Gas Smoker Basics… A Beginner’s Guide
A beginner’s guide to gas smoking has not really been published (at least I haven’t found one); so instead, why not use these gas smoker basics until you become an expert in your own right.
Remember, smoking food is an art form rather than a recipe… And only practice and patience will get you to be an expert smoker in your own right.
Remember Our Smoking Roots
It wasn’t all that long ago that people smoked food as a method of food preservation. Refrigeration was nonexistant in “the old days”, and therefore smoking was a method of keeping meat disease free until it was eaten.
But nowadays, it has moved far from those humble origins.
When people talk about the gas smoking basics, they are talking about barbeque and flavoring. Smoking adds spectacular flavor to meat and fish, it tenderizes the food as well, and it can transform some of the worst cuts of meat into some of the tastiest dishes imaginable.
We are no longer learning the gas smoking basics to keep food on the shelf longer; we want to learn the basics to tickle the palate instead.
Low Temperature & Long Duration
The essential gas smoker basics are listed below. Plus, we’ll give you some other tips that will function as a beginner’s guide to smoked foods as well.
First, it is critical to maintain temperature control. This may be one of the reasons you have bought a gas smoker since it has some of the most stable temperatures available in any smoker.
Gas smoking is best done between 200 to 250 degrees. According to the USDA, for most meats to be safe to eat, it needs to be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
You achieve this over a long period of time with a low temperature slow smoke.
Slow smoking makes even the worst cuts of meat extremely tender and flavorful; and to monitor your progress, it is imperative to watch both the smoker temperature gauge and use a meat thermometer to determine the interior temperature of your meat as well.
Smoking Low & Slow
Why do you want to slow smoke your food over a low temperature?
- To give your meat the necessary amount of time it needs to absorb the flavor of the wood smoke.
- Low temperature long duration smoking naturally tenderizes your meat; regardless of what kind of meat it is.
Slow cooking gives the raw connective fibers in the meat the chance to transform into natural sugars; the collagen in the meat (the connective fibers) break down over time into different types of sugars. This not only makes your meat more tender, but also sweetens it as well.
So slow & low cooking gives you tender, more flavorful meat that has the full aroma and taste of the wood chips that you are using to flavor your meat.
Gas Smoking Basics – Other Things to Consider
Here are a few other basics that new smokers should think about before firing up the gas smoker for the first time.
- Keep your smoker level, and far enough away from outdoor items – This is a “no brainer”; but it is sometimes forgotten when first starting out. Make sure your smoker is on a level, heatproof surface before firing it up. Once started, it may be too hot for you to reposition if you need to.
- Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature – We stated this before, but smoked foods look a little different when finished than grilled food for example. When completely finished, your beef may be completely red or pink; and same for your chicken (apple wood makes chicken come out red). So use your meat thermometer to determine when you food is finished.
- Experiment with different woods and meats – After all, this is gas smoker basics for beginners; do not be afraid to experiment. Maybe start with a small amount of wood to see how it tastes; or maybe try combining different woods for unique flavors as well.
- Keep a smoker’s notebook while experimenting – Nothing is worse than finding a perfect combination of time, wood, and temperature to make a great tasting turkey… Then forgetting exactly how you did it. Take the time to make short notes while you are first starting out on what worked and what didn’t.
Get On It!
Remember, it takes time, practice, and patience to get your smoking skills up to snuff. But nobody was born knowing how to make the perfect smoked spare ribs; it took them a lot of trial and error.
Use these tips we included for you here. You’ll make fewer mistakes, you’ll shorten your learning curve, and you’ll master the gas smoking basics as quickly as possible.
Now get started; after all, practice makes perfect…
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