Zucchini is a great vegetable to not only grill but ember cook. I has the density to hold up over the high heat. Add a distinct char taste to this abundant vegetable either as a side dish or an ingredient, either way it brings out the flavor of the zucchini.

EMBER FIRED ZUCCHINI

How to cook your zucchini on hot coals.

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I love thick skinned vegetables that come in season during Summer.  They are the perfect items to light a fire and make some hot coals to ember fire flavor into them.

We’re getting ready to coal roast one of my favorite vegetables – zucchini!  This is so simple to do and produces an extraordinary flavor for zucchini to be eaten on its own or to be used in your favorite recipe.  Clean out the fire pit, charcoal grill or outdoor fireplace and prepare to roast zucchini directly on the hot coals.

Building A Small Fire

Starting the fire to burn down the wood into coals Know this from the start – You do not need a large fire!  A small fire is best to accomplish your cooking in about an hour’s time.  For my fire, I am using ten SmokinLicious Single Filet Wood Chunks in Ash with a couple of pieces of charwood that were left over from a previous cook.   Why Ash hardwood?  Because it is hands down, the best hardwood to produce an even bed of coals which is what you want when you coal roast.

I stack the wood so there is quite a bit of air space between the pieces.  This ensures I have good oxygen flow to produce combustion quickly. My technique is to stand the wood pieces on their end and make a circle then have a couple of pieces in the center kind of tipped on to each other.  Remember, you want to produce hot embers quickly so it only requires a little wood and a lot of oxygen to burn things down.  I light my wood using a small butane torch, leaving the torch in place until I’m sure the wood has ignited.  I keep the lid off my charcoal grill so I can push the combustion process through completion and get those ash covered, hot embers.

Red Means Hot

Red Hot coals is the goal before adding the zucchiniYou will know when the coals or embers are ready for cooking when you have uniform coals and they are glowing red from the bottom and gray on top.  I keep a couple of larger coals banked to the side to maintain heat and for reserved hot coals, in case I need to rake more to the cooking side.  I like to nestle a high heat metal cooking rack on the hot coals and then place my whole zucchini on the rack.  This allows for little ash to accumulate on the skin.  Remember, those coals are very hot so the zucchini will take less than 20 minutes to tenderize and char.

 

Turn For Full Char

With the zucchini and coal rack in place, I give the embers about 8 minutes to char and cook the first side of the zucchini.  After that time, I gentle turn the zucchini so that each side gets an even char.  Once the first 8 minutes are done, there will be less timing needed for each of the other sides as the zucchini will hold heat and radiate it out.  I’ve added one additional wood piece to my banked fire just to be sure I have enough heat in the coal area.  I will not put the lid on the unit during the entire cooking process as this is open fire cooking.  My total coal cooking time is approximately 16 minutes.

 

Perfection In Smoke & Char

After placing my fresh zucchini on hot coals for about 16 minutes total, turning several times to get an even char, this spectacular vegetable is ready for eating.  You will see, there is very little coal bed left following this technique so remember, if you are cooking more than a couple of zucchini, you will need a larger coal bed.

For those of you thinking that the black, charred skin will be bitter and not appealing to eat, think again.  Most of the char will rub right off but the flavor will be infused throughout the zucchini.  I’ve sliced mine about ¼-inch thick as I plan to make a galette of ricotta, garlic oil, and basil.

Check in soon for our posting on that recipe.  Did you love this wood-fired technique?  Leave a comment and subscribe as we continue to bring you new ideas, tips, techniques and recipes for all things wood-fired, smoked, and charred!

You may also enjoying reading:

-Top 10 Vegetables to Cook in Hot Embers

-EMBER FIRED ZUCCHINI & RICOTTA GALETTE

-SUCCULANT WOOD FIRED STUFFED TOMATO WITH HERB RICE

-Ember cooked Sweet Peppers

Purchase products:

Wood Chunks- Single Filet

Charwood

 

Zucchini is a great vegetable to not only grill but ember cooking. Add a distinct char taste to this abundant vegetable as a side dish or an ingredient it brings out the flavor of the zucchini

 

10 food items that you never thought you could smoke! Once you master these items your culinary flavoring world will be enlist.

10 food items that you never thought you could smoke! Once you master these items your culinary flavoring world with smoke will be end list.

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We are going beyond the obvious and the traditional when it comes to items that you can smoke.  It’s time to up your skills and menu items with the top things you would never think of to smoke.

Keep in mind, we are not just referring to hot smoking.  We’re including the quick technique of handheld food smoking as well as stove top smoking in a pan.

Let’s get to it!

#1 Banana

Honestly, banana can be smoked via an indirect hot smoking method as well as with a handheld food smoker.  With a peak season from January thru April, and imports readily available, you can enjoy this fruit anytime of the year!  For the handheld smoker technique, skin the banana and expose to the smoke vapor.  This just takes minutes.  For the hot smoking technique, you’ll need to be sure that the banana is placed on the side of the grill that does not have the heat source so it doesn’t get too mushy.

 

#2 Sauces

Do you have a favorite sauce recipe that you would love to add a smoky component to?  Don’t waste a lot of time trying to get smoked ingredients into your sauce.  Instead, just expose the sauce to a cold smoke application using a handheld food smoker.  Using this method lets you decide just how strong to make the overall smoky flavor.

 

#3 Radish

The best thing about radish is all the root colors they are available in; red, white, purple, and black.  Their shape can be round or cylindrical and they have the distinct undertone of spice and zest.  They are so easy to smoke on a grill with hardwood by slicing them and placing in a vegetable grill pan.  You can even place whole radish directly in hot embers to add flavor and char.

#4 Chestnuts

You’re familiar with roasting chestnuts but did you realize that smoking them is just like slow roasting?  Chestnuts have a lot of moisture which make them ideal for the grill.  Whether on a charcoal, gas or even a standard stove top grill pan, by including wood in the mix, this nut takes on a whole new flavor.  Fresh chestnuts are available during the winter months so start planning.

