Craft Meats

Best methods of Smoking and Roasting Meats

The method of smoking foods goes back to the time when primitive cavemen societies would bring in their hunt for the day and process them by cleaning it up and prepare it prior to cooking it.

However, there were certain times that these cave dwelling hunters would have a substantial amount of meat left over that it usually gets spoiled, eventually going to waste.

They soon discovered that smoking meat would preserve their food and would enable them to store it for prolonged periods of time, enabling them to stock up their food supply during the lean seasons when hunting game was difficult.

Other than that, smoking meat gave a peculiar, yet savory flavor that was quite different from ordinary cooked methods that it soon became a daily activity amongst primitive tribesmen.

Smoking method predates all earlier forms of food preservation techniques, even that of salting meats, as it was still an undiscovered mineral during that time (salt).

Later on, as primitive cave dwelling communities started to move out into the open plains, they soon started to construct makeshift huts.

During this period, they have already made improvements on their methods of smoking, in addition to curing it with salt, either brining it in salty water which extracted almost all residue of animal oil and blood or just plain salting it. 

Curing meats with salt prior to smoking them not only improved the way how meat was preserved, but also made smoked meat more flavorful due to the salt that was absorbed into the meat.

As the rest of the world started to thrive, it is apparent that there are countless of cultures around the world who have similar methods of curing and smoking meats as a way to preserve and augment the flavor of meat.

Smoking and curing meats is a method that is still very much practiced today in almost every part of the world. During the early years before the dawn of modern transport, smoking was much conducted on an almost industrial scale as it’s main purpose was to preserve meat for commercial public consumption.

Mass quantities of salt were used for curing prior to smoking them, often spanning days on end, exposing meat that were stored in “smoke houses” that resembled a kiln.

Weeks passed by before they would finally take the meats out as to ensure that it does not contain any amount of substantial moisture that could cause the growth of unwanted bacteria which could cause spoilage.

This could be the reason why smoked meats such as ham have such a dry texture to their meat.

As time passed by, the dawn of modern transportation saw a decline of these “smoke houses” as food supplies, particularly meat, was essentially and conveniently transported from farm to market, making it possible for people to avail meat and cook it on the same day.

Smoke houses were now remnants of a  bygone era where in the preservation of meats was considered essentially important.

Despite the disappearance of this age old industry, there are still some who maintained operating these smoke houses but in a smaller scale, usually confined to small rural communities and backyards.

By now, smoking meats was more of a way to add flavor rather than a way of preserving meat which was it’s original intention.

Today, smoking is not just confined to meats such as pork of beef, but it is also applicable to almost any king of animal protein such as veal, chicken or cook fish and even fruits and vegetables for that matter.t

First, not everything can be smoked as you would usually try to apply, in pertaining to one particular kind of meat, since each type of meat has different characteristics and consistencies and may require different methods of smoking techniques and curing time which will affect the outcome of the end result, particularly it’s texture, but more importantly, it’s flavor as well.

There are 3 basic smoking methods that are appropriately applied to certain type of meat products which can enhance their flavor depending on what you intend to cook them with.

The following methods are the most basic smoking techniques that are used in enhancing the flavor of the foods that you want to cook using these simple methods.

Cold Smoking

To give you a brief description of this method, cold smoking does not cook your meats as it’s main intention is to add a smoked flavor on the meat that you will be using another method, in short, cold smoking is giving your meats a rich smoked flavor prior to actually cooking it.

The basic principle  of cold smoking involves letting your meats hang out to dry in a well ventilated area. It is required that you should let it develop a thin membrane of “pellicle“(pellicle is a membrane that develops on top of the meat’s surface which is caused by the excretion of the proteins that are drawn out while the meat is being dried in the open air). 

Pellicle is an essential part in the method of cold smoking, as this is where the smoked flavor and aroma of the wood adheres and clings to the texture of the meat which gives it’s flavor.

Cold smoking requires that meat is hung out in a well ventilated area indoors and outdoors and should not be left unattended too long.

