1. Pick your meat. The options are endless but common competition meats include spare ribs, beef brisket, and chicken.
2. Prep your meat. You can prep your meat with a marinade, brine, or rub.
- Marinade: a sauce made up of a variety of elements, including – but not limited to – oil, vinegar, spices, and herbs. A marinade can serve to tenderize meat as well as give it flavor.
- Brine: a salt-based solution used to bring flavor and preserve moisture in the meat.
- Rub: a mixture of spices and/or herbs. This mixture is added to the meat before smoking.
3. Prep your wood. Before you begin smoking your meat, it is recommended that you soak your wood and fill your water bowl. Soaking wood will give your meat a smoky flavor. Remember the longer you soak your wood the higher the ratio of smoke to flame that you will generate.
4. Use a Water bowl. Fill a bowl with water and place it in your smoker (easy as pie, or in this case maybe ribs). The water bowl will create a temperature and moisture moderator within the smoker.
5. Load and light your smoker. It is recommended to stack your coal by hand instead of just dumping the bag in order to have complete control over how you build your fire. Coals are normally ready within 20 minutes. Once your coals are ready dump them into the smoker’s firebox.
6. Add your meat. Once your smoker is around 200 F- 250 F it’s time to add the meat.
- Hint: you can add your soaked wood to get the smoke really flowing right before putting the meat in.
7. Kick back and relax. Remember low and slow is the name of the game, so let your meat cook for the first 1-2 hours.
8. Don’t be foiled by foil. After 1-2 hours it will be time to foil your meat. A few things to remember when foiling are:
- Foil does not need to be air-tight, but does need to be tight enough to keep the drip juices enclosed.
- Turn the foil ends up to prevent leaks.
- Wrap the foil so the backside of the ribs is facing down.
9. The Final Hoorah. You’re almost finished. Now, unwrap the foil and create a boat shape exposing part of the meat while allowing it to still cook in the juices.
10. Make it Saucy. If you choose to add a barbecue sauce now is the time to do so.
11. Rest Up. As hard as it is, DO NOT take a ginormous bite of your deliciously smoked meat because the “rest step” is very important. By letting the meat “rest,” you are allowing it to re-soak the juices it is wrapped in.
12. Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner is served (there is no judgment for those who have a morning craving for smoked brisket for breakfast). The moment you have been waiting for has finally arrived: time to chow down! If you’re feeling generous, you can even share some with your family and friends.