Smoke curing meat is one way of preserving food. Smoke cured meats do not need refrigeration or freezing. You can use a grill or a smoking machine to cure your meat. Smoke curing meat dries the meat and preserves the flavor while prolonging the shelf life of the meat. The two basic methods are cold smoking and hot smoking. Cold smoking to cure your meat can take several weeks, whereas hot smoking takes considerably less time and is more reliable for the home smoker.
Soak the wood chips in a bowl of water before using. Let them soak while you prepare the smoker. Use hickory, apple or maple chips for the best flavor results.
Follow the manufacturer’s directions with your smoker for igniting a fire. Use only FDA-approved charcoal starters and not gasoline or kerosene.
Allow the charcoal to burn for 10 to 20 minutes. Look for the briquettes to form red coals and have a gray ash color on the outside.
Put all the briquettes into a pile in the middle of the smoker.
Take some of the wood chips out of the water and drain them slightly on a towel so they are not soaking wet and put out the fire. Place about ½ cup of the damp chips on top of the hot charcoal briquettes.
Add about 15 new briquettes every hour or so to keep enough heat going and creating smoke. Keep adding damp wood chips as needed.
Keep monitoring the temperature on the inside of the smoker. Make sure the temperature stays consistently between 225 and 300 degrees.
Remember that the cooking time will vary depending on which meat you are smoke curing and how big the piece of meat is. Smoke beef to an internal temperature of 150 degrees, pork to an internal temperature of 160 degrees and poultry to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
Defrost any frozen meat in the refrigerator before attempting to smoke it.
Make sure your smoker is in a well-ventilated and open area. Do not place your smoker near any plants, as they are a fire hazard.
Do not leave your smoker unattended for long periods of time. Although there is not a huge fire in the smoker a problem fire can occur, especially if your meat contains a lot of fat.