You have to make sure that an ample amount of pellicle has developed all over the meat prior to subjecting it to cold smoking. Cold smoking is done in a controlled environment which requires you to attain a temperature of between 20 to 30 degrees Celsius or 68 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit respectively.

Cold smoking will put flavor on your meats while maintaining it’s moisture inside without loosing the essential juices and nutrients.

After the process of cold smoking is finished, you can now add your smoked flavored meat to any type of foods that you want to cook, as it will greatly enhance it’s overall flavor and aroma.

Some type of meat proteins are well suited for cold smoking, which include chicken breast, lean beef, pork chops, salmon scallops and steak.

Hot Smoking

Hot smoking is a method that is quite similar to cold smoking which their differences may only vary in regards to the temperature that is used in attaining the proper results.

The method of letting pellicle develop on the meat through way of ventilated drying is also needed in order for the meat to absorb the smoked aroma of the wood.

Hot smoking is considered as the original method in preserving meats, which is still very much in use up to this day.

Meats that have undergone hot smoking are often reheated or recooked just for the sole purpose of not having to eat a cold preparation, other than that, hot smoked meat is essentially very safe to eat as for the example of ham and ham hocks. Ham’s are generally fully cooked once they have gone through the process of hot smoking. To get the best result you should have a Traeger Renegade Elite Smoker.

Hot smoking is effectively done within the temperature ranges of between 52 to 82 degrees Celsius or about 126 to 176 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cooking your meat within this temperature range will assure you that it will be fully cooked and still retain it’s moisture and flavor without compromising it’s end quality.

If in any case that you forgot to monitor your temperature that it should exceed 185 degrees Fahrenheit or 85 degrees Celsius, you may end up with an almost dry smoked product that would have already lost a substantial amount of juices which will reduce it’s yield, as the fats and moisture inside the meat would have been nearly gone.

Always make sure that you keep an eye out for the temperature as having an “over cooked” meat does not have much an appeal, both in appearance and in flavor.

Smoke Roasting or Smoke Baking

Both terms apply similarly to the method of cooking your meat using a combination of both smoking and roasting. The most common term that implies the method of smoke roasting is oftentimes referred to as “barbecuing”, in which meat is skewered most of the time or laid down on a rack and cooked in an open pit flame.

It could also be undertaken using a closed wood burning brick oven or a roaster or even in a conventional oven which will have to attain a temperature range of about 250 degrees Fahrenheit or 121 degrees Celsius. Smoke roasting is a bit similar to cold smoking and hot smoking with the addition of an extra ingredient which comes in the form of aromatic hardwood chips.

This method is done by placing a substantial amount of aromatic hardwood chips on the bottom part of the oven, just underneath of where the source of the heats which is used to cook the meat.

The close proximity of the aromatic hardwood chips to the heat source will make the wood chips to smolder, causing it to release it’s aroma which will eventually fill up the compartment with smoke which is termed as creating a “smoke bath”.

Be aware that excessive smoke can produce high levels of carbon monoxide which can cause smoke poisoning and it is advised that you should conduct this sort of endeavor in well ventilated areas, which inhibits the buildup of toxic gases.

How to Achieve that Smoky Flavor

Basically, the real secret in getting the best results from smoking your meats is in the wood chips that you use. These wood chips are mostly derived from hardwoods which can be found all over the north American continent and in some parts of Europe as well.

Hardwood chips are a very important part in achieving that particular smoked flavor and there are a lot of types of hardwood chips that you can use in unison or in combination.

Hardwoods are made up of 3 components, namely cellulose, nitrocellulose and lignin. Cellulose and hemicellulose comprises the basic material of the wood while lignin is what bonds the structure of the wood together.

Other softwoods such as pine and fir can produce unfavorable tasting smoke residue that it is not used for this sort of smoking method, because it has a substantial quantity of resins that reacts with heat, oftentimes creating an irritating and toxic smell.

Cellulose and hemicellulose contain aggregate sugar molecules that when subjected to fire, excrete carbonyl which produces a sweet, fruity and flowery aroma and at the same time, render a caramelized color to the cooked meat.

