The different cooking methods with wood chips versus chunks

Smoking wood chips burn up too fast, while the smoking wood chunks last

 

WHY WON’T MY WOOD CHIPS SMOKE??

We’ve all been there!  You purposely made a list of all the things you would need for the weekend BBQ.  Carefully selected the meat, cleaned the grill or smoker the weekend before, and purchased the wood chips to impart that great flavoring you can only get from hardwood!  You marinated the meat 24 hours ahead and woke up on grill day full of excitement.

So, what happened?

Instead of having the best, most flavorful meal you had to settle for an ordinary grill day with no special flare.

Why?

The wood chips failed to smoke.  Or, worse yet, they just burned up in minutes.

It’s time you learned exactly what to do with those wood chips so this never happens again!

Tip #1: Understand the basics of hardwood

Wood is loaded with water.  It’s only after the tree is cut that a loss of water or moisture occurs as there are two types of moisture content in wood: free water which is water in the cell cavities and bound water which is water held in the cell walls.

Try to cook or grill with a wood that has been fresh cut and you’ll likely have a very bad meal; acrid undertones and black, sooty color.   Wet wood stimulates acrid smoke vapor.

Now, go the opposite direction.  Take a wood that is dry, as in it’s too low to register on a moisture meter, and you have a full heat generator.  This is what we want in the fireplace or fire pit to keep us warm, not in the grill, as it will simply generate too much heat and produce overdone, dry foods.

Tip #2: Understand Oxygen Flow

Even when using equipment with fuel assist like LP, gas or electric, you still need to be aware of air flow.  Quality equipment is always designed with insulation in mind to keep heat from escaping but all equipment has some level of venting built in.  Whenever you use grilling or smoking woods with equipment, you need to find the balance between air intake (oxygen) and exhaust damper or vent.

Some manufacturers will build in the ideal location for the wood chips by incorporating a drawer.  Even if you don’t have this option on your grill, you can still provide the perfect spot for producing combustion to the wood by simply placing your wood chip container on or above the heat source.  That’s it!  Often this can be accomplished by putting your container right on the heat diffuser or bar that is under the grill grate.

Tip #3: Understand What the Lid is For

Have you ever wondered why charcoal grills have a completely removable lid while LP/Gas and Infrared grills always have a hinged lid that is permanently attached?

The reason is very basic; grill grates, regardless of material construction, are designed to absorb heat and produce conduction heat where they contact the food items (conducting heat from the grate to the food).  The lid of the grill reflects the heat back to the food grates in what is termed convection heat (transferring heat by air flow or through a liquid medium like water (think boiling eggs).  These grills maintain vents somewhere on or near the lid to vent out the gases from the LP or natural gas used to operate the grill.  Remember, LP needs to be mixed with air to burn, thus, the reason for all those vents on LP grills!

Here’s the thing – if you keep opening the lid while using wood chips, you change the dynamic of the heat absorption forcing the unit to work harder to produce both conductive and convection heat.  Plus, you will keep altering the stages of combustion of the wood chips.  Leave the lid alone!

Tip #4: Don’t Wet the Wood Chips

I hear this all the time that the worry with wood chip use on a grill is that they will burn too fast.  Let’s break this down so you understand just what happens when smoke vapor is produced from wood material.

The drier the wood the faster it will go through the stages of combustion and the more heat it will produce.  If you have wood that is without measurable moisture, you will get limited or no smoke production, just heat.  You need to purchase wood chips that have some measurable moisture to work effectively.  Chips labeled as kiln dried are likely too dry for producing smoke vapor.

Tip #5: Step Up from Chips to Chunks

Maybe it’s time to abandon wood chips all together in favor of bigger pieces of wood.  Here’s how to know what would work better:

If you’re cooking one item and it is a short cook time, then chips will serve you well.  If, however, you are planning on loading the grill with an assortment of foods say sausage, chicken, corn, peppers, ribs, etc., then you may want to consider using wood chunks either directly on the grill’s diffusers or in a wood chip metal box (learn how to do this).  These pieces, being large and dense, will burn longer giving off more smoke, which means less work for you to replenish.  Plus, you can do different types of wood chunks all at the same time (one cherry, one maple, one hickory … you get the point).

Success with wood chips can be had if you learn to purchase wood with some moisture, use the wood dry (no pre-soaking), keep the wood over the heat source of the equipment so it can combust, and use the right type of wood product – chips versus chunks – for the length of cook time.

Then get ready to truly have the best grill day ever!

10 THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE PURCHASING WOOD FOR COOKING, GRILLING & SMOKING

Dr Smoke- “Our moisture controlled manufacturing process enables the generation of great smoke.”

