The Art of Smoking

Smoking food is really more of an art than a science.

Don’t get me wrong, science plays a part in the process, but it really is an art; and just as there are different mediums of art, there are different ways to smoke food. And anyone who has smoked food knows there really is no “one” best way to do it.

Since there are many ways to smoke, many devices to use, many recipes written, and even more opinions, when we try to say there is only one way to smoke a Boston Butt, or only one proper way to smoke ribs, what we are really saying is “there is the way we like it done.” I know this to be true because I’ve witnessed it over the years. But I digress.

The thing is that as with art, smoking food comes in many flavors, styles and methods. All tend to be good, some maybe better than others, but the proof is in the taste, both of the food and the person eating.

For example, most of my life I’ve been using a molasses or tomato based barbecue sauce. Though I have switched brands or even made my own, they always have that thick consistency and reddish-brown color. It wasn’t until someone introduced me to a mustard based sauce that I realized I prefer the mustard base over the tomato or molasses based sauces. This of course doesn’t mean the tomato base sauce isn’t good, or that I don’t eat it anymore, it just means I prefer one over the other. If there isn’t a choice, I’ll use the tomato or molasses base without question or complaint.

Another example is what wood to use when smoking. There are times when I smoke pork that will stray from my tried and true apple wood and try hickory or even pecan. There are those who might cringe at this and still others that would say using apple is too simplistic. Or what about to use the Texas crutch or not? To brine or not to brine?

So what’s the point of this article? Simply this, if we are willing to look at smoking food as an art we are more likely to try new things. We will be willing to allow others to have opinions that differ from our own with respect rather than conflict. If we see it as an art we may be more willing to experiment with methods we’ve never considered. If we see it as an art we may be willing to be adventurous and think outside the box. (Remember that it’s best to keep the smoke “inside” the box.) The point is, smoking food, like art is an acquired taste but we if we are willing we can see the beauty in all of it.

I am excited by new things. I hope you are as well.



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