Welcome to Part II of The Low Down on the Low & Slow series. You can read Part I HERE.
When smoking meats, the low and slow method is the best, the bee’s knees, the creme de la creme, the cat’s pyjamas…ok, you get the message. In our last blog, we looked at the regionality of the American barbecue to give you an understanding of the nuances and idiosyncrasies of America’s national cuisine. Did we mention that they take it seriously? Very seriously.
Part II in our series looks at the smokers, the wood, the rubs, the sauces and the mops to wow your taste buds.
WHY DO YOU NEED A SMOKER?
A smoker isn’t like a traditional barbecue where you put your food directly onto the grill and cook it quickly. A smoker uses low and slow heat combined with smoke and moisture. This combination infuses your meat with a smoky flavour and produces soft and succulent fall apart deliciousness. Need we say more?
THE BIG DECISION
Needless to say, purchasing your smoker is a big decision. There are a number of different smokers on the market ranging in price from hundreds to thousands and of course, like most things in life, you normally get what you pay for.
SO, WHAT TO CHOOSE? ASK YOURSELF:
1) Do you want to be actively involved in the cooking process from start to finish, or are you more of a set and forget type?
2) What do you want to cook? Seriously large pieces of meat such as brisket or pork shoulder, or smaller items like poultry and pork ribs?
If you’re wanting to smoke larger cuts (and who doesn’t?), go for an offset smoker. These babies are for serious smokers who want a huge cooking area and an authentic charcoal and smoke flavour. They are a labour of love though, so be prepared for some serious stoking.
The great thing about these smokers is that you get an authentic flavour and smoking experience in a compact smoker. As the heat source is primarily from charcoal, with the flavour coming from wood chunks, it will require manual tinkering. It just won’t fit your massive cuts.
Pellet smokers operate on electricity but burn wood pellets. You can cook some larger pieces like brisket and smaller racks of ribs. The only thing you need to worry about is topping up the pellets.
If you’re only wanting a smoker for smaller cuts of meat or sausages, try gas. It’s an entry level smoker that’s easy to set up with a gas bottle, and burns either pellets or wood chips. But it does limit the size of what you can cook.
If you’re limited on time and can’t monitor your smoker like a fixated pit master, then perhaps an electric smoker is for you. Hit the button and walk away, but some say they lack that authentic flavour.
LET’S TALK WOOD
You can change the smoky flavour characteristics imparted into your prize piece of brisket by changing the types of wood chips you use. Of course, different woods work better with different meats. As a general rule, the lighter the protein, the lighter the wood you should use.
For beef or lamb, go for a pretty moderate/heavy wood like oak. Even though it’s considered to be at the heavier end of the smoking scale, it has a good all-round flavour and it’s not overpowering. Another ideal option for beef is iron bark which is abundant here in Australia.
For pork and all types of poultry, you can’t go past the light and sweet fruit woods like apple or peach.
If you’re after a wood that can do it all, then look no further than hickory. It’s considered the hardworking wood that can be used for all types of red meat and poultry.
And just like spices, you can combine different types of wood to create your own unique blend, so feel free to get creative.
OUR QUICK GUIDE FOR BEEF & PORK:
Wood Type – Oak or Hickory
Rubs – As a general rule, beef is delicious with just liberally applied salt and pepper. If you want to get a bit fancier, try a mustard rub.
Sauces – Beef is always paired well with a really good BBQ sauce.
Best Cuts – Point End Brisket, Short or Chuck Ribs, Tri tip (sometimes called the bottom sirloin), Bolar Blade, Chuck Roll, Top Side, Knuckle.
Wood Type – Apple, Peach or Hickory
Rubs – Dry rubs are the bomb with pork. Try rubs with some sweetness. Use dark sugars with spices such as paprika, cayenne, juniper, garlic powder, thyme or oregano.
Sauces – Wet sauces and sweet barbecue mops and jam based bastes are your best bet here. Pork if pulled is often matched with a Carolina style BBQ sauce that is sweet, mustardy and vinegar based.
Best Cuts – Pork Collar Butt / Boston Butt, Pork Shoulder, St Louis Pork Ribs, Pork Ribs USA Style, Baby Back Ribs.
Want to see where each of these cuts come from? Visit our Products page HERE and check out the cuts charts.
KEEN TO GET THE GOODS? Call us on 07 3399 1390. We’re a wholesale operation, so let us know what you’re looking for and arrange a time for pick up. Otherwise, we’re open to the public for our regular Market Days. Connect with us HERE on Facebook to keep up to date.