I became a newbie to this board and to the smoking hobby when my in-laws gave me a Masterbuilt Sportsman Elite electric smoker from Cabelas this past Christmas. I am a bit overwhelmed and confused from all the info I have got off this message board over the last few days so I'm hoping someone can give me some clarification. I have I've been doing Jeff's 5 day course and some of the info he is teaching us in his course seems to conflict some of the info I am reading on this board.
Yesterday his course had a recipe for his brine but I noticed it did not have instacure #1 added to it. When should you use instacure #1 on meat you smoke, whether you add it to a brine or a dry rub? Jeff's brine recipe said to only keep the poultry in his brine for 10 to 12 hours to avoid it getting too salty but Pops says 2 to 3 days for brining poultry. Yesterday morning (thursday) I added a bunch of chicken legs and thighs to pops brine which I plan to smoke today (friday). I also added 4 wild turkey breasts to Pops brine yesterday morning which I plan to smoke this sunday (fathers day). I just don't want to ruin the meat by making it too salty so any input is appreciated.
Do you all think its a good rule of thumb to use a cure such as instacure#1 to all meat/poultry/fish you smoke? Or is there an exception? I personally like to brine all meat before I smoke it so should I just add the instacure #1 each time to my brine? Or do you suggest I put it in my dry rub instead? Obviously I want to make sure I do this right because I don't want to make my family sick from me not following some simple steps to prevent botulism. I also saw how some were differing in their opinions on rinsing meat but I guess if I make it a rule of thumb to brine all my meat then I don't need to worry about the rinsing issue. Or is there some meat you suggest I rinse and not put in a brine?
Jeff talked about injecting the meat with the brine if you wanted to but I thought I read that you should not inject meat without instacure #1 because if it was contaminated you would be pushing the bad germs into the center of the muscle. Or is the rule that if you do inject without instacure #1 then you must follow the 40 to 140 in 4 rule to prevent illness? Others mentioned that its best not to inject the meat until its surface temp gets above 140 F. Or does that only apply if you did not use instacure#1? I thought I read some where that using instacure #1 is more important when smoking wild game. Is that true? Also, should you add instacure #1 to any liquid you inject into the meat while its being smoked?
I'm curious as to what you all do after you apply the dry rub. If you had the meat in a brine then do you immediately put it in the smoker after applying the dry rub or let it set in the fridge longer for the rub to season it? Do you rub the meat with olive oil after you apply the dry rub to help the rub to stick to the meat better and then put it in the smoker? Some had noted to pat the meat dry with a paper towel after taking it out of the brine so its surface will get tacky and thus make the rub stick better and allow the smoke to penetrate the meat better. However, if you add olive oil or mustard to the surface of the meat wouldn't it remove that tackiness and thus defeating the purpose of patting it dry before adding the dry rub?
My smoker came with a built in electric meat probe. At the touch of a button I can find out the internal temp of the meat without opening the smoker doors. Would you insert that probe into the meat at the very beginning of the smoking process? If so you do suggest sterilizing/cleaning the probe first and if so with what? Vinegar or alcohol? Or would you wait and open the doors after an hour or so to find out if the surface of the meat is past 140F before inserting the built in meat probe?
In the past I had liked to smoke at 180 F so the meat did not dry out from high temps but from what I have read from some on here, they suggested never to smoke below 200 F. Others mentioned the governments rule that no restaurant should ever smoke meat below 225 F. Is there a chart you all follow for time and temps of certain meats you smoke? Do you like to start out high and then go low? Do you like to raise the temp at the end to finish it off?
I know I am going to get some varying opinions from my questions but for right now I am just looking for some good "rule of thumb" answers to follow since I am a newbie. As I continue to use my smoker and read this board I am sure I will develop my own way of smoking meats but for right now I just don't want to ruin the chicken I am smoking for my in laws 50th anniversary party tonight and the wild turkey breasts I am smoking for my family on fathers day so any input is appreciated. Thanks in advance for taking the time to answers these questions for me.