Showing the technique on how to add wood chips over charcoal to enhance the flavor of any meat, fish, or vegetable being cooked

Adding grill wood chips to charcoal brings added flavor to any cooking category

The questions are quite frequent: “Since (the equipment) uses lump charcoal, do you need to add wood for smoke flavor?” “Do wood chips or chunks work best if they are needed or desired?”  “Generally, how much lump charcoal does equipment use for 10 hours of smoke?”

Learn What To Do

The intent today is to give you a comfort with cooking fuel woods.  That includes charwood, charcoal, smoking wood chunks, and charcoal wood chips in all shapes and sizes.  Know that all these products are made from wood – hardwood to be specific since you never want to cook with any other type.  But, differences do exist between products.

Product Differences

Although the products listed above have their beginnings as hardwood trees, there are some noted differences between the products.

Charcoals:  Yes, charcoal starts out as wood but not all charcoals are created equally.  There are 2 distinct types of charcoal: briquettes and lump hardwood.  The key difference?

Briquettes are not pure charcoal but rather a combination of charcoal, coal, starch used as a binder, sawdust, and sodium nitrate for ease of lighting.  And, yes, that means they are not a “natural, organic” product.  In fact, some brands are manufactured with lighter fluid as an ingredient.

Lump hardwood charcoal is 100% hardwood that is sourced from flooring, building material, saw mill, and furniture manufacturers as a scrap wood or bye product.  With the use of these materials, a great deal of variation in the size of the charcoal is generated which translates to variation in carbonization of the wood.  Often, there is more carbon ash in this type of charcoal but as a 100% wood product, it is viewed as a “natural” product.  Keep in mind, many lump hardwood charcoals cannot be sold as a single wood type charcoal due to the production from scrap and bye product woods, so “mixed” hardwood is the general product.

Charcoals do not produce smoke or flavor.  They are intended strictly for heat with the output level dependent on the brand.

Charwood: Often described as possessing the consistency of briquettes and the organic benefits of lump charcoal, charwood is a term reserved for those products that have a higher carbonization level which makes them much more efficient as a fuel source.

Smoking Wood Chunks & Smoking Wood Chips: These are pure hardwood that can be used for both heat and flavor.  The difficulty?  Moisture.  All hardwood contains water and, depending on the level, ease of lighting and ability to burn or combust will vary.  This is the primary reason why most people do not use only wood when cooking but a combination of charcoal and wood.  The bigger reason?  Wood is the flavor producer!

So now that you know charcoal is for heat and hardwood is for flavor, how to you use both together for perfection in outdoor cooking?

 If you have a piece of equipment that can use both charcoal and wood, you’re on your way to absolute fantastic flavor.

Tips For Combining Charcoal and Hardwood

  • When adding both charcoal and hardwood, be sure to include a water pan to the equipment as humidity increases the smoky flavoring, helps to tenderize meat by breaking down collagen, and can give a better meat yield
  • A little wood goes a long way in terms of flavor so put only a few pieces to start – you can always add more
  • If you intended to cook for a long time, say a muscle meat like pork shoulder, then it’s important to have unlit charcoal within the equipment so that the few pounds of lit charcoal will gradually ignite the unlit and maintain the cooking temperature
  • Just like the unlit charcoal, you can place wood pieces (just a few now) along the unlit charcoal path so flavor is also time released
  • If meat/poultry juice will drip directly into the charcoal area (you have no drip pan in place) then note that this will stimulate smoke vapor off the hot coals as drippings contain sugars, proteins, oils and the ingredients used directly on the food item, meaning you may not need to use as much wood for smoky flavors
  • The choice of smoking wood chunks or charcoal wood chips is total up to the cook – chunks will combust longer than charcoal chips but if you’re looking for faster combustion for smoke vapor, chips can fit that need
  • Select a hardwood with a moisture level of 20-25% for maximum flavor infusion
  • Amount of coals needed for the heat/temperature is dependent on the brand of charcoal, method of cooking, and equipment. A good rule of thumb is to have at least 10 lbs. available for a full day cook

 Now your armed with the basics on cooking fuels and why a combination of products often is the best choice!

Learn 10 Things To Consider Before Purchasing Wood For Cooking, Grilling & Smoking

As always, we’d love to start a conversation so leave a comment.

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Dr Smoke “A grill is just a grill until you add SmokinLicious® smoking wood chips.”

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.”

Savory Smoked/Grilled Potatoes

Savory Smoked/Grilled Potatoes

As the #1 crop in the world, available all year, potatoes are a favorite for a variety of reasons.  Get the nutritional benefit of this abundant vegetable by adding flavor in a different way – cooking it over charcoal and hardwood!

