Ultimate Meat Guide: How to Smoke Meat Like They Do at That Food Truck

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

Dan Kraus, the chef behind That Food Truck, is a smoked-meat purist: He feeds his smoker with an all-hardwood fire, continuously, even if it means napping on and off in his truck during a 30-hour stint. He shares how pork shoulder magically transforms in the smoker.

Let the pork shoulder sit out for about an hour to come to room temperature; cold meat will drop the smoker temperature. Kraus keeps seasoning simple with a little salt and pepper.

From the time the meat goes into the smoker, it takes about three hours for it to reach the smoker's temperature. Kraus runs his smoker around 215 degrees Fahrenheit. "Because I do it so low and so slow, [the meat] relaxes in a way where the juices don't leave the product," Kraus says.

For the bulk of the smoking time, the most important thing is to maintain the smoker's temperature. Watch the thermometer carefully-as the meat heats up, the smoker will become hotter as well. As the hours pass, the fat barely simmers and tenderizes the meat as it cooks, similar to confit, Kraus says.

Kraus leaves his meat in the smoker a few hours past the point at which it's technically done. "I let all the fats come to almost a caramelization, especially in pork," he says. Parts of the meat may look burned, but that's normal.

Kraus recommends wrapping the meat in butcher paper for an hour. "If it's done right, when it slaps out on your cutting board, it should have a crazy jiggle to it," Kraus says. His favorite way to eat it? No sauce, just a little more salt and pepper.

While porkshoulder can take up to 30 hours to smoke, whole chickens take only about seven. Kraus also smokes brisket, beef ribs and even organ meat.