Category Archives for Smokers

How to Smoke Salmon?

Prepping Time: 15 m

Cooking Time: 4 hr

Total Time: 4 hr 15 m

Originally done as a method of preservation, smoking salmon has went through a lot of innovation in the recent years. Instead of its former purpose, it has now become an essential ingredient for countless recipes including those of pasta, quiches, pâtés, and even salads.

If you want to take your cooking to the next level, you need to know how to smoke fish, especially salmon as it is the most commonly used seafood for this purpose.

What do you need to get started?

Prior to getting your salmon all smoked up, there are a number of things that you need to make sure are present with you. Now, if you don't have one of these, it is OKAY, you can buy it if you want or ignore it. The ingredients and items that we are mentioning here are the ones that we think are imperative for getting the ideal results for your smoked salmon.

Nevertheless, like we always recommend, feel free to experiment around to get the best possible recipe that you love.

High Quality Smoker

This is the most neglected step whenever it comes to smoking food. You need to make sure that the smoker you have, or if you plan to buy it, is of the best possible quality. This is for three vital reasons:

  • Ability to sustain high temperatures

When you buy a smoker, you need to consider all the kinds of recipe that you are going to try. It might be that you initially bought it for smoking fish but later thought about getting some pork done too. The point to note here is that you need a less intense temperature to smoke fish in comparison with pork, venison or turkey. If your smoker breaks down after consistent cooking sessions, then it is not worth the money.

For a coal-fueled smoker, we recommend the Dyna-Glo company (as shown in the picture above). If you are looking for an electric one, Masterbuilt is your perfect companion.

  • Presence of an efficient system for temperature control

You don't want your salmon burned up or smoked up too quickly. The smoker you use must have a control system, a knob or something with which you can regulate the heat easily in accordance with how quickly or slowly you want to cook the fish.

Generally, we recommend using a medium temperature, even though it takes longer time, that will allow your salmon to fully absorb the warmth and become tender from inside out.

  • Durability and sturdiness which won't betray

You are not going to be smoking salmon for once in your lifetime. Besides, fish is not the only food which you will be working on (in the future). Therefore, remember that quality comes at a price. If you really are passionate about cooking and want to impress your friends and family, spending some bucks won't disappoint you, that's for sure!

Kosher Salt

This is for the preservation and taste purposes. You cannot use the common table salt for this as its full of iodide and anti-caking agents which may give an awkward metallic taste to your salmon.

If you don't have kosher salt, you can use pickling salt. It is the pure form of granulated salt and is non-iodized with no unnecessary agents.

Container

You need to put your salmon on something that is non-reactive (glass or plastic), clean and wide enough to accommodate the fish pieces on it without crowding. The container you use can be of any size as long as it is not too tall and fits inside your fridge effortlessly.

Sweetener

If you haven't tried to use a sweetening agent for your fish, you are missing a lot of delicious and mouth-watering experience. You can use anything from common honey to maple syrup and birch syrup. The latter is preferred for its taste, but then it depends on your preferences as well. This will be added (according to your liking) into the brine which you will be making for your salmon.

Wired Grid

This will be placed on the surface of the container such that it doesn't fall inside it but remains over it with its edges resting on those of the container. The brined salmon needs loads of air circulation to form the pellicle around it. It also needs to remain fresh so we need to use something which has space inside it (container) and a grid, to place the salmon pieces on, with lots of open areas. This will ensure that the fish is getting proper air from all the sides.

Basting Brush

You can get this from any superstore or online shopping sites. This will be required for various purposes, one of which will be the oiling up of the salmon before putting it in the smoker.

What to do?

The process of smoking salmon is simple as long as you have all the required ingredients and items along with you. Here are the precise steps that you should be following for a successful outcome:

1) Cure the salmon: create the brine with the ingredients of your choice, our recipe will be mentioned below in the FAQs section. Add it in a non-reactive container (glass or plastic) and put the fish pieces in it. Cover the container and put it in the refrigerator. This step will ensure all the internal moisture of the fish is eliminated and the taste and spices of the brine, along with salt, are infused in it.

2) Leave it for some time: the refrigerated salmon will need time to fully cure. For normal-sized thin pieces, the process will take around 4-5 hours to complete. If you are using a thick fillet, expect to let it alone for 8-12 hours. If you are using a really thick one, the likes of chinook salmon (also known as king salmon), then you must leave it for about 30-36 hours. Make sure never to cross the duration of 48 hours or the fish will absorb in too much salt and get its taste ruined.

