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Generally, we spend so much time thinking about which smoker to buy and comparing what’s on offer that we don’t give much thought to accessories. It seems to be more important to decide whether to buy a charcoal smoker, or to go for gas, electric, or wood pellet. However, the right accessories can enhance your experience of smoking and make your life a lot easier. In this article, we are going to take a look at what accessories are essential for smoking.
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Most smokers come with a built-in lid thermometer, but they only measure the air in the unit and can be inaccurate. This isn’t ideal when you’re smoking as the temperature must remain constant.
For perfect smoking, invest in a wireless thermometer (like a Bluetooth thermometer) that you can connect by an app in your cell phone so that you can keep an eye on the temperature from the comfort of your couch. Smoking takes a long time and you don’t really want to be sitting outside for hours on end just checking the temperature (so a temperature controller is a must-have).
A dual probe thermometer is the best choice as it measures both the air inside the smoker and the temperature of the meat. This is even better than a meat probe. If you have one of these, you have to open your smoker to check the temperature of the meat and this lets out valuable heat. If the temperature dips, it will add more cooking time to the process.
With a dual probe, you will get 2 temperatures. For the air temperature, place the probe above where the meat is, but not too close as the cold hunk of meat will bring the temperature down. In the same way, don’t place it too far away from the meat as the temperature may be lower there. Most smokers run hotter in the middle and cooler at the edges.
With the internal probe, make sure that it’s inserted into the thickest part of the meat, checking that it doesn’t touch any bone as that will give a false reading.
Heat Resistant Gloves
It is important to keep your hands protected from the heat of a smoker. The last thing you want to do is burn your hands. Heat resistant gloves will protect you from sparks flying and will also protect you when you want to turn over food without ruining the bark. They will also help if you want to rearrange charcoal or wood pellets, move grill grates, and adjust the air vents. It would be exceedingly difficult to pull out a 12-pound brisket with tongs when it comes time to put foil over it and eventually to take it out of the smoker.
You can find heat resistant gloves in a variety of materials. Silicone is a good choice as it is both heat resistant and waterproof. Gloves made from silicone can just be wiped down or they can even be put in a dishwasher. However, they are bulky so it can be difficult to do certain things like use a meat probe. They can also be loose around the wrist, making it easier for heat to get to your arms and hands.
Treated leather is also an option, but it is not as heat resistant as silicone. You will need to be careful when moving around hot coals and taking out your meat when wearing these gloves.
The best material for heat resistant gloves is aramid fiber which is a man-made fiber that doesn’t have a melting point. The only negative is that it isn’t waterproof. It is used by firefighters so you can rely on this material to keep your hands cool.
Charcoal Chimney Fire Starter
A chimney starter is a device that is used to ignite briquettes or lump wood charcoal (good for a charcoal smoker). It is a cylindrical metal tube that is made of combustible material. All you have to do is scrunch up a few paper towels and put them under the grate. Then you put the charcoal over the grate and light the paper towels. They in turn will light the charcoal or briquettes. The chimney then has to be removed and the charcoal put into the grill.
It is important to keep your cooking area clean as you don’t want old food sticking to the new. For this, you need a good grill brush,
After you have finished cooking, the best thing to do is to put the temperature up for around 10 minutes. Then clean it with a wire brush. This will help to remove all those little bits of meat that have stuck to the grates.
Before you smoke again, take out the grate and wash it down with water. Do this while the smoker is coming up to temperature. Then put the grate back in and leave it to get hot. Then you can put in your meat.
Yes, you need heat resistant gloves, but it’s also useful to have tongs for things like sausages and burgers. It’s a good idea to purchase 2 pairs of tongs, one for the food and the other to move the charcoal around.
You will need to keep an eye on the temperature of the meat. A Wi-Fi thermometer is best, but a meat probe is useful as well. You can put it into any part of the meat and get a better idea of what the temperature is throughout your food. The only disadvantage is that you have to open the smoker door which will let out some heat. It is essential not to linger when you are measuring the temperature.
Basting Brush or Mop
There are recipes where basting is recommended and for this, you need a basting brush or mop to put the marinade on the meat. Marinades keep the meat juicy and tender and add flavor. You can choose your own marinade mix to get the flavor you want.
A basting brush or mop is suitable, but a mop usually has a longer handle and a more durable head. This means that you won’t have to put your hand in the smoker if you are putting on some of the marinade during the smoking process. It has a soft head and is designed to spread an even glaze.
If you’re smoking a brisket a wooden butcher’s block is essential as meat this size won’t fit on your average-sized cutting board. You will find that most of butcher’s blocks have grooves cut into them. They catch all the juices, unlike plastic blocks. Anyway, you probably won’t find a plastic board large enough to hold a whole brisket.
Another advantage of a wooden butcher’s block is that it has a sharpening effect on your knives, so you won’t have to worry about sharpening your knives yourself.
Wood tends to wear better than plastic and if you get one made from a hardwood like maple or beech it won’t scar as easily as plastic does. In addition, wooden blocks are eco-friendly as they are usually made from waste wood that would otherwise be thrown away.
A Sharp Knife
You will need a sharp knife for both trimming fat cap on brisket and tidying a rack of ribs. In addition, you will also need a knife to cut through your meat when it has finished smoking and good knives can be under $200.
Rib racks are essential if you want to smoke several racks of ribs, particularly if you have a round smoker. You will need to purchase a rib rack that will hold up to 4 racks of ribs standing upright. Ensure that there is plenty of space between each rack so that there is enough airflow to smoke each rib equally.
Solid Bear Claws
Solid bear claws are useful if you want to smoke pulled pork as they will shred the meat easily. They are also good for shredding slow-cooked chicken. Either can be eaten on their own or in a sandwich with pickles and sauces.
Bear claws can also be used as gloves when transferring meat from the smoker and then slicing it.
Pink Butcher Paper
Halfway through smoking brisket, you will need to cover it. Foil can be used, but pink butcher paper is a better choice as it allows the meat to develop a better bark (if avoiding bbq covers).
We hope that this article on essential smoker accessories has given you food for thought. If you invest in some simple accessories your life will be made easier. Don’t go out and just buy a smoker. Think about what else you will need to make your smoking experience easy and fun.
We have made our picks of some non-essential accessories:
You will need a wireless thermometer or at least a meat probe. Gloves are also essential as your smoker will get hot and you don’t want to get burnt. Tongs are also useful. You will need something to clean your smoker as you don’t want bacteria to develop on your grill grates. Perhaps you plan to smoke ribs and brisket. If so, get a wooden butcher’s block and a sharp knife. You’ll be totally set up to smoke with these accessories and we hope that you enjoy your summer cooking outside.
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