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Use a Gas Smoker

Gas Smoker

Lots of people grill, but have you ever tried cooking in a smoker? That rich, smoky flavor can’t be beat. These instructions show you how to safely use and enjoy a gas or other type of smoker.


Get Ready to Use Your Smoker

Gas Smoker Diagram

One of the great things about cooking with a smoker is you can do it any time of year. Smokers use indirect heat to cook the food; the fire is in a separate chamber from the food. It takes a little longer than cooking directly over the flame, but slower cooking with smoke offers a unique taste. Some smokers use propane gas, while others use electricity or traditional charcoal briquettes. Different types of smokers vary in operation, so be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions before operation. Following are instructions for an LPG (liquid propane gas) smoker, but operation is the same for all: The fire source heats the moist wood chips, which release the smoke that flavors the food. Marinade, sauce or dry rub can add more flavor to smoked foods.


Choose Your Wood

Select the smoking wood you prefer. Suggestions include:

 

Apple

 

all meats

 

Almond

 

all meats

 

Ash

 

fish and red meat

 

Citrus

 

pork and chicken

 

Cherry

 

pork and beef

 

Fruitwood

 

pork, poultry and fish

 

Grapevine

 

poultry, game and lamb

 

Hickory

 

pork and beef

 

Maple

 

pork and poultry

 

Mesquite

 

beef, chicken and fish

 

Oak

 

red meats, game, ribs and fish

 

Pecan

 

ribs and red meat

 


Prepare Your Smoker

Prepare your smoker for its first use, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Typically, that means seasoning it by smoking some wood chips without any food in the smoker. You only have to do this once before the first time you cook on a new smoker.


Prepare the Food

Prepare the food to be smoked, following the instructions that came with the smoker or your favorite recipe. Use a meat rub or marinade as desired, place the food in a plastic bag and put it in the refrigerator for a few hours or longer.

Try this recipe for a dry rub used on pork shoulder:

Ingredients:
1/4 cup fennel seeds
1/4 cup cumin seeds
1/4 cup coriander seeds
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp dry mustard
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp cayenne
2 tbsp salt

1. Toast the seeds to bring out the flavor.
2. Then grind the seeds in a spice blender or with mortar and pestle.
3. Mix all the ingredients together.

Make sure to use your smoker in an open area away from siding, hanging limbs or other flammable materials.


Smoking Meats and Vegetables


Step 1

Soak the wood chips in water for about a 30 minutes or as directed by the manufacturer. The moisture increases the smoke, keeps the chips from burning and helps release the natural wood flavors.


Step 2

Remove the marinating meat or vegetables from the refrigerator and allow them to return to room temperature.

Don't leave raw meat at room temperature for more than 30 minutes.

Step 3

Inspect the smoker to verify that it's properly assembled and that nothing combustible is left inside the smoker from prior cooking sessions. Check the gas burner, if any, for blockage.


Step 4

Remove and line the moisture tray with aluminum foil to make cleanup easier.


Step 5

Add water to the moisture tray to prevent the food from drying out during smoking.


Step 6

Place the soaked hardwood chips in the rack as directed by the manufacturer.


Step 7

Partially open vents on the sides and smoker stack during lighting and cooking.


Step 8

Light the smoker.

  • Gas Smoker: Turn on the propane tank, push and hold the igniter button for about two seconds, then turn the burner ON. If the burner doesn’t ignite, turn the control knob to OFF and review the instructions.
  • Electric Smoker: Turn on the controller as directed by the manufacturer.
  • Charcoal Smoker: Ignite the charcoals as directed by the manufacturer.

Step 9

Once the heat source is ignited, close the smoker door and turn the source to HIGH.


Step 10

Once the chips start smoking (about 30 to 60 minutes), add the food. Place the meat on the bottom rack, fat side down.


Step 11

Turn the smoker heat down to the recommended temperature and allow the food to cook. Recommended smoking temperatures and times are:

 

Brisket (sliced or pulled)

 

225°F for 1.5 hours / pound

 

Pork butt (sliced or pulled)

 

225°F for 1.5 hours / pound

 

Whole chicken

 

250°F for 4 hours (approximate)

 

Chicken thighs

 

250°F for 1.5 hours

 

Chicken quarters

 

250°F for 3 hours

 

Whole turkey (12 lb.)

 

240°F for 6.5 hours

 

Turkey leg

 

250°F for 4 hours

 

Meat loaf

 

250°F to 300°F for 3 hours

 

Spare ribs

 

225°F to 240°F for 6 hours

 

Baby back ribs

 

225°F to 240°F for 5 hours

 

Smoked corn

 

225°F for 1.5 to 2 hours

 

Smoked potatoes

 

225°F for 2 to 2.5 hours


Step 12

Periodically check the smoker vent to see if it’s still smoking. If not, you may need to add more wood chips. Carefully open the fire box door and add moistened wood chips with tongs or a slotted spoon. Also check the water level while the door is open. If needed, add water with a long-neck watering can — it’s best to dedicate a can specifically for the smoker. Remember that opening the door allows heat and smoke to escape.

Every time you add wood chips, lightly spray the meat with a solution of vinegar and water or apple juice to add moisture.
Turn foods once at approximately half of the recommended cooking time.

Step 13

Approximately 2 hours before the meat is fully cooked, remove the meat and place it in a pan or wrap it in aluminum foil to retain juices and return it to the smoker to finish.


Step 14

Approximately 1 hour before the food is scheduled to be done, insert a meat thermometer to verify that the food’s internal temperature is within safe eating range:

 

Pork160°F to 190°F
Fish135°F (flakes) to 160°F (separates from bone)
Beef

Rare: 140°F

Medium: 160°F

Well Done: 170°F


Step 15

When fully cooked, carefully remove the meat or vegetables from the smoker with oven gloves.

Smoked meats typically have a pink ring around the outside when done.

Step 16

Allow meats to rest in the pan for about 15 minutes to help retain juices.

Time to eat! Cooking with a smoker takes more time than conventional cooking, but the flavor and aroma are worth the time and effort.

Don't cook or smoke food with treated lumber or plywood as they contain chemicals that can be toxic.