PLEASE VOTE SLOW FOOD COOK CONTEST @ TOP RIGHT!
This Instructable will show how to use an Electric Smoker to SLOW COOK a variety of meat and portions for multiple meals for the family.
Additionally, the Smoked Soup Bones are a great SNACK for your favorite Canine!
In one afternoon you can prepare several servings of meat for a large group or several meals. What you do not eat immediately you can freeze and warm up later for another day of delicious smoked meats!
Prepared in this Instructable are:
• 3 slabs of pork back ribs
• 2 pork tender loins
• 8 beef soup bones (a favorite treat for our Labrador Retriever)
With Summer just around the corner this is a great way to spend the day smoking meats. But, I often smoke foods throughout the year, even in freezing weather, to keep the freezer full of delicious smoked meals.
For those who love smoked meats but have yet try smoking themselves, an electric smoker is a great way to get started. It really is easy and the reward is great food.
Step 1: Stuff You Need Besides the Meat
Electric Smoker: The Masterbuilt 30 inch smoker was a gift from about 5 years ago. This model can be found at many big box stores ranging in price from $189 - $229 I have smoked countless pounds of meat in this smoker. It has a digital thermostat and timer. Some models have a window feature. But, from what I have read that is a useless feature as the window will just become blackened over time from the smoking process. So... save your money on windowless. This model uses wood chips.
Cherry Wood Chips: Many big box stores also carry the wood chips. I prefer using fruit tree wood such as cherry or apple. Of course you can go chop your own wood if you wish.
Wood chip soaking pan: Wood chips should be soaked in water prior to placing in smoker.
Digital Thermometer: My recommendation to anybody starting off smoking meats is to get a quality cooking thermometer. Beginners should not rely on recommended cooking times when smoking meats. It is all about TEMPERATURE of the meat, not time. I repeat... it is all about TEMPERATURE I learned the hard way by turning my first batch of jerky into tree bark.
Favorite Meat Rub: Whatever rub you prefer... use it. Don't skimp either. Cover that meat and rub it in. There are a variety of rubs on the market. The more you smoke the more you can experiment with the taste you prefer. Truthfully though... its all about the SMOKE! In a quick bind my local grocery store usually carries some flavor of McCormick Grill Mates brand.
Chip Soaking Pan: Any container will do that holds water where you can soak your would chips.
Step 2: We Got the Meat!
- 3 slabs of pork back ribs
- 2 pork tender loins
- 8 beef soup bones
The rib slabs (14 ribs) I will cut into 1/2 slabs (7 ribs) for the sake of fitting them into the smoker. That seems like a standard serving size as well.
Two smoked pork tender loins for another meal of your choice.
The beef soup bones are 100% for our Labrador Retriever. A great treat for him once in awhile that keeps him occupied for at least 2 hours. The bone really does last a long time after he cleans the meat and marrow from the bone as a chew toy and keeps his teeth clean. I'd rather give him a $1.50 bone than a $20 chew toy or my shoe.
Step 3: Prepare the Meat!
Give yourself plenty of room to work. The wife usually leaves the house or stays out of the kitchen when I start prepping as I usually use up all the counter space with meat and pans.
- Use a flat dish to spread out your rub. I usually use a rub as a base and sprinkle in some other ingredients to make it special!
- Place the meat in the rub and work the rub in with your hands. Be generous with the amount of rub you use.
- Once you have applied rub to all the meat... throw it in the fridge over night and let it marinade. Rub is going to help obviously with flavor, but also helps tenderize the meat.
- The next morning bring all your meat out of the fridge and let come back naturally to room temp. If you do not do this your smoking time will be extended.
No prep needed. But, be sure they are thawed before placing in smoker. Our local butchers sells them frozen.
Step 4: Prepare the Smoker!
- Start soaking your chips! If you have the bagged chips you will want to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes prior to placing in the smoker. Longer soak times are fine as well. By soaking them in water it allows the chips to smoke rather than just burn up to ash.
- My smoker has a water/drip pan. I fill mine about 1/2 way with water before placing in the smoker. The water in the pan steams and helps keep the meat from drying out during the smoking process. Keep in mind when you smoke meats it is for an extended time. So without the water you can turn meat into a dry piece of leather or tree bark.
- Set your smoker temperature. I like to smoke low and slow at 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Close the door and let the smoker get to your cooking temperature.
- FYI... for some reason my camera was not able take a picture of the actual digital reading of the display. It should read 226F and not 26F as the image shows.
Just remember when you are smoking foods.... LOW (heat) and SLOW on time.
Step 5: Add Your Meat!
Pack your smoker with meat!
If you have freezer space, pack your smoker full. Eat some now, save some for later!
Keeping in mind the DONE TEMPERATURES of the meats, I place the beef bones at the top. The beef bones will be done first at about 145-150F. Because pork done temp is about 165F, I put pork below the beef.
Why do I care?
The meat will drip as it cooks. I do not want the uncooked drippings (unsafe) from pork dripping on the bones.
Step 6: Add Wood Chips
- Pull the wood chip feeder out from the side of the smoker.
- Grab a handful of chips from the soaking pan and squeeze excess water from chips.
- Add chips to feeder.
- Insert chip feeder into smoker and turn to empty chips into the chip pan.
- Check to be sure your smoke vent is completely OPEN!
- Go find something to do for about an hour.
- After one hour, repeat procedure to add one more handful of wood chips to feeder.
- Enjoy the aroma of your meat smoking.
- Go relax for another hour.
Over the full cooking time, I only use wood chips to smoke the first two hours. The rest of the cooking time is just that. Slow Cooking!
Step 7: Check Meat Temps
At this time Pork Tender Loins are Done!
Beef Soup Bones are Done!
After about 2.5 hours give a temperature check of any small portions of meat. Specific to the pork loins, they should be done at about 2.5 hours or less.
Depending on what meats you are smoking, know your DONE Temps.
Remember Time is only a guide line. Check the temps. Time will differ based on your smoker. Also, you will need to learn the difference in temp in your smoker. Stuff at the top of my smoker will cook faster than stuff on the bottom rack.
Step 8: Check Ribs
At 3.4 to 4 hours ribs should be done. Looking for a safe temp of 165F.
Let them cool before wrapping to freeze for later use.
Cover them with your favorite sauce and give them a little char on the grill.
Step 9: Enjoy!
Throw your ribs on a plate with your favorite side and enjoy!
Step 10: The Bones! Snack Time for Zeke!
Let the bones cool for about an hour.
Throw your dog a bone!
Freeze the rest for later.
Your dog will love this snack treat for several hours.
Step 11: Summary
Overall, learning to cook Low and Slow in an electric smoker is pretty simple. It just takes time. They payoff is tremendous if you loved smoked food. My family and friends swear my ribs are the best they have ever had. Last summer we went to a local rib burn-off and my family was really disappointed in the "Award Winning" ribs we were buying for $2 a bone. They were basically dried up meat. Little flavor and dry.
With Father's Day coming soon... This could be a great gift for Dad. I love mine and the family loves what I cook in it.
Hope somebody finds this useful.
Would love to hear the "purists" who go non-electric smoker to find out the difference in cook.