Thu 25 May 2017
Read other related stories: Cooking With Wood , General Smoking Information , Smoking Tips , Smoking with chunks
HOW TO TURN YOUR LP/GAS GRILL INTO A SMOKER
This is the year! You made a promise to yourself, family and friends that this outdoor cooking season, you were going to bring more flavor to meals cooked on the grill by incorporating smoking wood and grilling wood. All you need to know is, what are the options for setting up the grill for this type of cooking without purchasing a smoker?
We have the answer and lots of options to utilize your existing equipment!
LP/Gas Grills of All Types
There is a great deal of variation in LP/Gas Grilling equipment in terms of grilling surface space, the number of burners, BTU rating, etc. Know up front, that this will play into how frequently you need to replenish grilling or smoking wood or even to monitor the foods being smoked on the grill. Essentially, these tips will work on any brand/model that you may own.
How To Add Grilling Woods to the LP/Gas Grill
Heat diffusers are commonly found on newer models of grills. They are made of high heat tolerant metal and cover the actual burners of the unit. Their purpose is to ensure even heat distribution throughout the grill so both radiant and conductive heat is maximized.
Wood Chunks On The Diffusers
If you have a grill model that has heat diffusers (remember, they may go by other names like flavorizer bars, flame tamers, heat plates, burner shields, and heat distributors) then you’re ready to use smoking wood chunks on your unit! Yes, I said smoking chunks. This is by far the easiest method of getting the true smoke flavor to the foods being cooked. Plus, you can set up an indirect method of cooking using smoking chunks.
You will need 3-4 wood chunks sized to fit over your heat diffusers and under the grill grate when setting in place. A 2x2x3-inch size fits most units and these should have some measurable moisture level; at least 20% moisture is ideal meaning you won’t need to presoak the wood. If you have an old grill model before heat diffusers were standard, you can still use smoking wood chunks by placing them in a smoker box. These boxes will generally fit 3-4 chunks of the size referenced above but be sure to use a good quality box. My preference is cast iron. Insert the chunks into the smoker box and leave the lid off!
Indirect Cooking Method
What truly makes for barbecue and not just grilling or smoking on an LP/Gas unit is using the indirect method of cooking. The smoking wood chunks will be set on a burner that is turned on to medium or medium-high heat depending on the BTU level of your unit. The higher the BTU level, use a medium setting. Overall, you want the grill’s temperature to average 225-250° F for cooking traditional BBQ items like ribs, brisket, pork shoulder, and poultry. If using the smoker box, you will place the box on the grill grate of the side with the burner lit. My preference is, if doing very large cuts of meat, to turn on two burners if you have a 3-burner or more unit. The foods will be placed on the unlit side of the grill.
Water Keeps Everything Moist
To ensure that any meat or poultry cooked on the grill remains moist and tender, include a water pan or two in your set up. This is easily done by purchasing readily available disposable pie tins from the discount store. I like to add warm to hot water so the grill does not have to exert much energy to heat up the water, which takes heat away from the unit. Remember, the water will be evaporating during the cooking or smoking process so have additional water available if it depletes before the cooking is complete. Water pans are set on the unlit burner side of the grill, directly under the food. This will also act as a drip pan, catching all those juices.
Moist Cold Surfaces Attract Smoke Vapor
You have your smoking wood chunks on the lit burner, your water pans on the unlit burner, the grill’s temperature is holding steady, the grill grate has been in place taking on heat – we’re now ready for the meat. Always take the prepared meat directly from the refrigerator to the grill COLD! Cold foods will attract smoke vapor faster, allowing the vapor to condense on the food’s surface. A moist surface also help attract the smoke so feel free to keep a spray bottle of water to spritz your meat’s surface as needed, though this often is not needed.
Leave the Lid Alone!
Remember, this isn’t traditional grilling on the grill. We are doing barbecue smoking using an indirect method of cooking. Keep the lid closed! Every time you do so, you release heat, smoke, and moisture. What you do need to watch closely is the temperature of your unit as the consistent temperature is what ensures an evenly cooked food item, as well as a tender, moist outcome.
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