Almost every job or craft has its own set of tools. A carpenter needs a hammer, square, level, tape measure and saw to get the job done. A good photographer uses different lens, filters, triggers, lights and light modifiers to get the best possible picture.
Get Serious About Smoking
People who are serious about smoking and BBQ also have a list of tools and equipment. These tools help them get the most out of their smoker.
Some tools go beyond the obvious ones, like having a smoker and the wood. We use them to enhance the finished result of whatever is being smoked. Or else to make the job of smoking easier or more convenient. Here is a list of some great tools for almost any smoking fanatic.
Of all the equipment and accessories out there for BBQ, in my opinion, this is the most important. Alongside a smoker and plenty of wood, a quality digital thermometer is the next essential tool for any serious smoker.
Judging the doneness of meat based on the length of time it has been in the smoker can produce acceptable results. However, here is something any serious BBQer will agree with. Using a digital thermometer to monitor the internal temperature provides consistent and more accurate results.
There are two main kinds of digital thermometers – instant read and the kind that has a probe with a long cable. The instant read digital thermometers are great for the quick check of temperature.
Instant Read Digital Thermometer: Have Always One At Hand
Open the Bradley Smoker door and stick the thermometer into a chicken breast, sausage or any other meat you are smoking. This will give you an immediate read of the internal temperature of the meat. Even better, have one of these instant read thermometers in your pocket, while smoking or grilling.
The other handy type of digital thermometer is the kind that has a probe with a long cable. These are ideal for long smoking sessions, as you can monitor the temperature without needing to open the smoker door.
Simply stick the probe into a pork butt, some homemade kielbasa, cured pork belly or some other meat. Then, run the cable through the smoker vent at the top of the Bradley.
The thermometer base can rest on top of the smoker allowing you to see the temperature of the meat while it is smoking away. Some digital thermometers even allow you to set the target temperature. It will beep once it reaches the desired temperature.
A meat injector is an awesome way to inject marinade, melted butter and other liquid flavour enhancements into the meat.
While a nice spice rub will season the surface and penetrate into a bit of the meat, an injector allows you to get some seasonings into the core of the meat. On top of that, injecting marinades and melted butter will also give the meat a juicier finished result.
Having smoked pork butts and whole turkeys with and without injecting marinades, I can tell you. There is definitely an improvement in both taste and the moistness of the meat.
One word of caution: If you are going to purchase a meat injector, get one that is high quality. There are a number of cheap models online that are made with thin plastic parts and can break after a few uses. My meat injector of choice is from www.spitjack.com
BBQ Heat Gloves
Anytime you are smoking meat or other foods, there will be times you will want some good BBQ gloves. While oven mitts will work, I personally do not like to use my quilted kitchen oven mitts. Normally, they get smoke residue on the fabric and then require washing.
Instead, a quality pair of silicone gloves that are heat resistant is a much better choice. Silicone gloves allow you to lift a smoked pork butt off the smoker racks, or take homemade smoked sausages off the hooks. Then a quick rinse, and they are all cleaned up and ready for using again.
Bradley Magic Mats
While the Bradley Smoker racks are great for most of the foods that you can smoke, they are a challenge for a few things.
Delicate fillets of fish can be a struggle on the standard racks, and even chicken wings can stick as well. Also, smoking smaller foods, like nuts or smaller sized shrimp, require clever modifications so they do not fall through the holes.
The new Bradley Smokers Magic Mats are perfect for delicate or small foods. They are both non stick and have much smaller holes. On top of these benefits, the Magic Mats are super easy to clean and are dishwasher safe.
Since I have gotten these, I use them all the time.
Pork Pulling Claws
Anytime I am smoking some pork butt for pulled pork, I make sure that I smoke a number of roasts. ‘Might as well fill up the smoker,’ I often say!
Once they come out of the smoker ready to be ‘pulled,’ I always reach for my claws. They make the pulling far easier and much quicker.
There are a number of different products on the market and they usually look quite similar and do pretty much the same thing. They come in pairs and, to use them, simply grab them with your hands, allowing you to look something like X-Men’s Wolverine.
The claws make quick work of pork butts and are great for people like me, who make pulled pork frequently.
Heavy Duty Foil
This may seem like a silly item to have in the toolbox, but I find that I can never have enough foil. I use it all the time when I am smoking, as it is great to wrap up ribs, pork butt or other meat, once they come out of the smoker.
The FTC (Foil-Towel-Cooler) method is ideal for smoked brisket or pork butt. This is a great way to hold the temperature of the meat for a couple of hours, if needed. It is also the perfect way to transport smoked meat, if you are bringing it to a tailgate party, picnic or other event!
When purchasing foil, make sure that it is heavy duty. Also, the longer/wider variety is handy and great for wrapping up meat.
Disposable Foil Trays
Along with foil, disposable foil trays are super handy for any smoker. Make sure to keep them in stock. In addition, trays are great for smoking foods that will not work on smoker racks.
Use them for baked beans in the smoker, vegetables and other foods. Foil trays are also a great way to hold the meat that you have smoked on the smoker racks. Just cover the tray with foil and it is ready! Now you can transport or use it to serve at a picnic.
Any serious BBQer knows that there are times when it is necessary to go and check the smoker late at night. Those long smokes of a pork butt or brisket may start in the middle of the night, or continue late into the evening. A good flashlight will help you as you check the smoker.
The best types of flashlights, in my opinion, are those directional with a stand. You can set it down pointing at the smoker, and have both hands to check on the meat.