#5 Chocolate

You’ve probably guessed that chocolate smoking can only be done with a cold smoking technique.  This ensures that no chocolate melts and all that yummy goodness stays perfect inside.  Using a handheld smoker, smoke infusion can take as little as 15 minutes when you let all the smoke captured with the smoking bag dissipate.  Otherwise, it can be a short as just a few minutes.

 

#6 Water

Why would you want to smoke water?  First, there are many recipes that require water in them so this is a subtle way to add a smoky ingredient.  Second, smoked cocktails are all the rage.  Why not smoke the ice cubes instead of the entire drink?  The easiest way, is to smoke water and then place it in ice cube trays and freeze.  You can smoke the water on a hot smoker, stove top smoker or with a handheld smoker.  Lots of options.

#7 Cream

Cream is one of those dairy items that reacts well with smoke vapor.  In fact, most items that contain milk by-product will smoke well.  I really like cream because you can do so much with it: Include it in sauces, desserts, soups.  Each time you use it in a different dish, it will take on a new flavor profile.

#8 Citrus Fruits

All citrus fruits are simply spectacular when they are exposed to smoke.  Now you don’t have to smoke the main protein of the meal.  Instead, just serve the citrus with it, whether you juice it on fish, add it to a sauce, or drizzle it on your favorite cake.  Again, you can hot smoke, stove top smoke, or cold smoke citrus.

 

#9 Spices

Any spice can be turned into a smoked spice.  Want smoked curry?  Go ahead!  Smoked Cinnamon?  You go it!  You can smoke any spice easily with a handheld food smoker.  In minutes, you can have your own version of any spice smoked.

 

#10 Herbs

Just as you can do with many of the previous items on our list, herbs allow you to decide where the intensity of the smoke flavor will come from.  You can smoke herbs and then sprinkle on top of a dish, you can smoke the herb and add it to a cooked item – think herb crusted chicken, or it can be married with other ingredients that the specific herb is compatible with.  Remember, a cold smoke method will keep the herb in its raw state while hot smoking will produce a dehydrated version of the herb that is so much better than those dry herbs you buy in the grocery store.

Get inspired by this article to try your hand at a smoking technique with one of our items or something you have a passion to try.  Then subscribe and follow us so you get additional inspiration on recipes, tips, and techniques for all things wood-fired.

Related reading:

-JUST BECAUSE YOUR SMOKING (FOOD THAT IS!) DOESN’T MAKE IT ALL BAD!

-The Top 10 Vegetables To Cook In Hot Embers

-THE TOP 8 MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN COOKING & GRILLING WITH WOOD

Purchase products:

Wood Chips- Minuto® and Piccolo®

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Wood Chunks- Double and Single Filet

Dr Smoke- "Our fun things for you to try on the grill and in your indoor or outdoor kitchen."

Dr Smoke- “Our fun things for you to try on the grill and in your indoor or outdoor kitchen.”

10 food items that you never thought you could smoke! Once you master these items your culinary flavoring world will be enlist.

10 food items that you never thought you could smoke! Once you master these items your culinary flavoring world with smoke will have end less!

We discuss the pros and cons for foiling or NOT- your foods, in particular your BBQ and how it can affect the food.

We discuss the pros and cons for foiling or NOT- your foods, in particular your BBQ and how it can affect the food.

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“Does cooking something in foil still allow the wood flavor to penetrate?”

 It is a common question heard when it comes to hot smoking.  In fact, there is even a technique called the Texas Crutch that relies on wrapping meats like ribs, pork shoulder, and brisket in foil with 1-2 ounces of liquid into the foil and then sealing all ends tightly so no liquid or steam escapes.  This process tenderizes and speeds the overall cooking process, which with hot smoking, can be quite lengthy.

Here’s the thing – when you use this technique, you do so after the meat product has cooked to about 135-150°F.  That means a great deal of smoke flavor has already penetrated.  What about if you start out cooking in foil?  Let’s look at the pros and cons of cooking in foil, information you can use for traditional oven cooking as well.

Con #1

Aluminum leaches into foods that are wrapped in it.  Current research indicates that the average person can tolerate about 2400mg of aluminum exposure per day due to our body’s ability to excrete the small amounts of this metal efficiently.  Therefore, any ingestion levels over this would be considered a health risk by the World Health Organization.

Pro #1

Aluminum foil is disposable so it is a convenience.  There is no clean up when you cook foods in foil and often there are recycling programs that accept used foil.  It can save on degrading your cookware and grill grates.

Con #2

Aluminum is found in other items like corn, yellow cheese, salt, herbs, spices, tea, cooking utensils, and in over-the-counter medications like antacids.  A derived from aluminum is also used during the purification process of drinking water.  These all must factor into the recommended daily intake of this metal, meaning you need to assess whether cooking in foil will put you over the daily recommended limit.

Pro #2

Aluminum foil aides in producing a convection heat as it is an excellent heat conductor.  Thus, cooking times can be significantly reduced when foods are placed in foil.

Con #3

Foods with higher levels of acid have a higher rate of leaching aluminum into them.  This is true whether the acidic ingredient is in solid or liquid form.  In fact, acidic liquids have a higher leaching rate than solids.  Give this consideration when working with foods such as tomatoes, vinegar and citrus items.

Pro #3

Using aluminum foil can tenderize tougher cuts of meat when you include an ounce or two of liquid.  Additionally, aluminum foil is leak proof when you seal all ends.

Con #4

When cooking in foil using acidic ingredients both the appearance and taste of the foods can be altered by the reaction to aluminum.  Often, the tastes are described as metallic.

Smoking Considerations

From the smoking perspective, if you start the foods on the grill grates without any aluminum foil, cook until 135-150°F internal temperature, and then wrap in foil to finish, you likely will find very little change in taste.  Ingredients containing acid would have cooked down and not be at a level that would interact as aggressively with the aluminum.

