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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Smoking Boxes Available at Retail Locations

Smoking Boxes Available at Retail Locations

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People are always in search of that great flavor to food that only comes from hardwood.  In fact, it is common for discussions around outdoor cooking to use the terms grilling and barbecuing interchangeably as if they mean exactly the same thing.  Let’s be clear – cooking with just LP/Gas is grilling.  Barbecue is outdoor cooking over hot coals or wood, whether in lump charcoal form or straight hardwood pieces.

In an effort for grilling equipment manufacturers to compete with charcoal grills and smokers, many began integrating a wood chip drawer in their units to imply that “barbecue” was possible on a gas grill.  If you ever tried these, you likely were disappointed in finding that the intensity of flavor just didn’t compare to charcoal equipment.  Then the smoker box was developed with a wide variety of design options from rectangular in shape, v-shaped at the base to fit between grill grates, and venting hole configurations that made claim to more intense smoke penetration.  Here’s the thing – no one ever discussed what should go in the smoker box.  The assumption was to always use wood chips but I am going to take you on a flavor journey using that box that will open your eyes to understanding cooking with hardwood.

One of the key complaints I hear is that when using wood chips in a smoking box or drawer, the chips don’t seem to give off enough smoke and have a very short burn life.  In fact, refilling the box or drawer is often needed to finish a simple food item like chicken pieces or ½ slabs of pork ribs.  Wood chunks or uniformed sized pieces of hardwood lend to a much longer burn/smolder rate and give off great flavor infusion.

Smokinlicious® Double Filet Wood Chunks

Smokinlicious® Double Filet Wood Chunks

So how can you still work with your smoker box?  Simply remove the lid or, if hinged in place, open the lid and place 3-4 SmokinLicious® Double Filet Wood Chunks in the box.  Be sure the box is placed on the hot area of the grill and let it go.

The increased volume of the wood allows for things to smolder longer which means the combustion stages are extended, thus, the flavor infusion is extended.

No cover is needed on the box.  What I like the best about this application is the box acts as an ash collection tray so removal for cleaning is quick and easy.  Keep in mind, LP/Gas units have heat diffusers – although they may go by other names like heat distributors, flame tamers, heat plates, burner shields, and flavorizer bars to name a few – so you already have a built-in method of using wood chunks for maximum flavor infusion to the foods on the grate (see our previous postings on this).

So are wood chips obsolete for the LP/Gas unit?  Absolutely not!  It is just another option for you especially those of you who pine for more smoke flavor to your cooking.

Go on the hunt and locate what you did with the smoker box.  Then visit SmokinLicious® .com in the USA or SmokinLicious® .ca in Canada and order up some Double Filet Wood Chunks and test out this easy method for yourself.

Examples of Smoke Boxes Available at Retail Locations

Examples of Smoke Boxes Available at Retail Locations

 

Smokinlicious® Double Filet Wood Chunks

Smokinlicious® Double Filet Wood Chunks

This is part our cooking series. See our Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook for recipe videos. #smokinliciousmenu

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SmokinLicious® for the Combitherm® Combi Oven by Alto-Shaam®

Alto Shaam Combitherm oven

Alto Shaam Combitherm oven

We love having the opportunity to work with chefs throughout the world in determining what they desire in a wood-fired flavor for various menu items.

As you can imagine, we get the opportunity to work with a variety of equipment lines that use wood for flavor and coloring.  One of our favorite commercial equipment lines is produced by Alto-Shaam® who specialize in food service and retail markets by offering cooking, holding, display, and chill equipment lines.

Part of the Alto-Shaam® cooking offerings is the Combitherm® Combi Oven which not only offers convection cooking but smoke infusion as well.  This highly efficient oven works with hardwood chips to bring the aroma and taste of wood infusion to all types of meat, poultry, fish, fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices.  In fact, when SmokinLicious® began development of our micro chip line, we targeted the Combitherm® oven for ideal sizing production to meet the needs of the commercial kitchen.  In the end, we found that our smaller Minuto® Wood Chip line offered even greater flavor than traditionally sized wood chips with little ash residue when used with the Combitherm®.

Here’s the best part: because we manufacture every product, we can offer chefs single species of our filtered specialty wood chip line or we can custom blend to give their menu items greater diversity from others.  That includes blending different wood species as well as sizes.  Smaller chip particles may be used for more pungent woods while larger sizes of sweet or savory chips are included for a fully balanced wood recipe flavoring based on the overall food ingredients.

