The sign is the entrance to the allegheny national forest which includes 513,175 acres or 801.8 square acres and includes the allegheny reservoir natural habitat

This Forest Covers 513,175 acres (801.8 square miles) and includes the Allegheny Reservoir Natural Habitat.

THE PRECIOUS FOREST

It is likely when you have your heart set on some wood-fired cooked foods that you give little attention to the wood that will be required for that cooking event.  You may have seen wood smoker chips or chunks available in your local box store and decided that you can always pick those up last minute, to be assured your plans aren’t foiled. Or, you simply plan to go with charcoal chips without considering that this product is made from wood as well.

STOP and ponder this for a moment – Do you realize where exactly those wood products come from?

Unless you are in a direct county of involvement, you likely haven not realized the invasions that are occurring readily to our forests, woodlots, and home landscapes.

To date, here are some of the diseases and infestations we are battling in the United States:

  • Emerald Ash Borer
  • Hemlock Woolly Adelgid
  • Whitebark Pine Beatle
  • Beech Bark Disease
  • Dutch Elm Disease
  • Butternut Canker
  • Asian Longhorn Beetle
  • Dogwood Anthracnose
  • Gypsy Moth
  • Balsam Woolly Adelgid
  • Laurel Wilt disease
  • Sirex Wood Wasp
  • Sudden Oak Death
  • Polyphagous & Kuroshio Shot Hole Borer affecting sycamores, willows, oaks, maples (including Boxelder), and commercial avocado trees.

EVERY state in the US has battled imported forest pests with the hardest hit being New York State followed closely by MA, WI, IL, VA, MI, NJ, OH, and CA.  Every decade, 25 new insect pests are established in the US which can lead for potential decimate of an entire tree species in just decades.

So why if you are a lover of BBQ smoking chips or BBQ wood chunks (smoking using woodchunks or woodchips) or other wood fired foods, should issues with bugs be of concern?  Because cooking by fire is the oldest known cooking method for human kind.  Right now, you may simply enjoy 3 benefits of trees: for shade, for beauty (viewing), and for flavor to foods cooked on your grill/smoker.

But there are many other benefits:

  • Decrease atmospheric carbon by capturing and storing CO2
  • Improve air quality by filtering pollutants and releasing oxygen
  • Reduce storm water runoff and pollutants entering local water bodies
  • Increase property values by 3-7%

The pollutant removal alone that trees are responsible for provides a human health benefit worth $6.8 billion per year!  Trees keep us alive!

As of December 2016, NYS DEC has detected increased prevalence of Oak Wilt in the state which has no known treatment to contain and kill this fungus.  Oak is one of the most popular hardwoods for wood-fired cooking methods.

Please, take the time to source wood for cooking from reputable sources and follow the laws in place in your specific state to ensure we can limit the spread of these pests and diseases, and continue to enjoy the oldest method of cooking: by fire!

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Dr Smoke- “Appreciate our renewable resource.”

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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smoke vapor from the grill

Smoke vapor from the grill

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Tap for audio

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

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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Smoked Chestnuts on a Stovetop Smoker

Collage of Smoked Chestnuts on a Stovetop Smoker- Dr Smoke

TO THE SMOKE THE CHESTNUT GOES!

Depending on where your located, chestnuts may only be available for a short period each year, usually around the holidays.  Mostly pan roasted in the oven, why not do something unique with this prized fruit and smoke them!  In addition to the chestnuts, you’ll need a stove top smoker, purchased or you can make your own with tools likely in your kitchen.  You can see our writing on the “The Kitchen Find” which will guide you on what is needed.

You will also need:

You will find chestnuts available prepackaged or in bulk when in season.  Although the packaged product will include a directive to cut and X in the flat surface of each nut, I grew up in a household where we always cut off the stem side.  This is the small, dark cap side to the chestnut.  The chestnut has a cap and a pointed end giving it a bloated teardrop look.  I have found that when smoking, I get better control to the smoke infusion with a fresh cut to one end.  Keep in mind, not all the chestnuts purchased will likely be viable as often mold will take hold of some of the chestnuts which you won’t see until you cut in to them.  As the chestnuts age, they can develop a fuzzy mold on the outside which will tell you not to waste your time cutting that one open!  Simply discard!

Generally, chestnuts have a flat side and a rounded side.

To prepare them:

  • lay the chestnut on the cutting board with the flat side down.  Place your knife blade over the small dark cap, and slice off in one motion.  This will reveal the chestnut meat inside which will have a yellow-white hue.  Once the cap is off, you’ll be able to tell if any mold has set in as it will have a marked gray/black appearance.  If any mold is noted, discard the chestnut as it won’t cook tender.  If the majority is free of mold, go ahead and keep it for the smoking/cooking process.

