Object of desire number 2: The Masterbuilt Electric Smoker
It is with some trepidation that I offer up the Masterbuilt electric smoker as my second kitchen object of desire. You can’t actually use it in your kitchen and pitmasters everywhere hate them. But that didn’t stop me from buying one on a whim. If you love the taste of smoked meats and/or side dishes but have limited space and time, these machines open up a world of smoky possibilities.
Several companies make these smokers and, according to me, they’re all basically the same—a box that seals tight to trap the smoke, along with a heating element, metal racks, a dish for liquids (to keep the air moist), a timer, temperature gauge and cord. You’ll find no shortage of recipes that call for them and they are simple to use. Set the temperature and time, preheat the smoker for a good half hour, then add the wood chips and food. Each recipe varies in how long you add wood and smoke the food. You’ll be instructed to add wood chips every 30 minutes or so in order to keep a nice steady stream of smoke. In general, most meats get smoked for a few hours before being wrapped in foil and slow-cooked to achieve nice, tender results.
Wood chips are available in your typical big box stores (Home Depot, Lowe’s, etc.), and there are many interesting varieties. You can find guides online that suggest certain woods for different types of food, but I use whatever wood I happen to have for whatever kind of meat I have and good things always happen. The beauty of these machines is that I am able to smoke at a moment’s notice. You can even put your side dishes in the smoker to give them a nice, smoky flavor. My personal favorite is smoked baked beans, and that is the dish I’m sharing with you today!
I start my baked beans with canned beans from the grocery store. You can certainly start with dried beans, but that requires planning and in the end, I’m not convinced it makes a difference. I add some fresh garlic and other ingredients to make the beans taste even better, and then I put them in the smoker for about 2 hours. If I have some meat in the smoker then I’ll place the beans on the rack below to catch some juices, but not for too long or they’ll get greasy.
The smoker doesn’t get hot enough to get the beans quite perfect, so after smoking them, I move them to the oven in order to reduce the liquid. To accomplish this, they’ll need about 25 minutes of intense oven heat. You can add a few pieces of bacon on top if you’d like, but it’s not necessary for flavor. If I weren’t smoking the beans, I would cover the top with bacon! Want to make the beans vegetarian? Start with meat-free beans and omit the bacon. My vegetarian friends love the smoky taste!
- 1. 2/ 28oz cans of baked beans, any flavor
- 2. 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3. 2 minced garlic cloves
- 4. 2 Tbs. yellow mustard
- 5. 2 cups barbecue sauce
- 6. 3 strips hardwood smoked bacon (or more)
- In a 9 x13 baking dish, add all of the ingredients except for the bacon and stir well.
- Top with the bacon.
- Heat your electric smoker to 255 to 275 and put the beans in. Smoke according to the manufacturers directions for 2 hours. In my smoker, I add wood chips every 30 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and move the beans to the oven. Bake for 25 minutes.
- Serve hot or at room temperature.