Love smoked meat? You’re not alone. Americans all over the country have been serving up delicious helpings of smoked barbecue and meat for hundreds of years. And while the only thing that is at all more American than barbecue might be hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill (which, despite what many people will tell you…is NOT barbecue).
If you’ve ever wanted to get into barbecue and have done your research into what the best kind of smoker is, you may have settled upon the barrel smoker – also known as the Ugly Drum Smoker. This smoker style is about as simple as it gets – oftentimes nothing more than an old food-grade oil drum and grate on which to put your hunk of meat. That means it’s an excellent DIY solution to your lack of smoker (though there are some great barrel smokers out there at affordable prices).
But now that you have one…what are you going to make with it? Here are some of the best things you can make on your new barrel smoker – some traditional, some a bit unexpected.
Brisket is often considered the king of barbecue meats, so of course, it’s one of the first cuts of meat you should try smoking in your new barrel smoker. A 10-12-pound brisket smoked slowly over hickory or maple hardwood, should take about 12 hours in a good barrel smoker – which generally cooks faster and more consistently than other smoker types. Serve with the barbecue sauce of your choice.
Pulled Pork Butt
Brisket may the #1 barbecue cut of choice for most, but pulled pork is a Southern delicacy – and a close second in popularity. Pork butt is also a bit easier to smoke, as it’s much fattier and more resilient than brisket…so you can smoke it at a higher temp without risk of drying it out too quickly. A smaller pork might be done in 5-6 hours on a good Ugly Drum Smoker, making it a great choice for beginners.
The best wood for smoking pork butt over is hickory or oak. Apple is also a great choice; thanks to the touch of sweetness it adds. Be sure to season the pork butt liberally with a classic mix of salt, pepper, cayenne and paprika…and once it’s done, serve with some classic Carolina Gold or vinegar sauce.
Most people never realize that smoked cheese is a delicacy – and can be easily made in no time on that new backyard smoker. The best cheeses for smoking are hard cheeses like cheddar, pepper jack, and gouda – but softer cheeses like mozzarella can be delicious too.
To smoke a cheese, simply place it on the grates – cut into 2-3” blocks if needed – and run your smoker just under 90F. That’s pretty low – so you’ll need to build a low fire and get a good meat thermometer to monitor that temperature.
Smoked, dried tomatoes are delicious – and great way to add some fun, unique zing to an everyday staple. Go ahead and cut some Roma tomatoes into wedges and place them – cut side up – on the smoker grates or on a pizza pan. Keep the smoker temperature steady at about 225-250F and smoke those tomatoes for about 30-40 minutes. Hickory, applewood or cherry are the wood of choice for smoked tomatoes.
You can also check our recipe and tips for smoking whole chicken.