One of the most convenient ways to cook smoked food is through the electric smoker. Unlike the traditional charcoal smokers, which need constant monitoring of food and a lot of effort, electric smokers are highly convenient. Most of them are designed for “set it and forget it” smoking style. While it would generally take up half a day of your precious weekend to smoke using a traditional charcoal smoker, electric smokers require only a fraction of that time and effort. What’s more, electric smokers can produce delicious smoked foods too. However, the problem arises when people do not know how to properly use an electric smoker. Luckily, they are easy to learn how to use.
Make sure that you are not using the vertical type electric smoker during the colder months, unless they are insulated completely. Otherwise, the heat inside the smoker will easily escape the smoker and will make smoking very difficult for you. On the other hand, the horizontal type electric smokers are more convenient as they can be used in any season. The only problem with them is that they occupy a lot of space.
Here are the steps to use the electric smoker more efficiently:
1. Prep the Electric smoker.
Cure or season the electric smoker, if the smoker in question is being used for the first time. As for the steps for seasoning it, that could be found from the operating manual. In most of the cases, the process involves coating the inside surface and racks of the smoker with cooking oil and turn the smoker on for two hours before cooking. By doing this, you can protect the smoker from any residues and dust particles later. After the two hour time is over, turn off the smoker and leave it open to cool it down a bit.
2. Prep the food.
Electric smokers are generally preferred for cooking seafood meals, poultry, or any fish. However, it is completely your decision as to what you want to cook. That being said, when you are going to smoke meat, you should season it with dry rubs, spices, or at least, marinate it. For better flavors, an overnight seasoning and marinade is advised, so that it really gets absorbed into the meat.
3. Put the wood chips into the electric smoker.
Most electric smokers are designed with a tray for the wood chips that contribute all that great flavor and fragrance to the meat. The storage area for wood chips is generally found right under the heat source. Four or five cups of chips is more than enough for smoking food for roughly five hours. Depending on how long you are smoking the food for, you may need to add more if smoking and cooking time is around 6-10 hours. There are many preferable choices for wood chips, such as plum, hickory, cherry, cedar, maple and alder. You must keep in mind that adding the wood chips may cool down the smoker, unless you have an offset smoker.
If you own a water electric smoker, then you may use other ingredients to give your food great flavors, such as beer, wine, apple juice or orange peel.
Make sure that you are setting the appropriate temperature for cooking. Usually, electric smokers come with a temperature gauge and temperature control system. It takes roughly about three to eight hours to cook the meat properly. To check the progress of the cooking, you may use a meat thermometer. Just insert the thermometer in the meat to check whether it is done or not.
4. Monitor the food and the smoker until finished.
You will want to leave the food alone for the most part, but you will want to check the food occasionally. Check the temperature of the smoker or grill to make sure the food is cooking at the right temperature. You need to be aware of the amount of smoke that is coming out from the chips. Too much heat or too little heat will affect the quality of the smoke that you get. Use a baster to make sure the meat is moist sometimes. Also use a food thermometer to make sure it is properly cooked to the proper temperature. And you’re done!
Using wood chips in the smoker that are not specifically designed for them
It is still possible to use wood chips in your electric smoker, even if there is no wood chip pan. For holding the wood chips, you may use an empty tin can. For best results, cut only three-fourth of the top of the can and leave the rest. After this, bend the lid down and close it up a bit. This step is very important as it prevents the wood chips from bursting into flames and accidentally raise the temperature of the smoker. Use a pair of long tongs to place the tin can inside the smoker and set it between the coils, right above the lava rock.
Keep in mind that the wood chips can burn quite quickly, and you may have to refill them in between your cooking.
Additional tips and tricks with wood chips
Some of the other tricks to use wood chips are as follows:
∙ Wrapping the wood chips in aluminum foil
∙ Throwing the wood chips in loose
∙ Buying a wood chip pan, if not provided already
∙ Soaking the wood chips for 15-30 minutes
All these methods work, however, the pan method is usually preferred more for better taste and smoke flavor.