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Smoked Neck Bones

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Smoked neck bones are a flavorful ingredient used in Southern and soul food cooking. While they’re not typically eaten directly, they’re often used to flavor greens, season broths, and add a smoky, meaty flavor to many of your favorite dishes.

This smoked neck bones recipe focuses on raw neck bones specially prepared for smoking, aiming to infuse them with a rich, smoky flavor. Once smoked, they become a versatile and flavorful addition to dishes like red beans and rice, black eyed peas, collard greens, and more.

You can skip the store-bought neck bones and smoke these yourself! It’s surprisingly easy and you can choose your preferred wood for flavor like oak or pecan. They turn a beautiful mahogany color and smell amazing!

After smoking, simply store until ready to use. Then you’ll have them on hand whenever you want to add smoky flavor to all of your favorite recipes. It’s especially convenient when you can’t get to the store or are unable to find smoked neck bones at the local market.

In this post, we’ve broken down the steps for you in the recipe below as well as how to properly store them. You don’t even need a fancy smoker. So, fire up the smoker, and let’s get to it!

What you’ll love about this recipe:


  • CONVENIENCE – Not everyone’s local grocery store carries smoked neck bones, so smoking your own is a game-changer.
  • FLAVOR CUSTOMIZATION – Handpick your wood for smoking – oak, pecan, hickory – and tailor the smoky essence to suit your preferences.
  • PERFECT FOR BEGINNERS – This easy recipe is ideal for those learning how to use their smoker.

What are Neck Bones?

Neck bones are a cut of meat taken from the neck of a pig. They contain a good amount of connective tissue and marrow, making them well-suited for slow cooking methods. Neck bones are known for their rich flavor and the gelatinous texture they can lend to broths and stews when cooked low and slow.

What to Cook with Smoked Neck Bones

Smoked neck bones are a great addition to various Southern soul food dishes, infusing rich, smoky flavor into broths. Here are some of our classic recipes that can be cooked with smoked neck bones:

  • Collard Greens: Boil smoked neck bones with collard greens, onions, and seasonings for a flavorful side dish.
  • Red Beans and Rice: Add them to the pot while cooking red beans and rice for a hearty and savory flavor.
  • Black-Eyed Peas: Simmer with black-eyed peas, onions, and spices for a delicious and comforting dish.
  • Cabbage: Use them to flavor a cabbage, combining them with cabbage, potatoes, and other vegetables.

Ingredients

  • 2 – 3 pounds raw neck bones
  • Wood, for smoking

Brine

Brining Instructions

This recipe uses a basic salt, sugar, and water brine that will infuse the meat with a nice balance of flavor while helping to retain moisture during smoking.

  • Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a pot.
  • In the same pot, add 1/4 cup kosher salt and 1/4 cup sugar to the boiling water. Stir until completely dissolved.
  • Remove the pot from heat and let the brine cool slightly.
  • Add 4 cups ice to the pot, stirring until the ice is mostly melted, and the brine reaches room temperature.
  • Place neck bones in a large bowl or container.
  • Pour the brine over them, ensuring they are fully submerged.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight for maximum flavor absorption.
  • Before cooking, remove them from the brine, rinse, and pat dry with a paper towel. Then, proceed with smoking.

How to Smoke Neck Bones

  • Preparation: Rinse the neck bones under cold water and pat them dry with paper towels.
  • Prepare the Smoker: Preheat your smoker to a temperature of around 225-250°F (107-121°C). This low and slow cooking method helps them absorb the smoky flavor and become tender.
  • Add Smoke: Add wood to the smoker or directly to the coals. The type of wood you choose will influence the flavor. We recommend oak, hickory, or pecan.
  • Smoke: Place neck bones directly on the smoker grates.
  • Maintain Temperature: Monitor the temperature of the smoker and try to keep it within the 225-250°F (107-121°C) range. This ensures a slow and even cooking process.
  • Check for Doneness: Smoke until they reach an internal temperature of at least 165°F to 170°F and a mahogany color. This may take several hours, depending on the size and the smoker’s temperature.

Storage Instructions

Vacuum sealing smoked neck bones is a great way to preserve their flavor and keep them fresh for an extended period. If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, the water displacement method, also known as the “water immersion method,” can be used to remove air from the storage bag.

Both methods help remove air from the packaging, preventing freezer burn and preserving the flavor. Remember to label the bags with the contents and date for easy identification later on.

