire, like a Weber Grill, Big Green Egg, or Char-Broil charcoal grill.
South Africans rarely need an excuse to have a braai. In many cases, families will host a once-weekly smaller braai (even a breakfast braai) and do a bigger braai on special occasions. No matter the time of day, the day of the week, before or after work, rain or shine, braais can and will happen. So, if you are going to have a braai, do it whenever you feel like it!
Officially, September 24th is Heritage Day in South Africa but it is also unofficially known as “braai day”. Pretty much every South African will be having a or attending a braai that day.
South Africa’s diverse history is quite evidently reflected in what you’ll usually find on a braai grill. Indonesian slaves, brought to the country in the 1650’s by Dutch settlers, brought spices with them such as cardamom, ginger, and curry pastes. They are also the source of common items such as sweet and spicy chutneys and sosaties (aka kebabs). The Dutch also brought their own spices and dried fruit (used for chutneys).
Meanwhile, the indigenous South African people offered a wide variety of meats (including what we consider game meats), local fish from around the Cape, and goat and mutton from further inland. The traditional spicy Peri-Peri sauce is thanks to Portuguese traders who brought the bird’s eye chili to South Africa.
Due to all these influences, a traditional South African braai is usually a delicious global adventure. The meat is the center of attention for any braai. But there will also usually be a variety of snacks and sides to go along with the main dishes. Some of the things you’ll find on offer at a braai will usually include:
Biltong and Droëwors - Both of these are cured, air-dried meat snacks that are specially seasoned with spices, mainly coriander. Droëwors are thin round sausages based on the popular boerewors, while biltong is usually cut into small thin slices from slabs of beef.
Chips ‘n Dip - The dips will usually include smoked snoek pate and hummus (which usually has garlic and tahini). Snoek is a fish native to South Africa and is a species of snake mackerel.
Boerewors - Meaning “Farmer’s Sausage” in Afrikaans, this traditional fresh sausage is either made from entirely beef or a combination of beef and pork and usually comes in a large coil. This sausage is abundantly spiced with ingredients such as coriander, cloves, black pepper, allspice, and nutmeg.
Lamb chops - Another popular braai item, the lamb chops are usually seasoned with garlic, rosemary, and thyme.
Steak - For a braai, you will often find a variety of beef steak cuts including ribeye, T-bone, filet mignon, sirloin, and rump. In South Africa, ostrich steaks are also a favorite.
Chicken - Chicken kebabs are a popular option as well as beer-can chicken, where a whole chicken is cooked over the grill with an open beer in the body cavity.
Seafood - Seafood is also a very popular item. This will usually include things like South African crayfish tails (rock lobster), tuna, or yellowtail.
Other common meat items for a traditional braai include ostrich burgers and wild boar sausages.
Braaibroodjie (South African grilled cheese sandwich) - This traditional sandwich combines slices of white bread, cheddar cheese, tomato, onions, and chutney and is cooked directly on the grill.
Pap (pronounced Pup) - Similar to what many Americans know as grits, this is a maize porridge that is made with chicken stock, butter, and maize meal. It can be made to be runny, soft, or stiff.
Potato bake - This favorite braai side dish usually combines sliced potato, cream, as well as ingredients like caramelized onion and Parmesan cheese and is baked in the oven ahead of time.
Roosterkoek - These are balls of bread dough that are cooked on the grill and served as an accompaniment to the Braai meat.
Salad - You’ll usually find different versions of cold potato salad and/or coleslaw at traditional braais.
No braai is complete without an abundance of sauces and South Africa has no shortage of incredible sauces. These include peri-peri sauce, fresh chimichurri, and sweet chutneys. Don’t be afraid to use these generously. There should also be an abundance of cheese as a side to eat with the meats as well.
Of course, no braai is complete without some delicious wine, cold beer, or mixed drink. South African Sauvignon Blanc pairs great with chicken and seafood, while Shiraz or Cabernet will be your best bet with red meats and sausage. Pilsner and IPA beers all pair very well with traditional braai food. Another popular braai drink is brandy and coke.