3) Let the fish dry: you should now take the salmon out of the brine and pat it dry. Place the wired grid on the container and put the fish on it and let it dry under a high-speed ceiling fan. If you want, you can also dry it in the refrigerator overnight. This step is super essential in smoking the salmon correctly. Many beginners fail to do this either out of laziness or negligence and end up making a not-so-nice smoked salmon.

4) Smoke the salmon: use a basting brush to oil every inch of the fish so that it doesn't stick to the surface of the smoker's rack. Now start the smoker with a low flame and increase it gradually, depending on the condition of the salmon. Do not rush with this step or otherwise you may notice white substance extracting out of the fish. This is called albumin and it's nothing to worry about as long as it is not in an excessive amount. We recommend you to start with 140°F, slowly increase it till 150°F for an hour and then finally go to a maximum of 175°F and keep it for another hour or two.

5) Apply the sweetening agent: this may be maple syrup, birch syrup or honey. Use whatever is available and whatever you like the best. Although, birch syrup generally makes the salmon taste much more better.

You need to apply the sweetener every hour or so with the basting brush. Make sure to brush away any white substance first and then coat the syrup.

6) Cool the fish and serve it: the smoked salmon is now to be cooled under a ceiling fan for an hour. In this step, do not use refrigerator to cool it. By cooling here, we mean to get rid of the excessive heat as it just came off the smoker.

Once done, you can serve it with anything or use it as an ingredient in another recipe. If you want to use it later, feel free to store it by wrapping a plastic around it. This will allow it to last around 10 days before going bad. If you vacuum-seal it, your salmon will be capable of surviving for 3 weeks.

How do I make brine?

Brine has several recipes, each of it with its own taste and ingredients. Ranging from the most basic which is usable anywhere, to the most advanced ones which need precision to learn.

For smoking salmon, we'll be using a basic flavored recipe of brine with the least amount of ingredients so you can easily make it. 

  • 2 cups of water 
  • 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt (you can add more to your liking)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of sweetening agent  
  • (Optional) any sauce that you may desire

FAQs

I don't have a sweetening agent, except for honey and I'm not a big fan of it. Is it necessary to use it?

No, it is not at all necessary to use any kind of sweetening liquids. It is just a tradition to do so when smoking salmon. What matters in the end is whether you are happy with the end results. If it is without any sweeteners, so be it.

Should I smoke the salmon with or without its skin?

Doesn't matter. It depends on how you like it. No difference is made to the taste.

I used the temperature as per your instructions. There still was a lot of white substance (albumin) coming out of the salmon. What went wrong?

It could be that you used frozen fish. They tend to "bleed" more than the fresh ones. Anyhow, don't worry too much, just keep following the instructions and you should be fine.

Can I cool off my fish in the outdoors instead of under a ceiling fan or a refrigerator?

You sure can. It's just that we don't want the flying dirt particles in the air to land on your beautiful salmon so that's why we didn't mention this method.

Do I use wood or charcoal to smoke my salmon?

You can use either of them. Charcoal tends to give a BBQ-ish kind of taste while wood doesn't give anything of its own to the fish.

What do you suggest for smoking other kinds of fish?

Generally, salmon and sea bass are the best ones to smoke. Leaner fish tend to take more attention and hard-work in ensuring nothing goes wrong. You can also try tuna and sailfish.

Conclusion

Smoking fish is not a difficult job at all. In fact, once you become good at it, we bet you'll want to smoke every kind of food to see what comes out of it.

Just remember that different kinds of foods take different kinds of ways to smoke them. Meat such as beef, pork and venison take more time and different methods to properly smoke. Fish, on the other hand, are the most commonly smoked food due to their ease of handling and simple-to-use recipes.

How to Smoke Turkey?

Min Prep Time: 5 hr

Min Cooking Time: 30 m

Total Time: 5 hr 30 m

Turkey is one of the most widely consumed poultry dish in North America and Canada. Even though it is commonly cooked on Thanksgiving and Christmas events, knowing how to cook turkey can be a delicious addition to the list of recipes you know.

One thing about meat like turkey and pork, especially contrary to seafood, is the amount of time it takes to smoke. To get the perfect possible results, make sure to thoroughly read the instructions we have written.

What do you need to get started?

