SMOKING BASICS

Craving that great smoked flavour?

Hot smoking food on the braai not only tenderises it, but also infuses it with a wonderful rich flavour. Don’t let the extra stuff required put you off as hot smoking on the braai is easy to learn.

If you want to try out smoking on your regular grill, our guide below will get you started. We’ve also provided tips for beginners and a Smoking Woods Chart to help you match the right woods with specific foods.

WOOD

Start by soaking your wood in water — chunks need soaking for at least an hour, chips (including wine barrel chips) and aromatic twigs (grape vines or fruit wood twigs) need only 30 minutes. Shake off all excess water before adding them to your fire. You can find smoking woods in hardware stores and home centres or, if you’re lucky, your own backyard. Wine barrel chips are available in specialty food stores and gift shops, as well as some hardware stores. (See our chart below of available wood types.)

WATER

Water adds moisture to the smoking process so meats come out flavourful and tender. If you’re using a traditional smoker with a water pan, try adding barbecue sauce, marinades, wine, beer, fruit juices, or herbs and spices to the water pan for additional flavour. Be sure to keep the water pan full. For large roasts and turkeys, you may have to add water to the pan a couple of times during braaing. You can use a water pan with charcoal and gas grills, too. Check the water pan when you add charcoal. A watering can makes replenishing easy. When smoking cheese, add ice to the water pan so the cheese doesn’t melt above it.

FOOD

Place food in the centre of the cooking grate above the water pan (if you are using one). Remember that smoke and heat escape every time you peek into the grill, so add 15 minutes to cooking time for each peek (more if you are smoking in cold weather). Boneless meats, such as beef brisket and pork shoulder, will shrink considerably during smoke-cooking, unless they have a heavy layering of fat (which you can simply cut off before serving). Consider cooking your menu up to two days before serving as the smoke flavour becomes richer in the refrigerator. That’s why smoked foods make great leftovers.

PREPARING A CHARCOAL OR GAS GRILL

Virtually all Weber Gas Barbecues can be equipped with or are sold with a smoker attachment (exceptions: Spirit Series and Genesis Junior). The smoker attachment makes it easy to turn your barbecue grill into a hot smoker although you can also improvise with a foil pan.

Before preheating your grill, simply fill the water pan on the smoker attachment with hot tap water. Place pre-soaked wood chunks or chips/twigs in the other compartment or in a foil pan directly on the Flavorizer Bars over the lit burner (use a separate pan for water if you are using a foil pan for the wood pieces).

Begin cooking after preheating and when the grill is fully smoking. You can get a smoker attachment for your grill by visiting your local dealer, or calling Weber Customer Service on (011) 454 2369. Please have your grill model number available.

COMBINING WOODS

Try combining woods as you get more experienced for unique and flavourful results.

BRAAING TOOLS

Use tongs and barbecue mitts to add charcoal, turn meats, refill the water pan or adjust the vents.

CHARCOAL INFUSED

Do not use charcoal infused with starter fluid as it can add an unpleasant taste to your smoked foods.

EXPERIMENT WITH WOOD

Experiment with different woods and meats until you find the right combination for your taste.

Keep a smoker’s notebook while experimenting. Jot down ingredients, wood amounts and combinations, and results, so you can repeat successes. Unless, of course, you want to keep your best recipes a secret!

Use a meat thermometer to make sure smoke-cooked foods are done, but not overcooked. Smoke-cooked foods look different than other grilled or oven-prepared foods. They may be pink or red when completely cooked, for example, apple wood will make cooked chicken look red.

Start with a small amount of wood to see how you like the flavour and then add more for more intense smoky taste. Be careful not to overdo it, though: too much wood smoke over long periods can make food taste bitter.

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