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From bacon to brisket
Fatty meats are the way to go

06/18/15
By Angie Sykeny asykeny@hippopress.com



The first step to smoking is a no-brainer: get something to smoke. But some foods are better suited for smoking than others. As far as meat goes, you want to stay away from anything lean and choose meats that are dense and fatty.

“Anything that needs to be slow-cooked to give it tenderness is what you’re looking for,” said Kyle Perreault, head butcher at the Wine’ing Butcher in Meredith, which also has locations in Bedford, Pembroke, Gilford and Ashburn. “You want things with a lot of fat so when you cook it long and slow, the fat really gets into the meat and gives it that great flavor.”
Some of the best meats for smoking include pork butt, which comes from the shoulder of the pig; brisket, a cut of beef; ribs, bacon, sausage, pork belly and certain fish, such as salmon.
After choosing what type of meat to smoke, you have more decisions to make. There are many different types of wood to smoke with, all of which give the meat a unique flavor. The most common are oak, hickory, apple and cherry woods.
Next, consider what kind of “bark” or crust you want on the meat. The bark is formed from the outer layer of fat on the meat and the dry rub you put on the meat, should you choose to. There are a variety of rub recipes, from a simple salt, pepper and garlic to a spicy cayenne pepper and paprika. Finally, decide if you want to add a barbecue sauce.
“It’s all personal preference,” Perreault said. “I’ve been in the business a while, and just talking to people, I’ve heard a bunch of different ways to do the same thing but with different flavors and tastes. The great thing about cooking and smoking is it’s whatever you want it to be.”
When it comes to sides, Perreault said the best foods to accompany smoked meat are “anything you’d think of when you think of a backyard barbecue.” Cole slaw, potato salad, pasta salad, beans and cornbread are all safe bets.
For drinks, he said, go for anything you’d drink outside on a warm, sunny day.
“My biggest thing with smoking is, it just screams summer to me,” he said. “A craft beer or stout would pair well, any mixed drinks, any drinks you’re having outside, [smoked meat] goes good with everything.”
Meat isn’t the only thing you can smoke. Other popular smoked foods include cheeses, vegetables, spices and sauces.
There are several advantages to smoking. For one, you can just put your food in the smoker and let it be, which allows you to relax and mingle at your backyard barbecue instead of staying glued to the grill all day. Secondly, smoking gives your meat the most flavor because the smoke completely penetrates the meat as opposed to a sauce or rub that only flavors the outside.
If you’re new to smoking, Perreault recommends starting with ribs. They aren’t expensive, and they take the least amount of time, requiring only three or four hours as opposed to other meats, which take around eight. Pork butt is another good beginner meat, which you can make into barbecue pulled pork. Save the brisket, he said, for when you’re more comfortable with smoking, as it is more challenging.
How long you smoke the meat is dependent on many factors, including the meat’s size and density, the level of flavor you want and how high the temperature is, so be sure to do your research on what the meat you’ve chosen requires.  
If you’re already a pro smoker looking for a real challenge, trying going big with a pig.
“I’ve brought in pigs from 20 pounds to 150 pounds,” Perreault said. “So if that’s something where, if you have a big barbecue and you’re feeling confident, just smoke the whole pig. That way, you get everything, the ribs, the shoulders, the bacon, everything.” 
 
As seen in the June 18, 2015 issue of the Hippo.





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