Besides Dry Aged Beef from the Dry Ager meat maturing fridge, there is smoked beef, beef with smoke flavouring, the new “It-Steak”. To achieve the perfect smoked effect, there are different methods. From smoke-salt, which applies the taste in the seasoning or your own barbecue smoker for outside. But what is the best way of achieving this smokey flavour with Dry Aged Beef? We tested it and researched the most important information and background for smoking.
Bacon from the smoker or smoked – is there really a difference?
Yes, and the difference lies in the temperature. During fumigation two types can be distinguished: The cold smoking and hot smoking. In cold smoking, which is traditional, especially in Europe, the temperature of the smoke is about 20° to 26°C. The food is left hanging for several weeks in the smoker. The food is only smoked, but not cooked. When hot smoking, for example in the smoker, the temperature rises from 60° to 100°C. After 20 to 120 minutes the smoked bacon is ready. However, the bacon is raw. This does, of course, also affect the taste. Due to the high temperatures, the fibre structure changes, the meat is tender, the fat liquefies and gives the meat from the smoker its full flavour.
From the slums in the Gourmet Kitchen
The barbecue smoker was developed in the 19th century from a method that originated in the US slums. The meat was cooked for several hours at a low temperature, on embers in a fox hole. Inferior meat itself was tasty using this method, with its spicy smoked flavouring. Especially in the southern states the good weather conditions invited for year-round outdoor cooking. Here the refinement of the cooking technology progressed steadily. With ingenuity and skill, the first smokers were built of inverted steel bath tubs, barrels and other inexpensive residual or waste materials. The meat was cooked in or on the embers, but just under a tub instead of in the ground. Operators of efficient smoked grills, set up small snack bars in which the meat was, so to speak, ordered “to go”. The BBQ-wave in the 1950s and 1960s and the smoke grill spilled over into the white suburbs. Even the design of modern smokers still reminds us of its origin, because most smokers are still round and made of steel.
One technique – many opportunities
What does a good smoker need? Whilst American households still often make their own smokers, two models have prevailed in the professional kitchens and in Europe:
The classic barrel smoker, consists of round, thick-walled steel tubes with a large horizontal cooking chamber and a slightly deeper small chamber. In this chamber, the fire is made with wood. In the cooking area there are usually several shelves to place the food. Outside there is a small chimney, where the smoke escapes. Grease and other liquids drain into a bucket hung underneath. While cooking, the temperature and the fire must be monitored
The easy pellet smoker, is actually a special type of barrel-smoker. It is fired with specifically produced wood pellets. Instead of the small fire chamber, there is a pellet box with power operated ignition. Since temperature and combustion are monitored and controlled electronically, the meat cooks literally on its own. The pellets are available from different types of wood.
The right type of wood – a science in itself
Of course, not every wood is good for the smoker. Woods such as conifers are unsuitable due to their high moisture content. The wood type not only changes the temperature and combustion time, it also affects the taste. Popular woods to use are oak, maple and birch plus spicy, nutty and mild fruit woods.
Which meat is suitable for Smokers?
Today, beef and pork are the most popular meats used in the smoker. Chicken and turkey were traditionally cooked in the southern US in smoke. Near the coast fish is used with firmer flesh, such as trout, salmon or, typical of the region on the Mississippi River, sturgeon and catfish. Incidentally, vegetarians can refine their grilled vegetables with the smoked flavour. Smoked Eggplant is a potential favourite dish from the Turkish kitchen or as a side dish for steak fans!
Dry Aged Beef in Smokers?
A well matured Dry Aged steak does not require much time in the smoker and doesn’t harm it, if you like the smoke flavour. On the other hand, Dry Aged Beef is a particularly good candidate for smokers. Because of the fibrous structure of the meat, the smoke can penetrate faster. The soft dry aged meat will be even softer due to the smoke. This has led to the success of the “now” pulled-beef.