Lignin also produces a smoky, spicy and sweeter scent like that of vanilla which is produced by a compound called guaiacol. Guaiacol is solely responsible for producing that smoky taste in cooked meats while a compound called syringol is the one that gives cooked meats it’s smoky aroma.

Other compounds of wood contain small amounts of protein which give meats a certain roasted flavor.

Besides being purely a means to preserve cooked meat, smoking also induces certain compounds into meat that acts out as natural preservatives. 

One good example of such compounds is phenol, which also can produce antioxidants that slows down the rancidity of oils which is commonly found in animal fats.

Phenol also produces an antibacterial action that kills most of the bacteria inside and outside of the meat, which slows down the development of bacteria, prolonging the storage life of meat.

Different species of trees usually have different amounts of compounds and various species of woods or a combination of several types would produce a variation of different flavors that enhances the smoked meat’s taste and aroma.

Another thing that is important to consider is the temperature in which these hardwood chips are used in accordance to the required methods. A very hot temperature may destroy the flavor molecules and render your meat unpleasant and less flavorful.

The average burning temperature of wood is about 570 to 750 degrees Fahrenheit or 299 and 399 degrees Celsius respectively. An ideal smoking environment requires temperatures which are much lower than this to enable you to smoke your meats properly without burning them.

Woods that contain a substantial amount of lignin, tend to burn hotter that usual and may require you to control the air inside the oven as to not increase the temperature, which explains why most smoking ovens have air controls built into them.

One old method of controlling highly combustible woods is by soaking them in water prior to using them in the oven, which slows down their burning at a much controlled rate which is coined with the term “slow burning”.

How To Fry Chicken With An Air Fryer For 2019

Everyone loves a homemade fried chicken. It’s both delicious and affordable. And most importantly, it’s easy to make. Well, that if you only have a good air fryer in your house.

So, if you’ve been wondering how to fry chicken with an air fryer, and you wanted to learn a few cool recipes along the way, don’t worry. We have you covered in this text.

We’ll also present you with detailed information on air dryer, how it works, what do you need to know before buying one, how to choose the best philips air fryer and why to use it in the first place. Read on if you want to know more and learn some useful tips.

How to fry chicken

Fry Chicken

If you want to learn how to make the best-fried chicken ever, read on because we’ll present you with a simple step-by-step guide on how to fry chicken with an air fryer.

So, are you in for some juicy, craving crispy fried chicken? If yes, embrace yourself because this guide will teach you how to make it better than your Grandma ever did.

Step 1: Purchase the perfectly-sized pieces of chicken

You don’t have to cut the whole chicken yourself in order to prepare the perfect fried chicken. All you have to do is kindly ask the butcher at the store you’re buying to cut it for you. Ask him/her to cut off the tips of the wings because they’re not that edible.

However, if you don’t like this option, you can buy a pack of chicken pieces, like legs, thighs, and drumsticks. And if you purchase a whole chicken, make sure it’s between 2 to 3 pounds because if it’s bigger, it won’t fry up in the air fryer like it’s supposed to.

Step 2: Plan ahead and prepare your chicken before frying it

If you want to accomplish moist and succulent chicken, you should place all the pieces in a bowl filled with buttermilk. Prepping them like this will help you get the best results.

After, wrap the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it at the refrigerator for about 8 to 24 hours. The acids and enzymes in the buttermilk will tenderize the chicken pieces.

Before you fry it, separate the dark and white pieces. Remember that white meat fries faster, meaning if you fry your chicken in pieces, it provides the best possible results.

Mix your coating ingredients together and test them to see if it needs adjusting. You can dip a raw veggie into the mix and throw it into the hot oil. Fry it up, leave it to cool and taste it. If you’re missing something, taste the mix and try again. When it tastes as you expected, you’re good to go. After coating the chicken pieces, refrigerate them. It will help the coating mixture to stick to all the chicken parts, even while frying it later.

Step 3: Are you sure you have all the equipment you need?

