Food Smoking: Outdoor Cooking Tips From A Local Chef

Food Smoking: Outdoor Cooking Tips From A Local Chef

Posted on: October 04, 2023

Take your food smoking to the next level! Read all about Outdoor Cooking Tips From the Local Chef, Ted Reader! You will want to come back for more. We guarantee it!

Take your food smoking to the next level! Read all about Outdoor Cooking Tips From the Local Chef, Ted Reader! You will want to come back for more. We guarantee it!

Chef Ted Reader

Known as the ‘Godfather of the Grill’, his charm and fearless culinary spirit has led Ted to become an award-winning chef, author, food and product innovation entertainer and a professor of Modern Culinary Applications Innovations at the Canadian Food and Wine Institute at Niagara College.

Ted’s passion for all things smoked and grilled is extremely contagious. You’ll often find him spreading his gospel of BBQ at live cooking demonstrations and TV and radio appearances that keep fans salivating for more!

Ted owns over 75 grills and smokers.

Today you can find Ted in the backyard of his Toronto home tinkering with toys and developing creative and delicious recipes.

Whether you’re using a grill or a smoker, as well as ways to adapt your grill for smoking.

Watch this smoked prime rib recipe in a Bradley Smoker! Continue reading for more tips & tricks from the chef himself!


Reader starts off with his smoking “commandments” to get people to start thinking like a smoker instead of a griller. Some of these commandments include:

• Be Prepared — As in, prepare your smoker/grill. Know what you’re cooking, how long it will take, how much wood you will need, etc. And always get the fire going well before putting anything on.

Be Patient — Sometimes smoking is an all-day affair, so relax and enjoy it. As fellow barbecue author Davis says, “When your whiskey bottle is empty, the meat is done.”

No Peeking — Reader and others say that even a 30-second peek under the lid at the wrong time could add 20 minutes to your smoking time.

• Practice Makes Perfect — Like any sort of cooking or grilling, it takes time to get the feel of what you’re doing.

Get Great Meat!

Check out what I consider to be great meat selection below:


To get the best results smoking meat, buy the best meat you can afford. The quality of the meat does make a big difference, and we prefer “Prime” or “Choice” grades of beef for beautiful marbling. You get the wonderful flavor that our primal instincts crave!

Trust us, you will want plenty of marbling (the white fat running through the meat). This is because the more fat the meat has, the better it tastes! Health-wise, if you do not make high-fat beef a frequent staple, you’re still fine.


Fresh! Whether you want to roast a whole hog, or a shoulder cut, get the freshest meat you can find. Period. Now, which cut?

Spare Ribs, Country Style or Baby Back Ribs? It’s your choice! It’s all good but…we also prefer traditional spareribs, especially St. Louis Style.

Pork shoulder (12-16 lbs./5.4-7.3 kg) alsohas a ton of flavor and the fat needed to keep the meat moist and tender. Fat is very good, especially when you’re smoking meat for an extended period of time. If you can find a whole shoulder cut, all the better!


Are all chickens the same? Nope. When smoking meat, those yard birds are unbeatable for flavor!

We’re talking about “range chickens” where the birds range freely, have plenty of fresh water, exercise, and scratch the ground at will. A good free range bird will go to market at about 180 days. Most chicken today is fast grown (80 days).

These ones are stressed out and raised in confined cages, fed goodness knows what and “mechanically” processed for mass sale. No comparison in taste, so we like to buy “free range” chicken when it’s available.

No free-range chicken available? Well…get the freshest, plump, 3-5 pound bird you can find. If you don’t want to mess with cutting and cleaning, buy the chicken parts you most enjoy. Look for the freshest dates!

Frozen the only thing around? Buy the most recent dated package and we’ll make it taste great anyway!

Perfect Spices

From a local chef’s expertise, definitely use the best quality, and freshest spices you can. There is a huge difference between the old, been-in-the-cupboard-way-to-long, “buck a bottle” spices, and the top quality stuff. We learned this smoking meat secret the hard way!


We used the following criteria for our favorite backyard smoker:

  1. Ease of use
  2. Ease of cleaning
  3. Portability
  4. Excellent value (economical, quality built)

Pro Tip: When smoking meat, it’s imperative you keep track of the inside temperature with an oven thermometer. Also, you need to check the meat towards the end of the cooking time, with a meat type “instant-read” thermometer, to ensure the meat is done to perfection. Nobody likes uncooked chicken or pork! And you don’t have to spend a fortune for the best.

Heat Control

All great barbecue recipes are predicated on controlling the heat and it’s very significant that you follow this tip! Follow the suggested temperatures in our recipes meticulously, and use a darn good meat thermometer. Check that meat! Use an “instant read” meat thermometer to ensure safe minimum temperature.

Get The Timing Right!

Did you know that timing is directly related to temperature? The lower the heat, the longer to cook but, don’t cheat! Maintain heat control, and base the timing on the meat’s internal heat, period. This barbecue tip could have been titled, “Patience”. You will need a bucket-load of this to properly barbecue chicken, ribs, brisket, and prime rib. Basically, all of the above.

Smoke Levels

The smoke gives the meat that incredible flavor, but you can always add extra flavor on top.

When smoking any meat, always use only seasoned (never “green”) wood bisquettes like hickory, Oak, Mesquite, Cherry, Maple, fruitwoods, etc., to suit your taste. These are readily available, in season, wherever barbecue accessories are sold. If you can not find what you want, our underlined blue links are a great source.

Check out the Bradley Smoker Blog for more insights and food smoking tips & tricks!