I was REALLY in the mood for some Smoked Duck Pastrami yesterday. Problem is, unless you have the room and disposable income for a proper setup, or live out in the sticks somewhere with an outhouse, smoking meats at home seems like something the average person can only dream about. Well au contraire mon frère, because with a little time and effort it’s entirely possible to smoke the hell out of some meats in the comfort of your own abode. So, we wanted to share the wealth.
To start, there are two main ways to smoke at home: a) using either a charcoal grill, or b) an electric or conventional oven. For our purposes we focused on the oven method:
1) The first step to smoking meat in an oven is really wet soaked wood chips. Submerge your hickory, mesquite, or whatever flavor chips in water for a few hours. Once soaked, drain your wood chips through a colander, reserving some of the chip water in a container.
2) Now you’re ready to cook so preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. First, so you don’t burn yourself adjust your oven rack so that it is one notch below the middle notch and closer to the bottom of the oven.
3) Using a metal pan, (preferably aluminum) place the soaked wood chips at the bottom of the pan, making sure some of the water creates a film at the bottom along with the chips. Be careful to only line the bottom of the pan and not stack the chips in layers as it will produce too much smoke. The right amount of wet wood chips will ensure there is an appropriate amount of smoke.
4) Over the wood chips place a raised metal baking rack. Make sure there is enough space between the chips and bottom of the rack for the smoke to flow freely.
5) Now you’re ready to place the meat onto the baking rack. The meat should be placed directly over the wood chips. When you put the meat on the rack, make a nice tent of aluminum foil that seals the roasting pan on all sides and has room in the top for the smoke to circulate. The more tightly the foil is sealed, the more the wood flavor will penetrate the meat.
6) Place the aluminum pan in the oven and let the meat cook. Depending on the amount and type of meat you’re smoking, let it slow cook for 3-6 hours. During the smoking process, the water may become absorbed, drying out your chips and conversely your meat. Pour some of your reserved chip water in, rewetting the chips and re-creating the film of water at the bottom.
7) Once you’re nearing completion time, check the internal temperature of your meat according to your favorite cooking guide to determine readiness. Pull the meat out of the oven, slice (or gouge) to your liking, and enjoy all that smokey goodness.
(Photo enclosed: Homemade Smoked Duck Pastrami)