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The Art of Smoking

A few months back I started smoking; I didn't think it would have such a strong hold on me but I've heard all my life how addictive smoking is.  Little did I know how starting to smoke at such a late age in life would actually improve my health.  If you haven't figured it out by now, I'm not talking about the nicotine smokes, rather, I'm very much discussing the art of smoking meat.  

From what I've learned, smoking meat is a practice that is rooted in the Paleolithic era - our caveman ancestors.  As human settlements developed and spread wide across the earth, several different cultures of people continued to smoke meat and became proficient at it.  First Nations people were among these first few cultures who took to the process of curing meat this way and as Europeans made their way into Canada/US, the best of the smoked meat worlds collided.  I'm not a historian so I'll leave that there but to the best of my knowledge there are different varieties of smoked meat which all (so far) seem to be very mouth-watering delicious.  

My inquisitive nature directs me to explore things that are new and interesting to me and for some reason or another I became genuinely interested in smoking meat when a new electric smoker was gifted to me.  I've barbequed a hamburger or steak now and again but I had never tried smoking meat before.  I didn't think much of it at first but considering I spend a lot of hours at my store I figured I would teach myself how to use it to my advantage.  To begin with, I use an electric smoker which requires wood pellets - this kind of smoker has produced excellent results.  There are also wood smokers which don't require any electricity rather simple wood, fire, and smoke.  Curtis Praud, of Cookin' With Curtis, will be utilizing this method when he smokes a whole pig this weekend at the Smoke Show at Northern Elite Firearms.  Whether you use wood pellets or wood, you need to be able to know what kind of wood you're using and the flavour profile it will lend to your meat.  Just a tip: do not use soft wood to smoke.  I use the Lumber Jack Grilling Pellets which I sell at my store or they can be purchased at Heat Smart Plus just south of Prince Albert.  They are amazing and you will not be disappointed with your purchase.  

There are different styles of smoking all over the world but more recently I decided to try my hand at smoking a cut of meat called brisket.  It seems to be a very Canadian thing to do as we've all heard of Montreal-smoked meat which is created from brisket.  Long story short, I heat smoked my  meat; the other process is cold smoking which I haven't full on explored to date.  What an amazing and truly satisfying process it was.  

There are several easy steps involved in the process although the amount of time you must commit yourself to the entire process is the most remarkable part.  Learning how to smoke a brisket is fairly intensive - you must become acquainted with terms such as "the stall" and "bark".  You must have a functioning probe or thermometer.  From choosing the best source of meat, trimming the fat cap, seasoning, monitoring the temperature of the meat, and finally letting it rest, the total amount of time it took me from start to finish was just over seven hours for a 10 pound chunk of beef - and that's not including the research prior to.  There were times when I wasn't too sure if it was going to turn out but the result produced one of the best pieces of meat that ever mingled in my mouth.  I pickled up some red onions to go along with our meal - the combination of the tangy, crunchy onions paired perfectly with that tender, savoury brisket.  

The art of smoking meat is certainly making a comeback within the cooking community and I'm certainly glad I brought myself to learn it.  Smoking and barbequing are community foods and a wonderful way to bring family and friends together.  I invite you all to my smoked meat event on September 21-22 at Northern Elite Firearms.  Smoke Show 2019 will surely be an exciting and delicious learning experience for everyone in the community to enjoy. Hope to see you there! 

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