The smoky flavor in barbecued meat is incomparable! Team it up with hot buns or grilled vegetables, the fun doubles.
Surely you have tried out roasting and grilling in outdoor parties with your friends and family members, but have you ever tried using a smoker?
Be it beef, poultry, pork, seafood, vegetables or fruits—smoker cookers add a taste to your food which is like no other. If you are looking to throw the next big bash for your near and dear ones, you should definitely consider cooking with a gas smoker. So, how to use a gas smoker?
It is a great outdoor cooking device that comes in different shapes and sizes. The special cooking technique of smokers enhances the flavor of the dish using wood chips and moisture. Without further ado, let’s take a quick look at this amazing cooking gadget and formulate the next recipe!
What is Gas Smoker?
A gas smoker is a cooking device that uses propane gas as the fuel to cook food. Smokers are well known in adding a barbecue flavor to any food item, be it meat or vegetables. A chef can add this smoky, grilled flavor to his food by using wood chips and moisture elements, such as water, vinegar or fruit-juices.
A vertical propane gas smoker usually has the following components in its structure:
- A propane tank
- Wood chip and burner door
- Temperature controls
- Gas burner
- Wood chip tray
- Water pan
- Grill racks
- Cooking chamber door
- Exhaust dumper
Now let’s take a closer look at how these components work together to give you that signature lip-smacking, finger-licking flavors.
Related: How to Use an Electric Smoker
How do Gas Smokers Work?
Smokers use indirect heat to cook food. Foodies who have cooked using smokers before might argue that it takes longer to cook on smokers than traditional cooking systems. Yet, the quality of food that you get by cooking with a smoker and the mouth-watering flavor that you taste in every bite, render all arguments as invalid.
Smokers may use varieties of fuel to cook food—some could use propane gas, some run on electricity, while other versions may use traditional charcoal briquettes. Before using a smoker, read the safety tips very carefully. Safety tips are enclosed in the packages smokers come in.
The basic idea of cooking is the same as any traditional cooking system. These are the steps that a vertical gas smoker uses to cook food:
- At first, the heating element, in this case the fire, heats up the wood chips or briquettes.
- The hot wood chips or charcoal releases heat that diffuses through a tray of water. The heat makes the water evaporate. The hot vapor moisturizes the food item on the rack above.
- The result of this form of cooking adds amazing taste to the food item in question.
The utensils that you would be needing to cook using a smoker depend upon the food item that you aim to cook—but two common utensils that you would need for any form of cooking are tongs and a thermometer.
Season Tour Smoker
If your smoker is brand new, you should season it first—meaning you should “test-drive” the smoker machine using only wood chips, with the food item remaining absent. Seasoning once would be more than enough.
At first spray or brush the insides of the smoker with canola oil. Add the wood-chip box with the wood-chips inside, light the smoker and set the temperature to medium. It is very important to note here that during seasoning, do not add the water tray.
Once your smoker has filled up with smoke, leave it like that for around 30 minutes. After seasoning is complete, you can use your smoker for some cooking!
Prep the Food
Once you have seasoned your smoker, then you should prep the food you are aiming to smoke. The food items could be anything from the meat of cattle or birds, to vegetables and fruits.
If they are meat items, add all the spices, wrap it in plastic and keep it in the freezer overnight. After you take the item out of the freezer, remember to not leave raw meat items at room temperature for more than half an hour.
Prep the Wood-Chips
Now prepare the wood chips you will be using in the vertical propane smoker. Take a large bowl, fill the whole bowl with wood chips, and then pour water in. Keep the chips soaked in like that for half an hour. This increases the smoking intensity and protects the wood chips from burning.
Remember, different kinds of wood produce different flavors. Wood chips that are available in packets in the markets such as apple, mesquite and hickory wood chip are reliable. You should choose one which suits your palate best.
Prep the Smoker
While the food items and the wood chips get ready for smoking, prep your smoker machine. Follow the steps below:
- At first make sure that the connections are secure.
- Secondly, check the burner for any kind of blockage, and also leave the door of your smoker open so that light can penetrate and you can see more clearly.