Not to sound quirky, but spare at least a day or two before getting started on cooking the turkey. Patience, attention to details and punctuality are the main mental ingredients on which the success of a delicious turkey will depend.

Other than that, if you are a regular griller, it is expected that you'll already be having all the other ingredients and items that we are about to mention. If not, that's OKAY. You can get the required things at a pretty cheap cost from any large superstore.

Without further ado, let's get started.

Magic Dust BBQ Seasoning

Invented by the winner of Grand World Championship Cooking title, Mile Mills' Magic Dust seasoning can be used anywhere and everywhere. If you are a grilling or smoking geek, you need to have this with you as it takes every food to the next level and revolutionizes the taste.

On the internet, you are likely to find various recipes of this. Indeed, many modifications have been made to Magic Dust's ingredients but the one we are going to give you is the original one, as used by Mile Mills. We are going to create a jar-full of this so if you want, you can modify the values and make lesser or more.

31/2 tablespoons of cumin seeds (ground)
31/2 tablespoons of sugar (white or brown, your choice)
31/2 tablespoons of kosher salt
61/2 tablespoons of paprika powder
2 tablespoons of mustard powder
2 tablespoons of black pepper (ground)
31/2 tablespoons of garlic (ground)
2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper (ground)
31/tablespoons of chili powder

Kosher Salt

Salt is one of the most essential preserving ingredients when it comes to grilling or smoking. Absence of it can be a deal-breaker but the usage of the wrong one can be an even bigger one.

It is highly recommended to use kosher salt which has no anti-caking agents and is non-iodized. Using the typical table salt can give an "off" taste to the meat, making all the preparation and cooking hard-work useless.

Aluminium Foil

There will be an occasion during the smoking of turkey where it will need to be rested for at least 20-30 minutes. The challenge is that it should not lose too much of its heat such that it loses its tenderness or becomes cold.

Aluminium foil, also known as tin foil, is an excellent heat absorption solution. You can loosely wrap it around the turkey and it will work as a high quality insulator for you while balancing the air circulation so neither does the food remain too hot or too cold. 

Meat Thermometer

An essential skill in grilling and smoking is the precision of temperature and timing. A few degrees up or a few degrees down and your turkey is likely to be altered from what you desire it to be.

Having a digital meat thermometer can solve this problem. It comes at a cost-effective price, it is durable, easy to use and reliable. In addition, this can also assist in you timing as to how long your turkey should remain under a certain temperature. There is not a timer function in a thermometer but that can be done separately. 

What cannot be done separately is checking the temperatures of specific parts of the turkey like its thighs. Some parts cook quicker than the others so the regular manipulation of temperature is vital in avoiding burning.

Chicken Stock

You can either choose to make this yourself or buy it pre-made from a superstore. However, we always recommend making things fresh and besides, it's not difficult to make either. It is very similar to chicken broth, which is made out of the chicken's meat, except that this is made out of the leftover bones of it.

To make a basic flavored chicken stock, here is what you need to do.

Ingredients

-3 cups of water
-A handful of leftover chicken bones either from a raw or a cooked chicken (depends on you)
-Fresh batch of celery leaves
-One stem of celery, sliced into 2-inch or 1-inch pieces
-Large quartered onion (peeled)
-Fresh carrot, sliced into 2-inch or 1-inch pieces
-One batch of parsley
-1/4 teaspoon of pepper
-1 teaspoon of kosher salt (or as per your liking)

Procedure

  1. Take the chicken bones and vegetables and put them together in a stock pot
  2. Add the pepper and salt then cover the pan
  3. Turn on the fire and heat the pan until boil. Once that's done, immediately lower the temperature until its simmering
  4. Partially remove the pan cover and let it simmer for 4 hours
  5. Once done, remove the bones and vegetables
  6. Your chicken stock is now ready to be served


Basting Brush

It is very likely that you already have this in your kitchen. If not, you can easily order it online or get it from a local superstore. We'll be needing this brush for basting our turkey.

Apple Cider Vinegar

We will be basting this on our turkey too but mainly because apple cider vinegar has acidic properties. It is the best way to kill bacteria and preserve the turkey after it has been cooked. 

In addition, it can also add a tasty sourness to the turkey which, when combined with honey, results in a combination of priceless awesomeness.