Make sure you’ve got everything you need before you start frying your chicken pieces. Are you sure that you own the best gowise air fryer? If yes, good for you. You’re all set up.

If not, as you continue reading, you will also stumble on a simple step-by-step guide on how to choose the best air fryer on the market and what you should pay attention to when buying it. But until then, a thick frying pan or a large heavy pot will finish the job.

Other equipment you will need before you fry your chicken is a thermometer. It’ll help you keep track of the chicken and the oil. However, that’s not everything you will need.

You will also need a wire rack and sturdy tongs. Place the rack over a cookie sheet piled with paper towels. The paper towels will prevent your pieces from becoming too greasy.

Step 4: Add your secret ingredients and you’re ready to go

You can add Tabasco in the bowl with buttermilk before you soak the chicken in it. It will give your fried chicken an extraordinary mouth-watering flavor like never before.

Or you can skip the vegetable oil and add your secret ingredients in order to break the monotony and make most delicious fried chicken your family/friends have ever tasted.

It’s also a great idea to add seasoned breadcrumbs, or cereal crumbs, crushed crackers or cornmeal into the coating mixture for additional flavor. But these are just our ideas. If you want to make the most delicious fried chicken, use the flavors you like best.

Fried chicken recipe

“The best comfort food will always be greens, cornbread, and fried chicken.” – Maya Angelou

If you love homemade crispy fried chicken as we do, then you’re going to love these recipes. They’re easy to make, affordable, and won’t take much of your precious time.

Recipe 1: Delicious crispy fried chicken

If you’re in for some delicious crispy fried chicken, this is the recipe for you. It’s easy to make. And we promise that you will enjoy it and even lick all your fingers afterward.

Ingredients:

  • 1-3/4 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ milk
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Oil for deep-fat frying
  • 1 fryer chicken cut in pieces

Preparation:

Mix the pepper, salt, garlic powder, flour, paprika and dried thyme in a shallow bowl. Mix the milk, lemon juice, and egg in a separate bowl and blend everything together.

First, dip each piece in flour. Make sure you have all sides coated. After, dip each piece in the egg mixture. Dip again in the flour and you’re ready to go.

Heat oil to 375° in a deep fryer or an electric skillet. Fry a few pieces at once. Leave each piece between 6 to 10 minutes on each side until it turns golden brown. Drain each piece on a paper towel. Wait for it to cool and enjoy a crispy fried chicken.

delicious crispy fried chicken

Recipe 2: Not your average fried chicken

Do you want to try something unusual when it comes to fried chicken? If yes, this is an ideal recipe for you. It’s nothing like the ordinary fried chicken you’ve tasted before.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • ¼ tablespoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ tablespoon garlic powder
  • ¼ tablespoon black pepper
  • 4 boneless and skinless chicken breasts

Preparation:

Mix the salt, butter, garlic powder, pepper and smoked paprika in a bowl. Coat the sides of the breasts with this mixture. Place each one in air fryer basket. You can place them against sides of the basket if needed. Cook for 15 minutes at 350°F. Flip and cook 5 to 8 minutes. Or until the juice becomes clear and center of thickest part is cut at 165°F.

If you like this recipe but want to fry it like the greatest chefs,  you can follow Jamie Oliver’s recipe. Just click this video and learn how to fry your chicken like a real chef.

What is Air Fryer?

Everybody’s going crazy over the air fryer. However, if you still haven’t heard of it, you probably wonder, what’s an air fryer? And is it actually worth the money? Keep reading.

An air fryer represents a kitchen gadget designed to mimic the work of deep frying but with less amount of oil and hot air. It allows you to fry the chicken faster thanks to the modern heating mechanism.

Hot air flows around the food situated in a basket. The rapid circulation turns the food into the best crispiest meal you’ve ever tasted. It’s like deep frying but much healthier.

You don’t have to worry about cleaning your air fryer because it’s easy to do so. You can also wash it in a dishwasher. However, make sure it’s safe to do so with your air fryer.

Tips when buying an air fryer

Tip 1: If you want to buy an air fryer, know that it costs between $100 and $300. But the price depends on the features and the size. So, make sure you know what you want.