Chefs who use the Combitherm® simply love the ease of adding our dust free product to the equipment, dialing in the smoke infusion level they desire, and letting the oven do its magic.  The best part is they don’t have to worry about an unclean wood source going into their expensive equipment and causing equipment failure or producing off color and taste to the foods being cooked.

We know we can offer the best flavor in wood combustion by starting with the ideal hardwoods for cooking.  The rest can be left to the cook’s imagination.  We know the effort it takes for those in the food and beverage industry to commit to a specific piece of equipment.  We know the expense involved.  What we don’t understand is why the same time and research isn’t spent assessing the wood supply to be used in the oven?  Why risk this investment to an unvetted supplier?

If you own an Alto-Shaam® Combitherm® Combi Oven or you are in the market for a new piece of equipment, join those who have already experienced the benefits of our exceptional Minuto® wood chip line and get ready to be blown away with the possibilities our products can bring to your kitchen!

Bon Bar B Que!

Dr. Smoke

Dr. Smoke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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stop watchWe’ve all heard it!  The infamous 5 second rule.  When something falls on the floor, you have 5 seconds to pick it up and still consume it. At SmokinLicious®, that will NEVER be the case.  If it falls on the floor, it is NEVER used in our manufacturing process!

You might ask, “Why apply this rule when we’re only talking about wood, right?”  If you understand the basis of wood-fired cooking then you understand that smoke is a vapor.  And like any vapor, it attaches itself to anything in its surrounding area.  When you cook with wood, you are adding its smoke or vapor as an ingredient to the foods being cooked.

So, do you really want something that has been on the floor for a short period or a longer period to be considered an ingredient in food you will consume?

SmokinLicious® is unique in this thinking and as a result of this approach allowed our wood processes to be Kosher certified! We handle everything with care and with your food consumption in mind.  To us, wood is a flavor ingredient and needs to be exceptionally clean.

Whether it’s our larger cuts of hardwood like our friction logs, barrel logs and assorted chunk sizes or our smallest product, Smokin’ Dust®, we ensure that the wood never touches the ground or floor.  SmokinLicious® developed custom storage containers and air collected systems that preserve the cleanliness of the wood and assure no product is EVER swept from the floor!

Why wouldn’t you want to deal with the leading cooking wood manufacturer in North America?  Especially when others are simply recycling their waste wood products.

Don’t you think your customers care about the 5 second rule and deserve to know if you allow it?

Get peace of mind AND a guarantee with a REAL cooking wood company…  SmokinLicious®!

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oak tree

With over 60 species of oak in the USA, this hardwood can be split into two categories: Red Oak and White Oak.  It is one of the most popular hardwoods to use in cooking likely because of its ready availability.  But as we’ve mentioned before, just because something is available in your area, doesn’t make it a success for all cooking techniques and foods.

Oak is a heavy, strong, and ring porous hardwood resulting in a course texture and prominent grain.  Oak hardwood is part of the Fagaceae family of wood.   The scientific names for the varieties we manufacture are Quercus coccinea Muenchh., Quercus falcata Michx. Var. Falcata, Quercus muehlenbergii Engelm., Quercus prinus L., and Quercus velutina Lam.   The common names for the varieties found in the Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania regions include: Red Oak, Spanish Oak, Yellow Chestnut Oak, Rock Oak, Smoothbark Oak.

Oak is considered the strongest in flavour for hardwoods.  It is known for providing deep coloring to the outer skin of foods meaning a very dark often black outer skin and it can be overpowering to those who aren’t use to smoked foods.  It also is a hardwood that can mold easily especially when exposed to significant variations in temperature and humidity.  Plus, it does not like to make contact with metal which can be a challenge when cutting with metal/steel tools!  Oak will show its distaste by producing black streaks on the wood or even coating its entire outside with a black “dye”-like substance.

Heat Level: High – 21.7 (red) 26.5 (white) MBTU

Fuel Efficiency: Excellent

Ease of Lighting: Fair

Ideal Uses: Grilling/Braising/Pit Roasting/Hot Smoking/Cold Smoking (white)

If you are keen on bold flavours and definitely like smokiness to your foods, then oak is a clear winner.  However, I do recommend using less of this wood when cooking poultry, fish, fruits, vegetables and herbs/spices especially if you have a gas assist unit or are using lump hardwood charcoal or hardwood charwood for fuel.

oak tree

 

 

 

Dr. Smoke

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bon Bar B Q

 

Dr Smoke and the Culinary Crew

We received the following inquiry from a product user and follower:

“I want to smoke ribs on my STOK™ drum charcoal grill but am worried about getting consistent temp and my ratio of wood chips to lump charcoal”?

