When claiming your crown as ‘King of the BBQ’ make sure no one can possibly top your post by perfecting your meat smoking skills. The first step? Discovering the best meats for smoking. Generally, the cuts and meats you would usually ignore are usually perfect for smoking – save the juicy steaks for the grill and focus on larger cuts with enough fat to absorb the delicious flavours. In this article, we talk through some of the best meats for smoking along with some insider tips to ensure your meats are always cooked to perfection.
Tips for the amateur smoker
Cook slowly – Smoking definitely works best when the meats chosen are given a long period of time to cool slowly. If you’re planning a gathering with friends, make sure to get your smoker fired up early and your meats prepared ahead of time.
Wood Flavours – There are a wide range of wood flavours to choose from including cherry and apple through to oaks and hickory. Find the best flavours to pair with your specific meat to ensure every bite tastes like sheer perfection.
Rub or Brine? – Some chef’s swear by overnight brining to lock in flavour while others are passionate about the right rub. Finding the perfect rub – no matter how simple – will take your smoked meat into another dimensions.
Perfect Temperature – Keeping your smokers are a consistent level will ensure every cut of meat cooks evenly and comes out delectably moist.
List of Best Meats for Smoking
An all-round favourite, chicken is the perfect meat to start your smoking journey with. Many chefs recommend going all in with a whole chicken while others favour thick and juicy chicken quarters. Simply remove all the gizzards, season and smoke for meat that is guaranteed to not be wasted. And the great thing about opting for a whole chicken is that they usually take a relatively short period of time to cook to perfection. If you’re going for the quarters option, make sure they’re juicy enough to lock in as much flavour as possible – so avoid the smaller offcuts.
Pork – Shoulders and Ribs
A great choice for anyone looking to lock down on a specific budget for their al fresco dinner party, these low cost joints are delicious when smoked. With its fatty composition, pork easily absorbs the woody flavours that you expect from smoking while the crisp skin allows the joints own fat to self-baste. Opt for meaty shoulders or thick cut ribs that will have every member of your party salivating when you present it on the table.
Beef – Brisket
Probably the most recognisable joint of meat when it comes to smoking, the beef brisket has a thick fatty layer that absorbs the smoky scents well while also crisping up to perfection. Slightly more expensive than some other meat choices, this joint is highly coveted during the BBQ season so make sure to grab yours as soon as you see them out. A great choice for those garden parties where you’re looking to impress everyone with your professional-esque cooking skills.
Lamb – Shoulder
Another great option with a consistent fat level is lamb – specifically the shoulder cut. Easily absorbing those smoky scents, this delectable meat falls apart in the mouth when smoked properly and can be easily distributed out. The high fat content benefits this particular type of cooking as opposed to roasting where too much fat can lead to much smaller portions. Keep in mind, this type of meat needs to be smoked low and slow to achieve the ultimate results so make sure you leave time for it in your dinner plans.
One of the fattier breads of fish, Salmon is a great option for smokers and makes the perfect choice for any pescetarians you make have on your guest list. Readily available from most fish mongers or supermarkets, this sumptuous fish has the perfect flavour to accompany those smoky flavours and can also be cooked to perfection using cold smoking techniques. With a quick cooking timeframe and a moist composition that allows it to fall apart when cooked perfectly, salmon is a great choice for even the most amateur smoker.
A more unusual option, Deer is actually a great choice for smoking. A meat that usually ends up dry and chewy, the gentle and slow cooking quality of smoking pairs perfectly with either deer shoulder or tenderloins. To get the best results, brine the deer the night before and pair with oak or apple smoke woods to create meat that tastes similar to roast beef. A unique option that is sure to delight your guests and have them questioning why this delectable meat isn’t on their table more often.
Another unusual choice on our list, Goat meat pairs beautifully with smoking while also being lower in cholesterol than most other meats. Similar to deer meat, make sure to bring it overnight before smoking and pair with a strong lemon/pepper rub – this meat can taste just like the most delectable lamb cuts when smoked to perfection. You can also use deer to make unique and delicious tacos or wraps.
So we’ve rounded up the best meats for smoking and some top tips from experienced amateur and professional chefs. Now it’s time to consider one of two things – the right flavour wood and the best smoking grill for your job. Our list of the best BBQ smokers takes a comprehensive look at the wide range of appliances on offer and brings you all the up-to-date links so you can get your model ordered and to your door in no time.