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There has been a debate among home chefs for quite a while now as to what side of aluminum foil to use when smoking. There are a lot of myths and false statements out there, so today we will be putting them aside to unveil the truth.
Shiny or Dull Side of Aluminum Foil for Smoking?
Many adventurous home cooks try smoking meat or fish at some point. The great thing is that you don’t even have to have a proper smoker. You can use a normal grill with a lid that you use for your barbeques on weekends.
Smoking meat tenderizes it and imparts a delicious flavor that you just don’t get with ordinary grilling. Different wood chips and meats give different flavors, so you’ll need to experiment a little to find the ones you like best.
How to smoke meat, poultry, or fish using a grill
Remember that the meat should not be directly over the heat source. You want it to cook very slowly, so the coals should be set to one side. On the bottom of the grill, pile some coals on one side and put a drip tray on the other.
Add about an inch of water to the drip tray – this helps with temperature control. Light the coals and when they are ready for cooking, you’re going to sprinkle your chosen wood chips over them. The meat is then put onto the grid over the drip tray and the lid is put over everything.
There has to be some ventilation left in the lid for the smoke to escape and for temperature control. This will prevent the meat from having a charred, burnt flavor. Your aim is to keep the temperature low and constant. You’re going to be taking several hours over this so don’t rush the process.
There is no need to turn the meat. In fact, the lid should only be opened if you need to add more charcoal or wood chips.
What about the foil?
Now that you understand the basic principles of smoking, we can go onto the foil. Of course, some people don’t wrap their meat for smoking in aluminum foil, choosing to leave it open throughout, but we recommend wrapping it for part of the time for succulent, juicier results.
Start with putting your unwrapped meat into the grill and smoking it unwrapped for the first half of the cooking time. Then wrap it in foil until it is almost done to retain moisture. When it’s almost ready, unwrap it again to finish it off.
Save any juices that have accumulated in the foil. These can be used when serving the meat.
Which Side of the Foil Should You Use?
- False belief number 1
A lot of smokers believe that the dull side of aluminum foil should be towards the meat. The reason behind their belief is the fact that they have heard that the shiny side has some sort of coating on it, that, when exposed to high temperatures might melt and be hazardous to health.
However, this is not accurate at all. The only reason one side is shiny and one side is dull is because of the manufacturing process. During the manufacturing process of aluminum foil, the aim is to make sure the foil is very thin yet not brittle – it should not tear due to the thinness.
Two sheets are rolled together and the side that is in contact with the rollers turns out to be shiny because of the smoothness of the rollers. If the inside part of the foil were placed on the outside, it would become shiny too.
So, one side is in contact with the rollers, while the other is in contact with the other sheet. Smokers who have used the shiny side have not noticed any differences in their smoking experience.
Aluminum is a safe option when it comes to smoking, as none of it melts or vaporizes at the level of heat it is exposed to. No coatings are put onto regular foil during the manufacturing process. Non-stick foil has a polymer coating on the shiny side but it is food-safe.
If you’re worried about this, turn the dull side towards the meat.
- False belief number 2
There has also been widespread controversy about the cause of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Some said that it was due to smoking or using aluminum. However, this rumor has been squashed by The Alzheimer’s Research Society. They said:
“Several environmental factors have been put forward as possible contributory causes of Alzheimer’s disease in some people. Among these is aluminum. There is circumstantial evidence linking this metal with Alzheimer’s disease, but no causal relationship has yet been proved. As evidence for other causes continues to grow, a possible link with aluminum seems increasingly unlikely.”
The only real difference between the two sides of aluminum is its reflectiveness. The shiny side is more reflective to light but not heat. Any side you prefer can be used for smoking or any other cooking method.