The summer season brings birds chirping, flowers blooming, pool swimming and not to mention, the smell of barbecued meat. Electric smokers have become a hit for people who absolutely love smoked and charred food; be it veggies, meat, chicken or fish. and compared to charcoal-used appliances, this can be easily used at home too. However, if you intend to use wood pellets, it is better to take it outside as the smoke may make your house too hot to bear.
An electric smoker is an outdoor cooking appliance that is easier to clean than charcoal-used grills. The electric rods are the source of heat and just like in an oven the temperature can be controlled. It comes with wood-trays for adding wood chips or pellets for a strong smoking flavor to the food being cooked.
So if you have an electric smoker or are planning to get one, and you want to get maximum use out of it, you’ve come to the right place. A few pointers will make you become a pro in your kitchen or backyard and people will absolutely keep talking about your food for ages.
- Selecting and purchasing an Electric Smoker
If you have already got one, you can skip this point and move on to the next. If you’re a beginner and confused about purchasing, you can look up online for the different types of smokers and make an informed decision on the right one.
- Clean and Season the Smoker
When you purchase a smoker for the first time, always remember to start it off empty. A lot of chemicals, solvents, and whatnot were probably used to manufacture and to clean it. So to avoid those getting into your food, first heat it empty. By doing this you avoid the chemical solvent which may seep into your food giving it a strong smell.
After that, throw in your slab of meat or chicken or veggies and start smoking. However, after you’re done cooking, make sure you clean it before using it again, as tiny pieces of meat may get stuck up there and become burnt and blackened. When you use it again, those pieces may get attached to your food, giving off a burnt and bitter flavor, which should completely be avoided. In addition, the presentation does not look good when you have black flecks on your food.
- Temperature Fluctuations
This happens with all-electric smokers. If you set up a fixed temperature, the heat will rise up to that point and then the thermostat stops and decreases the temperature. However, due to residual heat, the temperature inside will rise a bit more before eventually coming down and then start up again.
With this procedure, the electric smoker has to put up extra effort to heat up the coils again, hence leading to unevenly cooked food.
Now there is a trick to help you with this problem. Set up the temperature a little low, for instance, 200F instead of 230F, and then when it reaches 200F, you can just turn it up to 230F to make sure the food gets cooked evenly and quickly.
- Too much smoke: good or bad?
Some people would say that the more the smoke wafts out of the smoker, the better the flavor of the food. However, when using it for the first time, it is always recommended to use little amounts of wood chips around the tray other than filling it up, which would not pressurize the smoker and also give a good strong flavor to the food.
- Types of Wood Chips
The heating rods in your smoker will cook your food but for extra flavor, wood chips can be added in the tray. The flavor of your food depends not only on seasonings but on the types of wood pellets or chips that you use if you choose to use it? There are many types available such as Alder, Mesquite, Pecan, Maple, Oak, etc. Each one of these gives a different kind of flavor to the food. So it is up to you to decide what flavor you would prefer for the kind of food you are going to cook.
However, if you are using wood chips in the electric smoker, it is recommended to use the appliance outside as there’ll be a lot of smoke coming out of it and may make it really hot to stay inside the kitchen and eventually, in the house.
Electric smokers have dampers or vents that can be used to let the heat out. This allows oxygen to reach inside and raises the temperature. Doing this issues a lot of heat and smoke to escape so it is a good idea to cook outside where the smoke will be able to get out and let the oxygen in to heat the pellets.
- Experiment with woods
In addition with all the seasonings and marinades on the food, you can always try switching or mixing up different kinds of wood together to get a strong flavor. For instance, meat tastes better with all kinds of wood except for apple. For chicken, all kinds of woods except oak and maple will give the food a better taste. Fish is tasty with alder and mesquite and veggies with a mix-up of hickory, maple and pecan wood chips.
So try out different ways and different mixes for fragrant food and you’ll be surprised by the flavors it can create.
Cooking food in an electric smoker requires a good amount of time. So whenever you think you have enough time on your hands and you’re craving smoked chicken or meat, crank up the smoker, prepare your seasonings and let the appliance do the work.
Also, instead of being huddled in the house, take the appliance outside and cook up a storm, hence giving yourself a cooking space. Bring out patio furniture, soak in the sun, and drink ice-cold lemonades while your meat is cooking. Perfect for long weekends, don’t you think?