There absolutely is braai etiquette and it’s usually taken pretty seriously. The host of the braai and the one who is in charge of the fire and meat is known as the “braai master”. Every braai master usually has their own process of doing things, preference of wood, and preference of meats. When going to a braai, keep in mind that, backseat braaing is heavily frowned upon. So, don’t try to start suggesting “better” ways that the braai master could be doing things.
There are two types of braais in regards to what people should bring. For a “chop ‘n dop” braai, guests are expected to bring their own meat and wine/beer and the host will provide the rest. For a “bring ‘n braai,” the only thing the host is providing is a fire, so guests should bring their own food and drinks. Unless it is a breakfast braai, the braaing will usually begin in the afternoon (around 3 p.m.) and go well into the evening. It is a process that is never rushed.
As we mentioned above, if you are wanting to host a braai, gas grills are a big no-no. Only hardwood should be used. Although charcoal can be used as a last resort.
When it comes to the tradition of South African braaing, it is just as much about the intense sense of inclusivity and human connection as it is about the delicious food itself. After reading this guide, you should now have a good idea of how you can do something different, gather your friends and family together, and recreate a braai in your backyard.
So, If you are looking for a new outdoor cooking experience with some different tastes than your normal American BBQ, cook a South African braai today!
Have you been to a South African braai? Do you plan on hosting your own braai soon? If so, leave a comment below and tell us about it. We want to hear all about it!
Want to learn some more new recipes and pro tips to elevate your backyard cooking skills? If so, join us in our Championship Backyard Cooking Classes here at BBQ Champs Academy! These step-by-step outdoor cooking classes are taught by Champion Pitmasters and Grillmasters and you’ll learn exactly how to cook 20 delicious smoked or grilled recipes.
And if you want to dive into competition-caliber smoking and grilling, get your All-Access pass today! In these tell-all online BBQ classes, the Champion Grillmasters and Pitmasters will show you exactly how to master cooking several different cuts of meat in your smoker or grill, provide all the in-depth pro cooking secrets, and more. You’ll be cooking competition-level barbecue in no time!
Don’t forget to also Subscribe to the BBQ Champs Academy YouTube channel to get all of the latest competition BBQ news and insider info straight from the barbecue pros!
One true thing—almost everyone loves pizza. With so many varieties and combinations of toppings, sauces, and crusts that you can do, a delicious pizza can be made to satisfy anyone’s tastes. What you may not know is that pizza is not relegated to just being cooked in the oven. Yes, you can cook pizza on a grill!
Grilled pizza is absolutely fantastic and gives the crust and toppings a whole new level of flavor that you won’t get from cooking it in the oven, thanks to that great wood-fire smoke. Plus, it’s super easy to do! But, to get the best results, there are a couple of things to know.
In this article, we’ve put together all the pro tips you need to know on how to cook pizza on a grill to perfection every time:
Whether you make your pizza dough from scratch or you use a pre-made dough, you need to make sure it’s ready before you start prepping it for the grill. This means that if it’s a homemade dough, you want to make it the day before you want to grill it to ensure it has enough time to properly rise.
Also, no matter if you use homemade dough or store-bought premade dough, you always want to let it come to room temperature for an hour before you start stretching it out and forming it.
Bonus Tip: If you are going to use premade dough, the higher quality doughs are your best bet for cooking pizza on a grill. These doughs will have less chance of burning too quickly on the high heat of the grill.
Unlike when barbecuing and smoking anything, where you rely on low indirect heat and longer cooking times, with grilled pizza you will be cooking quickly using high heat.
For the best results for grilled pizza, you want to set up your grill for two-zone cooking. This will help you get a nice crispy crust while also preventing it from burning before the cheese has melted. The direct heat side will be used first to grill the crust and get the charred grill marks. Then you’ll top the pizza and put it on the indirect heat side and let it finish cooking there.
You want to get your grill to a consistent temperature between 400 and 500℉. You could go slightly higher but anything over 550℉ could overly char and burn the crust.
Bonus Tip: If there is not a built-in temperature gauge on your grill (or it’s not working accurately), you can carefully use your hand to gauge when it hits the correct temperature to start cooking the pizza. The grill is ready when you can hold your hand about 5 inches above the grill grates for one second before it becomes uncomfortable. Of course, exercise caution and use your best judgment with this!
“Mise en place” is the French term for having all of your ingredients ready to go before you start cooking. Cooking a pizza on a grill is one of those situations where this technique is very important to use.
Because grilled pizza cooks so quickly, you’ll need to be ready to add ingredients right when you need them. You’ll be topping the pizza directly on the grill so you need to have the sauce, cheese, and other toppings all prepped and ready to go. So, chop everything up and place your toppings in small bowls ahead of time.
Olive oil is crucial in helping ensure that the pizza crust doesn’t overly char or stick to the grill grates, so make sure you have it handy before you start your grilled pizza. First, use long-handled tongs to hold a paper towel dipped in a little bit of oil and lightly coat the grill grates as well.
Then, brush a little bit of olive oil on the one side of the crust that will be placed on the grill first. Then brush oil on the other side facing up while the crust is on the grill (before you get to any toppings).
Before adding any toppings to your pizza dough/crust, you want to grill one side of it first. This will prevent your pizza from getting soggy, ensure that both sides of your crust have a nice char, and ensure that the crust will be fully cooked through. So, as mentioned above, brush one side of the crust with olive oil and place it on the grill. Cook it until it is lightly browned and has char marks.
Then, use tongs to flip the crust and start building your pizza. The side with the grill marks is the side that your toppings should go on.
Source: Food Network
The key to remember when building your grilled pizza–you can’t overdo it. The last thing you want is a soggy pizza or toppings so heavy that the slice can’t hold them. So, cover the crust with only 1 ladle of sauce and go light on the toppings. You don’t need a ton to still get delicious flavors.
Grilled pizza is not going to have a thick layer of bubbling cheese like oven-cooked pizza. So use a soft cheese (like mozzarella) that can be sliced and spread lightly and evenly on your pizza to be grilled.
Already tender or ready-to-eat toppings work best since the pizza won’t be on the grill nearly as long as it would be in an oven. Because the pizza cooks so quickly, it won’t be enough time to properly cook things like raw sausage or to fully caramelize onions. So pre-cook any raw ingredients that you want and make sure to thinly slice any toppings that you will eat fairly raw on the pizza.
As we’ve mentioned a couple of times above, the pizza will cook fast on the grill. So, unless you want to chance burning it, you need to keep a close eye on it while it’s cooking. This will also enable you to be prepared to move it more towards the indirect heat side if the cheese is melting faster than the crust is cooking.
The pizza will cook pretty quickly. Unlike when cooking meat, you are not cooking pizza to a desired internal temperature and relying on a meat thermometer to determine if it’s done. So, keep an eye on the cheese. When the cheese is melted your pizza is done and ready to be pulled off the grill.
This is when you would add any final fresh toppings like arugula, basil, chopped herbs, etc. Balsamic glaze or other infused oils are another great topping option to finish your pizza off with.
Source: The New York Times
It’s understandable to be anxious to dive right into the pizza after it comes off the grill. But let it rest for just a couple of minutes before you start cutting it. This will make it easier to cut and easier to handle (you don’t want to burn your fingers on hot cheese!).
As you can see, it’s pretty easy to make hot and crispy pizza on a grill. If you follow the tips we covered above, you’ll end up with a delicious grilled pizza every time. Don’t be afraid to get creative with types of dough, different sauces, and toppings combinations to find your new favorites.
Make sure to take a look at our other blog articles for plenty more ideas for unusual grilled foods you can try, grilled breakfast options, ideas for your vegetarian family and friends, and even desserts you can grill!
Have you cooked pizza on a grill recently? Do you have a favorite combination of toppings for your grilled pizza? Tell us about it in the comment box below. We want to hear all about it!
If you want to kick your backyard cooking skills up to a whole new level, get started with our Championship Backyard Cooking Classes here at BBQ Champs Academy. In these step-by-step classes taught by Champion Pitmasters and Grillmasters, you’ll learn exactly how to cook 20 delicious grilled or smoked recipes!
And if you’re ready to really dive into competition-caliber smoking and grilling, grab your All-Access pass today! These tell-all online BBQ classes with the Champion Grillmasters and Pitmasters will show you how to master cooking several different cuts of meat in your smoker or grill, give you all the in-depth insider cooking secrets, and more.
