Using a Big Chief smoker doesn’t have to be complicated. There are so many great things you can do with a smoker and make some fantastic food.
Here are 11 Big Chief smoker tips:
- Choose your meat carefully.
- Don’t open the smoker.
- Choose your wood carefully.
- Buy the right smoker for you.
- Clean all the implements before use.
- Plan around the weather.
- Set aside enough time.
- Don’t overdo the smoke.
- Use Grill Mats or Parchment Paper
- Stay close.
- Practice makes perfect.
These tips will help you use your Big Chief smoker and create some great meat, so keep reading!
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1. Choose Your Meat Carefully
Not all meats are good to smoke, and not all meats work the same in each type of smoker. While it may be tempting to spend a lot of money on a lovely cut, you should instead consider the cheaper, especially when first starting.
The Big Chief smoker is uniquely suited for low and slow smoking at 160 to 170 degrees. This temperature range is best suited for jerky, sausage, and fatty fish.
For the moistest jerky, a cut with a lot of marbled fat will give excellent results. The fats will slowly melt away during the long smoke times, leaving great flavored meat with a nice smoky flavor.
When making sausage start with budget-friendly meat and don’t skimp on the fat content. Higher fat content in your sausage will withstand the cure, and long smoking times need to cook your sausage all the way through with drying it out.
After you get a little practice, spread your wings a bit with an extra thick ribeye steak and make some jerky to remember.
Pioneer Smokehouses: Three Ways of Making Jerky in a Big Chief Smoker
2. Don’t Open the Smoker
Every time you open the smoker, you let all the smoke and heat out. This will prevent your meat from staying at a consistent temperature through the cooking process and increase the time you are cooking it.
The consistent temperature that The Big Chief smoker provides is the key to making delicious smoked meat. If you leave the lid closed, you’ll have a better experience and get better meat faster.
Note: the normal temperature inside the Big Chief smoker is roughly 165 degrees. We recommend a Big Chief thermal smoker blanket during the winter or building a vented enclosure to help maintain heat levels.
3. Choose Your Wood Carefully
Some woods are better for smoking different meats.
These different chips can improve the flavor immensely and create different experiences, especially in a high-grade smoker like the Big Chief.
For example, applewood is better for poultry and certain cuts of pork. These apple flavors are perfect for autumn meals and improve any meal, but they don’t always shine with red meat or fish, like trout.
4. Buy the Right Smoker for You
Maybe your family doesn’t eat BBQ all that often, but you still want a good smoker. If that’s the case, you may want to buy a smaller smoker. However, it would be best if you also considered how much you entertain.
The Little Chief smoker is pretty tiny as smokers go, which is perfect for families of two or three because it doesn’t hold as much as the Big Chief but still packs a punch. Compare that to the Big Chief smoker that has five racks that you can cook on.
It’s all about your perspective and what you need.
5. Clean All the Implements Before Use
Hygiene is so essential for the smoking process. You don’t want to get a flavor of beef in the smoked fish you’re preparing. Not only that, but you should also wash them for safety because of bacteria.
This goes for the racks and the utensils you’re using to handle the meat. These can also transfer flavor and bacteria.
Luckily, the Big Chief smoker family is so easy to keep clean and organized; almost every part is dishwasher safe.
6. Plan Around the Weather
If it is a snowy day, you should plan for a longer cook time and take the necessary steps. Since most smokers can only be used outside, the weather is a significant factor you need to consider.
You might even have to insulate your smoker, as the cold air can pull heat away from a smoker, especially one made of aluminum.
Preserving heat during the fall and winter is very important since the Big Chief smokers are fixed-temperature smokers. This means they cannot get hotter or generate even more heat. You’ll need to keep that heat trapped in the smoker, and very cold weather could impact that.
7. Set Aside Enough Time
Smoking takes a long time. You need to be prepared for this and be ready to take care of your meat. Smoking can take upwards of 30 minutes per pound of meat, and you need to be prepared for it to go even longer.
As mentioned above, you don’t want to open the smoker too early and let all that valuable heat out, but you also need to strike a balance with the care meat needs. You need to be patient and keep the lid on the smoker closed.
8. Don’t Overdo the Smoke
While the whole point of using a smoker is putting a classic smokey flavor into whatever you’re cooking, there comes the moment when you can create too much smoke. At this point, the smoke overpowers any other flavors you have with an unpleasant bitter taste like you just bit into a campfire.
Having too much smoke can be concerning, but there are some simple ways you can make it not happen in the future. The first thing is to leave the lid shut, keep suitable ventilation, and pick the right wood.
Also, you need to make sure there isn’t too much wood in the smoker, which can contribute to too much smoke or bitter flavor.
9. Use a Grill Mat or Parchment Paper
Always use a grill mat on your smoker grill grates. A grill mat will make it easy to transfer food on and off your smoker grates.
Place your grill mat on a cutting board, plater, or back of a sheet pan and arrange your food. Add any seasoning or other final touches then slide the grill mat onto the smoker grate.
When you are done smoking removing the food is just as easy. Give your grill mat a little pull to release anything that might have caused the smoker grate to stick and slide the grill mat into a sheet pan.
Grill mats normally are rated for 550 degrees or more and they are dishwasher safe. I place the grill mats and the smoker grates in the dishwasher along with pans on the scrub setting and they come out clean almost every time.
I buy extra large grill mats on Amazon.com and cut them in half to match the tray size.
If you don’t have grill mats you can use parchment paper, which is a great way to prevent fats from fish from dripping onto the next tray below. When you are done smoking your fish simply through the paper in the trash.
Also parchment paper works great for smoking nuts, salt, garlic, and other spices.
10. Stay Close
You shouldn’t leave your smoker unattended while you leave the area. While the Big Chief smoker families are pretty well-contained, you never know what can happen.
You need to stay close by to monitor the smoking process. Stray sparks or a defective power cord could easily catch something on fire.
11. Practice Makes Perfect
Smoking is an art that needs to be practiced, so don’t beat yourself up if the first batch isn’t perfect. You can always try again, and with a device like the Big Chief smoker, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to try.
Before smoking, you should consider these tips and prepare appropriately. Get familiar with your Big Chief smoker, and you will be able to achieve the level of smoke master.
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