Your Guide To Lake Living
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Part I: Smoking Meat:
By Eric Stein
If you are anything like me, you like barbecue. Barbecue conjures up many good memories, impressions and emotions for most people and, when you’re at the lake, it almost seems that a barbecue is a statutory requirement. So, now that it is finally lake (barbecue) season again, have you given much thought to what you will be cooking? Or, more importantly, what you will be cooking with?
For most people, barbecuing means firing up the good old kettle-style grill (like those made by Weber™) or – Heaven forbid – the gas grill to cook some steaks, hamburgers, chicken, fish or vegetables. However – and you probably have heard this at least once in your life – firing up the kettle grill is not barbecue, it’s grilling. Barbecue – derived from the Arawak Indian word barbacoa literally denotes a type of cooking wherein food is cooked over wood (or wood coals), typically outdoors, for a very extended period of time at low heat – these days, the heat is almost always indirect as well. So, instead of a kettle grill (which, in fact, will sort of work, but is certainly far from ideal for smoking), what you really need is a smoker.
The last time you were in your local big-box hardware store or maybe, just maybe, in a barbecue store, you probably saw one of these strange looking contraptions made of heavy steel with an odd protuberance hanging off of it to one side.
(photo courtesy of BBQGalore.com)
The Bar-B-Chef Offset Smoker.
That strange looking device is called an offset firebox smoker. There are many manufacturers building these and, in fact, the offset smoker design represents only one of a number of major groups of smokers which are available on the market. But, for our purposes – and to stay true to what many purists consider to be the all around best form of smoking – it is best to focus on the offset smoker. For your information however, some of the other kinds of smokers are:
The Weber™ Smokey
Mountain “bullet” style smoker
The Big Green Egg
Backyard, custom built smoker
(photo courtesy of pages.cthome.net)
So, if you have seen one of these smoker
things, you have probably wondered what you can possibly do with it. Well,
you can take it and make pretty ordinary pieces of meat into fantastic
creations that will make you consider rolling your standard charcoal or gas
grill off the dock in order to create a new fishing structure. If you are
intrigued and you feel you could get into this whole smoking thing, spring
is certainly the time to buy one. Buying in spring insures that you still
have time to build and prep the smoker and learn to cook with it (which
really isn’t hard as it may seem). That way, once summer really kicks in,
you will be ready to make food for the masses. What do you need to know to
about smoking to make your purchase decision? Let’s look at a quick set of
Essentially, the real sticking point is exactly which smoker to buy and what the differences are. Next time, we will discuss what smoker I bought - and why - and what meat to place on the smoker for ideal results of lip-smacking goodness.
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