How To Use a Smoker

how-to-use-a-smokerThere are many regions in North America that dub themselves “barbecue country,” but we here in Alberta enjoy a diverse mosaic of open-flame cooking styles and seasonings. From a charcoal hibachi to a propane grill with all the bells and whistles; from egg-shaped kegs to professional rigs that need to be towed behind a truck– barbecue can be done on any platform. And not just any barbecue, you can achieve the highly sought after technique of indirect cooking with smoke. If you are investing in smoking tools, read our introduction below and bring any questions to the pros here at D’Arcy’s Meat Market today!


You can smoke almost anything, but smokers are most popular for dishes with fat that must be rendered slowly and steadily. Thanks to this, the chef is free to make a bold seasoning– most often as a rub or marinade. Sauce should also be basted regularly throughout the smoking process to achieve the stickiest, tenderest results. Each of these steps is essential to imbue the flavours you want to bring out in the final dish.


Your smoker will likely have an ambient thermometer, but to get the best results: it is wise to invest in an instant-read probe that can be reinserted at regular intervals. Both meters should be monitored closely and kept a steady, low threshold– peaks and valleys means you are risking burnt or raw spots. Inevitably there will be cold and hot spots however you cook, so always rotate your food throughout the process.


The cooking method you choose will dictate what type of fuel you need to invest in beforehand. Lump charcoal, briquettes, wood and even propane can be adapted to create indirect heat necessary for smoking (whatever you need, make sure you have extra). Wood chips are the next thing to consider when smoking a dish– they add flavour and moisture inherent to their variety. Apple, hickory, cherry… There is almost no end to the available choices!


Our most valuable tip for smoking? Give yourself plenty of time and be patient! Most go by the rule of thumb “long and low,” referring to an extended cooking time exposed to low heat. This process can take hours for your food to achieve ideal ‘doneness’ and the earlier you start– the better!

The above tips are only a summary of the many important details of barbecuing to perfection. Ask our friendly staff for their favourites and many other helpful recommendations.

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