One of my absolute favorite things to do in the yard is smoke. No, not cigarettes, I gave that up almost ten years ago. The occasional cigar, yeah, count me in, but today I am talking about running my electric smokehouse while doing yard work, sitting down with friends and a few beers, or just relaxing with the dogs looking over the yard while brisket, ribs, roasts and jerky are getting lousy with hardwood smoke flavors and aromas.
Usually if both A&K are home on a weekend, which can be a rare occasion especially with spring turkey season about to open here in Colorado, we tend to spend them with our pack of rescue dogs and yard work. While the chore list gets shorter, we like to have something in the smoker or on the grill cooking away as we work. As the aroma of smoldering hardwoods like Cherry, Hickory, Maple and Mesquite fills the property, it’s a great motivator and keeps us working.
Our first smoker was a traditional bullet style charcoal smoker, and was full of downsides. The first being that as the entry level price tag (~$40) would indicate, it was thin, flimsy, and almost worked as a smoker. We used it for 2 years and loved it. It had quirks, couldn’t maintain temperatures if there was even wind 3 days later in the future forecast, but we made some great meals with it and learned a lot about what the next smoker should be able to do.
Enter the Masterbuilt Digital Electric 30″ smoker. For full disclosure, I am not affiliated or compensated by Masterbuilt in anyway. I paid full price for my smoker and think it was worth every single penny. This smoker has been fantastic. We smoke chili peppers from our garden, as well as whole chickens and any BBQ meat you could imagine.
Lately, It has been my go to for making jerky. I had been using our dehydrator for making jerky in the past, but this has been a game changer. Anything from on sale ground hamburger or sirloin from the grocery store to any wild game meat I can get my hands on have been fantastic on the smoker.
I use a commercial flavor and cure kit from Hi Mountain Seasonings in Wyoming. Great price, each kit does 15 pounds of meat total but can be used for any amount so it is a great value. Important note, when using any type of cure, be sure to use the weight AFTER trimming the meat to figure the amount of cure needed. This is raw meat after all, too little cure can keep the meat from being safe at low temps in the smoker, and too much cure can be very harmful as well. Double check all instructions and make sure you are accurately measuring all cures.
We love the variety of available wood chips and pellets, the meat and game options, and even cold smoking fish and cheeses. Buying or building your own backyard smokehouse can be a very rewarding and entertaining for the entire family. You’d be surprised at the options for either entire meals or specific foods that can be prepared or enhanced using a smoker.