Not sure what the temperature is where you are at right now, but I did some cooking last weekend in pretty frosty temperatures. Right now it’s in the 20’s and I have another cook coming up this week. Smoking in cold temperatures and nasty weather can create a whole new set of challenges, and if you are planning to do it, you might want to consider a few tips:
1. Smokers are made of metal and depending on the thickness of your smoker’s metal chamber; it can really be affected by cold temperatures. This means that not only will it take your smoker longer to heat up, but you will use more fuel, it will be more difficult to keep your temperature consistent and most likely longer to cook your food. You can still get excellent results; you just need to be aware.
2. It’s always important to resist the temptation to open your smoker too often when you are cooking. This is especially true in frigid weather. Each time you open that smoker you could easily be adding anywhere from 15-30 minutes to your cooking time so please keep this to a minimum! A great tool that I recommend is a digital programmable thermometer that allows you to keep the lid on the smoker closed and check the internal temperature of the meat as often as you want. You can pick one of these up for about $25. For a few bucks more you can get a remote one that can be monitored inside your nice warm house!
3. If you are dealing with heavy wind or snow or rain, look for a place to put your smoker that provides you with a bit of cover, especially from the wind. Nothing will screw up you temperature like a strong wind rushing through the smoker’s vents and fire box! Also, you will want to position the smoker so that a strong wind is not rushing directly in.
4. You might want to consider investing in a blanket made of fire resistant material to cover your smoker with. This will help hold a more consistent temperature in the smoker, as well as shield it from some of the more extreme elements you might be dealing with.
The bottom line is you can still produce excellent results in your smoker regardless of the temperature outside. It will be more challenging though, and it helps to be prepared. And there really is something extra special about a juicy smoked turkey or a mouth-watering slab of ribs on a cold winter’s night! Believe me, it’s worth it.