Listen And Watch PART ONE:

Listen And Watch PART TWO:

 

Thank you, Mr. Brown, for your question submitted @smokinlicious on Instagram.  Follow us on our blog, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Flipboard as we explore the culinary delights of wood-fired cooking and all the superb flavours!  Wood – it’s not just for traditional barbecue – it has SO many  great uses: ember cooking, baking, roasting, searing, cold smoking, etc.

Keep your questions coming!

Bon Bar B Q

Dr. Smoke and the Culinary Smoke Team

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SmokinLicious® LogI read a lot. It is the nature of a scientist. It doesn’t matter if it’s a plant molecular-biology journal article or a cooking/food magazine that is readily available on any newsstand. I love to read and analyze the content. So, when I came upon Bon Appétit’s “Best of 2016” list (September 2016 issue), I was drawn to #11 on the list: a reference to using compressed sawdust blocks for cooking.

Now, if you follow us on our Blog, Flipboard, or our social media platforms, you know our stand on wood used for cooking: no bark ever, only specific hardwoods known to be free of or minimally contain toxins that can accumulate in the human body, use of heartwood only in our manufacturing process, and moisture rich products so we can control that variable for the specific cooking technique.

I certainly have knowledge of compressed sawdust products used in the heating industry for standard wood stoves and fireplaces, but I had never come across a reference to using them for cooking aside from the pellets commonly used in pellet-style smoker equipment, products that have been around for years. So why did the red flag come up when this reputable magazine referenced a renewable heat product? Because none of these compressed wood product manufacturers ever referenced using the product to cook with. In fact, most stress the use of caution for the intended use in fireplaces and wood stoves, stressing that the BTU level of the product is much higher than standard firewood or cordwood. But let’s take a look at a number of other factors you should weigh before considering these products for cooking application.

Compressed Wood: Most of these companies never reference exactly what woods are used in their manufacturing process. If you know anything about wood-fired cooking you know that ONLY hardwoods should ever be used. Within that group of wood, there are some that are toxic when burned, or when there is exposure to their bark, or even to the sawdust. Of the companies I researched, almosNot all it's stacked up to bet all failed to inform if hardwoods were used exclusively in the manufacturing process. Certainly there is the risk of a mixture of hard and softwoods. One seller even goes so far as to call their byproduct used “wood waste”.

Low Moisture: There are references by these compressed wood companies that they kiln dry the wood fibers for their process. Again, low moisture levels are great if you plan to use the wood for long heat periods. Remember, the lower the moisture level, the less energy that has to be exerted during combustion of the wood to heat and evaporate the water commonly found in wood. But what happens if you want to control your heat level to say less than 200° F? A high BTU product whose intended purpose is to generate as much heat output as possible may not be the ideal. Even if you are using these blocks in an all-wood unit like a pizza oven, it will take a tempered hand to learn when to feed the fire to ensure stability of temperature. Even brick, ceramic and clay ovens can crack when heat levels exceed recommended levels.

Flavor: Although there are many out there in the culinary arts that would say that wood-fired cooking is the technique to do these days, I stress that you really need to know the purpose of why you would choose this method of cooking before you jump into it. Yes, you can use some standard cooking equipment to wood-fire cook, including the simple cast iron skillet that can be loaded with wood chips but ask yourself, am I doing this technique merely for the method’s appearance or to produce an unusual and exceptional flavor that is unique to wood-fired cooking? Here’s the controversy: cooking with compressed woods does nothing for flavor if you don’t know the composition of the wood material used to make the compressed wood product! Yes, you will get heat output for the cooking process but in my opinion, you simply can’t get the same flavor because you don’t know what woods are in the brick to feel comfortable balancing out the other ingredients of your dish. I think we can all agree that what makes a memorable meal and a winning dish is not necessarily the complexity of the ingredients or the technique employed, but rather the marriage of all the flavors that register with your senses.

I want as many Chefs, cooks, and culinary enthusiasts to embrace wood-fired cooking but I also feel an obligation to ensure that they have knowledge of what the risks can be and what to look for in a supplier’s product. Yes, storing firewood for kitchen use in not the ideal given firewood’s tendency for attracting bugs, molds, and sometimes rodents. This IS the reason why we’ve always promoted the fact that SmokinLicious® is not a firewood company but a COOKING wood company.

If storage is the only criterion being factored in to a wood product selection and purchase for cooking application, then you’re not asking the right questions.compressed brick for Blog

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