Smoking is a method of preparing meats and other foods that adds flavor and retains natural tenderness. Interest in at-home smoking is increasing along with other adventurous cooking styles. As with all food preparation, smoking meat requires paying attention to safety standards to ensure delicious results that are safe to consume.
Smoking Safety Standards
You and your family and friends can enjoy the savory treats from your smoker safely by following a few easy rules. The United Stated Department of Agriculture has prepared guidelines to help ensure the foods that you smoke will not result in food-borne illness.
Thaw Meat Before Smoking
Because smoking uses low heat over a long period of time, you cannot let the cut of meat or poultry thaw in the cooker or smoker. If the cut is frozen, the meat must be completely thawed before beginning the smoking process. Defrosting also facilitates the meat cooking more evenly.
Cuts should be kept cold while they are thawing. Placing the meat or poultry in the refrigerator for one or two days is probably the simplest method. However, the microwave on defrost setting can also be used or submerging the cut in cold water can also accelerate the thawing step.
Marinate in the Refrigerator
As soon as the meat is defrosted, it should be either marinated or smoked. Care should be taken when marinating. Meat and poultry should always marinate in the refrigerator. If you want to use some of the marinate sauce for basting while the meat smokes, reserve it in a separate container in the refrigerator.
Once a sauce has been used to marinate meat, it has accumulated bacteria and should never be used for basting unless it has been boiled to kill the bacteria.
Use Food-Safe Smokers and Grills
For BBQ smokers, make sure it has been constructed of materials and finished with products that are approved for food handling and preparation. Some unsafe containers can give off toxic fumes and residues that you do not want spoiling your food preparation.
The Department of Agriculture recommends the use of two thermometers when you smoke meats and poultry. One is used to measure the internal temperature of the food as you cook it. The second is used to gauge the temperature of the smoker itself.
By following a few easy safety steps, BBQ smokers and barbecue grills can expand cooking and dining experiences for you and those you know and love.
Smoking Meat and Poultry, fsis.usda.gov
Smoker Recipes, foodnetwork.com