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Inside the Battle to Be the Best BBQ Pit Master in the World

A trip to the Memphis in May competition with Charlie McKenna of Lillie’s Q—plus 8 tips on how to smoke meat at home.

(page 3 of 3)

8 Tips for Smoking at Home (Even If You Don’t Own a Smoker)

from Charlie McKenna

1. Start with quality meat, and you should end up with a quality product. (I recommend The Butcher & Larder, 1026 N. Milwaukee Ave.)

2. Buy a Thermapen meat thermometer ($96, amazon.com) to check the internal temperature of your meat. Cheap ones lead to inferior results.

3. Put your meat in the smoker while it’s cold. If you wait until it’s hot, the pores seize up, and you won’t be able to get as much smoke flavor into it.

4. Do not ramp up or turn down the temperature of your smoker. This will lead to uneven smoking and meat that won’t taste optimal. Keep the temperature at a steady 225 degrees.

5. Sprinkle on your barbecue rub. Because it contains salt, rubbing it in will cut the meat’s surface and the juices will run out.

6. Don’t mess with your meat when it’s in the smoker. Smoking takes time (five hours for ribs, about two and half for chicken breasts and thighs, and an hour per pound for pork shoulder).

7. Crack open a beer and relax.

8. When your meat hits the desired internal temperature (150 degrees for chicken, 197 degrees for pork, 135 degrees for beef), remove it from the smoker and let it rest for 15 minutes. Then pull it.

RELATED: How to Smoke Ribs Out Back Like Charlie McKenna Does ’Em at Lillie’s Q »


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