October 24, 2019

Can You Smoke Food in the Winter?

Can You Smoke Food in the Winter?

Smoked fish and meats is something we associate more with the summer, when we are barbecuing and spending more time outside in the garden. Smoked food is something which can be enjoyed at any time of year, and what could be better than some home smoked salmon for breakfast on Christmas morning? If you want to get outside and smoke food over the winter months, there are several factors which are important to bear in mind.

Getting the Equipment – Can You Smoke Food in the Winter?

Because so many of us think of smoking food as a summer time activity, the colder months can be a great time to pick up smokers, wood chips and tools at bargain basement prices as the retailers clear out their summer stock to make way for other ranges. If you miss the boat with getting a smoker in the stores, online retailers keep stocks throughout the year but may have a less extensive range between autumn and Easter. Shop around and do some research to make sure you have everything you need before you get started. Get onto some specialist foodie or smoking websites and ask experts on their forums about what sort of things they would recommend for a beginner.

Smoke Food in the Winter
Smoke Food in the Winter

Temperature for your smoker to work

Obviously one of the main differences between a warm summer’s afternoon and a cold morning in January is the temperature. It is not uncommon for the temperature to be 20C or even 25C different between winter and summer and this has to be taken into account when smoking food. In cold weather, your smoker will take longer to reach the best temperature for smoke, and will lose heat far more quickly than it will in the winter. Some experts recommend insulating your smoker to protect it from icy winds, but it is sometimes a matter of trial and error to find the best temperature at any time of the year. As a general rule, in winter you will need more fuel to get the smoker up to the right temperature, and to keep it at this temperature while cooking. Around twice as much fuel could be required compared with the summer.

Smoke Food in the Winter
Smoke Food in the Winter

Fuel

Most home smokers use wood chips to fire their smoker, and there is a wide range of different chips on the market. There is no right or wrong fuel to use, and the choice mainly comes down to a matter of personal preference. Cherry wood, beech, apple, chestnut and hickory are all popular smoking fuels, so experiment with some different flavours to see which combinations you like. There are several websites which will point you in the right direction if you are struggling to know where to start. Remember that you are going to have to store all of this fuel somewhere, so buy small quantities of chips until you get a better idea of exactly what you are going to use.

Shelter

Rain or snow falling on your smoker draws heat away from the food inside, so it is a good idea to build some sort of little shelter to protect it from sudden showers. This shelter doesn’t have to be anything fancy; a few planks laid across a couple of bricks might be enough to provide a way of keeping the rain off. Just remember to leave enough room for the air to circulate and for there not to be any risk of anything catching fire as the temperature of the smoker starts to rise. It goes without saying that you should never be tempted to smoke food inside, however cold it is outside, and that smokers should be closely watched while the food is inside and the fire is lit.

Smoke Food in the Winter
Smoke Food in the Winter

Meat and Fish

The most commonly smoked items are meats and fish. Smoking not only adds flavour but also helps to preserve the food and stops it going off. Smoked salmon or trout is popular at any time of year, but especially at Christmas when people are looking for unusual gifts to send to foodie friends and family. Turkey is also idea for smoking, so if you have overestimated just how much turkey you are going to need to feed the family, carve off a leg or portion before roasting it in the oven and make something a little different for your New Year’s party.

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Grand Tennessee BBQ Smoker

Grand Tennessee BBQ Smoker

Hot on the charcoal-fired heels of our BBQ Tower Review we’re spending the run up to barbecue season – if it ever arrives in the UK – picking through our vast array of barbecues and reviewing them for your benefit. It’s all about helping you find the barbecue that’s going to give you the tastiest grub this summer, and barbecues that will be giving you this for years to come – even if the weather unfortunately doesn’t comply. Today is the turn of the Landmann Grand Tennessee Smoker, which is certainly ‘grand’ on appearance but does that mean it’s worth your hard earned cash?

BBQ Smoker
BBQ Smoker

Landmann is a name that’s highly regarded in the barbecue world. It’s a family-run owned company that founded in 1966 and became the first company to introduce barbecuing equipment into the German market on a large scale. They are now one of Europe’s largest suppliers of barbecues, with many of their models available to buy on the BBQBarbecues website. This time we’re focusing on the Landmann Grand Tennessee Smoker though, and it may just be one of the best things that the company currently offers.

Landmann Grand Tennessee BBQ Smoker Review

The first thing that strikes you about this wonderful smoker is its grand steampunk style industrial appearance. A lot of barbecues can end up looking pretty bland and boring in your garden, so it’s a real refresher to get something that’s going to stand out so beautifully. It’s made up of a black main chamber and an attached side firebox, both of which open smoothly when you lift the white handles. The bewitching appearance is complete with wagon style wheels and a charming little chimney, plus a practical lengthy work area. Despite its size the wheels make the Landmann Grand Tennessee Smoker easy enough to move around, and the set of chunky sturdy legs can be relied upon for years.

