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7 Tips to Follow When Smoking Meat

Nothing compares to the rich, savory flavor of smoked meat. While grilling over a bed coals is always an option, smoking creates a unique flavor while helping to preserve foods in the process. It’s been used by countless cultures throughout history, and in that time little has changed regarding the general concept. Smoking exposes meat to smoke — typically created from wood — that seeps into the protein to make it even more delicious. If you’re planning to smoke meat, though, you’ll want to follow these seven tips to achieve the best results.

#1) Choose the Right Type of Meat

Some meats are better suited for smoking than others. Generally speaking, ribs, pork chops, steak and fish are all great choices. You can even choose some of the tougher cuts, as smoking breaks down the protein to make it more tender. Because of its large size, though, many inexperienced backyard chefs have trouble smoking beef brisket.

#2) Place Coals to the Side

Unlike grilling, you shouldn’t place your meat directly over the coals when smoking it. Rather, you should place all your coals to one side of your grill, fire pit or smoker. Doing so allows you to place the meat on the other side so that it cooks more slowly. Depending on the type of meat that you are smoking, as well as its size and other factors, it may take anywhere from two to four hours to smoke. With the coals stacked on a single side, your meat will slowly smoke over this time.

#3) Place a Water-Filled Pan on Opposite Side

After placing coals to one side of your grill, add a water-filled tin or aluminum pan to the opposite side. This is arguably one of the most important steps to smoking meat, as water promotes the formation of smoke while also promoting a long, slow burn.  Without a pan of water, your coals will burn hot and fast, resulting in poorly smoked meat. To prevent this from happening, add a couple inches of water to a tin or aluminum pan and place it on the side of your grill opposite to where you placed the coals.

#4) Choose the Right Wood Chips

While smoking requires coals, you’ll need to add wood chips as well. The coals are responsible for producing the heat, but it’s the wood chips that produce the smoke. As the coals heat the wood chips, it releases smoke that rises up and leeches into the protein-rich meat. But contrary to what some people believe, not all wood chips are made equal. Different varieties have different effects when used for smoking.

Some of the top wood chips for smoking meat include the following:

  • Hickory
  • Oak
  • Maple
  • Walnut

Although there are many other types of wood chips available, you can’t go wrong with any of the four listed above. Hickory, oak, maple and walnut create a delectable flavor that compliments most meats.

#5) Soak Wood Chips

The golden rule of smoking meat is to soak the wood chips before adding them to your grill, smoker or fire pit. When dry, wood chips will burn hotter and faster than coal. As a result, you may discover that your wood chips have burned down in just a half-hour, resulting in little or no smoke. You can keep your wood chips burning for hours by soaking them in water. Simply fill a large pan, dish or bowl with water, and submerge your wood chips inside it for about an hour. After an hour has passed, remove the wood chips and place them directly over the coals. Some people use a separate container to store their wood chips when smoking meat, but this isn’t necessary. Assuming you soaked them for at least an hour, you can place them directly over the coals.

#6) Add Coals Periodically

Because it takes anywhere from two to four hours, on average, to smoke meat, you’ll need to add coals periodically. A good rule of thumb is to add coals about every hour or hour and a half. You should keep a hot bed of white coals burning at all times. If they go out, there won’t be enough heat to effectively cook and smoke your meat.

#7) Don’t Open It

An all-too-common mistake made by backyard chefs when smoking meat is constantly opening the grill, smoker or fire pit. Some chefs open it as frequently as every 15 minutes to see how their meat is cooking. While mostly harmless, each time you open your grill, smoker or fire pit, it releases some of the smoke (and heat). As a result, meats take longer to cook, and they don’t have the same rich flavor that’s commonly associated with smoking. Leave the top on your smoking accessories, and only remove it when you are adding new coals.

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How to Prevent Flare-Ups When Grilling

Flare-ups are a common problem when grilling food, especially meats. Whether it’s beef, pork, lamb, chicken or fish, meat has a tendency to flare up when grilled. When this occurs, the red-hot coals turn into a tall flame, essentially charring the meat. While a single, small flare-up shouldn’t hurt your food, consistent flare ups can burn the exterior while also making it dry and less juicy. So, how can you can prevent flare-ups when grilling?

Choose Lean Meats

Normally, flare-ups are triggered by excess animal fat dripping down onto the hot coals. When the fat reaches the hot coals, it ignites; thus, causing a tall but short-lived flame known as a flare-up. You can often prevent flare-ups, however, by choosing lean meats. If you’re making hamburgers, for instance, choose ground beef that’s 90% lean and 10% fat. Or if you’re grilling steaks, stick with lean cuts like filet mignon and sirloin instead of a New York strip or ribeye.

Cut Back on the Oil

In addition to choosing lean meats, you can also reduce the risk of flare-ups when grilling by using less oil. Cooking oil is often applied either to the meat being grilled or the grill itself. When applied to the meat, it helps the seasoning stick while also creating a non-stick surface. When applied to the grill grate, it further prevents the meat from sticking. Unfortunately, however, oil has a similar effect as animal fat when exposed to hot coals. As the oil drips down onto the coals, it triggers a flare-up. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to stop using oil when grilling. Rather, try using less oil.

When it comes to oiling a grill grate or meat, follow the “less is more” approach. Use a brush to apply a small, thin layer of oil on the surface of your grill grate or meat. As long as there’s no excess oil that’s dripping, it shouldn’t cause a flare-up.

Trim the Fat

A third tip for preventing flare-ups is to trim fat from your meat before grilling it. Even if you choose lean cuts, it probably still has some fat — and that’s okay. Rather than allowing this fat to burn on the grill — and cause a flareup — consider trimming it. Using a sharp knife and cutting board, slice away the excess fat.

Open the Lid

Should you grill with the lid open or closed? Grilling with the lid closed creates more heat, whereas grilling with the lid open creates less heat. The latter, also known as “grill roasting,” reduces the risk of flare-ups by exposing your food to lower temperatures and less direct heat. With that said, however, grilling with the lid open doesn’t cook food as thoroughly and evenly as grilling with the lid closed, so you really need to consider what you are grilling. As long as it’s not too thick and doesn’t require significant heat, an open-lid grill should suffice.

Clean Your Grill

Don’t underestimate the importance of cleaning your grill, either before or after every use. Failure to clean your grill will result in the accumulation of fat and oil drippings, which can flare up the next time you use it. Additionally, it contributes to rust and corrosion by holding moisture. These problems are easily prevented by using a wire brush and paper towels to clean this debris. So, try to get into the habit of cleaning your grill before or every after use. Even if you only use it to grill a couple burgers, you should still clean it to prevent flare-ups and protect against rusting.

Grill Away from the Wind

Another contributing factor to flare-ups when grilling is wind. Going back to the basics of firemaking 101, wind intensifies flames by fueling it with oxygen. As wind pushes through the flame, the additional oxygen causes it to flare up. While you can’t necessarily control mother nature, you can choose an area to grill that’s protected from the wind. Before lighting your grill, find an area with a wind break. Grilling on your front porch instead of back — or vise-versa — is another idea that can protect your grill from the wind.

Don’t Extinguish with Water!

If a flare-up occurs when you are grilling, don’t attempt to extinguish it with water. Conventional wisdom may lead you to believe that spraying the grill with a water bottle with extinguish the flare-up. Like a grease fire in the kitchen, however, water is ineffective for this purpose. Furthermore, spraying your grill may cause wet ash to reach your food. If you notice your grill flaring up, open the lid and wait for it to burn out. Because flare-ups are caused by excess fat or oil, they usually burn out after just a few seconds.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.  https://ssfirepits.com/contact/

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How to Stack Charcoal (the Right Way)

flame-933074_960_720Cooking with charcoal is generally preferred over wood for several reasons: it produces more heat, burns for longer, and it’s readily available.   Yet, you still can’t beat wood for flavor and wood will always be our number one choice.

But whether you’re cooking on a grill or fire pit, you’ll need to stack your charcoal in the correct manner to achieve these results. Some people assume that it’s best to lay a flat and even “layer” of charcoal, but this isn’t necessarily true. To learn more about charcoal and how to create the perfect stack for grilling, keep reading.

The Pyramid Stack

There are several ways to stack charcoal, though one of the most effective is the pyramid stack. This lives up to its namesake by mimicking the appearance of a pyramid. By creating this shape, air can flow through the charcoal more easily, intensifying the heat and overall cooking power. The pyramid stack also minimizes smoke, which is another reason why it’s preferred.

Some grills come with a special charcoal stacker that you can use to create a pyramid (or near pyramid) shape. Dump your charcoal into the stacker, light the bottom, and you’re good to go! However, you don’t need this or any other item to create a pyramid stack. Regardless of the type and shape of your charcoal, you should be able to arrange it in the shape of a pyramid.

Light It

With your charcoal stacked in a pyramid shape, it’s time to light it. Strike your match and carefully hold it in the center of the stack, under the pyramid. Assuming the charcoal is dry, it should light with little effort. Lightly blowing on the match — just enough to encourage airflow — can also help it ignite.

If it’s not lighting, try lighting a piece of newspaper and then sticking the newspaper in the charcoal stack. Alternatively, you can use a long “grill lighter,” which are designed specifically for this purpose. Once you get the bottom of your charcoal pyramid lit, the rest should ignite. You can then sit back and wait as your charcoal heats up.

Hopefully, this gives you a better understanding of how to stack charcoal for grilling. The key thing to remember is that you should create a pyramid shape for your charcoal when lighting it.

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5 Common Grilling Myths Debunked or Not?

Rib Eyes Cooking03There’s nothing that compares the delicious flavor or grilled food. Whether it’s a steak, hamburger, hot dog or practically any other food, there’s something about grilling that makes it taste better. However, there’s a lot of misinformation out there about grilling, some of which we’re going to debunk.

#1) Grilling Leaves Food Dry

One all-too-common myth is that grilling leaves food dry. When done incorrectly, it can certainly release the internal juices of pork, steaks and beef patties. However, there are ways to prevent this from happening, such as charring the outside at a high temperature or wrapping the meat in aluminum foil.

#2) Gas Grills are Better than Charcoal

On the contrary, most chefs will agree that grilled food cooked over charcoal tastes better than its gas-grilled counterpart. This is because charcoal has a unique smokey flavor that’s not achieved through gas grills. The only advantage of cooking food over a gas grill is the even distribution of heat, though you can achieve the same effects with a charcoal grill by properly stacking and igniting your charcoal prior to cooking.

#3) You Should Flip Steaks Only Once

A third myth that many people seem to believe is that you should only flip steaks once when grilling them. Some people believe that flipping steaks and other meat too many times causes the juices to release. Assuming you cook it properly and don’t pierce the meat beforehand, though, this shouldn’t happen. Flipping meat multiple times actually allows for a more even and thorough cooking, preventing certain areas from being under-cooked and/or overcooked.

#4) Should You Let Steaks ‘Sit’ Before Grilling

Do you let your steaks sit on the counter until they reach room temperature before grilling? It’s a common assumption that doing so helps them cook faster. After all, conventional wisdom should lead you to believe that a steak at room temperature will cook faster than a cold steak. With that said, allowing your steaks to sit before cooking does only one real benefit and that is it keeps the internal part of the steak from being cold.  If you like thick cut steaks rare or medium rare, which is preferred, You don’t want a nice sear with a cold inside.

#5) Salt Makes Grilled Steaks Tough

Too much of anything is bad for grilled steaks, and salt is no exception. But a small amount of salt, pepper and your preferred seasoning can vastly improve the flavor of a grilled steak while also helping you achieve a charred outside.  We say the only spices you need if stranded are salt, pepper and cayenne.

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Should I Grill with Charcoal or Hardwood?

abstract-219735_960_720If you plan on cooking food over fire, you’ll need some type of fuel. The most common fuel sources used for this purpose include hardwood and charcoal. While you can use both to cook everything from hamburgers and hot dogs to smores and vegetables we prefer real hardwood when it makes sense, but there are some stark differences between the two that you should be aware of. So, should you grill with charcoal or real hardwood?

Smoke

One of the biggest difference between charcoal and wood — when used for cooking — is the amount of smoke produced. Because wood contains more moisture than its charcoal counterpart, it naturally produces more smoke when burning. Some people actually prefer the rich smokey flavor of charcoal-grilled food, but others prefer the more traditional flavor of smoke-grilled food.

Heat

With an average energy value of 29 MJ/kg, charcoal tends to burn hotter than wood. So, if you want to cook food in the shortest amount of time possible, it’s best to stick with charcoal. With that said, insufficient airflow and/or the absence of flames may cause inefficient heat transfer; thus, making cooking difficult. You can overcome this problem by ensuring your coals are exposed to air (grills and fire pits often have vents that you can open and close).

Transport

While there are certain exceptions, charcoal is usually easier to transport than wood. If you’re going camping with some friends, you may want to carry charcoal for this reason. Of course, you can always scavenge native firewood at your campsite, but bringing charcoal ensures you have the necessary fuel supply for cooking, but once again we like the real wood when feasible.

Cost

There’s also the issue of cost. Natural, locally sourced firewood is typically free, whereas charcoal often costs up to $10 per bag.

The bottom line is that there’s no clear winner in the battle between wood and charcoal. Wood burns more slowly while releasing a distinct smokey flavor, but charcoal cooks food more quickly and easier to transport. Think about when and how you’ll be cooking and choose the fuel that’s best suited for the job.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.  https://ssfirepits.com/contact/

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How to Grill a Pork Tenderloin

pork-tenderloin-74328_960_720Pork tenderloin is a juicy, delicious meal that’s surprisingly easy to make. However, there’s a wrong way and a right way to grill a pork tenderloin. Unfortunately, many home chefs approach it the wrong way, resulting in dryness while reducing its flavorful taste. If you’re struggling to grill the perfect pork tenderloin, keep reading for some helpful tips.

Preparing Your Grill

Pork tenderloin is best grilled at low heat, so you need to prepare your grill or fire pit accordingly. Rather than stacking a hot pile of coals in the center, consider placing a thinner layer of coals on the bottom-most rack. This creates more space between the coals and the pork tenderloin, allowing it to cook more slowly and at a lower heat. Alternatively, you can use wood chips, which typically produce less heat than coal.

Preparing Your Pork Tenderloin

To prepare your pork tenderloin for grilling, you’ll need to either season or marinate it. A marinade consisting of olive oil, salt, ground black pepper, garlic and oregano is an excellent combination. Combine the aforementioned ingredients in a bowl, place it in a sealed plastic bag, and add your pork. Allow it to soak for at least two hours, after which the pork should be ready to grill.

Because of its natural juiciness, though, pork tenderloin really doesn’t need much help in terms of seasoning. If you don’t want to mess with a marinade, you can sprinkle some salt and pepper on it.

After marinating and/or seasoning your pork tenderloin, you should wrap it in aluminum foil. This works to keep the juices locked into the tenderloin, preventing it from becoming dry.

Grilling Your Pork Tenderloin

Now it’s time to grill your pork tenderloin. Assuming the coals are mostly white, go ahead and place the pork (wrapped in aluminum foil) on the center of the rack. The time it takes to grill pork tenderloin varies depending on the heat of your grill and the size of the pork. With that said, a good rule of thumb is to grill it for roughly 12-14 minutes, flipping it once halfway through.

When your pork tenderloin is finished grilling, use a meat thermometer to check the temperature, which should read at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit. As long as the internal temperature reaches this amount, it’s good to go! However, you should let the pork tenderloin sit for 10 minutes so the juices will settle.

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What’s the Best Wood for Smoking Meat?

IMG_8065There’s nothing that compares to the flavor of smoked meat. Whether it’s beef, pork, chicken or fish, smoking adds a unique and downright delicious flavor that’s simply not achieved through other cooking methods. However, it’s important to choose the right wood when smoking meat, as this will affect its flavor and overall quality.

Hickory

One of the best all-around woods for smoking meats is hickory. It creates a medium-to-heavy sweet flavor with a hint of bacon. Hickory wood is great for smoking pork, ham and beef, although it’s perfectly fine to use it for other meats as well, assuming you want a sweet flavor. Hickory is inexpensive and easy to find, making it the “go to” choice for many backyard chefs. Of course, there are other woods to consider when smoking meats, so don’t limit yourself to only using hickory.

Oak

Hickory might be the most popular wood for smoking meat, but oak is a close second. A good rule of thumb is to use heavy woods like oak and hickory for heavy meats like beef and pork, while lighter woods should be used for smoking lighter meats like chicken and fish. Oak offers a similar flavor as its hickory counterpart, adding a touch of sweetness to your meat.

Maple

We can’t talk about woods to smoke meat without mentioning maple. Classified as a lighter wood, it offers a milder and more subtle flavor than its heavy wood counterpart.

Walnut

Walnut creates a strong, heavy smoking flavor. For this reason, many people prefer using it when mixed with lighter woods like maple. Walnut is great for any type of red meat, but you should follow the rule “less is more,” using a small amount of walnut when smoking meat.

Regardless of which wood you choose when smoking meat, make sure it’s dry. If it contains too much moisture, it will burn slowly and produce more soot, which can negatively impact the flavor of your meat. The bottom line is that you should allow your wood to dry out before using it to smoke meat. If the wood is store-bought, it’s probably already dry. But if you harvested it by hand, there’s a good chance that it contains a high moisture content, in which case you’ll have to dry it.

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How to Prevent Your Firewood from Rotting

axe-1705787_960_720With prices upwards of $100 to $200 for a full cord (depending on where you live), firewood isn’t cheap. If you burn it on a regular basis — for warmth, fire pits, campfires, cooking, etc — you can spend quite a fortune. But even cutting and harvesting your own firewood is no easy task, which is why it’s important to protect your firewood from rotting.

Whether you buy it or harvest it yourself, it’s frustrating when you discover a pile of rotten firewood. It doesn’t burn as well (if at all), and it’s likely harboring colonies of insects and pests.

The 4 Elements Needed for Rot

In order for wood to rot, it needs four things: moisture, wood, oxygen and warmth. Being that moisture, oxygen and warmth are all around us, it’s easy to see why rot is such a problem. There’s practically no way to prevent natural, unprocessed wood from the rotting. Thankfully, though, there are a few steps you can take to slow down the process and prolong the life of your firewood.

Store it Off the Ground

One of the most common mistakes made when storing firewood is placing it directly on the ground. Why is this a problem? Well, there’s lots of moisture sitting in the soil. And when you place firewood directly on the ground, some of that moisture seeps up and into the wood. Furthermore, storing firewood directly on the ground increases the risk of termites, which can be equally as destructive.

How do you keep firewood off the ground? There are several solutions, one of which is to build a square-shaped perimeter using some pressure-treated 4×4 lumber. Another idea is to place a wooden pallet underneath your firewood stack. As long as it’s not sitting directly on the ground, it shouldn’t absorb moisture from the soil.

Increase Airflow

You can also prolong the life of your firewood and discourage rotting by storing it in a well-ventilated area. If you have a shed, for instance, crack a window so air doesn’t become stagnant. The increased airflow helps to dry firewood, protecting it from rot.

Cover it with a Tarp

In addition to storing it off the ground and in a ventilated area, cover your firewood with a tarp. Something as simple as a cheap fiberglass tarp can make a world of difference in prolonging the life of your firewood.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.  https://ssfirepits.com/contact/

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Grilling Tips: How to Tell When Steaks are Done

steak-1076665_960_7202Ask any professional chef and he or she will agree: the most important part of grilling a steak is ensuring it’s not overcooked. When cooked too long, steaks become tough and dry, making them less appealing than their juicy counterparts. This is why many steak connoisseurs prefer their meat cooked medium-rare, which has a warm red center throughout.

Unfortunately, though, knowing when a grilled steak is done isn’t always easy. You can always cut into the center with a knife to inspect the color. The problem in doing so is that it releases the juices. And if your steak isn’t cooked all the way, you’ll have to place it the cut-up meat back on the grill, further drying it out.

The OK Sign Test

One of the oldest home methods for checking to see if a grilled steak is done involves making the “OK” sign with your fingers. Go ahead and touch your index finger with your thumb. Using your other hand, press down on the area between your index finger thumb (where you made the OK sign). Take notice of how soft this part of your hand is, and compare it to your steak. If you want a rare steak, it should feel exactly like this. If you want a medium-rare steak, it should feel just bit firmer. And for a medium steak, it should feel even more firm.

The Face Test

Another method to tell when your steak is done is to compare its tenderness to that of your face. A medium-rate steak should have the tenderness of your cheeks, while a medium steak should like your chin. And a medium-well steak should like your forehead. Of course, this is just a rule of thumb, and this isn’t the most accurate method.

Thermometer

The most accurate way to tell when a steak is done cooking is to use a meat thermometer. Yes, you’ll have to pierce the steak, which releases some of its juices. But this is by far the most accurate way to tell when your steak is done cooking. Rare steaks should be roughly 125-130 degrees; medium-rare steaks should be 135-140 degrees; medium steaks should be 145-150 degrees; medium-well steaks should be 155-160 degrees; and well-done steaks should be 165+ degrees. You really can’t go wrong with using a meat thermometer.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.  https://ssfirepits.com/contact/

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5 Tips for Grilling the Perfect Kebabs

shish-kebab-417994_960_720Kebabs were just meant for grilling. Whether it’s steak, chicken, shrimp, scallops, veggies or a combination of all the above, you can cook some mouthwatering kebabs using a fire pit or grill.

Coat Grill Grate in Oil

It’s a good idea to get into the habit of coating your grill grate with oil before cooking on it, especially when cooking kebabs. If you don’t, some of the food may stick, making it difficult to cook properly. Using a brush, gently apply a high-heat cooking oil, such as vegetable or canola oil, to the grill grate. Once coated, you can then add your kebabs.

Soak Wooden Skewers in Water

If you’ve ever grilled kebabs using wooden skewers, you probably know how difficult this can be. Wood isn’t exactly fireproof, so placing wooden skewers on a hot grill may cause them to burn and char. Thankfully, there’s a simple solution to prevent this: soak your skewers in either water or marinade sauce for 30-45 minutes. The moisture should prevent them from burning while your food cooks.

Separate Meat and Veggies

Another all-too-common problem faced by home chefs when grilling kebabs is cooking everything evenly. Filet medallions, for instance, will take longer to cook than most veggies. To overcome this hurdle, try separating your food on different skewers. Maybe you can place chicken on one skewer, steak on another, and your veggies on a third. Once the veggies are cooked, remove the skewer and allow the meat to cook for a few more minutes or as needed. This ensures your food is cooked evenly and without some pieces being more done than others.

Cut Consistent Sizes

It’s nearly impossible to cut your meat and veggies all the same size, but you should strive to keep them a similar shape and size at the very least. If one medallion is twice the size of another medallion, it will take longer to cook. Maintaining consistent sizes with your kebabs, however, promotes thorough and even cooking.

Season Beforehand

Well-seasoned meat and veggies can make a world of difference in the quality of your kebabs. But it’s next-to-impossible to season all of your food if it’s already on a skewer. This is why it’s a better to season your food before placing it on skewers. In fact, you can place your meat and veggies in a couple dishes (don’t mix the two), followed by coating them in your preferred seasoning. Shake them around a bit and you’re good to go!

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.  https://ssfirepits.com/contact/

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How to Smoke Meats Like a Professional Chef

barbecue-820010_960_720You’ve seen all of the professional chefs doing it on TV, and now you want to take a shot at smoking meats? There’s no denying the fact that smoked meats have a delicious flavor and super-tender texture that simply can’t be achieved through traditional cooking techniques like grilling or baking. The Native Americans smoked meats centuries ago to preserve their food. But the good news is that any amateur home chef can smoke delicious meats with little effort.

Do I Need a Special Smoker?

Absolutely not! There are dozens of “smokers” available for sale, many of serve their intended purpose just fine. But the truth is that you can smoke meats using a traditional grill or fire pit just as easily. So, save your money and stick with your existing grill or fire pit.

Smoking vs Grilling

Before we reveal the steps to smoking meats, let’s first discuss the differences between it and grilling. While both smoking and grilling are used to cook meats (and other food for that matter), there are a few key differences between the two. Grilling, for instance, typically involves high heat and short cook times, whereas smoking involves low heat and longer cook times. Because of this, smoking requires some type of enclosure that prevents the smoke from escaping.

How to Smoke Using a Grill or Fire Pit

There’s no single “right” way to smoke meats, so feel free to experiment with your own techniques. With that said, it’s usually a good idea to begin by stacking your charcoal off to one side of the grill or fire pit, and then placing a drip pan on the opposite side. Now go ahead and light the coals (don’t use lighter fluid, FYI). Once the coals are nice and hot, pour 1 cup of water into the pan. This reduces the heat, allowing the meats to smoke rather than grill.

Next, place your meats on the side of the grill grate covering the water-filled pan, at which point you can close the grill or use a lid for your fire pit. If there’s a vent, open is just slightly to allow air to flow through the grill/fire pit. Depending on the temperature of the fire and how much meat you are smoking, you can expect it to take several hours at minimum. A good way to tell when your meat has finished smoking, however, is to try and pull it off the bone. Good smoked meat should literally fall off the bone.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.  https://ssfirepits.com/contact/

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Tips to Follow When Cooking on a Fire Pit

Smoking on pitFire pits aren’t used strictly for their visual appeal; they can also be used for cooking. And with summer right around the corner, there’s no better time than the present to get outside and grill. However, there are a few things you should know about cooking on a fire pit.

Keep Your Grate Oiled

Try to get into the habit of oiling your cooking grate each time you use it.  Treat your grate just like cast iron.  We make a habit of spraying or brushing the cooking grate before each time we cook on it.  You don’t need to clean it with soap or water either, just use a grill brush and oil it.  Also, don’t leave your cooking grate outside in the elements.  Put it in a covered area once you are done cooking.  The more you cook on your cooking grate the more seasoned it will become.

Control Your Fire

Always start your fire early when you plan to cook over the pit.  We recommend starting a good sized fire 1 1/2 – 2 hours before you cook.  This will allow for you to get a good bed of coals in your fire pit.  Then depending on what you are cooking will determine the amount of heat you need.  For example if cooking 1/4 chickens or wings you want to cook those slow and low.  This will allow you to build up the crust as well as cook the inside of the chicken.  If you put chicken on a hot grill you will do nothing but burn the skin leaving the inside raw.  When cooking steaks bring the temp up depending on how thick and what desired internal temperature you want.  One last tip is try and find or if you have an old Weber lid, you can drop that right on top of your cooking grate to work just like a covered grill.

Experiment with Different Wood Varieties

Don’t underestimate the importance of using the right wood when cooking on a fire pit. There are several different varieties of wood that can be used when cooking on a fire pit, each of which has its own unique characteristics. Hickory, for instance, is a hot, slow-burning variety that produces a strong and sweet flavor. These characteristics make it ideal for cooking and smoking ribs or pork tenderloins. Oak is another popular choice, also burning slow and hot while producing medium flavor.

Regardless of which wood you use, make sure it is NOT Pine or pressure-treated Pine. Pressure-treated lumber contains harsh chemicals and toxins that could seep into your food.

If you have any questions regarding  how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.  https://ssfirepits.com/contact/

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Tips on Storing Firewood for Your Fire Pit

wood-1207949_960_720There’s no better way to enhance the aesthetics of your patio or outdoor living area than by adding an S&S Fire Pit. Manufactured from professional-grade steel, they are designed to last a lifetime. In addition to creating a relaxing atmospheric mood, however, fire pits can also be used for cooking and creating warmth. Regardless of how you use it, you’ll need plenty of firewood on hand to keep the fire blazing.

We’ve talked about this before on our blog, but it’s worth mentioning again the best firewood is going to be what is local to your area.  Here in Georgia, Oak, Hickory and Pine are native, but we don’t recommend burning pine at all.  Oak and Hickory are best for us.  The best wood to obtain is always properly seasoned.  If you can find kiln dried wood that is even better because it burns hot and with very little smoke.

Keep it Off the Ground

In addition to using the right type of wood, though, you’ll also need to store it in a proper area. Leaving your firewood on the ground is just asking for trouble, as moisture will escape from the soil, causing the wood to rot. Furthermore, leaving firewood directly on the ground increases the risk of pest infestations such as termites.

Instead of placing your firewood directly on the ground, try storing it a couple inches off the ground using a wooden palette (or several). As long as there’s a barrier of protection between your firewood and the ground, it will remain protected from ground moisture and pests.

Keep it Covered

You’ll also want to keep your firewood covered. Allowing rain to fall on your firewood is just asking for trouble. It doesn’t take long for moisture to seep into the pores, causing the firewood to rot from the inside out. A simple solution to covering firewood is to use a tarp. Most home improvement stores sell plastic tarps for as little as $20 bucks, which is a small price to pay to keep your firewood nice and dry.

These are just a few tips on how to store firewood for a fire pit. Of course, it’s also a good idea to keep the firewood near your fire pit so you aren’t forced to walk long distances to retrieve it. If you have to walk across the yard just to retrieve a couple pieces, you may find yourself using your fire pit less often.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.  https://ssfirepits.com/contact/