Smoke is a great way to add flavor and texture to any food. It can also be used as an additional layer of seasoning for those who want something more than salt. But when should you use smoke on your grill? What types of foods are best suited for smoking? And what about the Pit Boss Smoke Setting – when should you use it? We’ll answer all these questions and more in this blog post!
When to Use Smoke Setting On Pit Boss?
The Smoke setting on the Pit Boss is for adding smoke flavor to foods while being cooked anywhere between 80-125°C / 176-257°F according to the Pit Boss manual. Hot smoking is best suited for large, fattier cuts of meat that take longer to cook such as; lamb, brisket, pork butt, etc.
That said, many people use their smoker to hot and cold smoke several types of foods. One of the great things about owning a Pit Boss smoker is it makes it easy to infuse smoke flavor into any type of food. However, just because you own a smoker, doesn’t mean that everything should be smoked.
To better understand when to use the smoke setting. We first have to understand what smoke is and why people love the taste of it in their food.
What Is Smoke And Why Do People Love It?
Before we dive into the specifics on when to use the smoke setting, let’s first take a look at what smoke is and why people love the taste of it.
Smoke is a collection of airborne particles and gasses that when emitted it undergoes pyrolys or combustion. It is commonly an unwanted by-product of fires that are started by (candles, campfires, etc). It is often a result of burning wood or other organic materials.Wikipedia
When it comes to cooking, people love to see and taste the smoke flavor. In fact, many people are constantly asking, how can I get more smoke from my Pit Boss?
What Makes Smoked Meat So Popular?
Smoking meat isn’t a quick and easy cook. The first time I smoked beef brisket, it took me a total of 12 hours, which does not include the prep time. It’s a long slow process that requires you to babysit the grill, especially, when it’s the first time doing it. So, if you don’t have a lot of patience, then smoking is not for you.
So why do so many people want to use the smoke setting when they could just choose meats that you can grill faster?
Well, unlike a traditional gas or charcoal grill, a pellet grill makes it easy to cook flavorful foods you can’t get anywhere else except maybe an expensive restaurant.
As the meat sits on the grill in the SMOKE setting, it absorbs the smoke, which gives it a unique flavor that can’t be replicated with any other cooking method. Not only does smoking add flavor, but it also helps to tenderize the meat, making it juicy and flavorful.
Smoking foods is not new, in fact, the tradition can be traced back to primitive cavemen, perhaps 400,000 years ago. They used to smoke meats over wood fires, but today, technology makes it easy for anyone to smoke meats in their backyard.
The smokey flavor is a vaporous by-product that results from the burning of wood or other organic materials. As the fuel burns, it produces syringol and guaiacol, which are the two compounds responsible for the smokey flavor.
Pellet grills make it easy for us to control the amount of smoke that infused into the meat, therefore, creating the mouth-watering food everyone loves.
Melt In Your Mouth
Cooking lean meats on the grill too long will cause the meat to become dry, tough, and inedible. However, cooking fatty meats low and slow results in juicy and tender fall of the bone meat anyone can eat.
This is because the low and slow cooking method allows the fats and connective tissue (collagens) to break down. Collagen is a protein found in mammals and when cooked too fast becomes tough and impossible to chew. However, at about 160°F it melts into a rich, liquid, gelatin.
The result is a flavorful, silky texture piece of meat that melts in your mouth. You no longer have to buy top-of-the-line meat.
A pellet grill makes it easy to render tougher chewier pieces (beef brisket, pork butt) into soft edible pieces by cooking them on over a lower temperature on the Pit Boss, for several hours until the collagen has reached the melting point.
Smoke meats go experience a chemical reaction known as the Maillard Reaction aka “Browning Reaction”. It’s a complex chemical reaction (most people and myself included don’t understand), that occurs when proteins and sugars on your food are transformed by heat, which produces aromas, flavors, producing a tangy, crust-like texture bark on the outside of the meat.
Getting a good bark is one of the most sought out things in the BBQ world. You don’t have to search long to find people asking questions such as; how can I get a darker bark on my brisket or why didn’t I get a bark on my brisket.
This is because a good bark will resemble a black or burnt color, but it won’t taste burnt. The color is a result of the combination of spices you rubbed on the meat, which gives it an amazing taste you can’t get from a traditional grill.
A Beautiful Pink Smoke Ring
You may have seen those videos where people cut brisket and it has a red or pink edge below the bark. This is a result of the myoglobin aka protein in meat that makes raw meat pink or red. As meat cooks, the protein turns brown.
However, when it sits in the cooking chamber on low heat, the meat absorbs nitric oxide (NO) from the wood pellets binding with the red myoglobin, allowing it to remain pink, instead of turning brown.
Many professional and backyard BBQers go through great lengths to achieve the perfect smoke ring. But don’t be fooled, it’s not as easy as you think it is.
Can All Foods Be Smoked Before Cooking?
Yes, you can smoke any type of food, but it doesn’t mean that everything will taste good with added smoke flavor. Smoking the wrong types of foods can make them come out rubbery and hard to chew.
For instance, the last time we smoked chicken quarters the skin was tough to eat and the meat itself had a greasy feel to it. This is because chicken should be cooked around 350°F (depending on the cut), when cooked too the moisture will be sucked out leaving you with a dry, rubbery bird.
Is Smoking Meat Safe?
The low and slow cooking of meats is a safe cooking method when done correctly, and done in moderation.
Because smoking food occurs at low temperatures, foods linger in the “danger zone” (temperatures between 40 and 140°F) longer. This puts the food at risk of accumulating harmful bacteria such as E.coli, salmonella, and other harmful pathogens.
That said, as long as the meat is thawed properly before smoking, and the internal temperature of the meat increases from 40°F to 140°F within 4 hours, it should be fine. Allowing a large cut of meat to thaw while on the smoke setting, will take too long and will increase the chances of harmful pathogens.
Also, some studies have shown that consuming too many smoked foods can increase the risk of certain types of cancer. This is due to the carcinogens, that are produced when burning wood.
For best results, the smoke setting works best on foods that take longer to cook. This includes large cuts of meat, fish, or poultry. That’s because these foods take longer to cook and will have more time for the smoke flavor to penetrate the food.
Foods that take less time or are cooked at higher temperatures won’t be great for smoking. This is because they won’t be on the grill long enough to penetrate the smoke.
One of the best ways to test out the smoke setting on the Pit Boss is to pick up a large cut of meat and give it a try this weekend.