If you do elect to cook on the smoker, charcoal grill or LP grill with foil, know that you can see firsthand the reaction of the aluminum with food ingredients and even the wood molecules by the smoke vapor particles that develops on the outside surface of the foil.  As foil is a heat conductor, it also is somewhat of a sponge and will steal some of the smoke vapor particles from the food.

Remember, one of the key benefits to using aluminum foil is its ability to seal tightly whether preventing spillage to a piece of cookware or sealing in liquids for cooking.  Cooking smoked items wrapped in foil from start to finish will not allow for full penetration of the smoke vapor particles that account for the unique color, texture, and taste to smoked foods.  Plus, you likely will increase your risk of health issues with repeated exposure to high aluminum levels.

We’re grateful for this question submission and hope you found value in our information.  We welcome all types of questions and encourage you to follow and subscribe to our social channels so you don’t miss anything.  We look forward to providing you with tip, techniques, recipes, and science for all types of wood-fired cooking.

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Here’s some additional reading:

Why Charcoal Is Not An Ingredient

How Much Wood To Add When Smoking

Purchase products:

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Wood Chunks- Double and Single Filet

Dr Smoke- "To foil or not to foil? That is the question (personal preference)."

Dr Smoke- “To foil or not to foil? That is the question (personal preference).”

We discuss the pros and cons for foiling your foods, in particular you BBQ and how it can affect the food.

We discuss the pros and cons for foiling your foods, in particular you BBQ and how it can affect the food.

Smokinlicious® is compliant with all USDA (national & international )and local rules regarding the movement of our wood products. We take great pride in our Forest Stewardship practices

Smokinlicious® is compliant with all USDA (national & international )and local rules regarding the movement of our wood products. We take great pride in our Forest Stewardship practices

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In a previously published article, we discussed the negative outcome as it relates to sales dollars when some brands elect to go into the wood-fired cooking arena without researching anything about wood for cooking.  Let’s take a step further and explore the actual wood and potential risks to that commodity when a brand fails to carry out a menu plan, abandoning the wood-fired cooking concept.

I often wonder if the public is aware of all the pest infestations that are currently plaguing our country as a direct result of the movement of wood.  Correction, that occurred due to global trade.  Yes, it is the use of imported goods on wooden packaging materials in addition to imported plants that have resulted in infestations around our country.  Each year, this risk of infestation continues to rise and frankly, I opine that it isn’t all due to importation.  What if the food industry is really the key exacerbator to this problem? 

Emerald Ash Borer, Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, White Pine Blister, Gypsy Moth, Beech Bark Disease, Sirex Wood Wasp, Winter Moth, Dutch Elm Disease, Dogwood Anthracnose, Butternut Canker, Sudden Oak Death, Balsam Woolly Adelgid.  These are just some of the infestations that are being tracked in the USA.  Let’s take a closer look at one hardwood species that is of great concern to me: Oak.

It is the hardwood of choice when it comes to restaurants likely due to all the hype from the state of Texas when it comes to barbecue.  They like their beef (brisket specifically) and they like it cooked over oak.  As mentioned in our article When A Flop Could Have Been A Success,” there were two franchise brands in particular, that banked on only oak for the success of their wood-fired menu items: Red Lobster and Applebee’s Bar & Grill.

Red Lobster has over 700 locations while Applebee’s Bar & Grill has nearly 2000 locations.  Now process those numbers.   By sourcing it from whatever suppliers they can locate and then putting it into the food distribution network to be delivered with other restaurant goods including foods items like produce, spices, herbs, etc.  Given the enactment of the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), we are starting to address some concerns related to the food industry but unfortunately, the use of wood, more specifically firewood in restaurant kitchens, has not been identified as a need when it comes to health.  Why?

Although Red Lobster has kept alive some of its wood-fired menu items and Applebee’s Bar & Grill is still attempting to get some life out of their wood-fired steaks, I state that these plans failed terribly.  So, what happened to all the wood that was meant for these restaurants?  Did it get thrown into a dumpster at each location to be transported to a landfill?  Did employees volunteer to take some as firewood and transported it to their homes ignoring laws in place to stop the movement of firewood?  Could some supply still be sitting idle in food distribution centers?

Certainly, it appears clear that we need to start with this commodity called wood and start delineating regulations when it comes to using this for cooking of items intended for consumption, rather than mass labeling all wood as appropriate for cooking.  How long before we start realizing that deforestation resulting from the spread of pest disease has been aided by the restaurant industry?  Perhaps if we start to question just what that wood-fired steak or salmon or chicken was cooked over, we can get a clear understanding of how little is known about the wood being used for cooking.

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Related reading:

-THE BOLDNESS OF OAK!

-AS HARD AS OAK!

-TO BARK OR NOT

-WHEN A FLOP COULD HAVE BEEN A SUCCESS!

Purchase products:

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Wood Chunks- Double and Single Filet

Dr Smoke- “Dr Smoke makes every effort possible to protect our forest from predator insects by carefully and cleanly processing all of our cooking wood products according to USDA standards. We are a supporter of integrated pest management.”

Smokinlicious® is compliant with all USDA (national & international )and local rules regarding the movement of our wood products. We take great pride in our Forest Stewardship practices

Smokinlicious® is compliant with all USDA (national & international )and local rules regarding the movement of our wood products. We take great pride in our Forest Stewardship practices

Smokinlicious is the only company to produce enhanced Smokin' Dust is over 15 flavors beyond just natural.

Smokinlicious® is the only company to produce enhanced Smokin’® Dust is over 15 flavors beyond just natural.

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SIMPLE FLAVOR INFUSION!

There seems to be some legend out there that wood-fired cooking methods are all about the endless hours of tending food and fire that produce taste results that are only granted to a small percentage of committed cooks.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Ready for simple methods of wood flavor infusion that do not take stock piles of wood and equipment so large, you start thinking about adding on to your house?

Wood-fired cooking includes the simplest methods of wood infusion like the current rage with hand-held food smokers or even the stove top smoker.  Kitchen gadgets that have opened the door to anyone who wants to explore the fragrant and flavorful bounty that awaits all foods and beverages.  One thing that still is evolving is the concept of spices not for your food but for your equipment!