- After this, ensure that the water tray is in place. Moisture from the water tray keeps the food item from drying out during the long smoking procedure.
- Remove this water-tray and line it with one layer of aluminum foil. Then add some water into the tray and place it back into the gas smoker.
- Now take out the box that will contain the hardwood chips. Transfer the soaked chips from the bowl to the tray and place it back in the rack inside the smoker.
- Before you turn the gas on there are certain other things that you need to ensure. There are vents on the sides of the smoker which you need to open partially before the cooking starts. Switch the cooking stack open as well.
- After this, turn on the propane gas supply.
- Then push and hold the igniter button on the smoker for a couple of seconds, and while you are holding it, turn on the burner. If the burner fails to turn on for any reason, turn the smoker off, and re-check the manual for instructions.
- If no disruption occurs and the burner lights successfully, close the door of the smoker and turn the burner to high-intensity mode to accelerate the smoking process.
- Once the chips have started smoking then you can add the food item.
Open the door of the smoker and, using tongs, transfer the food item to one of the bottom trays for smoking. If it is a meat item, make sure that the fatty side of the meat faces downward, toward the smoked charcoal. This is because fat layers take longer to cook.
Usually smoking of one side of the meat item takes about 1-1.5 hours for every pound of that item. Try to keep the temperature between 225° and 250° F.
Keep the door of the smoker closed and check the temperature from time to time. Keeping the door closed helps to lock in the heat and flavor, for quicker and tastier cooking.
In case of smoking pork belly, smoking should take a while longer, but not more than 2 hours for each side. After one side of the meat item is cooked properly, turn it upside down, and wait for another couple of hours.
After the final two hours of smoking, when you are satisfied with the color of the meat, take it out and place the meat on a pan or a tray. Add any flavor or moisture if you want, then cover it with an aluminum foil. After this, place the pan inside the smoker for the final heating.
After 3-5 hours, the smoking process should be complete. You can always check if the food is cooked properly using a thermometer. For pork bellies, the temperature should be around 160° F. Take the pan out, and while it is still covered in aluminum foil, leave it to rest for 10-15 minutes.
How to Use a Gas Smoker Box on a Gas Grill
A smoker box is literally a tray or a box where you can place wood chips for smoking your food. They can be rectangular or trapezium boxes, and fit all types of grills easily without consuming too much space.
Even if you do not have a smoker or a charcoal cooker, you can still add that delicious barbecue flavor to any food item using a smoker box. Smoker boxes come with a perforated lid and can be used with any type of cooking devices such as a charcoal or a gas grill.
Fill the smoker box with soaked wood chips, then open the grill nets, and place the box inside. Once the cooking starts, the wood chips start getting hotter.
The perforations or holes on the lid of the smoker box allow the smoke to diffuse through and enrich the food on top of the grill with some smoke-flavoring goodness. It takes around 10-20 minutes for smoker boxes to start releasing smoke.
1) How do You Smoke Veggies and Fruits?
Ans: Smoking fruits and vegetables should not take more than one or two hours. Take chopped vegetables and fruits in an aluminum pan and place it on the top rack since cooking these items do not require a lot of heat.
2) Can I use Processed Plywood or Lumber for Smoking?
Ans: Stay away from processed or treated lumber, timber or plywood. They are not for cooking purposes as they contain harmful chemicals.
3) What if the Wood Chips have Stopped Smoking?
Ans: If the wood chips have stopped smoking that probably indicates that the chips have burnt out. Take some of the really old wood chips out, and replace them with fresh ones.
Smoking is surely a slow-cooking process but the result is worth the wait. The slow-heated smoke that diffuses out of the wood-chips fills your food with a rich, flavor-filled goodness to die for. So, how to use a gas smoker?
The principle lies in the wood-chips. Fill up the trays with the correct type of wood-chips, turn the burner on, and let it smoke. Once the smoking has begun, introduce the food item. Smoking takes around 4-5 hours for meat items, and 1-2 hours for fruits and vegetables.
So what are you waiting for? Add that extra tang to your food and make your guests fall to their knees, asking for more!