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Cold Smoking Meats

Cold Smoking on a Weber Kettle by Tim


A Weber kettle offers dramatically great flexibility and wide range of heat levels for smoking.   Smoking at 250°F with wood chunks provides for slow cooking and steady smoking; this is perfect for ribs.  Smoking at 450°F with wood chunks is an excellent way to roast chicken or turkey.  For this article, we will focus on smoking without heat. 

Cold smoking boosts the smoke aroma without cooking the meat. You may enhance many kinds of meat by generously seasoning and cold smoking.

The most surprising results include beef roasts and pork roasts.  Cold smoking a thick cut of beef chuck or brisket for chili is a given.  Cold smoked ketchup can enhance your French fries.  Think of cold smoked standing rib roast or a rack of cold smoked pork; both are incredible culinary delights.     

The process of cold smoking and roasting the meat later requires some planning.  We know that cold meat absorbs smoke flavors much better than warm or hot meat.  This requires holding the seasoned meat in a refrigerator until ready to smoke.

The idea of holding the un-cooked but smoke roast requires holding the roast in a separate refrigerator (The smoked roast will flavor everything in the same fridge!)  A separate cold insulated cooler allows you to finish cooking a roast for a few hours for a day.   

For the smoking, you need a steady flow of smoke for a minimum of 30 minutes.  This may require two to four natural briquettes to start (depending on the weather) and more moist wood chips.  (Weber or Kingsford Professional briquettes are preferred.  We prefer fruit wood or pecan wood.)

While seafood should never approach 80°F degrees during smoking, this is not a problem for a beef, pork or poultry roast.  You even have the flexibility to take the smoked roast to your kitchen for a taste test.  (This test should be by someone who has not been involved with the smoking.)  You can always run a second round of smoking if desired.

Basic Procedures for Smoking

The cooking rack must be very clean.  I use a clean stick free rack on top of the kettle rack.  If wood chips will be used for a short smoking period, the charcoal rack should be in place with a metal mesh screen on the leeward side if wood chips will be used.  This prevents the chips from falling through the charcoal.

If smoking for a longer time you may use more briquettes at the beginning.  Smoking at 250°F for an hour only requires about 6 briquettes and two moistened wood chunks.

When the briquets are ready, place them on the bottom rack at the windward side.  Put the moist wood chunks/chips on the hot coals.  Place the grill and non-stick rack on the top.  Cover the grill with top vents on the leeward side.  Leave the bottom vents half-way open.  Open the top vents a bit to allow smoke to come out.

When the smoke begins to flow, pull the fully seasoned meat out of the fridge, dry them with paper towels if necessary and place fat side down at the center of the grill. 

Replace the cover and set a timer for 30 minutes.  Watch the grill for about 5 minutes to see the smoke flowing. You may adjust the heat and smoke flow with the vents.   We place a thermometer in the top vent to keep track of the temperature.

If the smoke stops, you can light more briquettes and place them on the rack with more wood chips.  After 30 minutes the meat should be fully smoked. 

Take the filet to the kitchen and have another party do a taste/smell test.  You may smoke for an additional time if desired.

After smoking, place the roast in a pan.  Place this pan in a cooler with ice until you finish cooking.  (You do not want your refrigerator to smell like a smoke-house.)

You may cook the cold smoked roast as desired.  We usually use a reverse sear process on the Weber Kettle with a few moistened chunks of wood to continue the smoking.  You might find that the final sear is not necessary or may benefit with a 10-minute oven sear at 500°F.

Updated on 9/29/20