If you’ve read some of our previous articles on wood flavoring you’ll come to understand and appreciate that there is no set rule on wood-fired cooking.  Oh, yes, there is plenty of science when it comes to cooking with fire or as I like to say when you combust to flavor, which is what you are accomplishing with wood for cooking.  I feel more attention should be given to the actual wood products put into the equipment rather than focusing on the ingredients to the foods being cooked.

First, wood to us IS an ingredient, one that still needs to be balanced with the other components to bring forth a food memory.  As an ingredient, the easiest by far to manage for wood flavor infusion is sawdust or in our Company’s listing, Smokin’ Dust®.  Compatible with all types of equipment, Smokin’ Dust® literally becomes a ‘spice’ for your equipment.

Thinking of island flavors of pineapple, coconut, and mango for a recipe?  Why not add one or more of those flavorings through the wood product?  Yes, using all-natural flavoring infused into our Smokin’ Dust® is one of the quickest methods of getting great flavor to a specific regional dish.  With 15 flavor-infused options that are 100% all natural, designed for cooking, and infused in hardwood, as well as 8 natural hardwood flavors, we’ve given new meaning to the word ‘spice’ as ours can now apply to the wood product!  Remember, apple wood doesn’t smell or taste anything like an apple.  Use our apple infused product, and you’ll experience hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, and the bite of an apple!

Why settle for a run-of-the-mill smoking sawdust product that you don’t know where it comes from?  A softwood, swept from the floor, shoveled from the ground, or worse, taken from under an animal?  Instead, get excited about the flavor opportunities awaiting you and your equipment when you use a smoking sawdust product from a real cooking wood company.  Get excited about the opportunities out there to experiment with, whether for hot smoking, cold smoking, hand held food smoking, stove top smoking, or even traditional LP and charcoal grilling.  And get ready to experience the world through flavor aroma!

Smokin Dust is one of our most customized and versitle cooking wood product.

Dr Smoke- “Smokin’ Dust is one of our most customized and versatile cooking wood product.”

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Additional reading:

-TASTE IS AROMA!

-JUST BECAUSE YOUR SMOKING (FOOD THAT IS!) DOESN’T MAKE IT ALL BAD!

-KIWIFRUIT GETS SMOKY

Purchase products:

Flavored Smokin’ Dust

 

 

Alder wood for a light smoke wood flavor

Alder wood for a light smoke wood flavor

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE..EASTERN ALDER!

As we highlight another hardwood from our offerings, we need to start by pointing out that we are referring to Eastern Alder not the better known Western Alder or Red Alder of the west coast.  Eastern Alder is part of the Birch family, with the scientific name of Alnus but the common names for the varieties found in the Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania regions of Eastern Alder (Smooth Alder), White Alder, Red Alder.

Alder is a relatively soft hardwood of medium density.  It is most commonly used with fish but I think I need to stress here that really any cooking hardwood can be used with any food item at the discretion of the cook.  Many factors play in to how a hardwood reveals itself during the cooking event: rub ingredients, brine ingredients, quality of the meat/poultry/fish, freshness of the food item, style of cooking (over the coals, in the coals, indirect heat, etc.) and most importantly, oxygen flow which feeds the combustion of the wood.   Alder provides a neutral coloring to the outer skin of foods which is why it is a favorite for fish.  Would this be a first choice for say a steak or other beef item?  No, but I certainly like to use it for lots of other things like fruit, vegetables, cheese dishes, and of course, fish.

For cooking, you can expect Alder to perform as follows:

Heat Level: Medium – 17.6MBTU

Fuel Efficiency: Fair

Ease of Lighting: Good

Ideal Uses: Cold Smoking/Poaching/Grilling/Stove Top Smoking

When you’re looking for something on the lighter menu of woods, keep Alder in mind, and explore its lighter heat level and versatility for the more delicate items of cooking.

 

Additional information:

-THE SAFE BET!

-BEYOND PRICING: THE TOP THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN PURCHASING COOKING WOOD

-KIWIFRUIT GETS SMOKY

Purchase products:

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Wood Chunks- Double and Single Filet

Dr Smoke- "Alder is a very versatile wood for all foods."

Dr Smoke- “Alder is a very versatile wood for all foods.”

 

Alder wood for a light smoke wood flavor

Alder wood for a light smoke wood flavor

Add a great flavor to Avocado by grilling them!

Add a great flavor to Avocado by grilling them!

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Oh, the wonderful, healthy, creamy, flavorful avocado.  With more potassium than a banana and 18 amino acids for daily intake, you can’t go wrong with this single seed fruit.

Did you ever think to grill this fabulous fruit with a little wood to give it even more flavor?  We’ll show you just how easy it is to wood fire avocado on the gas grill using wood chunks for your smoke infusion.

Making It More Than A Grill

Regardless of the brand of gas grill you have, you can add wood chunks to the grill for wood fired flavor.  My grill has heat shields over the burners so I use that area to add one small wood chunk under the grill grate, directly on the heat shield.  No, you won’t damage your grill, as the wood combusts to ash and basically blows away.

One chunk is all it will take to get great flavor into the avocados.  I keep the burner that the wood chunk is located on set to medium as well as the burner next to that one on medium.  Since I have 4 burners, 2 are on and 2 are off.

Once the grill is to 300° F, this technique will take less than 20 minutes.

Simple Avocado Preparation

The only preparation needed for the avocados is to cut them in half and remove the seed.  The avocados are placed flesh side down on the grate only on the side with the burners off.  The heat captured within the grill will spread throughout the grilling area and cook the avocado while adding wood smoke vapor.  Note, it’s important that you don’t attempt to move the avocados for at least 10 minutes otherwise you will find the avocado flesh will stick to the grate and you’ll lose much of the fruit’s flesh.  Wait until some of the fat renders and chars making removal so simple.

