Smoking meat can offer irresistible flavors and, although it takes time to do it properly, it is not a difficult process. Whether you have a smoker or are adapting an outdoor grill, start by choosing wood chips to flavor your meat. Different wood chips, such as apple, cherry, pecan or maple, impart different flavors to the meat.
Boneless ribeye steaks are wonderfully tender to begin with and because they are boneless, the smoking time won't be very long, an hour or two at most, depending on the temperature you maintain in the smoker.
- Smoker or grill
- Metal or foil tray with water
- Wood chips
Thaw the steaks thoroughly if they have been frozen. Because meat is smoked at relatively low temperatures, it will not thaw quickly enough in a smoker to keep the meat at a safe temperature. Bacteria grows in the "danger zone" between 40 F and 140 F, so meat should either be kept below that temperature in the fridge or freezer or cooked at a higher temperature. Thaw meat in the refrigerator, in the microwave or in a sink of cold water, replacing the water every 30 minutes.
Marinate the steaks in the refrigerator if you are using a marinade. The acidity in a marinade can tenderize meat and help the other flavors infuse the meat. Marinades typically contain an acid, such as vinegar, wine, beer or salad dressing, along with oil, herbs and other flavorings, such as garlic. Tender steaks such as ribeye don't require marinating but it can add a nice flavor. Another option is a dry rub, which usually contains a variety of dried spices and herbs, powdered garlic and other seasonings. Using your hands, rub the spice mixture onto the steaks and refrigerate until ready to smoke.
Use approved equipment for smoking steaks. Buy a smoker or adapt your grill to use as a smoker. In a smoker, preheat the charcoal until it is hot and covered with gray ash and separate into two piles. Place a pan of water between the piles and place the steaks over top. Add briquettes every hour to maintain the temperature. You can also add soaked wood chips, such as apple, maple or hickory, to the charcoal to improve the smoke flavor. The smoking process is similar if you're using a grill. Create two piles of hot briquettes with a pan of water in the middle, add soaked wood chips and place the meat over the water pan. Keep the lid closed and the vents open.
Smoke ribeye steaks safely by monitoring the temperature of both the steaks and the smoker or grill. If yours doesn't have a built-in thermometer, buy one and ensure the cooking temperature stays between 225 and 300 F. Use either an oven-safe thermometer that can stay in the steaks while they smoke or check them after you remove them from the smoker. The steaks should be cooked to a temperature of 145 F, which can take between one and two hours.