To do stove top smoking, there are 4 parts needed:

  • a pan to hold the heat and wood chips
  • a drip pan to prevent rendered fat and juices from entering the wood. Generally, you only need the drip pan when you actually have a food item that will produce juices or fat drippings.
  • a grill pan
  • a lid.

Note: Chestnuts will not produce any drippings though they do have a percentage of water that will be released as steam into the lid of the pan.  Just be sure when you open the lid that you keep any collected water from dripping back into the cooking grate.

Now it’s time to start the heat under your smoker pan. 

  • Place the base of the stove top smoker over the burner and turn the burner to medium.
  • Add about 1 handful of wood  chips.  I am using SmokinLicious® Minuto® Wood Chips Size #6 in Wild Cherry which will provide great color to the chestnut’s meat.  The wood chips will combust and char but they will not ignite and there won’t be any need to add any additional wood chips.  One handful is all it will take to both cook and flavor the chestnuts.
  • After adding the wood chips to the smoker base, place the grill pan on next.  Take the prepared chestnuts and spread them evenly into the grill pan.  Then cover with the lid.  Do not change the heat level during the cooking/smoking process.  There is no need to rotate the chestnuts as the cut end will ensure that the heat and smoke vapor penetrate each piece.
  • The cooking process will take between 40-60 minutes depending on the number and size of the chestnuts used.  I usually do a check about 30 minutes in order to gauge the total cook time.

As you check the chestnuts and start seeing the shell separate from the meat, you’ll know you are getting close to the tender stage.  Here is my trick for checking for doneness.  Take the end of a paring knife and gently insert the tip into the center of the chestnut meat.  If the blade passes into the flesh without effort, you are finished with the cooking process.

  • Turn off the heat to the smoker pan and allow the chestnuts to rest for a few minutes before removing from the pan.  Remember, these shells will be very hot so use tongs to remove them from the pan.

You can see that despite the Minuto® Chips being exposed to consistent heat for about an hour, they merely smolder and char, never igniting.  In fact, you could easily use these chips again for another short cook item and they would still give off great flavor.  Once the chestnuts have cooled enough to handle, I remove all the shell and membrane.  These golden beauties are now ready to eat or to add special flavor to recipes calling for chestnuts.  Just another way to bring something new to a seasonal favorite.

Bon Bar B Que

Dr. Smoke

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bon Bar B Q

 

Dr Smoke and the Culinary Crew

Asparagus on the Hot Embers

Its Asparagus season and that means you should get the most out of this sensational vegetable while it’s fresh!  Learn how easy it is to ember roast this thick skinned vegetable to bring out the fantastic flavor of this vegetable as a side dish, or used as an ingredient in other recipes like a refreshing dip, soup, or stuffing for meat or fish.

You’ll need:What You Will Need

  • Hibachi or other small charcoal equipment
  • SmokinLicious ®Grande Sapore® Wood Chips in your choice of species
  • Fresh asparagus with thick stalks (or store bought is fine)

PREPARING TO EMBER COOK:

Clean the Hibachi or small charcoal grill unit of all previous ash, as well as any leftover wood and charcoal.  Add the SmokinLicious® Gourmet Wood Products Grande Sapore® Wood Chips in the base of the Hibachi on the charcoal grates. If not using a Hibachi unit, then place the wood chips in the charcoal area of your small charcoal grill. I like to use Wild Cherry Grande Sapore® Chips to bring a balance to the asparagus’ flavor.  Since I plan to use my roasted asparagus as an ingredient in other recipes, I’m using the chips in their natural state rather than soaking in a flavored liquid but feel free to soak in wine, alcohol, juice or other liquid of your choice.

LIGHTING THE FIRE

After loading the Hibachi or other unit with my Grande Sapore® Cherry Chips, I light the chips using a small kitchen size torch.   I let the chips burn down until I have about 2-3 inches of hot embers to cook with.  I need the layer long enough to accommodate the spears of asparagus and deep enough to ensure the embers encircle most of the spear.  I keep plenty of extra Grande Sapore® Cherry chips on hand to ensure I get the depth and size of the ember bed throughout the cooking process.  This includes maintaining a perimeter of unlit chips around the hot embers.

PREPARING THE ASPARAGUS

While I wait for the chips to burn down into embers, I start preparation of my fresh asparagus.  First, I gently clean the spears and then trim the bottoms just where they are a bit dried out and tough.  I gently pat dry and leave them in a tray to wait on the fire.  I drizzle some oil over my asparagus spears and sprinkle with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.  The oil will help the seasoning stick to the spears and also ensure an even cook on the asparagus.  Letting the asparagus sit while you wait on the embers allows the seasoning to penetrate the stalks, giving it additional flavor.

