So, you want to become a BBQ pit boss. You’ve decided to buy a smoker and leave the amateurs behind to embrace the life you feel destined for. Now it’s time to test it out and impress the buddies with your mad smoking skills (or, soon to be mad smoking skills after reading this blog).
Whether you have a vertical, stand up, or tow-along smoker, we’ll share some general smoker tips as well as smoked beef recipes to get you started off on the right foot to becoming a true BBQ pit boss.
Step 1: Choose Your Wood Wisely
Cherry, oak, hickory, maple, apple, mesquite, pecan, or alder? Pick your wood wisely, as it will dictate the flavor of the smoke—and therefore the beef. Here’s a good rule of thumb: Avoid using softwoods like pine and cedar, as they can ruin the meat and your smoker. Instead, always stick with hardwoods. For heavier meats like pork and beef, use hardwoods like oak, mesquite, hickory, and pecan. For more delicate meats like fish and chicken, use a lighter hardwood like maple, apple, cherry, and alder. You can find grilling wood and fuel at many retail locations selling grilling equipment.
Step 2: Get the Right Cut of Beef for Smoking
Plan ahead. Most grocers won’t have the large, smoker-ready cuts of beef you’re looking for ready. If they don’t have what you’re looking for, they’ll most likely be able to place a special order for you. Or you’ll probably need to head to your butcher or favorite online marketplace. Ask what they recommend and if it will work for your new smoker.
Step 3: Keep Your Eye on the Temperature
It’s important to remember that temperatures for smoking meat are different than for grilling or barbecuing. While grilling is usually done at high heat (500°F) and barbecuing is at low heat (200°-300°F), smoking is done at very low heat (52°-140°F), which is why it needs to cook longer.
Step 4: Explore Your Options
Ready for those smoked beef recipes and tips that we promised? Well, the wait is over…
Taken from the chest of cattle, beef brisket is one of the best meats for smoking. Look for an undivided, untrimmed, cut with marbling and a nice, fatty layer; this will ensure your meat has massive flavor.
In this easy smoked brisket recipe, rub the brisket with a classic mixture of garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, chili pepper, salt, and pepper, and throw it on the smoker until it reaches 160 degrees F. Add a beef broth mixture of your favorite beer, apple cider vinegar, beef stock, and butter; wrap the beef; and add it back to the smoker until the temperature rises to 204 degrees F. Slice against the grain and serve it up to impress all of your BBQ guests with this delicious meal!
Whether you choose spare, baby back, beef back, short ribs or country style, ribs aren’t just easily smoked, they actually taste better smoked because the process makes the meat more tender. Choose a slab with good meat coverage and less fat. After removing the membrane, rub on a seasoning or marinade and throw them on the smoker. In this marinade for Juicy Beef Ribs, mix soy sauce, red wine vinegar, Tabasco sauce, and honey for a sweet and spicy flavor.
A slow smoking process will break down all the connective tissue in the ribs and release the hidden juices from within. If you’re feeling ambitious, try your hand at a spice blend or sauce concoction to add your own personal twist to the final product.
Step 5: Don’t Forget the Sides
While your smoked meat is obviously the big-ticket item here, no meal is complete without some great sideshows. Some of our favorite side dishes for smoked beef include macaroni and cheese, baked beans, cornbread, and collard greens.
Show Off Your BBQ Skills
Becoming a BBQ pit boss isn’t just a rite of passage in itself, it can open the door to your smoking skills becoming the main attraction at numerous occasions, such as a casual cookout or even a romantic date.
Learn more about how to buy beef like a pro, awesome recipes, and our cut library all on our website.