Smoking Meat & Fish Printer Version
Smoking with or without a smoker.
Smoking has been used for a very long time. It was used in the past to preserve food since the smoke acts like an acidic coating on the meat surface. Smoking was performed as a means of preserving food because the smoke
itself acts like an acidic coating on the surface of the meat, preventing the growth of bacteria. The smoking process also helps to dehydrate the meat, again creating an environment that is less hospitable for bacteria
to thrive in. Like curing, in modern times, smoking of food is done primarily as a way to enhance food's flavor and color, rather than preserve it. In today's world, we smoke and then eat. Preserving meat with smoke is
not mostly performed by commercial processers.
There are generally two types of smoking methods:
Smoking at temperatures of at least 150° F. The result is cooking food at the same time it is being flavored.
Smoking at temperatures of less than 100° F. A procedure that doesn't cook the food. Instead only adds flavoring. This is an accepted way to enhance your food with smoke flavor.
You can add flavor to cured fish without actually cooking it, or impart smoke flavor to salami and other cured meats before they are hung to dry. Note that it's best used only with cured meats.
Your turkey is smoked when it comes in contact with the smoke, which is usually created by smoldering wood, plant, and other organic material. Smoking relies on indirect heat, low temperatures (180-225 ° F), and
long cooking times. In the U.S., favored smoke wood includes cherry, hickory, oak, mesquite, or apple.
You can marinate your turkey before smoking it. When not using salt, this works well.
From turkey processors.
Marinade Must Haves
" Liquid: Wine, Orange Juice (and/or vinegar such as an aged balsamic or red wine vinegar)
" Oil: Extra virgin olive oil or expeller pressed canola oil
" Flavoring: Garlic, Basil, Lemon
Be Sure Not to
" Marinate at room temperature.
" Marinate poultry for longer than 8 hours. Otherwise the meat's fibers will begin to break down, resulting in a mushy texture.
" Reuse marinades.
Rules of Marinating
When using a marinade be sure to follow these general rules:
If the marinade recipe requires you to heat the ingredients, be sure to let the heated marinade cool to room temperature before pouring it over your turkey.
For recipes that call for a short marinating time, make the marinade several hours in advance so it can develop its full flavor.
Keep your marinating meat covered and in the refrigerator.
Use a sealable container or plastic bag that is large to position the food in a single layer, and turn to coat all sides.
Use ¼ to ½ cup of marinade for every 1 to 2 pounds of meat.
Discard any leftover marinade that has touched raw meat.
Smoking domestic meats or wild game is pretty much the same. And you smoke without the use of a "smoker."
The below is from Scott Leysath's The Sporting Chef's Favorite Wild Game Recipes, page 141.
Choice of wood for smoking is a matter of personal preference. I like fruit wood, which is found in abundance in many areas of the United States. I've had good luck with pear wood. You can purchase chips or chunks of wood, or gather green wood and chop them into small pieces yourself.
If you do not have a conventional smoker, you can utilize your gas grill or barbecue kettle with surprisingly good results. Put a handful or two of wood chips which have been soaked in water for 30 minutes in a disposable foil pan and place the pan directly on the lava rock on one side of the gas grill. Set the meat to be smoked over the pan as the wood chips begin to smoke. Since removing a hot barbecue grate can be an unnerving experience, you may not be able to finish the meat with smoke, but the flavor of smoke will permeate the flesh. In a barbecue kettle, spread ash white hot coals around the sides of the bottom grate and sprinkle soaked wood chips over the coals. Place the meat in the center of the grill, away from direct heat and place the lid over the kettle.
I have enjoyed some outstanding meats cooked in makeshift smokers made from 50 gallon metal drums. A fire box is constructed out of metal around the outside of the opening. The heat is controlled by partially opening or closing the lid. The fire box is stoked with a mixture of green and seasoned pear wood. The smoke and fire is drawn into the drum by the draft created by the top opening. A group of close friends host an annual free duck feed where 200 ducks are slow cooked in such contraptions with excellent results. Everyone contributes a duck or two and a raffle is held to raise money for the next year's side dishes and beverages. The birds are seasoned only with salt and pepper, yet the flavor and tenderness is sensational.
Experience and personal preference will tell you when to remove meat from smoke. Keep in mind that you can always finish an underdone game dish in an oven or by placing it back in the smoker. Over smoked game will dry out much as it does with other cooking methods. The resulting meat will be tough and chewy and may taste more like charcoal than wild game. Timing is everything.
Experiment with smoking any game for 15 minutes with a heavy smoke prior to preparing as specified in other recipes. Game stews and roasts will greatly benefit from the smoky flavor, recalling the aroma of camp cooking after a long day afield. Smoke seasoned game birds make an excellent salad tossed with crisp mixed greens, sunflower seeds and a fresh raspberry vinaigrette. The many uses of smoked game is limited only by your imagination