Barbecue in the USA is a whole different kettle of fish to what we do over here. It is the cooking of tough cuts – typically beef brisket, pork shoulder, ribs – using hot smoke that is generated in a separate smoking chamber and channelled to the main chamber where the meat is cooked, slowly. The result is tender, pull apart, smoke-flavoured meat.
Most “barbecues” cannot barbecue, if that makes sense; they only grill.
The Landmann Tennessee Smoker is a good entry level smoker. Not too big, it fits easily in a corner of your garden. You’ll need a number of barbecue accessories to get things properly started. It’s worth investing in a charcoal starter which reliably gets your charcoal going in twenty minutes and can be used for topping it up, which you’ll need to do for the long, slow cook. Which brings us on to charcoal (the stuff without chemicals please!), wood chips for flavour, drip pans to stick the meat over and an array of tools: tongs, forks, brushes, etc.
Finally the hunk of meat. Christen your barbecue with a pork shoulder. Rub a lively marinade over the flesh, score and salt the skin. Before loading into the main chamber, above the aforementioned drip pan, give it a half hour blast in a very hot oven to give the crackling a fighting chance.
Burn the first batch of coals in the starter until coated with grey ash and throw on a smattering of soaked hickory wood chips and charge the small chamber, regulating the temperature using the ventilation flap and the chimney cover, trying to keep the temperature as close to 120ºC as possible, using the handy thermometer in the lid as a guide. Give it all day, around 12 hours.
The result will be special – a million miles from a burnt and blackened sausage! The meat will be full flavoured – porky, smoky, spicy, immensely savoury – and so tender you could “carve it with a spoon”.
Landmann Tennessee Barbecue Smoker from www.planetbarbecue.co.uk, RRP £143.99