Prep To Finish In Less Than 20 Minutes

In less than 20 minutes you will have wonderfully wood flavored, charred flesh avocados ready for your favorite recipes.  Think of using this fruit in smoothies, dips, on salads, as a creamy ingredient for sauces – remember, avocado can be used to substitute the amount of butter used in most recipes.  We will take some of our avocado and make a wood fired guacamole first.  Our recipe will post soon so stay tuned and don’t’ forget to send us your pics of wood fired avocado.

Did you get motivated to fire up the grill with wood?  Send us a comment or your avocado fired pics and don’t forget to subscribe.  Bringing  you fun, innovative tips, techniques and recipes on all wood fired methods for foods, beverages, spices, herbs and so much more.

Be sure to check out:

-The Top 10 Vegetables To Cook In Hot Embers

-HOW TO TURN YOUR LP/GAS GRILL INTO A SMOKER

-STEPPING UP RADISH SALAD WITH A WOOD-FIRED FLARE

Purchase products:

Wood Chunks- Double and Single Filet

Dr Smoke- "For a great smoky flavor to this popular fruit try wood fired cooking and smoking approaches."

Dr Smoke- “For a great smoky flavor to this popular fruit try wood fired cooking and smoking approaches.”

Add a great flavor to Avocado by grilling them!

Add a great flavor to Avocado by grilling them!

Cooking steak on the grill or in the grill pan is a universal question. Read more below to understand some of the techniques.

Cooking steak on the grill or in the grill pan is a universal question. Read more below to understand some of the techniques.

A GUIDE TO SUCCESSFULLY CHOOSING, PREPARING, AND COOKING THE PERFECT STEAK

Being able to successfully cook a steak is a skill that most people aspire to have. Pay attention to these details and you’ll see that it’s not that difficult to pull off.

To begin, you need to understand the basics of the different cuts of beef and how to choose the right one. From there, we’ll get into how to cook it to your desired level of doneness.

Choosing a Steak

Examining the butcher shop cases can be overwhelming. There are so many different cuts available—big steaks, skinny steaks, huge roasts, small roasts, and more. If your goal is to cook a good steak at home, I recommend sticking with the rib-eye, T-bone, New York strip, or filet Mignon. These are the most expensive cuts, but in steaks you get what you pay for and these are the most tender when grilled or pan fried. The differences in tenderness come from the cow having stability muscles (think the lower back), which are less powerful and thus tender, and load-bearing muscles, which are tough. Price is directly correlated to these qualities. A tender steak will cost a lot more than a tough steak (though with the right treatment, you can successfully turn a tough cut like brisket into a tender, flavorful meal).

If the sheer volume of beef cuts still overwhelms you, check out our easy-to-read guide to steaks and their tenderness, price, and ideal preparation.

The seasoning requirements differ based on the cut. A tougher steak requires more seasoning because your eating experience is mostly about tasting the seasoning, rather than enjoying the tenderness of the cut. For example, you can get away with simple salt and pepper on a perfectly cooked filet mignon, while a flank steak used for fajitas should have some sort of spicy rub all over.

Cooking Tips

So, you’ve purchased steaks that fall on the tender side and you’re ready to cook them. First let them rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes to take the chill off. This results in more even cooking. Pro tip: If you are cooking for someone who likes a well-done steak and you like yours rare, leave yours in the fridge until the absolute last minute; your steak will cook less than your guest’s in a similar amount of time.

If you’ll be cooking on the stovetop, a cast iron or stainless-steel pan will work best. Nonstick coating can’t handle the high heat required for cooking a steak. Before you place the skillet over high heat, lightly season the steaks with a mild rub or just salt and pepper. While the skillet is warming, pour in a few tablespoons of peanut, canola, or other high-smoke-point oil. When the oil is shimmering and the pan is hot, place the steaks in the pan and loosely cover it with foil to prevent oil from splattering. Now is also the time to turn on any kitchen fans, as this will generate some smoke. If your steak is less than 1 inch thick, you can plan on cooking it in the pan the entire time. If your steak is thicker than an inch, do the searing on the stovetop and then move the entire pan to a preheated, 400-degree oven to finish cooking it without overly charring it.

When the steak hits the hot pan, start your timer. In general, 2 to 5 minutes per side is sufficient for medium doneness on a hot skillet. This range is flexible because, among other variables, everyone’s heat is slightly different, as is the steak’s starting temperature (depending, for example, on when you pull it from the fridge). For thickness of an inch or less, I like to sear for about 3 minutes on each side, after which you should let it rest. If you have a thicker steak, you would put it in the preheated oven after the two 3-minute turns and let it cook for another 2 to 5 minutes until you achieve the desired doneness.

When you are finished cooking the steak, add a tablespoon of salted butter on top and a fresh herb – thyme works well – to get that expensive steakhouse-style flavor pop.

You have two methods for determining doneness. One is to use an accurate digital cooking thermometer. If you are aiming for a rare steak, you’ll need to pull it off the heat when the internal temperature is between 120 and 130 degrees F. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you want a well-done steak, you should pull it off the heat when the internal temperature is between 160 and 170 degrees. The illustration below shows varying levels of doneness. The steaks will continue to cook slightly while resting, so take that into account as well.

Is this all a bit much to remember? Bookmark our illustrated guide to steak doneness and keep those temperatures in mind next time you’re trying to achieve the perfect level of doneness.

Don’t have a fancy digital cooking thermometer? No problem—you can use your hand! By positioning your thumb and fingers in various ways, you can mimic what a steak should feel like at various levels of doneness. The tenderness of a steak will roughly correlate to the feeling of the thick part of your palm, below the thumb, when your thumb sequentially touches the index, middle, ring, and pinky finger. Touch that part of your hand with the index finger of your other hand while moving your fingers from index to pinky, and you’ll feel that part of your palm getting firmer. If this seems daunting at first, simply use both methods. Get used to using a thermometer and at the same time touch the steak and see what it feels like. Don’t understand what we mean? Check out this guide to using your fingers to check steak for doneness.

