beech-trees growing in the forest setting

Beech tree

Beech- WOOD SPECIES

 

Not the most popular of hardwoods in the North American region and certainly it doesn’t have the following like in the European market.  However, this is still an interesting hardwood to use for wood fired cooking techniques.

Going Beech!  That means your entering the wood family that includes white oak as a relative.  Part of the Fagaceae family, the variety we manufacture is Fagus grandifolia Ehrh.  Unlike its cousin, Beech doesn’t produce a heavy, pungent flavouring but rather a more balanced, medium toned profile.  The common names for the varieties found in the Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania regions are American Beech and Red Beech.

Less temperament than Oak, Beech is considered a rather bland wood to look at.  When it is exposed to steam/heat, it takes on a golden hue and that is commonly what the coloring to various meats, poultry, and fish will also show.  Keep in mind, like all our cooking woods, the descriptors used are truly in the palate of the taster.  There are no rules that say one wood must be used with a specific food.  Experimentation is what the art of fire cooking is all about.  And, the region that the wood is harvested from also factors in to the flavoring it will provide when foods are exposed to it.  The same wood in a western state will not produce the same flavoring as the wood from an eastern state.  Everything interacts with the tree: soil pH, growth location, sun exposure, precipitation exposure, etc.

Heat Level: High – 21.8 MBTU

Fuel Efficiency: Excellent

Ease of Lighting: Poor

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

So, take a go at Beech, even if it takes a bit to get it lite.  The aroma is pleasant, the burn time is extensive, and the infusion appealing.

 

PERFECTION OF THE SMOKED PEAR!

 

The Tasty Charms of Smoked Pears

The Tasty Charms of Smoked Pears- Dr. Smoke

 

Pears, pears, everywhere!  Depending on where you’re located, you’ll have at least a few varieties to select from.  Rather than just enjoy these as a raw fruit, why not try something truly unique that will give them a kiss of wood flavoring?

Stove top smoking is so easy and a great way to still enjoy wood-fired flavorings during the winter months, when you may not want to venture out to the grill or smoker. I’ll be highlighting Bosc pears in today’s technique.  To do this technique you will need:

 

Pears cut in half

Pears cut in half

PREPARING THE PEARS

When I purchased my Bosc pears, I made sure that they were firm to the touch so that I would have some longevity to their use in recipes for a while.  Carefully, wash each pear and then pat dry with a paper towel.  I then slice each pear in half, removing the stem tip.  This will give me a flat surface to smoke and cook my pears since I am using a stove top grill pan with my process.  That will allow me to form some great grill marks on the pears while they cook.  The benefit to using halves of pear is I can feature larger pear cuts in a salad or dessert, highlighting the golden smoked color.

Once the pears are halved and the stems removed, I will core out the seeds and hard seed membrane with a small paring knife. Once that step is complete, I start the heat under my stove top smoking pan.

 

 

 

Removing the core

Removing the core

 

SETTING UP FOR SMOKING

The base smoker pan will hold the Ash Minuto® wood chips.  Remember, the chips need exposure to the heat to release their flavoring.  I set my burner to medium heat (a #4 setting on my stove) which is where it will stay during the entire cook.  I let the pan heat for just about 5 minutes then I will be ready to add the SmokinLicious® Minuto® Wood Chips for the wood flavoring.

After heating up my base pan for the chips, I add one large handful of Minuto® Wood Chips in Size #4 from SmokinLicious®I place a drip pan over the chips to prevent any of the pear juices from dripping directly onto the chips.  Then on goes my grill pan.  If you’re using a standard pot for this process, you will place foil over the chips and then place your grate or steamer insert for the pears to sit on.  As my pan is large, I can seat 8 halves meat side down to the chips.  Keep in mind, pears are one of the healthiest fruits having a low caloric count, 22% fiber, and high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.  The skin has a particularly high phytonutrient benefit making my preference for leaving it intact valid.

