Horn Barbecue Chef shares tips for smoking meat at home like a pro – Low Calorie Diets Tips

Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from “Horn Barbecue: Recipes and Techniques from a Master Griller” (Harvard Common Press) by Matt Horn, the chef and owner of Horn Barbecue and Kowbird in Oakland. In the book, Horn offers 70 recipes along with tips and tricks for perfectly cured meat, including these essentials:

My grilling style is a fusion of the traditions of Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas, each with their own characteristics and flavors. Regardless of the regional idiosyncrasies of grilling, I’ve learned some important tips that cut across all types to ensure grilling success in your backyard.





Don’t wash the meat. Meat washing is generally not a food-safe practice; Any water that splashes off the meat can be crammed with bacteria and cross-contaminate anything it lands on. So don’t do it. Washing meat also dilutes the flavor of the meat because it dilutes the protein. Use paper towels to blot excess moisture from the meat, discard the towels, and wash your hands. Then season the surface and you’re good to go.




Don’t overdo the meat. When you smoke meat, poultry and fish, the goal is to achieve that characteristic smoky flavor and, of course, taste the protein’s natural flavor. Why compete with that by adding too much spice? My favorite seasoning is a salt and pepper base with granulated onion and garlic and maybe a touch of sugar depending on what I throw in the smoker. The sugar enhances the Maillard reaction (a chemical reaction between the heated protein and carbohydrates) that creates color, browning – flavor – as the protein in the meat reacts with the sugar.





Check the temperature. Most meats smoke beautifully between 107°C and 118°C (225°F and 245°F), so keeping the temperature of the smoker oven in this range is crucial. A remote thermometer can be a lifesaver — especially if you’re a novice smoker — because you can adjust factors to ensure the meat turns out just how you want it. If you need a higher temperature, you can let out some air by lifting the lid slightly or opening the vents (if that’s a feature of your smoker). If you need to lower the temperature, close the vents or close the lid.





Let the coals get hot. Coals should burn until completely white to burn the charcoal. Black coals produce a tart tasting meat rather than the smooth smoky flavor required for a successful grill.





Control the smoke. Not all smoke is created equal; You are looking for the pure white smoke from these white coals and the controlled temperature inside the smoker. Only a small puff of white smoke should come out of the smoker, no billows. If too much smoke develops, reduce the temperature (see above). Excessive smoke dries out the meat and the flavor becomes too strong, which is unpleasant. Too little smoke defeats the purpose because you don’t get the characteristic smoky flavor. Try replacing the wood in the smoker. It’s either burned out or there aren’t enough.





Don’t overcrowd the smoker or turn the meat too soon. There must be airflow around the protein for the Maillard reaction to take place. When your cuts of meat are crammed together, this reaction doesn’t occur. Meat needs its own access to the heat source. Leave the meat alone until it has a dark, charred outer crust; then turn it over. Patience is the key.





Do not keep the smoker open. Of course you will have to add more wood, wipe the meat or fill the water pan during the smoking process, but do these tasks as quickly as possible. Each time the smoker is opened, heat is lost and the temperature drops. This increases the cooking time. Be efficient!






Leave the meat to rest. If you want succulent meat and poultry, you need to give it some time after cooking to resume its juices. If you cut your grill right after grilling, all you end up with is a dry product and lots of delicious juice splattering onto the cutting board.

How to turn your grill

into a smoker

You don’t need a fancy, expensive smoker to cook delicious meat. The bells and whistles on pellet smokers and other types of smokers take some of the guesswork out of the process, but they’re not necessary. Basically, smoking takes time and requires an indirect heat cooking method. You’ll likely need a temp gauge to monitor the temperature inside the unit, and if you’re buying meat, remember that your space is limited – so don’t get a massive chest.


