"SMOKING WITH ELECTRICITY!" by Luke Clayton Luke Clayton Ive enjoyed grilling and smoking game and domestic meats in hunting and fishing camps from Canada to Mexico, and lots of places between. At home, Ive become the self-appointed outdoor cook. I love the smoked flavor that hardwoods and fruitwoods give meats and I cook outside throughout the year. Even in the dead of winter, when most folks prefer to do their cooking indoors, smoke can be seen rising from my smoker. You see, Ive discovered what I consider to be the easiest, most convenient way of creating great tasting barbeque and smoked meats: I smoke with electricity! Now, dont misunderstand me, Im definitely not a Johnny-Come- Lately to the old style of preparing smoked meat and barbeque, Ive lost many hours of sleep in years gone by, staying up to feed wood to a wood fired smoker. And, Id be the last to renounce wood smokers-they definitely have the capabilities of turning out great tasting food IF you have the time and are willing to loose the sleep necessary to keep them cooking all night when preparing large cuts such as pork hams, shoulders or briskets. The trick to turning out good BBQ is cooking on low temperatures, 200-250 degrees, for a long period, often 12-15 hours. I use a Smokin Tex smoker/oven that is so easy to operate Im convinced my ten year old grandsons can become BBQ chefs, as a matter of fact, they are in training! Ive taken my unit on many hunting and fishing trips and actually transformed recently harvested game and fish into tasty smoked or barbequed meats right there at camp. The unit is large enough to slow smoke about 30 pounds of meat and its operation so simple that I can describe how it works in one short sentence: season the meat and load it into the smoker, put about 6 ounces of wood into the smoke chamber, slide the enclosed metal box over the heating element inside the smoker, set the thermometer on about 225 degrees, close the door and walk away. Chickens are tender and thoroughly smoked in about 4-5 hours, ribs are tender and well smoked in about the same length of time. Briskets and larger cuts should be slow smoked at least 12 hours. Ive left them in the smoker set at 200 degrees up to 15 hours and the results is always the same- excellent BBQ that rivals any Ive eaten at the best BBQ restaurants. The magic of smoking meats at low temperatures is that it matters little if those whole chickens stay in the smoker 4 or 8 hours, the end result will be tender, smoked chicken. If you need dinner ready in 4 hours, set the smokers thermostat at 250 degrees and let it cook. If, for instance, you are leaving for work and wish to come home to a complete, tasty meal, place your chicken, ribs or any smaller cut of meat, in the smoker along with veggies wrapped in foil, set the dial at 200 degrees and you will have a tasty dinner ready when you return home from work in the evening. Electric smokers are not only for the hunter or fishermen. They are ideal for working ladies or men that want to cook dinner for themselves-while they work. When I first began cooking with electricity, I doubted if only 6-8 ounces of wood would give a good smoke flavor to meats. In the tight smoke chamber of the unit, this amount of smoke thoroughly permeates the meat. Its not necessary to add more wood while the meat is smoking. What type of wood to use is a personal choice, Ive smoked with everything from hickory to peach wood with great results. We have several pear trees on our property and Ive found pear to impart a mild smoke flavor that we really enjoy. The key is to use well seasoned wood; green wood gives the meat a bitter flavor. Photo by Luke Clayton Scott Wallace, with Smokin Tex, recently came out and spent the morning with me and we filmed a short video on preparing larger cuts of game meat .The same seasonings and cooking method will work just as well on briskets or pork or beef roasts. I cooked a 10 pound ham from a wild hog overnight on the smoker and the video shows the entire process from seasoning the meat to tasting the finished product. The video should be a great help for folks getting started in smoking and barbequing meats and will soon be available for viewing at www.catfishradio.com or www.lukeshotspots.com. Hopefully, watching the video will show just how easy preparing large cuts really is. After spending the night and much of the next morning slow smoking, the meat literally fell off the bone. Photo by Luke Clayton When asked how to season meats for smoking, Wallace is quick to point out that the seasoning and taste of the finished products depends upon the flavor desired by the individual. Some folks really enjoy the flavor of jalapeno pepper, others like a bit more garlic or a sweeter flavor imparted by adding a little brown sugar. Black pepper, paprika, salt, garlic powder and a little brown sugar makes for a good dry rub but there are many pre-packaged dry seasonings on the market to choose from. Experimenting is the thing that makes smoking meats so much fun. Some like to inject larger cuts with a liquid marinade and some wish to keep it simple and season with salt and pepper. You cant go wrong if you follow your taste buds! tips Wallace. To learn more about smoking meats with electricity, visit www.smokintex.com. Be sure and check out the recipe section and interactive forum. Listen to OUTDOORS WITH LUKE CLAYTON at www.catfishradio.com and check out the new videos under Lukes Hotspots.