Is this all a bit much to remember? Bookmark our illustrated guide to steak doneness and keep those temperatures in mind next time you’re trying to achieve the perfect level of doneness. Also practice touching the meat, as we show below, and learn to feel your way to the perfect steak using your touch and chef’s intuition.

Grilling Tips

Would you rather cook your steaks on the grill? You can easily apply most of the above methods to a hot grill, cooking the steaks directly on the grate. The same searing times apply, and if you have a steak that is thicker than 1 inch, simply finish cooking it over indirect heat (so in an area with no charcoal or with the gas burner turned off). You should get the same great results, but with the added bonus of grilled, smoky flavor.

To sum up, successfully preparing a steak is all about cut selection and cooking time. If you stick with a tender cut of beef and cook on high heat, then you can confidently start with the 2 to 5 minutes of sear time on each side and then finish it off in the oven.

Remember to hit it with a little bit of butter and a fresh herb, and you’ll find that you can easily prepare a fancy steakhouse-quality dinner at home.

 

Author: John Thomas

Source: eReplacementParts Blog

 

our Hickory double filet is great for most smoking or grilling equipment

Our Hickory double filet is great for most smoking or grilling equipment

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IS HICKORY THE WOOD TO SMOKE & GRILL WITH? Click To Tweet

The question is one of the most common we hear.  What is the most popular wood you sell? 

Initially, our response was that there wasn’t one hardwood that was dominating the order system.  That certainly has changed over the course of the past few years.

Without question, Hickory has become the most requested hardwood.

Why Hickory?

I truly believe the catalyst for the popularity of hickory particularly for smoking foods, is television and YouTube.  Yes, all those cooking and food shows, and YouTube channels have catapulted grilling/smoking with wood and charcoal leaning toward Hickory.  As if Hickory is the only choice for “real” barbecue.

Some of the root of popularity of Hickory is the generational secrets of barbecue.  Hickory has been, for many decades, a commonly found hardwood in the traditional barbecue states who are credited with bringing barbecue to the limelight.  North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia and then advancing west to such states as Tennessee, Missouri and Alabama.  Gradually, those who wanted to duplicate the smoke flavors of the south continued to request hickory.  The result: hickory has become one of the highest demand hardwoods in North America.

Is There a Holy Grail for Smoking Wood?

Without question, those known in the world of barbecue as major players have stimulated the belief that their choice in smoking wood is the key to their success and notoriety.  Here’s is the conflict: many fail to admit that there are many other factors that account for their success.  Although they may have made their mark by sticking with that one wood for the entire time they cooked and gained popularity, they also committed to specific equipment, fuel product say a specific brand of charcoal, meat supplier, whether they keep the bark on the wood or remove it, and brands or recipes for rubs/sauces/marinades.  ALL these items factor in to the overall success of a cooking event even in barbecue.

Life of the Tree is Key

I won’t get into the details about one brand of charcoal or briquette over another, or the influence of a wet or dry rub on the meat’s ability to absorb smoke vapor.  Those discussions will be for another day.  What I will stress is that the climate and soil of tree’s location is by far a key determinate in whether it will make a great smoking or grilling wood.  Specifically, the more balanced the pH level of the soil the tree’s roots are bound to and the amount of precipitation the tree is exposed to in a given year, directly affect how favorable the wood will be for smoking, grilling, and cooking in general.

I’m often told by new customers who had previous experience with hickory and found it to be too strong in flavor, producing too dark a coloring to the food’s exterior, and often producing a sooty appearance to both the food and equipment, that once they tried our wood, they had the exact opposite result.  Why?  The easiest answer is we simply have better growing conditions in the Northeast than other areas that grow Hickory trees.  Plus, we have access to the better species of this hardwood family.

More Choices Don’t Always Mean Better Outcome

With over 20 species of Hickory in North America, they are not all equal when it comes to cooking with them.  Many of these 20 species are known to produce bitter undertones when foods are exposed to their smoke vapor.  That means, poor results for the cook or Pitmaster who believes in hickory for their food production.

I like to compare hardwoods for cooking to extra virgin olive oil.  There are hundreds if not thousands of brands of olive oil available.  Yet, many producers marketing an extra virgin olive oil (EVO) are using low grade oils in the production rather than meet the requirements for EVO labeling.  Wood is similar.  There is no obligation to label where the wood comes from, how old it is, how it was processed, what species it is from, and if it is from the raw material of the timbered tree or a by-product or waste product of another use.  Just like olive oil producers using pomace or the olive residue left over from the traditional production of olive oil, hardwood can be a leftover as well and re-purposed into something it wasn’t initially intended for.

Blaze Your Own Trail

My hope is that I’ve stimulated some thinking into what makes for a great smoking wood, grilling wood, or cooking wood in general.  Instead of duplicating a celebrity figure or following a current fad, blaze your own trail into what pleases you and the people you are serving your amazing grilled and smoked foods from the wood fire to.  With so many factors affecting a food’s taste, appearance, and aroma, it’s time to simply experiment, keep a log, and find what pleases you.  It may turn out to be one hardwood that you feel is the wood or it could simply be the food that guides you.

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Additional reading:

-WHAT A NUTTY CHOICE!

-THE TOP 8 MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN COOKING & GRILLING WITH WOOD

-WHAT’S IN THE SMOKINLICIOUS® WOOD CHUNK BOX?

-TO BARK OR NOT

Purchase products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Wood Chips- Minuto® & Piccolo®

"While hickory is the number one choice for Southern barbecue, it should not be your only choice. Think of the other 7 species that add unique flavor to any of your dishes."

Dr Smoke- “While hickory is the number one choice for Southern barbecue, it should not be your only choice. Think of the other 7 species that add unique flavor to any of your dishes.”

 

 

 

We hope this latest posting was informative.  Leave a comment or suggestion as we love hearing from you, especially when it comes to what you want to learn about next.  As always, subscribe and follow us so you don’t miss out on the latest information.

our Hickory double filet is great for most smoking or grilling equipment

our Hickory double filet is great for most smoking or grilling equipment

 

 

Dr Smoke monthly newsletter the august edition

Our double filet box of pristine no Bark hardwood chunks ready for the next customer!