If you have a charcoal grill: Stack the charcoal on one side of the grill and place a drip tray on the other side. Light the charcoal and bring the temperature of the grill to 120 degrees C (250 degrees F), no hotter. Fill the drip tray 1 cm with liquid and place a layer of wood chips on the hot coals. Place your prepared meat over the drip tray and close the lid. If your grill has vents, leave them open; If not, leave a gap at the bottom of the lid for ventilation. Then monitor the temperature in the grill, the temperature of the meat, and the amount of smoke, adding charcoal and wood as needed.


If you have a gas grill: Preheat the grill with all burners on for 10 to 15 minutes. Then turn off the burners on one half of the grill and lower the burners on the other side until you reach a grilling temperature of 250 degrees. This might require some adjustments. Since you can’t place wood chips directly on the burners of a gas grill, place them in a metal pan and set the pan on the grill over the lit burners. Also, place a pan filled with 1cm of liquid in the center of the grill. Place the cooked meat on the empty side of the grill and close the lid, leaving a gap for ventilation, or open the vents. Monitor grill and meat temperatures and smoke volume; Adjust heat with burner controls and add more wood chips as needed.

Smoked Tri Tip

For 6 people. Preparation time: 20 minutes. Cooking time: 25 minutes, plus 20 minutes rest time.

Tri-tip steak became popular more than 70 years ago in Santa Maria-style open pits; It is so often associated with this region of California that you can request it as the “Santa Maria Cut” or the “California Cut”. My strategy here is to treat the steak with my brisket technique and create a tender, smoked steak that’s ideal for a family-style meal.

2 tablespoons of coarse kosher salt

2 tablespoons of coarse black pepper

1 tablespoons of garlic powder

1 tablespoons of onion powder

1 tablespoons of dried oregano leaves

1 (3 to 5 pounds or 1 to 2 kg) tri-tip steak

Olive oil, for the steak

Instructions: Preheat the smoker to 300 degrees. Be sure to light a clean, oxygen-rich fire.

In a small bowl, stir together the salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano until well combined.

Trim loose fat from the tri-tip. Rub the meat with olive oil and apply the rub evenly on all sides.

Place the tri-tip in the smoker and smoke for 20-25 minutes until it reaches an internal temperature of 135 degrees, checking regularly. When done, remove the meat from the smoker, wrap in aluminum foil and let rest for 20 minutes.

Unwrap the meat and slice against the grain to serve.

Nina’s potato salad

For 6 to 8 people. Preparation time: 15 protocol. Cooking time: 10 minutes

One of our first – and favorite – horn side dishes is our potato salad. This is our take on the classic recipe that’s perfect for grilling!

Pound red potatoes, diced

cups of mayonnaise

¼ cup of pleasure

1 tablespoons of mustard

1 teaspoon Horn Rub (see recipe)

1 teaspoon of smoked paprika

¾ teaspoon of garlic powder

¾ teaspoon of onion powder

½ a teaspoon of salt

¼ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper

½ 1 cup (50g) chopped scallions, white and green parts (from about 4 scallions)

4 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped

Instructions: Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with 5cm of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, partially cover pan, reduce heat to low and simmer until potatoes are just cooked through, about 8 minutes. Drain the potatoes, rinse under cold water and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, relish, mustard, rub, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper until well combined.

Add the cooked potatoes, scallions, and eggs, tossing gently to coat and combine.

rub horn

Makes about 3/4 cup

If you spend a lot of time grilling, you’ll literally try hundreds of rubs, not to mention cooking sauces, table sauces, mops, thickeners, and pastes. Ultimately, you’re going to go for an all-purpose rub that will add tons of flavor to pretty much anything you put in the smoker. This is my go-to rub that I always have on hand.

4 tablespoons of dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons of coarse salt

1 tablespoons of coarse black pepper

2 teaspoon of garlic powder

2 teaspoon of onion powder

1 teaspoon of paprika

1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

Instructions: Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly with a whisk, fork, or spoon.

When ready to use, rub generous amounts of rub onto the surface of the meat, rubbing and pressing firmly to fill any crevices or pores and ensure the rub adheres to the meat.

Use immediately or store in an airtight container in a cool, shaded place for up to 6 months.

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