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how to use a smoker grill

How To Use A Smoker Grill

  • November 2, 2018
  • / BBQ How To's
  • / By Nathan
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When the weather warms up outdoors, many people break out their grills to barbecue. If you want to grill up the best food in the neighborhood, you should consider investing in a smoker grill. Unlike gas grills, smokers give you complete control over the cooking process. When you cook your food in a smoker, you can set the temperature so that you can cook your meat low and slow.

If you cook your meat properly, it will be tender and it will fall right off the bone. If you are thinking about buying a smoker and being the “grill master” of the neighborhood, you should first know how to use a smoker grill. There is more to smoking a great piece of meat than simply following the manufacturer's directions that come with the smoker. Below are a few tips to help your smoke a great piece of meat. 


Step 1: Prepare Your Smoker Grill


To ensure that you meat tastes great and that it is safe to eat, you need to properly prepare the grill. If this is the first time that you use your smoker, you need to get it ready for use. Before smoking anything, you should build the biggest fire that you can inside and allow it to burn for 45 minutes. This will help to seal up the pores in the metal. Also, this will remove any byproducts that are leftover from the manufacturing process such as metal shavings, oil, grease, paint, and other debris. If you have owned your smoker for some time and haven't used it recently, you should burn the fire for 45 minutes. Over time, rancid grease and even mold may have built up in the smoker. This needs to be burned off before you start smoking meat.


When the grill is prepared, you should fill the firebox with charcoal and get them lit. Next, you need to soak your wood chips. You can choose the flavor based on your own tastes, however, be sure to go with wood chips that don't contain chemicals. The wood chips will need to soak in water for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, the coals should be hot and you can add the wood chips to the grill.
Before you start cooking, you will need to allow the grill to reach a temperature of 400 degrees. Once it reaches this temperature, you should lower the temperature to 250 degrees. If you don't let the grill heat to 400 degrees first, it will be contaminated, which will contaminate the meat that you are smoking.


Step 2: Creating Moisture Is Key


Before you begin smoking your meat, you want to create moisture in the smoker. Not only will this make it taste better, it will also help the meat hold in its smoky flavor. To create moisture in the smoker, fill foil bowl with water. Next, add some of your favorite herbs and spices to the water to give it some flavor. The bowl should be placed directly under the grill grate, right underneath the area where you are going to put the meat.


Step 3: Get Your Meat Ready


Before putting your meat on the grill, you should marinade it in your favorite flavors. You can use either a traditional marinade or a dry rub. Before putting your marinaded meat on the grill, make sure that the grill is at 250 degrees. When the grill is ready, you can put the meat directly on the rack, right above your bowl of water and spice.


Step 4: Smoke the Meat


When your meat is in place, close the cover to the grill. As a rule, you should time your meat to cook for 1 to 1 ½ hours per pound. While the meat is smoking, you don't want to open the smoker. Each time you open it up, the grill will lose heat, which will slow the cooking process. As long as you time your meat right, you will only need to open the cover a few times.


Step 5: Monitor the Temperature


For the meat to cook perfectly, you need the grill to remain at a consistent temperature. To do this, you will use the dampers located at the top of the grill and at the bottom. If the temperature in the grill starts to get too hot, you should open the upper damper. This will release some of the hot air and it will cool the grill down. If the temperature is dropping below 250, you should open the lower damper. This will allow more of the heat from the fire to get into the smoker and the temperature will rise.


Step 6: Keep an Eye On Your Food and Your Fuel


During the cooking process, you need to be vigilant. Once every hour, you should refill the bowl with more water, herbs, and spices. As the meat cooks, the water will evaporate. You also want to check on your meat every hour. Using a meat thermometer, check the internal temperature to avoid overcooking your meat.


Step 7: Serving the Meat


When you meat is ready, remove it from the grill and let it rest. It will continue to cook a bit more while it is resting. After about 20 minutes, your meat will be ready to serve and it should fall right off the bone.


Important Tips To Know


Now that you know how to smoke the perfect cut of meat, there are a few extra tips that you should know to be sure that your meat is moist and full of flavor.


Smoking with logs:

If you prefer smoking your meat over logs rather than charcoal, don't buy logs from the grocery store. This wood is usually kiln dried. While it is easy to light, it doesn't burn long. This means that you won't get an adequate amount of smoke. 


The air in the smoker needs to circulate: If your meat is going to cook properly, it cannot touch anything expect for the rack that it is sitting on. Before closing the grill cover, make sure that the meat isn't touching the sides or another piece of meat.


Let the fire go out: If you typically use lighter fluid to light your grill, you should make sure that the fire is out before you put your meat on. If the fire isn't out, there will be some lighter fluid left over which you will be able to taste in your meat.


Soaking the wood chips:

Most smoker manufacturers recommend that you soak the wood chips for an hour, however, most of the top grill masters suggest that you let them soak over night. The more you soak the wood chips, the more smoke you will get. 


Easy cleaning:

Smoking meat right on the rack can be very messy. The marinade and the juices in the meat will get on the rack and underneath while the meat is cooking. If you want to make cleanup easy, you can lay your meat down on a few sheets of aluminum foil. When it is time to clean up, you simply need to wrap up the foil and throw it away. Even better, this won't effect the way that the meat is cooked or the flavor. 


There is a science to smoking a great piece of meat. If you follow the steps above and pay attention to the additional tips, your meat should come out moist, tender, and with an amazing smoky flavor.

About the Author Nathan

Hi! My name is Nathan and I’m a passionate meat-lover and certified grill connoisseur. I fell in love with grilling food back when I was a little kid when my grandfather used to cook tasty burgers in our backyard every Saturdays.

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