Our double filet box of pristine, NO BARK, hardwood chunks ready for the next customer!

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WHAT’S IN THE SMOKINLICIOUS® WOOD CHUNK BOX? Click To Tweet

These two questions have been quite common for the 12+ years we’ve been in business.  What does a cubic foot box of wood weigh?  How many pieces do you estimate are in a cubic foot box of wood?

Due to the regulations imposed by The National Conference on Weights and Measures -Uniform Regulation for the Method of Sale of Commodities, we cannot specify weight on a wood product, even though we are a cooking wood.  Instead, when asked about weight, we only provide an estimate clearly stating that wood is not sold by weight due to the variation in moisture level and density of the wood selected.

I can, however, tell you the details that a recent first-time customer posted to an online forum that had me elated!

The Specifics You’ve Asked About

This customer took a lot of time and effort to get to the details about our wood; the packaging and the weight not just of the carton, but of specific select pieces.  This customer purchased the Serious Smoker Double Filet Wood Chunk which is our cubic foot carton product with the smallest chunk sizing.  We offer an option to select up to 3 wood choices for this carton size, with this customer selecting our 3 most popular hardwoods: Hickory, Sugar Maple and Wild Cherry.

First, let’s look at this customer’s overall purchase.

It’s In The Numbers

The packaged hardwood weighed in a 32.5 lbs.  A total of 139 pieces of wood were packaged.  Of that total, 48 pieces were Wild Cherry, 44 pieces Sugar Maple, and 47 pieces Hickory.

Individual Weights

This customer owns equipment that references specific weight of wood needed to smoke optimally.  In this case, just 2-4 ounces of wood is ideal.

Although weights for each of the 139 pieces of wood were not obtained, a sufficient sampling was done.  Here is what was reported:

The lowest weight of a Wild Cherry chunk (remember, these are all double filet) was 1.5 ounces and the highest was 4.1 ounces.

The lowest weight of a Sugar Maple chunk was 2 ounces and the highest at 5.7 ounces.

The lowest weight of a Hickory chunk was 2.8 ounces and the highest at 6.4 ounces.

For this equipment user, there was an estimate that 139 pieces of hardwood would provide for some 100 smoking events!

What I loved the most about this report is that it correlates specifically to the density of these 3 hardwoods.  Hickory has the highest density of the 3 woods selected and this is reflected by the weight of the individual pieces sampled.  Sugar Maple would be next in density followed by the Wild Cherry, all proven with the reported weights.

What Did You Learn?

Unquestionably, there is a lot of wood chunk pieces in a cubic foot carton!  Which means, you want to ensure you can use that much wood in a reasonable amount of time to maximize the freshness factor and peak level for function as a smoking wood.  Individual pieces will vary in weight even if the dimensions of the pieces are relatively the same.  That is the nature of a water rich material – the water weight influences the overall piece weight.

We are indebted to this customer for taking the time to inform us all of his findings since by law, SmokinLicious® can’t offer this detail.

We hope you liked this post.  We’d love to hear from you so subscribe, comment and follow us on all social media platforms.  Keep those suggestions coming for future information you crave.

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Additional reading:

HOW MUCH WOOD TO ADD WHEN SMOKING

BOOST UP THE FLAVOR OF YOUR SMOKER BOX!

THE ART OF CUSTOMIZING YOUR COOKING EXPERIENCE

Purchase Products:

Wood Chunks- Double Filet

Dr Smoke- "Thank you to this great customer for analyzing our box."

Dr Smoke- “Thank you to this great customer for analyzing our box.”

Fruit trees are sprayed with pesticide to maximize the fruit yield. Spraying of chemical on the bark may not be too good for using in barbecue?

[Fruit trees are often sprayed with pesticide to maximize the fruit yield. Spraying of chemical on the bark may not be too good for using in barbecue?]

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ARE FRUIT WOOD TREES LIKE THE APPLE “SNOW WHITE” BIT INTO?

There is a fierce debate out there about the use of fruit wood trees, specifically apple and cherry varieties, for cooking purposes.  As a Company, we frequently get the same question – “Why don’t I see Apple wood as an option to purchase?” Here’s the short answer: We do not, and will not, produce our products from orchard-based woods.  Our reason is simple – we do not believe in smoking foods over woods that have been or have the potential to be sprayed or growth enhanced with chemicals.

Let’s review a fact about trees.  All trees produce prussic acid, better known as hydrogen cyanide.  We feel that humans can use woods produced in nature when they have been left alone, unburden by the human hand in trying to manage what sometimes is the normal cyclical pattern of nature.  In the areas in which we purchase the heartwood for our cooking wood production facility, the varieties of cherry (Prunus pensylvanica L.f.) we commonly deal with are: Northern Pin Cherry, Fire Cherry, Wild Red Cherry, and Pigeon Cherry.  Of course, predominately, we bring in Wild Red Cherry.  There are many different cherry tree varieties available throughout North America.  The main difference in these woods is that our forest trees, the type we manufacture, tend to be on the sweet-tart side versus the sour-bitter.  For the most part, hydrogen cyanide is found mainly in the leaves and seeds of the cherry tree.  Black Cherry bark is also commonly used in herbal cough remedies.

The dominate opinion is that when used in small quantities, the hydrogen cyanide is a moot issue. Now let’s talk about the smoking application of wood.  Cyanogenic compounds WOULD remain a factor for our production of cooking wood.  This is because we do not allow our gourmet woods to deplete their moisture content to a level that other wood product manufacturers may (what is commonly referred to as “seasoning of the wood”).  For ideal smoking of foods, wood needs to have a moisture level preferably at ~20%.  This results in the wood smoldering rather than burning at a rapid rate.  The resulting smoke from the plant material provides for that wonderful flavor.  Because smoking is done at low temperatures for longer periods of time, the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’s) found in wood molecules are not stimulated as they normally would be when cooking, say, a steak over a hot flame.  Thus, the health risk associated with PAH’s and smoked foods is not considered an issue.  The same can be said for ember cooking – using the heat of the residual coals to cook foods.

