Getting started with the barbecue smoker


A barbecue smoker is a device that gives your ingredients a delicious smoky flavour. In the past, people mainly smoked in order to preserve food longer. Nowadays it is mainly done to eat and enjoy the flavoured preparations immediately after the smoking session. This cooking technique is gaining enormously in popularity, because the trends of facing culinary challenges and outdoor cooking are now completely hot & trendy. Discover the possibilities of a barbecue smoker! 

Which barbecue smokers does Barbecook offer?

Barbecook offers two different types of barbecue smokers: the Oskar, a sturdy model with numerous possibilities, and the Otto, a smaller electric model that can certainly stand its ground! The Oskar barbecue smoker is available in two different sizes: small and medium. You can smoke both hot and cold with it. With the Otto barbecue smoker on the other hand, you can only smoke hot.

What can you smoke?

Meat, fish, poultry, crustaceans, vegetables and even cheese... In principle, everything you put on a regular barbecue can also be prepared in a barbecue smoker. The flavour you give to your dishes is determined by the type of wood chunks, smoking chips or smoking dust you add. You can choose between flavours such as oak, apple, olive and so much more. 

How do you smoke cold?

Cold smoking can be done with the Oskar smoker or with any barbecue that has a lid. When smoking cold, your preparation will only be smoked, but not cooked. This is done at a low temperature, between 20 and 25 °C, which means that you don’t have to light your smoker/barbecue. All you need is Barbecook’s generator for cold smoking which you fill with smoke dust and allow to smoulder with the help of a tea light. The generator needs to be placed inside your appliance. You gently blow out the flame as soon as the smoke dust starts to discolour. The smoke should be thin and bluish in colour. Next, you place the ingredients on the grill or hang them on the hooks of your smoker. Always follow the smoking times indicated in your recipe, but also take into account your own preference of how intense you want the smoke flavour to be. Cold smoking takes at least 2 hours, so do not try to take your preparation out earlier. Patience is a great virtue!

Brining

Important: are you planning to cold-smoke meat or fish? Then don’t forget to brine your preparation beforehand! This is crucial to banish bacteria & moulds and to avoid food poisoning. Thanks to the brining and smoking of your ingredients, your preparation will also acquire an extra delicious flavour and you will be able to preserve the food for longer. You can brine your food either dry or wet.


Dry brining

Dry brining causes the proteins to coagulate. During smoking, you will extract moisture from the raw product and thus inhibit bacterial growth. This ensures a longer shelf life.


How does it work? Dry brining is done with sea salt, possibly enriched with some bruised herbs such as rosemary, thyme and pepper balls. Be creative and look for the perfect flavour combination yourself. Next, pack your preparation completely with the brine mixture and place it in the fridge. After +- 12 hours, take your piece of brined fish or meat out and rinse it thoroughly. Then pat it dry and place it in the fridge again for about 12 hours. After that, the smoking can begin. This takes about 2 to 10 hours, depending on how intensely you want the smoke flavour to penetrate the food. Attention, all this must be done between 20 and 25 °C. Last but not least: after smoking, let your preparation rest for a while in the fridge. This will ensure that the smoke can spread over the entire product. If you vacuum-pack the ingredients, this should be done for 24 hours. If you choose not to vacuum-pack the preparation, let it rest for 48 hours. Keep in mind that with this last option, your fridge will get a smoky flavour.


Wet brining

When brining wet, the proteins don’t coagulate. Your food will remain juicy.


How does it work? Mix 1 litre of water with 80 grams of sea salt (or 60 grams of sea salt & 20 grams of cane sugar) and add some herbs. Put your preparation in this mixture and place it in the fridge for +- 12 hours. Then take your ingredients out of the brine mixture and pat dry (without rinsing!). Place the food in the fridge for another 12 hours and pat dry occasionally in between. Next, place the food in the smoker/barbecue for 2 to 10 hours, depending on how intensely you want the smoke flavour to penetrate the food. Note that all this must be done at a temperature between 20 and 25 °C. Last but not least: after smoking, let your preparation rest for a while in the fridge. This will ensure that the smoke can spread over the entire product. If you vacuum-pack the ingredients, this should be done for 24 hours. If you choose not to vacuum-pack the preparation, let it rest for 48 hours. Keep in mind that with this last option, your fridge will get a smoky flavour.

How do you smoke hot?

Hot smoking, as the name suggests, is done at a higher temperature. With this method, unlike with cold smoking, you do need to light your smoker or barbecue. The temperature, however, may not exceed the limit of 70 to 75 °C. The smoke flavour is obtained by adding smoke wood. Barbecook offers various flavours of chips & chunks. When smoking your ingredients hot, they will be cooked and be imbued with a heavenly smoke flavour. With hot smoking, brining is only optional. However, it’s the ideal way to add extra flavour. For this smoking technique, too, you should leave your ingredients in a brine mixture of salt & herbs for 12 hours in the fridge and then leave them to dry for another 12 hours.


How does hot smoking work? First of all, choose the appropriate smoking chips or chunks and soak them in water for at least one hour. The rule of thumb is: use a handful of chips/chunks for one quarter of the smoking time. Then light the Oskar smoker or your charcoal barbecue with a some kindling and high-quality charcoal. Bring to a temperature of +- 70 °C. Once at temperature, it’s time to add the smoking wood. Are you using chips? Then wrap them in some aluminum foil, poke a few holes in it and place on your charcoal. Are you using chunks? Then sprinkle them directly onto your charcoal. Moreover, the Oskar has a stock pan that can be filled with liquids such as water, stock, wine and possibly some herbs. In this way, vapours will be produced during smoking, keeping the food extra juicy and giving it even more flavour. The liquid also ensures a better circulation of the smoke through your appliance. If, however, during your smoking session you decide not to fill this pan, it’s recommended to leave it in place for better regulation of the heat in your smoker. After going through the previous steps, the ingredients may be placed on the grill or can be hung on the hooks (Oskar). Always follow the instructions in your recipe for the recommended smoking time. Once finished smoking, there’s no need to leave your preparation to rest in the fridge as is the case with cold smoking, you can immediately enjoy your homemade flavour bomb!


The electric smoker Otto is also the perfect ally for hot smoking! How does it work? Fill the lower tray of the Otto with water-soaked smoking chips, place your (brined) ingredients on the grid and slide it, together with the drip tray, into your smoker. Plug it in and let's smoke!

Extra smoking tips

  • Smoke in moderation when you have guests coming over, not everyone is familiar with a fiery taste of smoke!
  • Use plenty of herbs and flavours. It's not because you are going to smoke your preparations that you don't have to season them. By the way, the Oskar barbecue smoker has a pan that you can fill with wine, broth or water with herbs. This creates vapours during smoking that keep your preparation extra juicy and give it even more flavour.
  • Hot smoking is practically possible anytime, anywhere! Cold smoking, however, is another story. We advise you not to do this in hot summer weather. After all, it will be extremely difficult to stay below the recommended limit of 25°C with your barbecue smoker in these weather conditions.