SMOKING PROCESS

Immediately, you will see just how much smoke is produced with just a handful of Minuto® Chips.  Notice that the skin of the pears is taking on a very coppery finish.  Although you don’t need to turn the pears during the cooking process, I have turned mine just to show the great grill marks that are developed from a 70 minute cooking time.  Remember, if you have pears that are not very firm, they will require less cook time.  I know mine are ready to be removed from the pan when I feel a slight give in the pear meat when I touch them with a set of tongs.  Now remove to a cooling rack and start thinking about the ways to use these.

 

Stove-top Smoked pears

Stove-top Smoked pears

THE PERFECT FINISH

I bet these caramelized, glistening beauties are just making your mouth water!  Once I cool these on a rack you’ll see how easy the skin can be removed if you should want to use just the pear meat.  There are so many ways you can highlight the smoky flavor: in a smoothie, in a cocktail – think smoked pear bellini which I will have an upcoming recipe for, sliced in a salad with gorgonzola cheese and a drizzle of balsamic, anything your mind can dream up.  Not only will you have a tantalizing flavor boost but you’ll reap the benefits of this very healthy fruit that even kids will love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bon-Bar-B-Q!

Dr Smoke

Dr. Smoke

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CRUSHED OR DICED WOOD CHIPS?

The Difference Between Crushed and Diced Wood Chips

You see the options all the time.  Crushed or diced tomatoes?  Every chef knows when and why you choose one over the other. Did you know the same concept is true for wood chips?

At SmokinLicious®, the only true cooking wood Company, we produce our wood chips in the same manner as tomato processors! We crush the wood for our Grande Sapore® chips – these pieces produce a unique flavor because of their shape just like crushed tomatoes give a deeper flavor to recipes!  These chips are meant to last and work with other ingredients for full flavor balance. We also offer our “diced” option of predetermined wood slices to produce our Minuto® and Piccolo® chips for smoldering on heat plates, cast iron, and flavor bars.  Just as diced tomatoes give a fresh-from-the-garden taste, diced wood chips likewise produce a different, often more intense fresh wood flavoring.

SmokinLicious® only manufacturers cooking woods.  That is our primary and only business.  We know hardwoods for cooking, all types of wood-fired methods.  And we know wood flavoring – how to get the best clean flavors from the select hardwoods ideal for cooking!

See for yourself why we are a superior product with a superior outcome.  Enjoy the benefits of the knowledge of our flavorists and get the options you are looking for.  Made the SmokinLicious® way!

Dr. Smoke

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wood chips the size of a coinJOIN OUR WEIRD NAME CLUB (FOR YOUR WOOD CHIPS)!

The conversation always ends the same when we inquire about the size chip product needed.  “It’s the size of a penny”, or sometimes they say a nickel, dime or quarter.  That is the only reference we are provided with to produce a wood chip product quote!   With all due respect, coin currency is not the same from country to country including the penny which is now obsolete in Canada!

A great deal of commercial brand equipment, especially industrial smokehouses, are manufactured in Europe and Canada.   These countries use the metric system, a concept that is all but lost on most American companies since it is not a commonly used practice.

This is not the case for SmokinLicious® which currently tracks 9 sizes in our manufacturing process so we can assure consistent product manufacture. And yes, we reference the metric system in our sizing!

Taking a page from the “Dummies” guide book concept, we found that most companies producing a wood chip product screen for two common sizes.  In fact, they often sell the two sizes by reference to packaging bag color.   We at SmokinLicious® screen for 9 different screened sizes!  Why?  Because for food manufacturing companies to be cost effective while gaining optimal level of flavour infusion to their food product(s), correct wood product size matters!

Smokinlicious® Custom Sizing Process

Smokinlicious® Custom Sizing Process

If you comprehend that an incorrect size chip product in your commercial equipment will compromise the overall flavour profile due to variability in combustion of the product, then you would be ready to maximize not only the budget for the smokehouse operation but likely preserve more capital that would have gone to equipment breakdown expenses caused by inappropriate sized wood product clogging smoke regulators.