Tip 2: An air fryer isn’t a small kitchen gadget and it’s bigger than a toaster. Meaning, you should make sure that you have the space on your kitchen counter before buying.

Tip 3: Expect taste and texture similar to the results you get with deep frying, but it is much faster and much healthier because it uses less oil. French fries cooked in an air fryer have between 4 and 6 grams of fat. When deep fried, it rises to 17 grams of fat.

buying air fryer

Benefits of Air Fryer

When using an air fryer, you’ll not only cook your food faster but also gain a few other benefits aside. Continue with reading to discover the main benefits we’re talking about.

  • Cooking with an air fryer can help you cut the fat content

Deep-fried meals contain more fat than meals prepared with an air fryer or another cooking method. Some of the manufacturers of air fryers claim that using one might cut fat content up to 75% thanks to the less fat used while frying.

While most recipes of deep-fried meals need 750 ml of oil, an air fryer dish requires 15 ml of oil. Meaning, if you go with a deep fryer, you will use 50 times more oil.

With an air fryer, fat content is cut because not all the oil is absorbed by the meal you’re cooking.  If you worry about your overall health, you’ll find this info important.

It turns out that consuming food with a lot of fat increases the risk of inflammation and heart disease.

  • Cooking with an air fryer can help you lose weight

Deep-fried meals don’t just contain a lot of fat but also a lot of calories. Meaning, it will help you gain weight. Air-fried food, on the other hand, is lower in calories and fat.

According to a study done on 33,542 Spanish adults, fried food is increasing the risk of obesity. So, if you’re on a diet and try to lose weight, we suggest you cut off deep-fried food and buy an air fryer right now. It’s a good way to start your new healthy lifestyle.

  • It can decrease the formation of harmful components

Fried food can create harmful components such as acrylamide because of the high fat and calories. It appears in carbohydrate-rich meals prepared on high heat like frying.

The International Agency for Research on cancer, this compound is said to be “probable carcinogen”. Meaning, it is associated with the development of multiple types of cancer.

Air frying decreases the acrylamide content in your meal by 90% in comparison to deep frying. But keep in mind that different dangerous compounds can still be formed in air fried food like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, aldehydes, and heterocyclic amines.

  • An air fried food is still fried food

Although it seems that air frying your food is healthier than deep frying it, you have to remember that air fried food is still fried food. And as we mentioned earlier, it creates different harmful components and might have a negative impact on your overall health.

According to a study based on 15,362 people, consuming fried food, no matter how you cook it, might increase the risk of heart failure and getting different types of cancer.

If you consume fried food on a daily basis, it can also influence your blood pressure. And by influence, we mean, increase it. Fried food is associated with type 2 diabetes. If you want to protect your health, you can also bake, steam, or roast your food instead of frying it. This will not only protect your health but also boost the flavor of the food.

benefits of air fryer

What Can I Cook with an Air Fryer?

Air fryer does a great job cooking up everything that’s supposed to be fried. Meaning, you can air fry different foods you usually deep fry using different methods such as:

  • Frozen onion rings
  • Frozen french fries
  • Chicken breasts
  • Cheeseburgers
  • Bacon and fish
  • Steak
  • Bratwurst
  • Muffins and cakes
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Chicken fingers
  • Ravioli
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Homemade chips

However, there are a few foods you can’t cook with an air fryer like battered foods, raw vegetables, most greens, cheese, and different types of food in large quantities. Meaning, if you want to prepare a great family meal, you will have to cook in batches.

Air Fryer Types

There are different types of air fryers, but most break down into 4 main categories:

  • Paddle-type: costly and stir. You need to add the fat to the pan with the food.
  • Basket-type: not so expensive but you will need to shake the food two or three times during cooking. You have to coat the food before placing it in the basket.
  • Countertop oven: Multifunctional kitchen appliance rather than the air fryers.
  • Oil-less turkey fryer: A large gadget without forced air. For outdoor use

Things to Keep in Mind when Choosing the Right Air Fryer

This air fryer review can help choose the best air fryer on the market, according to your needs and expectations. If you want to buy one today, keep these things in mind.

