Smoking Food on the Grill

Smoked food has its own allure. Use your kettle grill or backyard smoker for outstanding results.

By FamilyTime


Smoking food is a method of slow cooking over moderately hot coals and damp, smoking wood chips. During cooking, the smoke swirls around the food, surrounding it with mild heat and impregnating it with smoky flavor.

What You Will Need
If you have a small, backyard water smoker, you are in luck. Use it to smoke fish, turkey, brisket, and ribs, following the instructions that accompany the smoker.

You can also use a covered grill, such as a kettle grill with a domed lid. Use the vents in the grill's lid to moderate the interior temperature.

Invest in an oven thermometer with a sensor that can slide into one of the vents. This will allow you to monitor the interior temperature.

Equally important is an instant-read thermometer that will read the temperature of the food in seconds.

You also will need charcoal or briquettes (we prefer natural charcoal) and wood chips. The chips are crucial, as they provide the smoke.

Finally, you will need time and patience.

The Basic Method
Begin by building a fire with fewer coals than you would use for grilling. Build it on one side of the grill, for indirect grilling. For most smoking needs, you will need from 12 to 16 coals burning in the grill at any one time.

Let the coals burn for a few minutes and then put the lid over the grill. When the thermometer indicates that the interior of the grill is 160° to 200°F (depending on what you are smoking), it's time to begin smoking.

Scatter a good handful of drained, wet wood chips over the hot coals. They will begin to smoke.

Set the food on a lightly greased grilling rack away from the coals and positioned over a drip pan. The pan may or may not contain liquid such as water or broth. Replace the lid of the grill and let the food smoke.

Whole fish or fish steaks will take about two hours to smoke, while a turkey breast will need up to three and a half hours. Beef brisket needs six or seven hours.

During smoking, you will have to replace the coals as they burn down and replenish the chips to keep the cooking chamber smoke filled and at the correct temperature.

Helpful Tips
It's a good idea to have extra coals buring in a hibachi or charcoal chimney. This way, you can replace the burned down coals with fresh hot ones.

Soak the wood chips in a bucket of cold water for about 30 minutes before you begin smoking. Keep the bucket near the grill so that you can toss fresh chips on the coals whenever you need to.

Smoked food has a flavor and texture all its own. Once you start smoking, you will want to try any number of foods - shrimp, pork chops, sausages, salmon, chicken. All taste wonderful served warm or at room temperature with various sauces and other accompaniments.