We know what the various equipment manufacturers recommend; well, to be honest, we know what they think is best for their equipment.  But let’s face it – their goal is to produce a state of the art, mass volume producing, time efficient smoke house with the hope that it will be efficient with the wood product material selected by the user.  They do not commonly source the wood product material to go with the equipment once sold and they certainly don’t know the intricacies of hardwood.   That’s where SmokinLicious® will step in.  Our Team has the expertise to make the perfect size match that will produce ideal combustion rate which in turn results in ideal flavour infusion, color infusion, and function of the smoke house. Plus, we dial in the suitable moisture level to generate that perfect combustion rate that produces consistent results every time the smoke house operates.

Once you join us, you’ll come to appreciate our “weird” names like Grande Sapore® (our larger screen chip sizing), Minuto® (covering 4 mid-screen sizes) and Piccolo (are smallest screen production that includes 3 micro sizes). We’re confident that you will come to understand and appreciate that our “weird” names provide assurance that we know what we’re talking about, we know what will work with your specific equipment, and that each order will have consistent particle sizing.  No “two color” bag option that contains whatever scrap wood happened to be available that day for processing.

We don’t complicate things.  By offering more options in wood chip/sawdust product, we can give our customers the flavour outcome they never imagined and cost efficiency they only dreamed about.  Let’s find out what your favorite “weird name” will be and make you a member of our “club”!

 

Dr. Smoke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SMOKING (FOOD THAT IS!) DOESN’T MAKE IT ALL BAD!

smoke

Recently, I received a very interesting question regarding the safety of ingesting foods and beverages that have been exposed to smoke vapor using hand held food smokers.  Specifically, the question consisted of whether you need to be 18 years of age for items that have been infused with smoke using these gadgets.

This got me thinking:

  • does the word “smoke” automatically give off the bad vibe response?
  • why do people only inquire about the smoke without needing to know more about the plant source that produces that smoke?

There is a lot of data out there on carcinogenic affect to high heat grilled foods like burgers, chicken, and steaks, even data on hot smoking foods at lower temperatures.  Really, what it all boils down to is, if you grill meats to the point where you blacken them, that increases the risk for the carcinogens.  Even if you cook to the blacken state, eating these foods in moderation will halt any real risk over an average person’s lifetime.

So why the question on legality to consume smoked foods and beverages?

 If you understand that the tobacco industry had to start putting warning labels on tobacco packaging back in 1966, and smokeless tobacco products in 2010, then you comprehend that smoke vapor does contain toxins (http://www.fda.gov/TobaccoProducts/Labeling/Labeling/default.htm ).  Everything regarding level of toxicity with cooking is related to type of food, method of cooking, cooking temperature, and length of cooking time ( https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/cooked-meats-fact-sheet ).

Let’s examine those parameters from the hand held food smoking perspective.

You are not cooking the food by this method, merely infusing it with the smoke flavonoids, so there is no temperature (cold smoking technique).  You are not exposing the food to smoke vapor for hours – it really comes down to minutes.  Most importantly, you are not directly attempting to inhale the smoke vapor into your lungs.  Yes, if your standing near the container that is holding the cold smoke when you open it, you will have some exposure but not like the person that takes a drag directly from a tobacco product or is chewing on a tobacco product!

Like anything else in our world, there are risks to everything we do, experience, sense, taste, explore, desire.  Hot smoking is another name for roasting just at a lower temperature and usually with cheaper cuts of meat.

What should never be compromised is the plant material – the wood – that is used to extract these flavors.

Really, I believe it is time to start asking more questions about the hardwood products (don’t even start me on softwoods and waste wood http://www.smokinlicious.com/blog/?p=244 !) being used for the smoking process rather than focusing on the process itself.  Perhaps the risks associated with dirty, moldy, contaminated wood are too high to ignore anymore.