EMBER ROASTING TECHNIQUE SmokinLicious® Wild Cherry Wood Chips

Once I have a bed of hot embers, I’m ready to cook!  I won’t be needing the grill grates as asparagus has a nice thick skin so it’s an ideal vegetable to be placed directly on the hot coals.  Prior to adding the asparagus, I add some more wood chips to the outside perimeter of my cooking area so that I will be able to bring in new embers as needed.  In addition to providing new embers, the unlit chips will provide additional heat to the grill as they ignite.

I lay my asparagus spears into the hot embers allowing the coals to wrap around the majority of each spear.  As I’m using very thick diameter spears, I will let the asparagus cook in the embers for about 10 minutes prior to checking on the char level.  Just like with conventional cooking, you’ll see the asparagus get a brighter green sheen as they cook through.  Once I see a nice layer of char develop to the skin, I will turn the spears with tongs. The oil will also give a nice golden hue.

I’ve turned the asparagus spears only as the char develops on each side until they are fully charred and the spears have tenderized. You’ll know the perfect tender level when you prick the spear with a knife tip and it just penetrates.

Now I’m ready to use these beauties in my recipes but only after a few spears are enjoyed as is.  Ah, the perks of cooking over hot embers.  Bon-Bar-B-Que!

 

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In Harvest Recipe for September: Potatoes

As a new feature to our blog and recipe section, we will be highlighting a seasonal product in a smoking or natural wood-fired grilled recipe, to help you take advantage of the wonderful seasonal offerings we have for fruits and vegetables. For the most part, we will be following the harvest schedule in the Northeast but may occasionally make reference to a different region’s harvest schedule.

For September, we our highlighting potatoes! One of my favorite variety of potatoes is Fingerlings. Feel free to modify the recipe below to your preferred ingredients.

Smoked Fingerling Potatoes with Pancetta and Dill
 
 

 

 

Ingredients:

2 lbs. fingerling potatoes*, scrubbed and cut into ½-inch lengths

1/4 cup olive oil

½ lb. thick sliced pancetta*, cut into 1/3-inch cubes, cooked

salt and fresh ground pepper

1 onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup finely chopped dill or 2-1/2 Tablespoons of prepared dill

* may substitute any variety of potato and regular bacon for the pancetta

Wood Recommendations:

Wild Cherry and Ash hardwoods (cherry for a tart flavor and Ash for its moisture infusion)

Tear a large piece of foil to make a pouch or use a disposable cake foil pan. If using a disposable pan, also cut a foil sheet that covers the pan.

Place the pre-cut fingerling potatoes, cooked pancetta, sliced onion, and dill in the foil pan or pouch. Add salt and fresh pepper to preference. Toss all ingredients together then drizzle the 1/4 cup of olive oil over the ingredients. Mix thoroughly.

Place foil pan or pouch on pre-lite charcoal grill, with woods placed directly under the mixture. Allow to cook/smoke until potatoes become tender (about 2-1/2 hours at 200 degrees). Serve warm.

 

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Here is an exciting new product from Smokinlicious.com. Grapevine Skewers!! If you love shishkabobs, you really have to try our new Grapevines.

Unlike wood skewers that burn up, or metal skewers that cooks from the inside out, grapevines will provide you with delicious, evenly cooked and tender kabobs.

We recently put them to the test with beef tenderloin, chicken, and shrimp and the results were out of this world.

Our new Grapevine skewers will be avaliable soon, packaged with a grilling plank and ready to tantalize your taste buds. Stay tuned for details.

 

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Here is a tasty appetizer that is sure to delight! 

 

Smoked Portabello Mushrooms (serves 8-10)


Ingredients:


12 Large Portobello mushrooms

16 oz. Bruschetta or salsa (store bought or homemade)

12-16 oz. Fresh mozzarella


            Clean the mushrooms and remove the stems. Be sure the mushrooms are dry prior to assembling. Place the mushrooms on a foil cookie sheet. Spoon bruschetta or salsa into stem-side of mushroom, coating evenly. Place thinly sliced fresh mozzarella on top of the bruschetta/salsa. Place foil tray on the smoker grate and smoke at 250° to 275° for 25 minutes.

 

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Smoked cheesy potatoes- what a wonderful twist!

Smoked cheesy potatoes- what a wonderful twist!

Below is a recipe for Smoke Cheesy Potatoes (serves 6) that have been made at our events.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package frozen diced potatoes or 16 oz. Fresh potato
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cups of shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 6 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 ½ cups of heavy cream
  • ½ cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

 

           In a foil pan, place the diced potatoes, diced red pepper, diced onion, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Sprinkle 2 cups of the shredded white cheddar cheese over the potato mixture. Mix gently and set aside. Mix the parmesan cheese and heavy cream together. Pour over the potato mixture. Top with the remaining 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. Place the foil pan on the smoker grate and smoke at 275° to 300° for 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Stir mixture a couple of times through the cooking process.

 

“Made the Smokinlicious® way!”

Dr Smoke

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