Prepare – If you have not tried lamb before, you might want to. It has a different taste to it that is unlike pork or beef. We really love a good leg of lamb with the rub mix. You really don’t have to do anything special to prepare or cook lamb. Prepare it as you would almost any cut of meat. Sprinkle the rub on liberally and let it rest, covered in plastic wrap, in the refrigerator overnight if possible.
Smoking – Smoked lamb may be the answer to your “something new” cookout. Lamb can be smoked with any wood. You might try apple or hickory first. Lamb can be served a little rare and we do not suggest overcooking at all. As always, the size of your leg of lamb (or loin, chops etc) will govern your smoking time. Most lamb will self baste quite well, but don’t be afraid to use your favorite misting bottle on it toward the end of the cooking cycle.
Grilling – Lamb on the grill is extremely good. You can use direct or indirect heat to get the job done. The crusty edges are a bonus if you are the chef. They make tasty treats during cooking. Again, do not overcook the lamb. If it is a larger cut of meat, it will continue to cook a few degrees after removing it from the grill.
Prepare – Beef comes in very different cuts and needs to be prepared differently. (brisket, short ribs, roast, steak etc) Since you can smoke/grill about anything you want, we’ll just comment on the ever popular brisket. Depending on how you buy your brisket, it generally has two layers joined by a fat layer. You may choose to separate them or leave them together. The grains run in different directions, so be wary when you slice it. Some fat can be trimmed if it is real thick. Do not trim it all away as it will help marinate the meat. Thoroughly coat the brisket with rub mix. It is best if you can wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator overnight. As with any meat, let it come to almost room temperature before placing it in the smoker or on the grill. You can even opt to inject the brisket with marinade in small pockets. Do not over-inject in any one place, distribute it evenly throughout.
Smoking – Smoking brisket can take over 10 hours depending on the size and temperature. We prefer to keep the smoker on about 225, but not over 250. Since the smoke will never reach the center of the brisket, do not feel the need to keep adding your wood chips throughout the cooking process. You probably do not need wood chips after the first 5-6 hours. About half way into the smoking process you can mop the brisket every hour or two. A combination of apple cider vinegar and apple juice can work nicely. Check for doneness with an instant read thermometer at the thickest part of the brisket. Remember, large cuts of meat will continue to cook (approx 3-6 degrees) so do not over cook the brisket. If a smaller part of the brisket is done, you can trim it off and the cooks can sample that until the rest is done. Keep in mind you may loose some juices if you cut it hot. For that signature crispy crust, do not wrap the brisket in foil while cooking.
Grilling – Grilling will produce a tasty brisket as well. Indirect heat is the best way to cook a brisket on the grill. Place your meat on one side and the fire on the other side and close the lid. Again, depending on the temperature, the brisket may take several hours. Generally a grill is hotter than a smoker and may not take as long. Be careful not to open the lid too often as you will loose a lot of heat. A wired thermometer is a great way to keep an eye on the internal temperature of the meat without opening the lid. During the last half of the cooking process you can mist/mop the brisket to help keep it moist.
Prepare – If cooking a whole chicken, remember to remove all the giblets from the cavities at both ends of the chicken. Rinse the bird, inside and out and pat it dry. (now for a secret) We found it best to rub the seasoning directly on the meat of the chicken, not the skin. This means you have to pull the skin away from the chicken where you can. Cooking shears may help with this process. Sprinkle the rub between the skin and meat. The fat from the skin will help keep the meat moist while it cooks, but since some people remove the skin to eat it, the meat will still be seasoned. Of course, keep your uncooked poultry separate from your other uncooked meats when preparing them to prevent cross contamination. This includes cutting boards, knives and trays. Keep your prep area clean at all times.
Smoking – If you have not had smoked chicken, prepare yourself…it’s good stuff. We like apple or hickory chips with chicken. You can even quarter an apple and stick it in the birds cavity for extra moisture and flavor. Definitely use your instant read thermometer to test for doneness. You can mist the bird during smoking with any mop you prefer.
Grilling – You can use direct or indirect heat to cook a chicken on the grill. After seasoning the bird you can opt to use a “chicken stand” (aka beer can chicken) to prop it up. The “can” can be filled with beer, marinade, apple juice or your own secret potion. Rotisseries work well for birds, too. If using direct heat, you will need to turn your chicken occasionally . BBQ sauce can be used during the last 20-30 minutes of grilling if desired.
Experiment using cornish game hens, turkeys or wild birds as well. Remember, if you like to eat it you can probably smoke it or grill it.