Our main concerns regarding woods used for wood fired cooking methods is to always ensure a bark-free product.  Bark does not hold moisture but rather is designed to rid the tree of wastes by absorbing them and locking them into this area.  In fact, this is the reason why bark-on woods burn so much faster than bark-free wood pieces.  This portion of the tree is responsible for temperature flare-ups, tainted smells, ‘spotty’ appearance of the food’s skin, creosote, and increase in the production of ash.  Additionally, once the temperature is increased during wood-fired cooking, heterocyclic amines, or HCAs, are created due to the reaction of the amino acids and creatine with the higher cooking temperature.

In a nutshell, a person is at greater risk of cyanide exposure in treated wood products for home construction than they are when consuming BBQ or other wood-fired foods. Knowing the source of the wood being used in the cooking application is vital to ensure that the necessary steps have been taken to prevent tree disease and pest infestation spread, as well as to ensure that the wood has not been exposed to any chemical/toxin treatments.

It is our hope, that one day soon, inspection of the wood products used by restaurants, caterers, BBQ competitors, and grocery stores who promote smoked and natural-wood fired foods, will occur as normally as food inspections.  After all, I think we all can agree that WHAT you cook the food over is just as important as what food you are cooking!

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More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

For related reading:

TO BARK OR NOT

TASTE IS AROMA!

WOOD FIRED CLAMS MAKE THIS THE PERFECT BITE

Purchase products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet
Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Dr Smoke- "Enjoy the fruit of the tree because that is what they're there for. Just be careful when using wood from on orchard to cook your food."

Dr Smoke- “Enjoy the fruit of the tree because that is what they’re there for. Just be careful when using wood from on orchard to cook your food.”

We discuss the Electric smoker and what the before chips and after chips! The chips should have full combustion for the proper smoke flavor.

We discuss the Electric smoker and what the before chips and after chips! The chips should have full combustion for the proper smoke flavor.

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Without question, electric smokers are by far the easiest smokers to manage as they require no charcoal lighting, no constant checking of the fuel supply, and usually no messy ash pan.  These are units that are designed to run on very little wood product, usually between 2-5 ounces because the actual ‘fuel’ is an electric coil.  No gas, charcoal, or pellet.

Are There Flavor Differences?

To answer the question of whether flavor differences exist between an electric unit and those that use combustible fuel sources, you need to weigh who the response is coming from.  For me, someone who has an electric unit (we need to have a good assortment of equipment to produce our recipes), I do indeed feel there are flavor differences.  Without the volatile gases that are produced with combustible items meaning wood and lump hardwood charcoal, there is less of a smoke flavor.  The trademark smoke ring on meats can also go missing with electric units.  Take this into consideration when deciding whether to purchase an electric unit.

The Small Wood Appetite

Electric smokers are very specific when it comes to the quantity of wood to use.  Most manufacturers will provide a measurement level in ounces that you need to adhere to.  If you should have an electric unit that does not include the reference to wood quantity but does have a wood tray, be sure not to overfill that tray.  Most units use between 2-5 ounces of wood product to start.  You may have to replenish the wood 1-2 more times depending on what your smoking.  Larger cuts of meat, plan on enough wood to fill the wood tray three times.

Solid Black Wood Chips

You followed the directions and placed the referenced amount of wood chip product in the unit but when the cooking time was finished, you looked at the chip tray and found most of the wood chips still in solid form.  Nothing was reduced to ash and all the chips were black in color.  Did something go wrong?

Black color to the wood chips means that the wood processed through most of the stages of combustion and turned to carbon on the outside, giving the distinct black coloring.  If the wood chips are still in sold form, then combustion was not complete.  Complete combustion would have reduced the chips to a pile of carbon ash.

Combustion Has Needs

To ensure complete combustion of a wood product specific factors need to be in place: air-fuel ratio, quality of the fuel, reduced moisture or water level, etc.  The 3 ingredients that must be present to sustain combustion are oxygen, heat, and fuel.  If you can achieve a balance of these 3 ingredients, you will achieve complete combustion and have great success with wood product used in an electric smoker.

Can Black Chips Be Re-Used?

The most important thing to remember about combustion is when wood is reduced to carbon, it produces very little if any smoke and has no flavor release.  To answer the question of whether wood chips that are black but still in solid form can be re-used, the answer is no.

Those chips will not give out any flavor, they simply will finish the final stage of combustion and turn to ash.

Remove those black chips and add fresh, keeping the chips in the dry state when smoking with them.  You’ll find better results and less waste in the wood product you purchase.

Did you find this information helpful?  Let us know and be sure to follow and subscribe to us as we bring you innovative ideas for adding wood-fired flavoring to all types of foods, the SmokinLicious® way!

For related reading:

-SMOKE SIGNALS: LEARN WHAT THE COLOR MEANS WHEN COOKING WITH WOOD

-HOW MUCH WOOD TO ADD WHEN SMOKING

-WHY WON’T MY WOOD CHIPS SMOKE??

-GIVE ME THAT BEEF BRISKET!

Purchase Products for Electric Smoker (all units):

WOOD CHIPS- GRANDE SAPORE®

WOOD CHIPS- MINUTO® & PICCOLO®

Smokinlicious® Minuto® chips are screened in three sizes so that they match your smoking needs.

Smokinlicious® Minuto® chips are screened in three sizes so that they match your smoking needs.

 

 

Dr Smoke- "Electric smokers fit a very nice niche in the market especially when open flame charcoal is prohibited by the environment (condo, time share). The smoldering of the chips will provide great smoke."

Dr Smoke- “Electric smokers fit a very nice niche in the market especially when open flame charcoal is prohibited by the environment (condo, time share). The smoldering of the chips will provide great smoke.”

 

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