Dr. Smoke

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Smokinlicious Wood Blocks

Smokinlicious Wood Blocks- DrSmoke

 DON’T PUT US LAST!

Case Notes: A restaurant is preparing to open in a new location and made the decision to invest in an Italian made pizza oven that has an option for wood-fired cooking.  This equipment would take 6 months to manufacture and deliver to the USA, which gave the owners time to complete renovations on their new building in preparation for the free-standing oven’s installation.  During that time, menu development and plating options were reviewed and decided upon.

The one planning need that was left to the last minute – locating the supplier for the cooking hardwood and determining appropriate sizing for the new equipment!  WHY???

It always surprises me that restaurateurs are willing to spend $50,000 and up for commercial equipment that does a specific function or technique, yet they don’t spend the time before that purchase ensuring they can obtain the quality accessory needs to get every benefit from that investment.

Here’s the best part: often these equipment lines tote that they can do all sorts of functions including wood-fired cooking techniques.  The truth – they aren’t really promoting that function of their equipment line!  They simply want to sell you the equipment and have you use standard fuel options like electric and gas.  How did I come to this conclusion?  By the content of the user’s manual.

Many do not reference:

  • size of wood product needed for the equipment
  • how to light the product
  • how much of the product to use
  • where to locate a supplier of the cooking wood
  • pictorials of the steps to do the technique
  • provide a troubleshooting guide.

Do you really want to spend $50,000, $60,000, $100,000 and be left to fend for yourself with that investment?

Take the appropriate steps when considering additions to or replacements in your equipment line.  Research not only the equipment but what is needed to do the smoke infusion technique with that equipment.  Yes, wood chips are readily available even though there is a high level of variation between products.  But other products are not so easy to find like wood pieces larger than wood chips but smaller than split firewood logs.

In addition, wood-fired techniques can also require additional “tools” to be available in the kitchen that may not have been standard inventory before.

Such things as:

  • fire retardant gloves
  • fire grade tools like long handled tongs and a wood poker
  • a MAP canister/torch for lighting the fire
  • an infrared thermometer for reading temperatures within the cooking chamber
  • an ash receptacle.

Prioritize the needs of a wood-fired equipment addition by first reviewing the best option in equipment for your business’ need and second, assessing all the requirements of the wood to be successful in bringing this technique to your kitchen!

 

Dr. Smoke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THE KITCHEN FIND!

smoking-pot

Stock Pot-Dr Smoke

STOVE TOP SMOKING….If you’re like me, over the years you’ve become a collector of various cooking gadgets and equipment to the point where you simply don’t have room for one more thing!  Yet, you are enamored with the thought of doing stove top smoking & cooking when the weather isn’t cooperating or you simply prefer to be in the house rather than take food and gadgets outside.

Well, I have got just the solution for you!

Stove top smoking can be as easy as locating a deep pot with lid, metal steamer insert, aluminum foil from your kitchen, and tools you likely already own.

Now when I say deep pot I’m talking about a lobster pot, large sauce pot, or even a Dutch oven.  Anything that has capacity to hold a suitable number of food items on a steamer insert will do.

Once you have your pot and food item that you want to smoke, here are the STEPS FOR STOVE TOP SMOKING:

  • Put a piece of foil at the bottom of the pot so it touches both sides
  • Place a second piece of foil or disposable foil pie plate on the chips followed by your steamer insert (this will keep drippings from falling on the chips)
  • Place the food items (chicken, fish, pork, beef, vegetables, fruit, etc.) on the steamer being careful not to crowd so the smoke can circulate around the food
  • Depending on the extra room in your pot, if there is a lot of surface above the foods, go ahead and tent the steamer insert with foil so the smoke vapor has less area it needs to travel
  • Put the lid on the pot and seal the rim with foil to ensure none of the smoke vapor can escape
  • Turn the heat under the pot to high and allow to begin the smoking for 5-8 minutes
  • Reduce the heat to medium and cook small food items like chicken, fish, vegetables, or  fruit for 10-15 minutes and large food items like pork tenderloin, beef short ribs, etc. for 30-40 minutes
  • Shut off the heat and allow the food to rest in the residual smoke vapor for 10 minutes
  • Remove the lid and foil tent if one was used

