To use a smoker grill, choose the appropriate wood, prepare the coals, soak the wood and smoke the meat at the correct temperature for the prescribed period of time. Specific procedures may vary depending on the type of smoker that is being used.
The type of wood being used has a direct impact on the smoke flavor that is cooked into the cut of meat. Strong flavors from hickory, oak and mesquite are best suited for beef and pork. Fruit woods such as apple, cherry and pecan create more delicate flavors perfectly suited for poultry and ham, while alder is usually the preference for any type of fish, including salmon.
Smoking meats requires a low amount of indirect heat for a long period of time. The charcoal is never placed directly below the meat. It can be split and divided to the sides of a standard rectangular-shaped grill or placed in a rope pattern around the outside of a round grill. Offset barrel smokers and some upright smokers have the firebox connected to the side of the smoker.
The charcoal and wood are combined in the firebox of an offset style smoker. On other types of charcoal grills, the wood is placed in an aluminum pan that is filled with water or marinade and placed inside of the grill. The fire is allowed to burn down to around 140 degrees Fahrenheit before any meat is added.
The temperature must be kept level by adding small amounts of charcoal and wood over the course of the prescribed cooking time for the weight of the meat being smoked. For grills using water soaked woods, the water evaporates and needs to be refilled periodically.