Honey

We will be using honey as a sweetening agent for basting our turkey. This is an important step with no other alternatives because honey has the perfect amount of density and sweetness so, it is going to serve as an important ingredient.

What to do?

The process of smoking turkey is simple as long as you remain patient throughout it and follow the temperature as precisely as possible. 

To get started, here is what you should do in orderly steps:

1) Soak some wood: get a handful of wood pieces (hickory, pecan or apple are recommended) and soak them in water for at least a minimum of 4 hours. The more the better, you can do so until a maximum of 48 hours.

2) Get the turkey out: remove the turkey from the refrigerator and let it sit for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. You need to make sure none of its parts are too cold or too hard from being refrigerated.

3) Ready the smoker: prepare the smoker to 275 °F for indirect heat. Start sprinkling the wood chips and let some smoke start rising. 

4) Spice up the turkey: use the magic dust and rub it all over the turkey, giving special and increased focus to the inside parts. Try to spread the seasoning evenly, making sure no area is left out.

5) Moisten the grates: use your favorite oil (canola for the best taste) and use the basting brush to spread it around every inch of the grates. Remember, so far until now, we haven't started smoking the turkey yet

6) Start smoking: place the seasoned turkey on the oil grates and let it cook now. Use the following temperature guide to help you understand the cooking time:

235 °F = 30 minutes required to cook per pound of the turkey

250 °F = 25 minutes required to cook per pound of the turkey

275 °F = 20 minutes required to cook per pound of the turkey

Basically, the formula is that with every 15 °F increase in the temperature, 5 minutes lesser are required to cook per pound of the turkey. However, we do not recommend exceeding 275 °F as it anything higher may start burning the turkey skin.

So, if your turkey weighs 8 kg (18 pounds) you need to multiply the time by it and you'll know how much time to keep it smoking. At 275 °F, you will need an approximate of 6 hours to perfectly smoke the turkey.

7) Start basting: 1-2 hours before the cooking time is finished, start basting. This is where our chicken stock is going to come. Mix together some honey, apple cider vinegar and chick stock and stir it until even distribution of the ingredients. Use this mixture and baste the turkey after every 30 minutes.

8) Cover it up: once your turkey is smoked and cooked, loosely wrap it around aluminium foil and let it rest for 15 minutes (if you cooked the whole thing). This will make sure that the warm air rising from the hot turkey is repelled by the foil and evenly spread around every part of the turkey, making it juicy and tender from inside out.

FAQs

Why does the start of the guide mention 30 minutes of cooking time and then later 6 hours?

30 minutes of time is the minimum required to cook a single pound of the turkey. If you are cooking the whole turkey, you need to multiply this time by the number of pounds it weighs. 

Also, 30 minutes is the standard time at 250 °F. It all depends on the temperature you use and what part of the turkey you wish to smoke (unless it is the whole of it).

I hate honey, I don't want to use it. If I don't use it, apple cider vinegar will make everything too sourly. What do I do?

In that case, just use the chick stock to baste the turkey. Apple cider vinegar must NOT be used alone. It needs to be neutralized with something sweet and that something is honey.

Am I supposed to dry the soaked wood chips before putting them in the smoker?

Pat them dry to the extent that water is not dripping off.

After cooking the turkey, where do I put it for rest? Under a ceiling fan or outdoors?

As a matter of act, neither of the above. You are not trying to cool the turkey but rather trying to let the heat spread itself evenly around. Let it rest at a place where the ceiling fan is turned off and there is no direct air colliding with it e.g. don't put it in front of a completely opened window.

Do I use wood or charcoal to smoke my turkey?

You can use either of them. If you use charcoal, the preparation time will be greatly reduced. It doesn't matter what you use

What do you suggest for smoking other kinds of meat?

The only thing that will differ is the recipe you are using and the amount of time to cook. The magic dust can be used for literally anything, even vegetables. Chicken stock, on the other hand, is only applicable on domesticated birds like turkey and chicken itself. Don't use it on beef, pork or venison.

Conclusion

Smoking turkey is not a difficult job at all. The only downside of it is the amount of time it takes. This is why it's not a very common house meal. However, at least knowing how to cook something is better than not knowing at all how it works. After all, you don't need to smoke the entire turkey, 2-3 pounds of it is also enough and that will take a very minimal amount of time.

Besides, with this guide, you should not have any kind of confusions. Just follow the instructions and we are sure you are going to amaze your family and friends with the hidden chef inside of you.