If your grill or smoker has retreated from your use, this is the guide to get you started again.
Meats and Cuts
If you’re either cooking low and slow, or hot and fast, you’ll want to pick a cut that’s got a good amount of marbling. Good chicken cuts include: Whole leg quarters, thighs, drumsticks, wings, and whole butterflied chickens. Breasts can be dry and flavorless. Nice beef cuts: Tender steaks, flank, inside skirt, and briskets. Pork isn’t that lucky though. See, before the fitness craze came, pigs were fat. In fact, the average pig had more fat than 50 chicken leg quarters. I actually got to taste that meat before it was gone. But, people crazy about fitness turned from pigs to poultry. Undaunted, pig breeders made the once juicy hog dry. Anyways, cuts that have the right stuff include Boston butts, ribs, and chops.
The type of barbecue cooking that you choose for a cut matters almost as much as the cut you pick. Cuts that like a long cook time in the smoker are Boston butts, ribs, beef brisket, chicken thighs and legs, wings, and whole chickens. Try to do a long smoke time with things like filet mignons, and you’ll get something extremely mushy, like cat food. Cuts that like it hot and fast are: Pork chops, chicken breasts, steaks like ribeyes and strips, ahi tuna, fish, and shrimp.
Some recipes that use a smoker:
Please don’t try to do this in the oven ’cause you’ll just ruin it.
- Hamburger buns for serving
- 1 6-8 lb. Boston pork butt, trimmed
- 12 ounces by weight pickling salt
- 3/4 cup honey
- 2 quarts water
- 2 tbsp paprika
- 2 tbsp black pepper
- 3 tbsp dehydrated lemon peel
- 2 tbsp cayenne pepper (more if you like)
- 1 1/2 tbsp dried rosemary
- 3 tbsp dark brown sugar
- Several pounds of apple wood
Large bag of ice, if needed
- Combine water, salt, and honey in a 6-quart cooler. Add pork and refrigerate or place a large bag of ice on top for 8-12 hours.
- Remove pork from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Combine remaining seasonings and rub on pork.
- Light a few chunks of apple wood and place in the firebox of a smoker. Keep temperature in smoker to 210°
- Place in a smoker and cook for 8-12 hours, changing wood as needed. The meat should be tender at this point. IF NOT CONTINUE SMOKING!
- Let rest 1 hour, then shred with two forks. Serve on hamburger buns.
Memphis-Style BBQ Ribs
This is a classic U.S. style of BBQ pork ribs.
- 1 slab pork spareribs
- 6 tbsp Rib Rub
- 1 cup tomato paste
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
- 2 Tbs soy sauce
- Hickory chunks
- Season spare ribs with rib rub.
- Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Place chunks in smoker or charcoal grill set for indirect heat at 250°F (120C).
- Combine liquid ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Reduce liquid by 1/3.
- Place spareribs into smoker or grill for 4-5 hours, basting occasionally with sauce.
- Brush remaining sauce on top of ribs and place on a medium high grill until browned.
- The internal temperature of the ribs before removing from the grill needs to be at least 145F (63C).
- Let rest for 10 minutes, covered, and carve.
North Carolina-Style BBQ Ribs
You want some tomato in your sauce, go over to the west side of N.C.
- 1 slab pork spare ribs
- 6 tbsp Rib Rub
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup honey
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- Season ribs with Rib Rub and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Combine remaining ingredients and place in a spray bottle.
- Place ribs in a 250° smoker or a charcoal grill set for indirect heat at 250°
- Cook for 5-6 hours, spraying often with vinegar mixture.
- Spray heavily with vinegar mixture and place on a high grill, turning and spraying constantly until well browned.
- Remove and let rest 15 minutes; serve.
There will be extra vinegar mixture. You can use it for almost anything including beef briskets.
Think all smoking woods are the same? Wrong! Each wood has its own flavor and character. However, if you use softwoods like cedar, pine, and spruce, you’ll get toxic tars, resins, and creosote, which can kill! That’s why you’ll want to use hardwoods. I have a chart concerning flavor of smoke.
- Alder: Classic European smoking wood, doesn’t overtake, complements meats with mild flavor and seafood such as trout.
- Applewood: Adds a cider-like flavor to meats and fish. Nicely complements items with honey, or meats such as chicken, pork, and lamb.
- Cherry: Fruity, tad bitter smoke that complements pork.
- Hickory: Classic American wood. Adds a sharp, woodsy flavor. Complements pork, chicken, seafood, and shrimp.
- Maple: Sweet maple syrup flavor. Complements almost everything.
- Mesquite: Gives a spicy Southwestern flair to beef. However, mesquite can overtake mild flavored meats like pork and chicken.
- Peachwood: Sweet fruity flavor. Complements pork, chicken, salmon, trout, and shrimp.
I hope we’ve inspired you to take your grill or smoker out of the shadows and fire it up.