84°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

Smoke brings out best of barbecue season

We’re about to enjoy a glorious three-day weekend. Memorial Day is our opportunity to honor the brave men and women who gave their lives serving in the armed forces. We celebrate their memory with friends and loved ones. Where people gather, there shall be food. Let’s make sure it’s good food.

It’s time to bust out the barbecue for the official, unofficial start of summer. Total foodie that I am, I’m blessed to know some very knowledgeable pit masters who have shared their expertise with me over the years. I’m happy to share with you.

Today, I’ll focus on smoking and barbecuing meats. Smoking involves slow cooking meat using wood smoke with indirect heat at around 225 F. Low and slow is the way to go. Barbecue means slow cooking meats through either direct or indirect heat, utilizing charcoal at around 350 F, with the lid closed. If you’re lookin’ you ain’t cookin’.

Ideal types of meat for this kind of cooking are the larger or tougher cuts of meats that require longer cooking times like brisket, tri tip, pork shoulder, ribs or whole chickens. Let smoke be the star of the show. Season simply with a dry brine of ½ teaspoon kosher salt per pound of meat.

While charcoal delivers heat, wood smoke brings flavor. There are lots of choices when it comes to pairing wood with meats to create different flavor profiles. Mild woods like alder pair with everything, even fish. Sweet fruity woods like apple and cherry go well with pork and poultry. Hickory, pecan, oak and mesquite have stronger flavors and go with everything if you don’t oversmoke your meat. They come in sizes from hardwood pellets, small woodchips to bigger chunks of wood, depending on the type of smoker or charcoal grill you have.

We’ve all been told to soak our wood before adding it to the coals. Honestly, it’s unnecessary. For wood to combust and smoke it must rise above 570 F. Wet wood steams, stalling the temperature of the wood at 212 F until the water evaporates. Also, adding wet wood lowers the cooking temperature. You want to keep a consistent temperature because fluctuations aren’t good for tender juicy cuts of meat.

The smoke you want is an almost invisible, bluish colored smoke. Cured, dry hardwood burns and produces that kind of smoke.

Don’t oversmoke the meat. Most meats don’t need more than half their cooking time in smoke. Finish cooking the meat using heat from the coals or finish in a low oven.

You don’t need a smoker to smoke meats. To smoke meat on a charcoal grill, you need two heat zones: direct and indirect. Prepare the grill by placing half the amount of charcoal you’d typically use on one half of the grill. This is the direct zone and the reduced amount of coals helps keep the temperature appropriately low (225 F).

On the indirect side, place an aluminum pan filled with about a quart of water. This helps regulate temperature and adds humidity. When the coals are ready, toss some wood chips or chunks onto the coals, place meat on the indirect side and close the lid with the vents open. Use the vents to help regulate the temperature.

Which brings me to the most important tip: Cook with a thermometer, not with a clock. Invest in a digital probe thermometer. Just 10 degrees can make the difference between juicy and dried out.

While smoking does take some knowledge, it shouldn’t be seen as difficult. If you’re a beginner, start with a pork shoulder or whole chicken. With a little time and practice, everyone can do this.

Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is a recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas On A Dime — Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
 
Boulder’s Best: Great places to play tourist at home

With the arrival Friday, June 21, of summer, the time when many people take vacations and travel, it’s also a great opportunity for those in Boulder City to play tourist in their town. To help residents decide where to go and what to do, we here at the Boulder City Review have compiled a list of places in town to play tourist. This list provides a variety of options and is not exhaustive.

Surprise ingredient makes easiest jam ever

I remember every summer my mom would make the best jams and jellies with all the perfectly ripe seasonal fruits. She made strawberry, peach, plum, apricot and even strawberry rhubarb jam.

Chamber recognizes business leaders

The Boulder City Chamber of Commerce recently held its annual installation and awards program where several local businesses and community members were honored.

Seen on Scene: At the Chamber Awards and Installation

City Councilwoman Peggy Leavitt, in back, spends some time with Judge Victor Miller and his wife, Cora-Lee Miller, at the Boulder City Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards and installation ceremony June 12 at The Patio at Chilly Jilly’z.

Names in the News, June 20

Lehr named to dean’s list at Wisconsin college

Community Briefs, June 20

Library to present shows on Einstein, magic

Senior Center, June 20

Hours of operation: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday at 813 Arizona St., 702-293-3320. Visit the center’s website at www.seniorcenterbouldercity.org.

Scheppmanns serve side by side

Side by side by side. That’s how Doug Scheppmann and his sons, Tony and Scott, work and serve together.

Lifesaving message goes global

Next week, people in Boulder City can participate in something fun, free and educational with the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson.

Popcorn ceiling removal can pose health risks

The dreaded popcorn ceiling, aka cottage cheese, stucco, etc., has long fallen out of favor in the design world. That objectionable lumpy surface — dated, dust collecting, difficult to clean — is something most homeowners can’t wait to get rid of. We are familiar with this angst as many of our houses were constructed during a time when “popcorn” wasn’t just for eating.