BBQ Smoker
BBQ Smoker

This smoker looks the business

They say that appearances that can be deceiving, but thankfully the inner workings live up to pure barbecuing standards. The brilliance of the design gives you a choice; you can either cook your food directly over coals in the sizeable main area or indirectly via the side firebox in order to smoke the food. If you opt for the second option it’s simple enough; simply throw your charcoal into the firebox, optionally adding damp sawdust to help create more smoke or flavoured wood chippings to create that taste-bud exploding barbecue flavour.

Smoky meat at your fingertips

Close the lids and the magic will happen, with the smoke passing into the main cooking area and out through the chimney. You can regulate the heat and smoke intensity simply by opening slots (dampers) on the chimney and the firebox. Before cooking it’s best to burn some hardwood in it for about 2 hours, simply to ‘burn it in’, but once it’s ready you’re good to go for years to come. It’s a barbecue that’s ideal for slow cooking; stick a juicy steak in there – add some homemade barbecue rub near the end for some extra tastiness – and about 8 hours later you’ll have one of the best steaks you’ve ever tasted.

BBQ Smoker
BBQ Smoker

The Gadget Show reviewed the Landmann Grand Tennessee Smoker in their recent Bank Holiday special, giving it an impressive 4 out of 5 G’s rating, so we know that other people definitely love this model too.

If you’re serious about barbecuing and smoking food (try slow smoked BBQ ribs and be prepared to be amazed!) then you really can’t really go wrong with the Landmann Grand Tennessee Smoker, especially as it won’t cost you an absolute fortune. It’s definitely up there with the top 5 barbecues we’ve ever had the pleasure to use – and ultimately taste for that lip-smacking quality!

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Make your Barbecue go with a bang this Guy Fawkes Night

Make your Barbecue go with a bang this Guy Fawkes Night

With November 5 and Guy Fawkes night celebrations only days away, now would be a great time to plan your barbecue feast.

Yes, we know it’s getting a bit cold for standing around outdoors but that’s all the more reason to cook up a few yummy treats such as piping hot baked potatoes and spicy sausage with onion toasted baps.

And, much as we hate to admit, it may even be the last chance you’ll have to get the barbecue glowing this year.

There’s no better way of enjoying a fireworks display than to be standing with a hot burger in your hand and a warm drink nearby. Barbecues are a great at a firework display because, aside from the fireworks themselves, they tend to be the focus of the evening.

Make your Barbecue go with a bang this Guy Fawkes Night
Make your Barbecue go with a bang this Guy Fawkes Night

Make your Barbecue go with a bang this Guy Fawkes Night

Because it’ll be dark when you’re cooking outdoors it’s often a good idea to ‘pre-cook’ the potatoes and sausage in the oven beforehand then just do the final ten minutes or so on the barbecue. This ensures everything is cooked right through for your guests and gives you peace of mind to enjoy the evening yourself.

So what makes good barbecue tucker for a cold November night? We’ve a few suggestions below:

Meat

  • Thick steaks cut evenly into strips and served with flat bread (to make the flat bread use shop-bought pizza dough and drizzle with oil prior to cooking)
  • Chicken drumsticks with small tubs of salsa dressing
  • Pork sausages with onions and mustard (of course)

BBQ Vegetables

Grilled artichokes or asparagus marinated in lime juice, oil and garlic (it’s best to soak in water beforehand to soften)

Tofu (always use the firm variety) isn’t strictly a vegetable but tends to be beloved of vegetarians and cooks well on a barbecue either in chunks or presented on skewers with peppers, tomatoes, onions or mushrooms

BBQ Vegetables
BBQ Vegetables

Brussels sprouts is an usual one but delicious when grilled (cook through beforehand to soften)
Sweet potatoes are a tasty – and healthier – alternative to white potatoes and are delicious when rubbed over with hot maple syrup

Corn on the cob dripping with butter (it’s what barbecues were made for!)

BBQ Fish

Large prawns dipped in lemon juice or painted with Thai sweet chilli sauce then cooked on skewers
Salmon with dill and butter wrapped in tinfoil or soaked overnight in a marinade of soy sauce, olive oil, sesame oil and grated fresh ginger (with the juice from a lime sprinkled on top when cooked).
Sweets

Large chunks of fruit such as apples or bananas brushed with a mix of honey and an equal part dry white wine

BBQ Fish
BBQ Fish

Pineapple slices with a sweet balsamic glaze or with a cinnamon and sugar topping.

Just one thing we’d add to the above – and that’s to remember to keep your vegetables and other meats separate. You don’t want to be annoying any strict vegetarian guests on the night of your party!

And another thing, you don’t want to be succeeding where Guy Fawkes failed. By that we mean in order to make sure there’s no nasty fires, just make sure your barbecue isn’t in range of any wayward fireworks…

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