How to Smoke Meat
Culinary Institute of America
Hot smoking exposes foods to smoke and heat in a controlled environment. Although we often reheat or cook foods that have been hot smoked, they are typically safe to eat without any further cooking. Hams and ham hocks are fully cooked once they have been properly smoked.
Hot smoking occurs within the range of 165°F / 74°C to 185°F / 85°C. Within this temperature range, foods are fully cooked, moist, and flavorful. If the smoker is allowed to get hotter than 185°F / 85°C, smoked foods will shrink excessively, buckle, or even split. Smoking at high temperatures will also reduce the yield, since both moisture and fat will be “cooked” away.
Smoke-roasting refers to any process that has the attributes of both roasting and smoking. This smoking method is sometimes referred to as barbecuing or pit-roasting. It may be done in a smoke-roaster, closed wood-fired oven or barbecue pit, any smoker that can reach above 250°F / 121°C, or in a conventional oven (one you don’t mind having smoky all the time) by placing a pan filled with hardwood chips on the floor of the oven so that the chips can smolder and produce a smokebath.
It is possible to produce smoked foods even if you don’t have a smoker or smokehouse. Pan-smoking is a simple and inexpensive method to give a smoke-enhanced flavor to foods in a relatively quick time. Pan-smoking requires two disposable aluminum pans, a rack, and some sawdust. The drawback of pan-smoking is that it is hard to control the smoke and products tend to get a flavor that is too intense and may be bitter.
Reprinted by permission from The Culinary Institute of America, “Garde Manger: The Art of Craft and the Cold Kitchen” (John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2008).