July 2016

Our Culinary Team was doing a demo at an event in Lake Placid, New York on barbecuing and wood-fired cooking.  We had the usual equipment: a vertical cooker, Komado cooker(BGE), charcoal unit, etc. that the Culinary Crew was demonstrating unusual, fun things to wood-fire infuse!  I had the LP/Gas grill and the $19.99 Wal-Mart® grill with a top lid! Yes, I had the cheap equipment at this upscale event!

You know what happens during these events – a little competition among the Team Members sets in!  Could my Napoleon portable LP/Gas grill and the Wal-Mart® special out cook the other more expensive equipment!  The secret ingredient to test the boundaries would be steaks!   The Crew were pretty snotty about their equipment and chuckled among themselves about my chances!

First, I pre-soaked some Grande Sapore® chips (cherry was my choice) in red wine (cheap Lambrusco) for about an hour.  Then, I set up the little grill; I’m talking it is only 16 inches in diameter with short legs and a dome top!  I took some hardwood charcoal and reduced each piece to fit the grill! (paper bag smash method). I did not over fill because I only needed to produce some flame. Then, I put the chip mixture over the charcoal, opened the vent on the bottom and on the top lid (Chimney effect), and placed the steaks on the grill!

I set up and preheated the Napoleon under low heat during the prep.  Letting the steaks sit in the little charcoal grill allowed for some perfect seasoning to them.  Remember, I didn’t have enough heat/fuel to cook and smoke in the smaller unit!  I left them in the charcoal unit for approximately 3-4 minutes, then I turned up the LP/Gas grill unit to high!  I removed the steaks from the $19.99 grill special and finished them on the hot LP grill!

Yes, I won “Gold” in Lake Placid!! The wine infused taste was awesome!  This just proves that you don’t need expensive equipment to cook great food- you just need good technique and knowledge!  So take advantage of those inexpensive portable grills that tend to go on sale now and watch for the steak special.  Then prepare for the ultimate in wood fired cooking!




Small LP/Gas grill (like a Napoleon)

19.99 grill special at Wal-Mart®, BJ’s Wholesale, or other discount box store

SmokinLicious® Grande Sapore® chips (sugar maple to blend sweetness with the wine)

Lambrusco wine (any brand will do)

Steaks, not too thick – about ½” (13mm)


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We’re off to introduce you to another hardwood that may not be as well known for cooking as some of its siblings in the hardwood family.  But this particular wood is, in my opinion, one of the hidden gems of the hardwood forest.

Ash hardwood is part of the Oleaceae family of wood which is the family of olive trees.   The scientific name for the variety we manufacture is Fraxinus Americana L. but the common names for the varieties found in the Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania regions include: American Ash, Ash, Biltmore Ash.

Ash is so versatile in the kitchen whether indoors for stove top smoking, cold smoking, or hand held food smoking or outside in the traditional smoker, LP grill or pizza oven.  It can be used with any food for natural wood flavoring/smoking; essentially, any wood fired cooking technique.  The flavor profile is on the light side making it ideal for most any food but in particularly it works great with wood-fired pizza and fish due to its lower moisture level and ability to form the most even bed of coals. I really like using Ash for ember or coal cooking as nothing beats how this wood lays the perfect small dimension bed of embers.

Ash provides a neutral coloring to the outer skin of foods.  This wood mixes easily with other hardwoods and fruit woods, particularly Hickory, Maple, Cherry, and Alder.  It can even tone down the harshness of pungent woods like oak and mesquite.

 Heat Level: High – 23.6 MBTU

Fuel Efficiency: Good to Great

Ease of Lighting: Fair

Ideal Uses: Baking/Grilling/Roasting/Braising/Pit Roasting/Hot Smoking/Cold Smoking

Why not consider leaving the traditional hardwoods for your wood fired cooking and flavoring and enjoy the awesome benefits of the lesser known Ash hardwood tree!


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