How to Vacuum Seal

  1. Cool: Allow the smoked neck bones to cool to room temperature before attempting to vacuum seal them.
  2. Pre-Freeze (Optional): For better results, you can pre-freeze them on the tray for about an hour. This prevents the release of excess juices during vacuum sealing. Place them in a single layer on a tray or plate and freeze for 1 hour.
  3. Prepare the Vacuum Sealer: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your vacuum sealer. Ensure that the machine is clean and has a sufficient supply of vacuum-sealing bags.
  4. Place in Bags: Arrange in a single layer inside the vacuum-sealing bag. Leave enough space between the bones and the top of the bag for proper sealing.
  5. Seal the Bag: Use the vacuum sealer to remove the air from the bag and create a tight seal. Follow the instructions on your vacuum sealer for the best results.
  6. Label and Date: Label the bag with the contents and the date of smoking before storing it in the freezer.

Water Displacement Method

  • Cool: Allow the smoked neck bones to cool to room temperature before attempting to seal them.
  • Use Ziplock Freezer Bags: Place them into a high-quality, freezer-safe Ziplock bag. Ensure that the bag is large enough to leave some space at the top for the water displacement method.
  • Seal Almost Completely: Seal the Ziplock bag almost completely, leaving a small corner unsealed.
  • Water Displacement Method: Slowly lower the bag into a large bowl or basin of water, leaving the unsealed corner above the waterline. The water pressure will force the air out of the bag.
  • Seal Completely: Once the air is mostly removed, seal the remaining corner of the Ziplock bag.
  • Label and Date: Label the bag with the contents and the date of smoking before storing it in the freezer.

Recipe Tips & Tricks

  • Patience is a Virtue: Low and slow is the name of the game. Let those neck bones soak up the smoky goodness gradually for the best flavor.
  • Wood Selection Matters: Experiment with different wood types (like oak, pecan, or hickory) to elevate the smoky essence and customize the flavor.
  • Prep for Success: Ensure the neck bones are dry and seasoned before smoking. This helps the smoke adhere, creating a more flavorful outcome.
  • Maintain Consistent Temperature: Keep a steady smoking temperature for a consistent and thoroughly infused smoky flavor.

FAQ

Where can I find raw neck bones?

Look for them at your local butcher shop or grocery store. They’re often available in the meat section.

What wood should I use for smoking?

Experiment with different woods like oak, pecan, or hickory to find the flavor you prefer.

Can I freeze the smoked neck bones?

Yes, they freeze well. After vacuum sealing, store them in the freezer until ready to use.

Can I use this method for other meats?

Definitely! The technique works well for enhancing the smoky flavor of various meats. Try it with ham hocks!

Summary

Forget the store-bought smoked neck bones; add your personal touch to infuse that irresistible smoky flavor into your favorite recipes like never before. No fancy smoker needed!

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Smoked Neck Bones

  • Author: cooks with soul
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Brining: 4 hours
  • Cook Time: 2 to 3 hours
  • Total Time: 6 to 7 hours
  • Yield: Varies
  • Category: meats
  • Method: smoking
  • Cuisine: southern, soul food

Description

Smoked neck bones are a flavorful ingredient used in Southern and soul food cooking. Use them to flavor greens, season broths, and add a smoky, meaty flavor your favorite dishes.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 23 pounds raw neck bones
  • Wood, for smoking (e.g. oak, hickory, or pecan)

Brine


Instructions

  1. Brine: Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a pot.
  2. Add 1/4 cup kosher salt and 1/4 cup sugar to boiling water. Stir until completely dissolved.
  3. Remove pot from heat and let brine cool slightly.
  4. Add 4 cups ice pot, stirring until mostly melted, and brine reaches room temperature.
  5. Place neck bones in a large bowl or container. Pour brine over them, ensuring they are fully submerged.
  6. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight for maximum flavor absorption.
  7. Before cooking, remove from brine, rinse, and pat dry with a paper towel. Then, proceed with smoking.
  8. Smoke: Rinse neck bones under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
  9. Preheat smoker to 225-250°F (107-121°C). Add wood to smoker.
  10. Place neck bones directly on smoker grates. Monitor temperature and try to keep it within the 225-250°F (107-121°C) range.
  11. Smoke until they reach an internal temperature of at least 165°F to 170°F and are a mahogany color.
  12. Follow freezer storage instructions until ready to use.

Keywords: smoked neck bones, neck bones

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