If you have done smaller cuts of poultry, fish, or meat, these may well be cooked through (175° F for dark meat 165° F for white meat), otherwise, if cooking is still required, transfer the food to an oven safe dish or sheet pan and finish cooking in the oven.

There you have it!  A simple in-house, smoking technique using tools you likely already have in the kitchen!  Just think, you stayed warm, dry, and comfortable in your own house while the Grande Sapore®, Minuto®, or Piccolo® Wood Chips did their wood-fired magic.

As always, we would love to see your take on the homemade stove top smoker so send along pictures or link with us on social media.

info@smokinlicious.com

@DrSmokeSmokin

Dr. Smoke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

smoking-pot

Stock Pot found in Most Kitchens- Dr Smoke

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TASTE IS AROMA

Aroma chef

Aroma chef

Flavor by Mother Nature

Flavor by Mother Nature

It is likely the most common question posed to us – how does the wood make the food taste?  Although I have answered this question hundreds of times, it started me thinking about my answer.  It was not complete.  I was not explaining that taste IS aroma.

Our experiences with food revolve around our senses and of those senses 3 deal primary with food: taste, touch, and smell.  Obviously, you would assume that the sense of taste is the absolute in food experience but you would be wrong.  10,000 plus different odors are relayed via our sense of smell which occurs through our nose and mouth.  As much as 80% of what is referred to as taste is truly aroma.

Now, apply this information to the fact that we use wood in cooking techniques that involve infusion of smoke vapor to foods and ingredients, and you will begin to understand where I am going with this.  We have all had the experience of smelling a neighbor burning fallen leaves come Fall.  It is not a pleasant aroma.  Could you imagine someone putting food over a fire that contained leaves as fuel and then tasting the food cooked over that fuel source?  Terms that come to mind include bitter, acrid, burnt, and pungent.

 

I have decided that my new answer to the question of “What kind of flavor does (insert wood type here) produce” will be: the overall flavor is dependent on a lot of factors.  These include:

  • climate and soil of where the tree is grown: the more balanced the pH level of the soil and a location that has suitable precipitation throughout the year, are more favorable to a hardwood tree’s benefit as a cooking wood
  • bark or bark-free: this affects burn rate and flavor, and yes, it can fluctuate your temperature control
  • moisture level: the drier the wood the faster it goes through combustion and the more heat it produces. You need some level of moisture left in the wood to produce smoke
  • humidity of the cooking environment: dry cooking environments do not allow for smoke vapor to stick
  • type of dry rub and/or sauce/marinade used: wood needs to be viewed as an ingredient to the entire cooking experience so ALL the ingredients need to marry to produce a great flavor. The wood is just one flavor component
  • what your cooking (beef, turkey, pork, chicken, lamb, goat, etc.): maple used on beef will taste completely different than maple used with chicken. Plus, the type of meat/poultry also influences the flavor,  so think generic versus farm raised and cage free versus free range. Just as the soil and climate affect the trees so too does the diet and climate affect the animal.

Although we offer a SmokinLicious® flavor guide with descriptors of the undertones the wood can produce, here is my best summary of the hardwoods we provide:

Mild: Alder, Ash, Sugar Maple, Wild Cherry

Moderate: Beech, Hickory

Strong: Oak

If you treat the wood as an ingredient you will come to appreciate all that it can offer and produce some spectacular tasting and aromatic dishes both during the cooking process and at its final stage!

Dr. Smoke

Dr. Smoke

 

 

 

 

 

Aroma chef

Aroma chef

 

 

 

 

 

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