Smoking Meat at Home

Even without professional equipment, smoking meat at home can be done in a variety of ways.

  • Bacon
    Bacon is one of the most familiar smoked meats. If you want to try smoking meat at home, you can enjoy fresh bacon made on your own grill.
    Photo by Fotolia/igor
  • Charcuterie
    Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn share the techniques of salting, smoking and curing meat in “Charcuterie,” from classic to contemporary recipes.
    Cover courtesy W. W. Norton & Company

  • Bacon
  • Charcuterie

Charcuterie (W. W. Norton & Company, 2005), by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn, is a comprehensive guide to smoking, curing, brining and preserving meat. Classic and contemporary charcuterie recipes are presented with clear illustrations and instructions so even beginners can enjoy the rich flavors of cured and smoked meats.

We smoke foods to give them a great flavor. Smoked meat and fish also take on an appetizing caramel-brown hue. Hot dogs are brown, not pasty looking, because they’re smoked. While the smoke coating does have some preservative effects by making the surface of the meat acidic, thereby discouraging the growth of unwanted microorganisms and bacteria, smoke is not used to preserve foods the way drying and salting are. Smoking may have become part of the charcutier’s trade because of its initial preservative nature, but we continue to smoke food because of the fine color and flavor it gives to dried and cooked foods, and especially to pork.

Smoke is flavor. It’s why we love barbecued ribs, chicken on the grill, burgers cooked over open flame. Smoke is what gives bacon its depth. It’s the reason smoked ham hocks are so good with beans or long-simmered greens. Cure salmon in your refrigerator, then smoke it, and you will have transformed it into something truly special. Jalapeño peppers, when smoked, become chipotle peppers, one of the great seasoning elements of Southwestern cuisine. Smoke not only elevates a ham, in many cases the type of smoke used determines the kind of ham it is and the regional nuances that distinguish it. Was it smoked over American hickory and apple wood, traditional woods for the American hams, or over the beech and juniper of Westphalia, Germany? Smoke can describe a culinary tradition and the spirit of the terroir.

The smoking environment may be hot, in which case it cooks the meat or fish while enhancing its flavor (as with Canadian bacon), or it may be cold, so the food remains uncooked but takes on a smoky flavor (as with smoked salmon). Smoking at or below 100 degrees F/37 degrees C is cold-smoking; smoking at between 150 and 200 degrees F/65 and 93 degrees C is hot-smoking. Meat or sausages that are hot-smoked cook gently for a long time while being flavored by the smoke. They can then be eaten immediately or chilled and later reheated. Pan-smoking (smoking on your stovetop) and smoke-roasting (as in a cylindrical smoker or barbecue grill) occur at temperatures of 300 degrees F/150 degrees C.
or more.

Salmon is typically cold-smoked, ideally at a temperature below 90 degrees F/32 degrees C; if the smoke were hotter, it would cook the fish and drastically change its texture. Some dry-cured sausages, such as pepperoni and Spanish chorizo, are cold-smoked before being hung to dry. Smoked kielbasa and other hot-smoked sausages are hung in the smoker until fully cooked.

3/24/2020 1:33:42 PM

Thoughts on the handheld smoke infusers?

Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

50 Years of Money-Saving Tips!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS for 50 years and counting, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters