Smoke ’em If You Got ’em

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Smoked ribs (Photo courtesy of Sempre Fame)

While it’s more common that you’d own a traditional propane or charcoal cooking grill and less likely that you’d own your own smoker, there is a growing trend for homeowners to give smoking their own foods a try, many with great success.

The process of smoking foods, particularly meat and fish, is as old as man. Cheeses, vegetables, fruits and ingredients used to make tea, whiskey and beer are also commonly smoked. Smoking is the process of flavoring, cooking or preserving the food by exposing it to smoke from burning wood. Typical woods used to flavor foods are oak, hickory, mesquite, pecan, maple, apple and cherry, but there are so many other options.

Most of the Western world has access to proper food storage and preservation through refrigeration, but smoking foods is a ritual and time-honored tradition still, especially among hunters and food-aficionados. Historically, when an animal was slaughtered, the fish or game was smoked for preservation, either in smokehouses or over the hearth of the fireplace at night.

Today, the practice is widely used in colder climate regions like Alaska, Canada and Iceland. Smoking has increased in popularity however because of advances in technology, lending to smoking more for adding flavor and tenderizing meats, than its original purposes of preservation.

John and Chris Cavallo, owners of Sempre Fame Gourmet Grill & BBQ Catering (www.semprefame.com) in Floral Park, recently shared their top seven tips for achieving the best smoked results:

Allow your meats to reach room temperature before putting them into the smoker.

Don’t be cheap with your rubs. Cover the meat completely for good barks (crispy, outer layer of the meat).

If trimming fat, don’t remove all of it. Fat acts as a buffer and will keep your meat juicy and flavorful.

Get your smoker to the desired temperature before putting your meat in.

Maintain a constant temperature while cooking. Constant fluctuations can cause less than desirable results.

Be patient. Smoking takes time. Grab a beer. Just relax.

Always smoke more than you think you need. Everyone loves BBQ.

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