  • Prices and capacities vary widely. Meaning you can purchase an air fryer for only $60, however, you can also buy one for $300. Each air fryer is designed to fit your counter. However, keep in mind that an air fryer won’t help you cook a family meal unless you’re down for cooking in batches. Don’t ever overcrowd the basket because it might block the hot air from flowing through all your food.
  • Warranties vary too. The shortest one is 60 days. It’s not recommended to buy a product with a short warranty. Buy the one with 2 or at least 1-year

How to Choose the Right Air Fryer for Your Home

If you want to buy the best air fryer for your home, pay attention to these things.

  • Check all the functions. A great air fryer allows you to prepare different types of foods. Meaning, you need to pick the air fryer that allows you to prepare the foods we mentioned. Also, pick the one with different temperatures and times.
  • Dimension and size. Check if you have space in your kitchen to place the gadget. After, pick an air fryer that fits the space you have instead of buying a big one.
  • Capacity. If you’re cooking for your family, it’s suggested that you buy a big one. However, if you cook for one or two people only, you don’t need a big air fryer. Most have the capacity of 1.8 pounds of food. Also, pay attention to the racks. Some have one, while other air fryers have two racks. If you’re cooking large meals for your family, it’s recommended that you buy an air fryer with 2 racks.
  • Wattage. Air fryers operate on electricity. However, the higher the wattage isn’t the best option. If you want to save money on electricity and get the best results, it’s suggested that you buy a low power air fryer. However, if you want to cook fast, buy the one with higher wattage appliance.
  • Simple usage. If you want to buy an air fryer, use the one that’s simple to use. Complicated air fryers aren’t recommended for home use. The air fryer should come with instructions on how to use it properly. Mainteinance and cleaning are also important. The parts should fit your dishwasher. They should be easy to open and clean. However, you should pay attention to safety features as well.

man eating chicken fried

Frequently Asked Questions About Air Fryer

Should I preheat the air fryer before cooking in it?

Usually, an air fryer doesn’t need to preheat before cooking in it. However, if you don’t preheat it, you probably have to leave your food in a bit longer.

However, instead of preheating it, you can place your food evenly in it. This will allow the hot air to flow evenly through the ingredients and cook your food faster.

Some foods need to be put in the air fryer before you preheat it. For example, eggs because it allows the eggs to slowly come up to temperature.

If you decide to preheat your air fryer before using it, you should do it for two minutes.  After just fill up the basket and you’re ready to go.

Is there a specific oil required for air fryer?

A: No, there’s no particular oil required for cooking with an air fryer. You can use the oil you usually use when you cook. For example, olive oil, coconut oil, and shelled nut oil.

Can I include extra ingredients while the food is already cooking?

Yes, it’s okay to add extra ingredients while the rest of the food is already cooking in the air fryer. But it’s suggested that you do it fast in order to preserve the heat.

Does air fryer improve the flavor and taste of the food?

A: Yes, it actually is improving the flavor and taste of your meals, unlike deep frying. It’s also healthier because you don’t need to use that much oil to prepare your food like you have to with a deep fryer.

Also, the food you fry with an air dryer is proven to have less fat and calories than the deep-fried food. Meaning, it doesn’t only boost flavor and taste but it has a positive effect on your overall health too.

woman eating fried

Final Thoughts

From our point of view, it’s useful to have an air fryer at home, especially if you have children who love fried food. However, we’ve mentioned that air fried food is still fried food. Meaning, you should make sure that neither you or your loved ones consume fried food too often. But who can resist homemade chips, or crispy chicken or french fries?

We sincerely hope you find our article on how to fry chicken with an air fryer for 2019 helpful and useful when you air fry food or choose the best air fryer for your home.

Feel free to leave a comment down below and share a few tips of your own. Or suggest recipes on how to fry chicken so other readers can prepare the most delicious crispy air fried chicken. Also, don’t hesitate to share this article with friends on social media.