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We all enjoy our smoked meat, and often times we want to share our smoked meats with family or friends. And unless you are hosting, it can be difficult to figure out how to get the smoked meat there all while preserving the freshness. But how do you do that and more importantly, how do you do that safely?
In this article we will cover the best way to transport smoked meat as well as what to do if you are smoking meat the day before.
How To Transport Smoked Meat
The best way to transport smoked meat is to wrap the meat tightly in a few layers of aluminum foil and place it inside a cooler lined with towels. This will hold the temperature of your smoked meat for hours allowing you to safely transport the meat to your destination.
1. Grab A Cooler
When choosing a cooler, the smaller the cooler the better. Ideally, you would want to find something just big enough to fit your piece of meat. The smaller the cooler, the less heat your cooler will lose allowing you to hold your meat longer.
2. Line Your Cooler With Towels
Next, fill your cooler with a few towels. These towels will help fill the space in the cooler reducing the amount of air in the cooler. Air loses its heat much faster than solid object so by reducing the amount of air in the cooler, it allows you to keep your meat longer.
3. Wrap Your Smoked Meat Tightly In Aluminum Foil
Wrap your smoked meat in a couple layers of aluminum foil. This helps the meat retain its heat by trapping the heat inside the foil pack.
4. Place Your Smoked Meat Into The Cooler
Simply place your wrapped meat in the cooler on top of the towels and cover with another towel. Close the lid and make sure the lid stays closed until you get to your destination.
5. You’re Ready For Transport
You can hold smoked meat warm using this method for hours which gives most people plenty of time to transport their meat. The larger cuts of meat like brisket and pork butts can last up to 5 hours while smaller cuts like ribs and chicken up to 3 hours.
If you need to hold your meat longer than this, then you will want to use the brick method outlined below.
Anytime you are not eating meat right away, it is important to make sure you are holding it safely. Improper holding techniques can lead to the growth of harmful bacteria and could potentially cause a food borne illness.
How To Hold Meat Safely?
When transporting smoked meat, it all comes down to keeping the internal temperature of the meat above 140° Fahrenheit. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), food held at or above 140°F can be left out indefinitely.
Once the internal meat drops below 140° F, it enters into what is known as the danger zone and either needs to be consumed or refrigerated. The danger zone is the temperature range from 40° F to 140° F in which harmful bacteria rapidly grows to dangerous levels that can cause illness.
Like I mentioned above, holding you meat in a cooler wrapped will allow you to hold your meat above 140° F for hours. If you are concerned about the danger zone, or think you will need to hold your smoked meat longer than a few hours, you should utilize the brick method.
The Brick Method For Keeping Your Meat Warm Longer
The brick method is simply wrapping hot bricks in aluminum foil and again in towels before placing them into the cooler. You can then place your smoked meat on top of the bricks and close the cooler. Bricks are great insulators and hold heat for long periods of time allowing you to keep your food warm for longer.
1. Grab Your Bricks
Any bricks will do, however complete bricks work the best. You should aim to use 2-3 bricks. The more bricks you use, the longer your cooler will stay warm. I would caution you from using too many bricks though as you don’t want your cooler to be too hot.
Wrap your bricks in aluminum foil
2. Cook Your Bricks In The Oven At 300° F For 20-30 minutes
Yes you heard me right, bake your bricks. This will allow them to absorb the heat needed to keep your meat warm
3. Wrap The Bricks In Towels And Place Into A Cooler.
Carefully take your hot bricks out of the oven and wrap them in a thick towel. Coolers are not meat to handle high temperatures so it is important to use the towels as a buffer. Placing hot bricks directly into a cooler will destroy your cooler. Don’t do it. Trust me.
It is probably not a bad idea to line the bottom of the cooler with a towel as well. The more protection you can give your cooler the better.
4. Place Your Meat In The Cooler And Close The Lid.
The bricks hold their heat incredibly well and will keep your cooler warm for many hours.
Should You Slice Meat Before Transporting It?
When transporting meat, you should leave it in its whole form. This will help retain freshness and moisture and ensure you are serving the freshest meat possible. It is always best to slice and serve at your destination when possible.
Smoking Meat The Day Before
Smoking meat is a long process and for a lot of people, they don’t have time to smoke meat the day of their event. In this case most people opt to smoke meat the day before and store it for transportation the next day.
If this sounds like you, following these steps can help you preserve the freshness of your meat.
Let The Meat Cool
When smoking meat the day before, you are going to have to refrigerate the meat. Let you’re your meat cool before refrigeration.
Wrap In Aluminum Foil
You will want to leave the meat in whole form again and wrap tightly in aluminum foil. This helps preserve the overall freshness of your smoked meat. With your meat wrapped, you can place it in the fridge.
Reheat The Day Of
If you have a means to reheat at your event, then you can transport the meat cold, otherwise you will want to reheat before leaving and place it in the cooler as we did above.
Reheating Without Drying Out
When it comes to reheating, the best way to reheat your meat is to place it in the oven at 250° F until it reaches an internal temperature of 140° F. It is also beneficial to add some liquid to the aluminum foil when reheating to help add some additional moisture. You can use a splash of water, orange juice, apple juice or even apple cider vinegar.