The 5 Best Meats to Smoke
I was eighteen-years-old and assisting my father when he told me that I was the center of his universe. Decades later, I still remember that moment as if it was yesterday. Interestingly enough, we were smoking meat when he uttered those golden words. After a pause, I thanked him while arranging the kitchen utensils. He used to be in his best elements when meat was on the menu. He simply loved cutting, cooking, and eating them.
I guess, my cooking attributes comes from him. From an early age, he kept giving me cooking advice. At the apex of my stupidity, I was allowed to keep or bin them. As a byproduct of being an adult, I value them more than I did during my teenage days. Nevertheless, I never had to troubleshoot a lot to find the best meats to smoke. Those things got ingrained in me by default as I saw my father devoting a lot of time in the kitchen. So, let me selflessly pass on the information to you.
Our Favorite Meats to Smoke
1. Wild Pork
Over the years, I have realized that wild pork is an entirely different game on its own. Compare it to domestic pork, and you will notice that the difference is like night and day. Believe it or not, it can beat domestic pork any day of the week. I make no apologies in stating that if you haven’t tried wild pork yet, you have missed out on something really delicious. It has a nice flavor and taste to it. Better yet, it’s not very greasy. When smoked, it comes out far more tender and moist than any other cooking method tried on them.
Of course, nothing is stopping you from trying any method of your choice for cooking wild pork. However, it’s important to keep the temperature low while smoking them because they are usually much leaner than domestic pork. They should spend at least 14 hours under the hood. So, be a tad bit patient with them. At the end of it, you will be left licking your fingers to get the full extravagance of the taste. Let the naysayers say ‘pork is pork,’ while you enjoy this wild beast with no reservations.
2. Whole Turkey
A whole turkey is definitely unmatched. In my opinion, it’s perfect for smoking. Smoked turkey comes out really well. For us, it’s a special family meal. As you may already know that there is a bird for every budget. I generally go for the wild one. No, it doesn’t remind me of my wife. Generally speaking, a wild turkey will bring more flavors to the table. Since no two turkeys are of the same size, you will have to adjust the temperature while cooking them.
I always brine them before smoking, which really contributes to the taste and flavor. I suggest you to go that route as well. The standard rule says that we need to brine it for at least one hour for every pound of meat. You need to smoke the turkey at 275-300 degrees, 15 minutes for every pound. The turkey is safe to be eaten when it passes through the critical temperature of (40°-140° F) in 4 hours or less. Also, don’t forget to use the right wood to smoke a turkey. I am accustomed to apple, cherry, hickory, and oak.
Compared to beef, pork, or chicken, goat is far leaner and healthier choice of meat. Goats have low levels of saturated fat and cholesterol on them. Not to forget the fact that they are high in iron and protein content. So, they are sure to grace your dinner table like nothing else. I prefer to inspect the meat physically, so I haunt the local market myself to secure the best goat meat in town. Meat from a spring goat should be the best bet over here.
How do goats taste when smoked? Believe me; they turn out really well. Just make sure that you don’t get young goats that are less than one year old. From personal experience, I can tell that older goats have a stronger taste to them when smoked right. They need to go under low temperature. Yes, low and moist heat is preferred while smoking goats. Of course, brine the goat first for one hour per pound. A suitable smoking temperature would be 200 degrees F for nearly 1 hour per pound.
I enjoy deer meat more than the guy next door simply because I smoke it perfectly. My freezer is often stocked with deer meat. As a matter of fact, we raised our kids on deer meat for the most part. What else would you expect from a deer hunting family? Deer is leaner than beef, and a tad bit tough too. The toughness can be avoided by not overcooking them. The deer that we consume are raised mostly on fruit, alfalfa, corn, etc. So, they taste similar to beef when smoked. Remember, how you prepare the deer will influence the taste to a great extent.
I generally trim off all the fat and brine it overnight before firing up the smoker. Of course, there are endless ways to brining. The basic ingredients are the same, water, sugar, and salt. I brine it for at least 12 hours. Once taken off the refrigerator, I rinse it dry to make it smoker-ready. The ideal smoker temperature over here would be 250-300 degrees. I generally keep a stock of wood chips ready to give the meat a nutty, rich flavor. I prefer making use of hardwoods such as walnut, apple, or pecan because they smoke for long. I smoke the deer for nearly 1.5 hours per lb. of meat or until the smoker reaches140°F internal temperature.
No fish out there is as smoker friendly as salmon. Therefore, it deserves a mention over here. The flesh is loaded with proteins and minerals. Furthermore, smoking salmon is not difficult at all, and it takes far lesser time than beef, chicken, dear, or any other meat. When you are able to lay your hands on a large fish, you should know that you are in luck because it can be smoked really well. To begin with, you will have to prepare brine and place the fish in the refrigerator for at least eight hours.
Then, it needs to be air-dried for few hours at room temperature. As the fish dries, prepare the smoker to maintain a temperature of 150-160 degrees F. Depending on the thickness of the fish, the cooking duration will vary from 1 to 3 hours. Cooking should be done when the salmon registers a temperature of 140°F at its thickest point. Remove it from the hood to be treated with a delicious fish, which can be achieved only by smoking the salmon.