Cheap, fatty and tough! That’s what you’re looking for in meats for your smoker.
You want lots of fat, marbling, connective tissue and muscle fibre, and all at price that’s kind to your bottom line. If it’s lean, finely textured and expensive, then it’s an easy no.
These might not be the qualities you typically look for in your meats, but during the low ‘n’ slow smoking process that chunky fat renders out, the tough connective tissue breaks down and the collagen melts. The result? Tender, juicy meat that your diners will be drooling over.
Brisket, a huge cut from the chest, is as tough as it comes, well, at least it is until it meets your smoker. Then it’s succulent and tender. Throwing the ribs in the smoker will release all their lip-smacking, flavour-rich juices.
Take a leg, shoulder or rack of lamb and get stuck into the whole smoking experience. Watch and adjust while your meat smokes, the fatty lamb leg will lap up the smoke, so be careful not to overdo it. With your shoulder, you want that fall away from the bone tenderness, while ribs are all about bringing some wow to the diners’ tables.
If you want something more challenging, try some poultry, like a whole chicken. Leaner and more delicately flavoured than either beef or lamb, this needs a more measured hand. Get too carried away with the smoking and you’ll end up with a bitter tasting bird.
Once you’ve mastered the technique, experiment further – use smaller cuts and a subtler level of smokiness. Trade meat for fish, and set your wood chips to work over the grill on some veggies.