Confession of an LDS smoker
Sunday as the church meeting I was sitting in was drawing near a conclusion, I began to get fidgety and anxious. I had trouble focusing on the words of the closing song, and at the final “amen” of the prayer, I bolted for the door with smoking on my mind. Upon taking care of business at home, I rushed back to church and slipped into my seat just as the next meeting was starting. I immediately was aghast as I realized the upturned noses, the sidelong glances, and the accusatory expressions of those whose senses had tipped them off to evidence of smoking. That day, it was ribs over mesquite chips, though I had debated about salmon over pine chips, or even a tri-tip over apple wood. The euphoria of slowly letting the smoking flavor permeate and tenderize the meat was a tantalizing temptation I had to fight through for the duration of my meetings.
The Word of Wisdom teaches us in Doctrine and Covenants 89:12 that meat is “ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly.” I take that a couple of ways. First, the better I can make my meat taste, the more thanksgiving I can have in my heart (and stomach). Second, if I am to quantify the amount “sparingly,” that means eliminating marginal, tough, greasy, or tasteless varieties. I raise my own meat and enjoy knowing I am eating a healthy, organic, tender, and lean piece of meat that has been raised with thanksgiving, kindness, and appreciation. However, one of my former BYU students introduced me to smoking, a process of curing, tenderizing, and flavoring the meat in a beautiful way. This was a startling revelation to me, as I usually detest strongly any smoke smell. I was the scout trying to avoid campfire smoke, and in a hurry to wash it off as soon as I got home. I abhor tobacco smoke; it literally will make me vomit faster than any other smell. Smoking cigarettes was never a temptation or even a physical possibility for me ever in my life. And every year the part I dread most about working on my farm is the horrible smell of burning hair during branding. Simply put, I hate smoke of any kind.
Yet, the flavor and tenderness of smoked meat is undeniably delightful and delicious. I researched and purchased a smoker, and then found that smoking chips are available in a variety of flavors. Mesquite, hickory, apple, pine, cedar, or cherry wood all offer a different pungent flavoring. I researched which ones work best with which types of meat and love the mixing and matching that produces such wonderful results.
And so with my marinating brines to pre-soak the meat, with my racks in my smoker, and with a plethora of different types of wood chips to elevate my meat to a whole new level, I can proudly say with gratitude and thanksgiving in my heart and stomach that I am an active and honorable LDS smoker, obeying and honoring the Word of Wisdom the best way I can. I am part of a barbeque brotherhood extending from the asados of Argentina, to the barbacoa of Mexico, across the plains of Texas