The words “healthy smoked meat” might seem at first like a contradiction in terms: most of us tend to think of barbecue as a delicious indulgence rather than a healthy choice, and a typical serving of most classic recipes will account for a decent percentage of your daily recommended calorie intake.
But just because you’re trying to lose some weight or cut down on your cholesterol doesn’t mean you need to pack your smoker away — instead, you have to try these brisket recipes and smoked chicken recipes that are designed specifically with health in mind.
There is nothing about the smoking process that necessarily increases meat’s caloric density, and if you are careful about what cuts you use and how you prepare them, smoking meat can be just as healthy — or even healthier — than roasting, grilling, or pan-frying.
If you want to be able to enjoy your favourite smoked meats in a healthier way, or just want to expand your repertoire of smoked meat recipes, here are three fantastic healthy recipes for smoking meat to try out this summer.
Lean Smoked Brisket
One of the things that makes brisket such a unique cut is the fact that it is evenly divided into the fat-rich tip and the more muscular flat. The key to good brisket smoking lies in slowly cooking the meat over the course of several hours so that the fat from the cap enriches and moisturizes the flat.
This means that if you want to make a healthy smoked meat recipe and brisket is the cut you want to cook, doing as much as you can to trap the natural flavours and juices in the meat is essential.
As with all briskets, this process starts with a good rub. In a bowl, mix together the following ingredients:
Once the rub is ready, apply it to the brisket in an even coat and wrap the brisket in butcher’s paper to keep the juices in.
When you smoker reaches 225 degrees, throw in some wood chips to get some smoke going. A good wood cherry or mesquite will give your brisket a nice bold flavour without adding anything to the final calorie count, so choose your favourite hard wood and start smoking!
In terms of the smoker itself, if you are looking for a new model we can provide extensive reviews of the best electric smokers available. If you want to smoke whole briskets, you won’t need one of the larger models, but it isn’t a bad idea to get a smoker you can grow into.
How long the brisket will need to be smoked depends on the weight, but you should plan on leaving it in for at least six hours. When the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees, it is ready to be taken out.
As always, wrap the brisket in foil and let it sit for half an hour before serving to give the juices a chance to settle, and carve against the grain.
With a good rub, a tight wrap, and the right wood chips, you should be able to serve perfectly flavourful brisket as is, without any high calorie sauces.
Smoked Pulled Pork Shoulder
When it comes to healthy recipes for smoking meat, finding a good pulled pork recipe can be a difficult task.
Most pulled pork recipes involve making rich, complex sauces for the pulled pork to soak in, and these sauces are often loaded with fat and sugar.
But pulled pork is about more than just the sauce, and there are plenty of ways to approach smoked pulled pork in ways that are leaner but still packed with flavour. This particular healthy smoked meat recipe is a great example of how time, smoke, and a fine cut of meat can deliver surprising and delicious results.
Just like a good lean brisket, a lean pulled pork starts with a healthy slab of pork shoulder and a dry rub. Most pulled pork recipes are heavy on the sugar and barbecue sauce, so the first thing you should do to make it lighter in calories is cut out the sugar entirely.
Here’s one popular Memphis-style rub mix that should provide enough rub for a ten pound pork shoulder:
While you are applying the rub to the pork shoulder, bring your smoker up to 250 degrees and get your wood chips ready.
A good rule of thumb for cooking pork shoulder is to cook for ninety minutes per pound. A full pork shoulder will take at least half a day to cook at this rate, so it isn’t a bad idea to prep it the night before and fire up the smoker in the early hours of the morning. If you’re new to smoking, click here to check out our guide for common dos and don’ts.
Once the meat has reached an internal temperature around 200 degrees, remove it from the smoker, wrap it in tin foil, and refrigerate it for an hour and a half. Doing this will ensure that the juices have time to redistribute.
The pork shoulder is now ready for pulling, after which it can be served on sandwiches, tacos, or on its own. The beauty of this healthy smoked meat recipe is that it packs in so much flavour in the rub and the smoke that you don’t even need the added flavour of a barbecue sauce!
Smoking is an age-old culinary tool that is beloved by people the world over, and a healthy smoked meat recipe is a great way to enjoy your food to the fullest without having to worry about packing on the pounds.
If you want to find the perfect smoker to help you achieve your lean smoking dreams, check out our extensive product reviews, or head over to our recipes section for more smoking ideas. Either way, at Fire Food Chef you’ll find everything you need to wow your friends with your smoking skills this summer.