UK BBQ Mag Autumn 2017 - Page 70


There is often a bit of confusion about what constitutes hot smoking, and what differentiates hot smoking from BBQ. At least both are clearly different to cold smoking, in that the food is actually cooked from the heat. The biggest confusion often arises amongst those new to cooking outdoors in equipment, is it a hot smoker, a BBQ, both?

Well hopefully here we will try to clear up some of the confusion that exists by having a look at what hot smoking is, and how to do it.

I think there is always a danger in trying to categorize a term such as barbecue, barbeque, bbq, whatever, it means so much to so many, in so many different places, this has been shown in the recent Barbecue film on Netflix, to some BBQ can be cooking bacon, egg and sausage on a gas flat top, to others cooking on a small portable grill in the park, but other purists would claim barbecue as their own, that it is cooking slowly with smoke for a long time, but there can be many iterations of this, low'n'slow .... hot'n'fast.

Is barbecue hot smoking? well it's hot and smoky so potentially yes... for me and many others, the hot smoking zone really equates to the 80-100 deg C range and would be for more deilcate foods such as fish. The foods that fall into the 100+ deg C cooking range, need that bit more heat to break down collagens etc. to produce the barbecue we know and love, ribs and brisket etc.

Why hot smoke at these lower temperatures? Well you can cook a fish fillet in 10minutes at a higher temperature, but in this time it would be difficult to get a nice level of smoke in the food, so it's better if you can gently smoke from 40 minutes up to a couple of hours in the 80c range, this gives the food enough time to take on a lovely smoke.

Ok so hopefully we have sorted a rough idea of what hot smoking is, the next question is probably, how do we hot smoke. Well hot smoking is one of the simplest ways to cook. You simply need a heat source and some smoking wood.

There are various heat sources available...


Wood, which is the hardest to control temperature and smoke levels with and requires a high level of skill.


Pellets are a very easy way to hot smoke, and most pellet grills have a smoke setting at around 80c, you simply set the temperature and pop the food on, the smoke levels are quite gentle and clean with pellet grills.


Charcoal, a small pile of lit charcoal in a smoker or bbq with a lid can give heat in the required range.


A gas grill set up with one burner on low with a smoke bomb (smoking wood chips wrapped in pierced foil next to lit burner) can prove effective.


There are a number of electric smokers such as the Bradley smoker with an electric heat element that use smoking wood pucks to provide the smoke which are very easy to control as well.

Which of these work best? Well that's a very difficult one, and depends on your skill level, and how easy you want it to get good results. The true artisan way of hot smoking, such as kippers and smokies would use just wood, and would get the most authentic and arguably the best results. If you've ever had a fresh out of the smoker Arbroath Smoky you will know this. It also depends what equipment you already have. There's no need to go out and buy a separate "hot smoker" when you probably already have the kit you need for this at home.

You most likely already have a BBQ of some kind at home if you're reading this magazine, be it a charcoal or gas grill, and as long as it has a lid you can hot smoke.