Make sure to also check out the BBQ Champs YouTube channel and hit Subscribe to stay on top of all the latest competition BBQ news and insider info straight from the barbecue pros!
Usually, when you think of a beef pot roast, you think of one slow-cooking for hours in the oven or Crockpot. But, things don’t always have to be done the same way. This is one of those examples. Why not get some delicious wood smoke flavor on a roast? Your grill or smoker actually offers another great way to cook a delicious pot roast.
In this article, we’ve put together 8 tips on how to cook pot roast on a BBQ grill straight from Champion pitmasters:
We’ve said it plenty of times before but it is so critical: your final result is only as good as the meat you start with. For a good roast cooked on the grill, your best options for the type of a cut are going to be a chuck roast, which is a very affordable and delicious option, or a rump roast.
As far as the appearance of the meat, a good roast will be a deep red color with bright, white fat marbling running throughout the meat. It will also be dry to the touch and have a slightly sweet smell. Your best bet for the freshest roast is going to be from your local butcher shop.
In regards to the size of the roast you’ll need, a good rule of thumb is a half-pound of boneless meat per adult.
If you decide to go with a chuck roast cut, before it goes on the grill, you should tie it up with butcher’s twine. By wrapping/tying the twine around the meat every couple of inches down the length of the roast, it will help keep it together while it is cooking.
Don’t be in a hurry to throw a refrigerator-cold roast onto the grill. For the best results, you want to let the roast sit out at room temperature for a little bit first. Taking the chill off of the meat will produce juicier and more evenly cooked meat. If you take the time to properly tie up the meat (if it’s a chuck roast) and season it with a dry rub (and marinade if you want) it will give it time to come closer to room temperature.
Just let the meat sit out of the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes covered with foil or butcher paper. Keep in mind that for safety reasons, meat should never sit out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours (1 hour on hot, summer days).
Bonus tip: After it has set out, make sure to also pat the roast dry before you season it.
No matter if you are using a grill or smoker, to properly cook a pot roast on the grill, you need to make sure you have a two-zone cooking setup. You need one side that is direct high heat and one side that is indirect heat and a lower temperature. The direct side will enable you to sear it (see more on this below) and the indirect side will enable you to slow cook it until it is done.
One of the best things about cooking meat on a grill is the delicious caramelization you can achieve on the exterior of it. So, before you start slow-cooking the roast, use the high heat side of the grill to get a good exterior crust on all sides of it first. This will not only impart some good wood-smoke flavor onto it but also help lock in the moisture inside the meat.
But, you only want to sear it long enough to get the exterior crust. Remember, you are NOT going to cook this roast over high heat the whole time.
Source: Spruce Eats
Bonus tip: Hickory or pecan wood are going to be your best flavors/types of wood when it comes to grilling a beef roast.
One of the things that makes pot roast so good is the fall-apart tenderness that comes from it slow cooking and braising in its own juices. To do this on the grill you need to wrap it up.
So, after it has been seared, wrap it in a layer of aluminum foil and leave the top part open just slightly. Once it is wrapped, place it on the grates on the indirect heat side of the grill, as far away from the heat source as possible, and let it slowly roast. The ideal cooking temperature to slow-cook your roast will be about 300°F - 325°F.
You want to let it cook until it reaches a minimum internal temperature of 145ºF. So, make sure you’ve got your digital meat thermometer on hand as well. For fall apart tenderness you want to cook it until it reaches 190°- 205°F internal temperature.
Once your roast is cooked to temperature, let it rest before you serve it. Letting it rest for about 10-15 minutes gives the interior juices time to be reabsorbed back into the meat’s fibers. This will give you a more tender and juicy final result.
If your delicious grilled roast doesn’t end up getting totally devoured when you first serve it, the leftovers can make great roast beef sandwiches. If you do have leftover roast beef, make sure you store it properly. When stored in an airtight container, it can safely last in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. When vacuum sealed, it can be refrigerated for up to 7 days or frozen for up to 6 months.
