The perfect red wine in tall glasses, napkins folded as swans and candles decorate the dinner table. The soft music floats in the air with the smell of food- the turkey. The empty porcelain plates and the hungry stomach all awaits for the perfect Thanksgiving dinner. Then you look at the clock and remember. Run! But your grilling turkey is already burnt and ruined and so is your Thanksgiving night.
Thanksgiving or Christmas or just a regular barbeque night in the chilly winter, your dinner is incomplete without a variety of delicious meats. Smoked turkey, beef briskets, chicken wings, smoked pork, mashed potatoes- is there any end to the number of appetizing dishes you can make to complete your special night? However, as delicious as it sounds, these dishes are very hard to make. For hours you have to smoke the meat and keep the temperature and time in check. It is a very tedious task and hence, requires lots of patience. Many a time, you may end up burning your meat by shifting your attention for even a short time. This is why engineers architected a device to end all your problems- an electric smoker!
An electric smoker allows you to control both the temperature and the time for which you want your meat to be cooking. If it is your first time using an electric smoker, do not worry about being confused at all. Now, let’s take a look at how to use an electric smoker.
Setting up your smoker
The first step to setting up your smoker is to read the manual. Yes, do not throw away the manual as many people do. The manual is a step by step guide to help you use your device properly. With the enormous number of high-quality smoker brands in the market today, there are several versions of electric smokers, which may have slightly diverse ways to operate. Hence, the manuals give you in-depth details specific to the brand you are using.
The next step before starting to use your smoker is to season it. Now the question that arises is: why do we need to season the smoker before beginning to use it? A brand new electric smoker is seasoned to guarantee that any sort of residue from the manufacturing procedure such as dirt, machine oil, etc. has been entirely eradicated.
How do we season? The process varies slightly from model to model. However, the basic procedure is to coat the interior of the smoker with all of its appliances like the water pan and wood chip smoker box with cooking oil and then turn the machine on for a couple of hours at 120-140◦C. After that, you put off the smoker and keep its door closed for few hours until it cools down. This process needs to be done only once because after starting to operate the smoker, it will constantly be covered in cooking oil.
The power button is now ready to be pushed! Connect your device with the power supply and make sure your device is plugged in properly so that there is no unexpected interruption during cooking. Switching on the power button puts the device in a standby mode, which will start to operate only after you have set the timer and operating temperature.
What generates the smoke? The wood chips! Now, we add wood chips to the container that is placed right above the heating element of the smoker. Once the woods are set ablaze, the smoke it creates cooks and adds flavors to the meat. It is advised to use 4 cups of wood chips for every 3-5 hours of cooking which means there is a system of replenishing it while cooking. Which wood chip to use? There are different hardwood chips you can use that will add amazing flavor to your food but you do not want to use softwoods like pine or fir which smolders promptly and results in bland meat. Choose the right wood chip for the dish you are making accordingly.
Now, preheat your smoker for 40-45 minutes. Set the temperature to 100-110◦C. However, your temperature and time setting depends on the type of dish you are aiming for. Your manual might come to use for this.
Now add hot water to the water pan that comes with the smoker and put it in its designated space below the smoker. What is the purpose of this? The steam produced due to the hot water prevents the meat from drying out and adds moisture. Different ingredients like herbs, aromatic flavors, wine, etc. can be added to the water to be permeated into the meat. The hot water also helps keep the smoker at its set temperature as the wood chips may cool it down. Do not use aluminum foil because it obstructs the flow of heat.
Oh, there you see smoke! Your smoker is now ready to gulp down your meat and cook you the perfect dish.
Smoking the meat
Your meat needs preparation too just like your smoker. Cut your meat in the manner described in your recipe and start seasoning your meat. Add essence to your meat with a thick coating of dry rub or marinade with spices and herbs or whatever recipe you want. Leave the meat this way for a few hours to allow the ingredients to soak into your meat. Your meat is now ready to be put on the racks in the smoker. Put on your barbecue gloves for safety and use spatula or tongs with long handles to avert scorching your skin. Keep the door of the smoker open for minimal time so that all the smoke does not flee.
Now that your meat is in place, close the door and lock it. Ensure safety by closing and opening the door only with the knob on the door. Touching any other metal parts of the smoker may burn your hands. Keep the wood chips and water in check. If the smoke stops, it is a signal to you that more wood chips and water are required. Make sure you add the right amount so that your meat does not get over-smoked and distasteful. Keep the meat in the smoker as long as your recipe suggests. This may take up to 8 hours. So, in this case, the fruit of patience is lip-smacking smoked meat with delicious flavors!
Don’t dig into your meat right away. Using a meat thermometer, verify the inner temperature of the meat and check if it is cooked. Under cooked meat requires further cooking while a perfectly cooked one goes onto your dinner table ready to be served!
Cleaning your electric smoker
Most people think that once the meat is on your table, your work with the electric smoker is done. However, you are going to use it again, so cleaning it after each use is very important. Leaving your electric smoker unclean till next use can make stains stubborn and harder to clean. So, why should you go through extra trouble?
After the meat is ready, do not forget to unplug the smoker from the power supply to avoid electric shocks. Do not start cleaning right away because it is still hot. The interior of the smoker must be at room temperature when you are cleaning it. Once cooled, remove all the appliances that can come off such as the chip tray and water plan and the racks. Empty your tray and pan to remove any residue.
Now remove any large remains inside the smoker such as a small meat piece or fat deposits using a wet towel. Let the scrubbing with soapy water and kitchen sponges begin at once. Avert the usage of steel wool or ay rough instrument because these may leave dents on your smoker. Cleanse the ceiling, floor, and walls of the interior thoroughly to remove any oily residues. Wash the removable appliances separately in a dishwasher or with hands if they are particularly dirty with grease and ashes. Tough stains can be removed using vinegar.
Now, give a final touch by spraying water to remove any soap left. Now, wipe the interior and exterior with a sterile towel thoroughly. If you do have enough time in your hands or are too exhausted with all the cooking, just leave the door of the smoker open and let it dry on its own.
Your electric smoker is ready for another round of perfectly smoked meat.
An electric smoker is easier to use than boat charcoal grill or gas grill smoker of its alarm clock so burning your meat is almost impossible. For a beginner, it is the perfect smoker to use because of the simplicity in its operation. It is also comfortable to clean it. Now that you know how to operate an electric smoker, go and grab the best electric smoker from the market. There are numerous choices out there in the market so run a quick search online and check the reviews.
We celebrate special occasions with food. Now that you have an electric smoker in your hands, you have the key to the perfect dinner and hence, the perfect day in your hands. So, get ready to savor the day with some dishes of delicious, tender and juicy meats!