Points to remember about electric smoking
Electric smokers are becoming more popular with outdoor chefs. The key is the use of smoldering wood chips over the heat source.
Smoking food is simple
Smoking food is fairly similar to a marinade in that it flavors the food. Smoke from wood chips covers the food and seasons the outside portion. Eventually, seasoning added to the food is absorbed into the food, creating flavor.
This is a much slower process than regular barbecuing and is done at lower temperatures. The low heat level ensures that food won't become overdone. Pork cooked at 160 degrees, for instance, will come out juicy and tender.
Most Brinkman smokers have a heat source at the bottom, upon which wood chips are placed for various flavorings.
Selecting the right wood chips for your cooker
Wood chips provide the flavor for the food. Each type of wood yields a different flavor, and some are better suited for certain meats and fish than others. You can choose from alder, apple and cherry, hickory, maple, mesquite, and pecan.
You can find recipes for Meco or Bradley electric smokers online or at any bookstore. The user's guide usually includes recipes. Here is a sample:
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon crushed black peppercorns
- 2 large salmon fillets or sides, pin bones removed
In a bowl, mix together salt, sugar, brown sugar and peppercorns. Spread extra-wide aluminum foil a little longer than the length of the fish and top with an equally long layer of plastic wrap. Sprinkle 1/3 of the rub onto the plastic. Lay one side of the fish skin down onto the rub. Sprinkle 1/3 of the rub onto the flesh of the salmon. Place second side of salmon, flesh down onto the first side. Use the remaining rub to cover the skin on the top piece. Fold plastic over to cover then close edges of foil together and crimp tightly around the fish.
Place wrapped fish onto a plank or sheet pan and top with another plank or pan. Weigh with a heavy phone book or a brick or two and refrigerate for 12 hours. Flip the fish over and refrigerate another 12 hours. Some juice will leak out during the process so make sure there's a place for the runoff to gather.
Unwrap fish and rinse off the cure with cold water. Pat salmon with paper towels then place in a cool, dry place (not the refrigerator) until the surface of the fish is dry and matte-like, one to three hours depending on humidity. A fan may be used to speed the process.
Smoke fish over smoldering hardwood chips or sawdust, keeping the temperature inside the smoker between 150 degrees F and 160 degrees until the thickest part of the fish registers 150 degrees. Serve immediately or cool to room temperature, wrap tightly and refrigerate for up to three days.