Go ahead and add pot roast to one of the delicious but somewhat unusual options that you may not initially think to grill. Cooking a pot roast on the grill is easy to do and by following the tips we covered above, you can end up with a tasty, juicy, and fall apart roast that will have everyone’s mouths watering.
Pair your roast with some grilled potatoes and grilled vegetables (grilled tomato halves are perfect!) and you’ve got yourself a delicious and hearty outdoor-cooked meal.
Have you cooked a pot roast on your BBQ grill? Going to try it soon? If so, leave a comment below. We want to hear all about it!
Do you want to elevate your smoking and grilling skills like never before? If so, join the Champion Pitmasters and Grillmasters in the first-of-their-kind step-by-step virtual barbecue cooking classes here at BBQ Champs Academy! In these great classes, you’ll learn competition-level BBQ cooking methods, insider tips, and much more. Grab your All-Access pass today and start showing off your delicious barbecue cooking in no time!
Don’t miss any of the latest insider info and competition BBQ news straight from barbecue pros. Make sure to also subscribe to the BBQ Champs Academy YouTube channel today!
One great thing about having a smoker is that you can cook a huge variety of things. From appetizers to a huge whole packer brisket to feed an army and everything in between. You can even make some delicious snacks to have on hand when you’re feeling “munchy”.
One great snack, especially if you’re looking for something protein-packed, is smoked jerky. Drying and curing meat is a method that’s been used for centuries to preserve it for long periods. What we know as jerky actually came from the Quechua, a South American tribe from the ancient Inca Empire who referred to it as "ch'arki".
And when it comes to how to make jerky in a smoker at home, it’s a lot easier than you may think!
We went straight to the Champion BBQ Pitmasters to find out everything you need to know to make jerky. In this article, we’ve put together 13 pro tips on smoking jerky yourself. Let’s take a look:
When smoking jerky, you should always start with a lean, economical cut of meat. The meat needs to be lean because fat does not dry out properly and can’t be stored for long. So, some good options of cuts for jerky include a beef eye of round roast or sirloin tip roast.
Traditionally jerky is made from beef. But don’t be afraid to experiment with different types and cuts of meat. Turkey, pork, lamb, and even game meats like venison and moose can make good jerky. Just make sure the cut is as lean as possible.
When prepping the meat for jerky, it is very important to slice against the grain in the meat. If you go with the grain, you’ll end up with tough, stringy, and extremely chewy jerky. So, going against the grain will ensure that your jerky has a nice bite-through without being really tough. Jerky that is done right will actually be a tiny bit soft and have some give when you bite into it. You shouldn’t have to tug at it with your teeth.
Just as important as cutting against the grain is to make sure you are cutting the meat into thin even strips. Your best bet is to use a very sharp knife to slice it into strips that are about 1/4” thick. This will ensure the meat dries out properly. It is also important to remove any excess exterior fat as you are slicing the meat.
One trick to help make it easier to slice the meat at a consistent width is to wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the freezer for 1 to 2 hours to partially freeze it first.
It is not a requirement to marinate the meat before it goes in the smoker (versus using a dry rub), but it does often result in better jerky. So, after you’ve sliced it, place the meat in your marinade of choice and make sure all of the pieces are covered evenly. You’ll get the best results if the meat is allowed to marinate in the refrigerator for 6-24 hours.
A marinade that uses salt, pepper, and garlic (SPG) as the base ingredients will give a nice, balanced, flavor. This jerky marinade from Charbroil is a good place to start:
Homemade Jerky Marinade:
Remember, the goal of smoking jerky is to dry the meat out. So, if you have marinated the strips, before you put them in your smoker it is important to lay them out on paper towels to remove any excess marinade. Then, the strips will be ready to either lay directly on the metal racks/grates or hang.
If your smoker has plenty of room below the metal racks/grates and the bottom (and the heat source), like in a vertical smoker, hanging the strips of meat is a very good method to use. There’s nothing wrong with laying the strips across the grates, but hanging the meat seems to allow the strips to properly dry out evenly, sometimes even in less time.
To hang the strips, just slide one toothpick through one of the ends of each strip. Or you can space apart several pieces on a long wood skewer. The toothpick/skewer can then rest on the grate while the strips hang below it. Just make sure to soak the toothpicks or skewers in water first so they don’t catch fire.
Source: My Plastic-Free Life
To ensure that all of the strips of meat dry out properly, make sure not to overlap any of them when placing them. Use multiple grates/racks to allow for enough space between the slices.
If you have already soaked the strips of meat in a “wet” marinade, do not put water in the water pan when smoking the jerky. You don’t want to add more moisture to the exterior of the meat. But, if you used a dry rub to season the strips of meat without any liquid, put a little bit of water or other liquid of choice in the pan during the first 1 to 2 hours of smoking.
The flavor/type of wood you use will be very evident in the taste of the jerky. So, you don’t want to overpower the meat by using a strong flavored wood, like Mesquite. Unless that’s the flavor you are going for. Hickory, Apple, Oak, and Pecan wood infuse the best flavor for jerky.
Remember, you’re not cooking the meat like normal. For this smoking process, the goal is to dehydrate it and remove all the moisture. The ideal temperature to smoke jerky at is usually between 150°F and 170°F. These lower temperatures allow the meat to dehydrate, without being traditionally cooked. You could go up to 200°F and probably be OK but any hotter and you run the risk of overly charring your jerky.
If your smoker’s burning at the right temperature, you’ll see a thin, blue smoke coming out. If the smoke is thick, billowing, white smoke, open the vents more and increase the temperature of the smoker. Thick white smoke can impart a bitter taste to the meat and ruin your jerky.
Source: Kamado Guru
The answer to this question can vary widely. The important thing will be to keep an eye on it. It should take between 3 and 10 hours depending on the thickness of your jerky and the type of smoker you have. For example, at 200°F in a pellet smoker, jerky usually finishes in 3 to 5 hours. But in a Masterbuilt electric smoker, it will usually take 6 to 8 hours.
So, check for doneness at the 3-hour mark. Then check every hour and even more frequently as it gets closer to done. Remove any slices as they are done to prevent overcooking.
Once you’re 3 hours or so into the smoking time, periodically pull a strip out of the smoker and let it cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Then check to see if it is done by bending it AFTER it has cooled down. You want to smoke the strips until your jerky is firm and bends and cracks but does not break in half. Small white fibers within the meat are also a good indication that the jerky is finished smoking.
As you can see, the answer to how to make jerky in a smoker is not overly complicated. If you follow the tips above, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying some delicious jerky that you can snack on for weeks. (Plus it’s WAY cheaper than store-bought jerky!)
You can expect your homemade jerky to last 1-2 months when stored in an airtight container. If you store it in ziplock-type bags in a dark pantry, the jerky will last about 1 week. When stored in a refrigerator, your jerky will last 1-2 weeks.
Have you tried making jerky in a smoker? Know of any other important tips? Leave a comment below and let us know. We want to hear all about it!
Ready to really elevate your meat smoking and grilling skills like never before? Join the Champion Pitmasters and Grillmasters in our first-of-their-kind in-depth virtual BBQ classes here at BBQ Champs Academy! In these classes, you’ll learn competition-level BBQ cooking techniques, insider secrets, and more. Get your All-Access pass today and start showing off your high-caliber cooking in no time!
Make sure to also subscribe to the BBQ Champs Academy YouTube channel to stay on top of all the latest insider info and competition BBQ news straight from barbecue pros!
It seems like all the time there are new techniques, hacks, and accessories that come out to help make smoking and barbecuing easier or more successful. What was once used mainly by butchers as wrapping for meat orders has become one of the latest must-have accessories for slow smoking large cuts of meat – pink butcher paper.
In this article, we’ve broken down what exactly pink butcher paper is, how it’s a better alternative to foil, and how to use pink butcher paper.
Even if you’ve never bought it, chances are you've seen pink butcher paper before. Sometimes also referred to as peach paper, this paper is usually what your cuts of meat (and sometimes seafood) will come wrapped in at the butcher’s counter.
Pink Butcher paper is an FDA-approved 100% food-grade type of kraft paper that is made from Southern Pine pulp. It has a high level of elasticity and will not tear easily when exposed to moisture. It also still has breathability, so it will still allow a good amount of smoke through. All of these things make pink butcher paper perfect for smoking meat.
The color of the pink (peach) butcher paper is because the paper is natural and unbleached, unlike the white variety. “Peach” is just another reference to the color of this paper and not any kind of peach flavoring or content.
This paper can be purchased in either individual pre-cut sheets or full rolls and is safe to put in your smoker at the normal “low and slow” cooking temperatures. It is important to note that waxed butcher paper, wax paper, and freezer paper should never go in your smoker or grill. It can catch fire and the wax will emit toxic fumes at high heat.
Butcher paper and parchment paper are very similar. So what is the difference? Compared to parchment paper, pink butcher paper is thicker, more absorbent, and more is more permeable (breathes better). It also has a lower heat threshold. With butcher paper, when smoking meat you’ll be able to still get a good level of smoke flavoring and a better bark/crust on the exterior of the meat.
So, deciding between using butcher paper or parchment paper largely comes down to the method you are using for cooking and the kind of results you are going for.
Pink butcher paper is perfect for slow-smoking meat. It will help retain heat while still preventing a buildup of excess moisture and allowing the meat to breathe. If you do want to retain moisture and collect juices for a sauce while smoking meat, parchment paper is a better choice.
Keep in mind that parchment paper often comes treated with a coating of silicone to increase its non-stick capabilities. Paper with coatings like this works just fine in an oven (especially for baking) but should never go in your smoker or on your grill.
So, for high-heat grilling applications, you should always opt for unwaxed parchment paper versus butcher paper. Parchment paper does have a higher temperature rating and can easily handle the temperature on the indirect heat side of a grill. Pink butcher paper, on the other hand, will just catch fire.
There are two main reasons that many BBQ pitmasters are now using pink butcher paper. The first is that it helps beat “the stall” that sometimes happens when smoking meat, especially beef brisket.
Wondering what “the stall” is? To put it simply, it’s the point during a low and slow smoking session that the internal temperature of a large cut of meat stops rising while cooking. (Make sure to check out our in-depth article on the stall for more information on this!)
The other good reason to use pink butcher paper when smoking meat is during the final stages of cooking. Wrapping the meat towards the end helps to lock in the meat’s internal moisture and heat, keeping it tender and juicy. The loose-fibered and loose-fitting pink butcher paper still allows the meat to breathe and can even help speed up smoking times without drying the meat out.
You may be familiar with the method known as the “Texas crutch”, which is using aluminum foil to wrap meat during low n’ slow smoking. This method is good for smoking pork ribs and can be very effective for helping big pieces of meat, like brisket, power through the stall.
But remember, once something is wrapped in aluminum foil, it is now inside an impermeable reflective layer. No more smoke can get in and heat cannot escape. So, cooking continues uninterrupted and no moisture escapes at all. With beef, this will sometimes make the meat too moist and it eliminates the chance for a nice crisp bark to further form on the exterior of the beef.
With pink butcher paper, the paper still allows the meat to breathe and doesn’t lock excess moisture inside the wrapping. You’ll still end up with moist meat, but you’ll get that delicious crispy bark that you want on your brisket or beef ribs. It will also help you effectively get through the stall and can even help shorten the length of the stall phase.
Pink butcher paper is most often used when slow-smoking beef brisket at lower temperatures. But, you can wrap many different types of meat cuts that you cook on a smoker. Pitmasters are now wrapping pork butt, ribs, and more.
Don’t be afraid to experiment and see what cuts come out better when wrapped in butcher paper and what cuts get better results with aluminum foil.
As you can see, pink butcher paper can be very helpful when smoking meat. But some other great uses for it that can come in handy as well, including:
Source: Challenge Butter
Pink butcher paper makes it easier to maintain proper internal meat temperature, allows the meat to breathe and absorb smoke flavor, prevents over-steaming, and enables you to achieve a perfect exterior bark.
If you’re not using pink butcher paper when slow smoking large cuts of meat, you should start today! This inexpensive cooking accessory adds utility and versatility to your smoking endeavors.
Do you use pink butcher paper when smoking meat? Have you recently tried it for the first time? Leave a comment below. We would love to hear about your experience with it!
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