Ingredients:

Simple Preparation For a Simple Vegetable

I’m using small red and white potatoes.  You’ll need a knife and cutting board, as I like to cut these small potatoes in half to allow for maximum wood fire flavoring.  I’m going to use a vegetable grill pan but you can use any heat safe pan whether foil, glass, heat safe ceramic, or cast iron.  Cut each potato in half, and place in the grill pan.

Seasoning and Oil Bring Out the Best

Just 3 simple ingredients are needed before the pan is placed on the grill.  Drizzle three tablespoons of oil over the halved potatoes, then add coarse salt and fresh pepper.  The oil can be grapeseed, walnut, almond, vegetable, or canola, anything you have and prefer.  Mix well to ensure each potato is coated, then let rest to allow the seasonings to penetrate before adding to the hot grill.

Charcoal Grill Set Up

Time to get the grill ready.  I’ll be using a combination of charcoal and wood – charcoal as the fuel for heat and wood chunks and chips for flavor.  Keeping my intake vents open on the kettle grill, I start a chimney full of charcoal.  Just one chimney will be needed for the actual cooking.  I lay a small line of unlit coals down both the right and left side of the charcoal grate to keep my temperature stable through the cook.  I pour the hot coals in the middle then add two Sugar Maple wood chunks and a handful of Wild Cherry Grande Sapore® wood chips on top of the hot coals.  On goes the food grate and then my vegetable pan of halved seasoned potatoes.

Depth of Flavor Through Smoke

Once the wood is set up and the food grate is on, the pan of potatoes is added.  Put the grill cover on and adjust the lid outtake vent to 1/3 open position.  Now, adjust the lower intake vent to ½ open position.    Let the potatoes cook for about 25 minutes prior to stirring.  You’ll see the golden hue from the maple and cherry smoke vapor.  Be sure to rotate the potatoes on the bottom to the top so that there is even color and flavor to each piece.  The total cook time will be close to an hour but each grill and charcoal will perform differently so be sure to watch closely after the first 35 minutes.  Remove when the potatoes can be pierced easily with a toothpick or knife tip.

Full Flavor With All the Nutrition Intact

With all the nutritional value still intake, these golden, smoky potatoes are ready to eat as is or you can include them in your favorite potato recipes.  I’ll be giving a smoky edge to my interpretation of a potato curry in our next recipe feature.  Take advantage of this popular comfort vegetable and the ease of using a charcoal/wood grill for cooking and give your meals a memorable flavor enhancement.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on our feature so start the conversation with a comment!

Dr Smoke

Dr. Smoke “This is a great easy barbecue recipe!”

 

 

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discussion of the 8 common mistakes to avoid in cooking with wood

8 common mistakes to avoid when cooking with wood.

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

We are approaching that exciting time of the year when just about all of North America can start to enjoy cooking outdoors again!  Make it the best outdoor cooking season yet by learning the steps to using wood for cooking and grilling successfully, avoiding the trademark pitfalls that sink those outdoor meals.

#1: Don’t Soak the Wood Chips or Chunks

The goal when you cook on outdoor equipment is to maintain a stable temperature for the cooking process.  This ensures that your foods cook evenly and have a pleasant flavor from the cooking process.  When you add wet wood products to coals, you stimulate a “cool down” effect to those coals which translates to fluctuating temperature.  Energy is expended to steam off the water from the wood and bring the coals back up to temperature.  Even when you add wet wood product to a gas or electric assisted unit, you still use up energy for temperature control, requiring more energy to generate steam to dry the wood.  Always apply wood products dry whether directly to charcoal, to the flavor bars/diffusers of an LP grill or in a smoker box, smoking tube, or disposable pan.

There is a time when wet wood is preferred.  If you are going to do a traditional hot smoking technique on a food item that will take more than a few hours, and you don’t want to constantly replenish the wood chips, you can do a “two-pan” set up of wood.  Using disposable foil pans, add dry wood chips to both and place under the food grates.  Pour enough warm water into one pan to cover the wood pieces.   Leave the other pan dry.  By the time the dry wood product has combusted completely, the water in the “wet” pan set up will have dried up (steamed off) making the wood ideal to start smoking.  This is a great way to keep the wood flavoring the food the whole cook time without having to constantly feed wood.

#2: Don’t Add a Lot of Wood

Likely the biggest mistake made when cooking with wood is to add too much.  I always tell cooks to view the wood as another ingredient in the overall dish and have a tempered hand.  Smoke is a vapor that contains very small particles of organic compounds with certain compounds that contain the actual flavoring imparted from wood.  As a plant material, these flavonoids, when combusted, can be quite bold.  Always start with about 6-8 ounces of wood product and only replenish when the wood has reduced to 1/3 its size.  Replenishment is only needed to get the full cooking time completed.

#3: Don’t Measure Flavor Infusion By the Quantity of Smoke

It will take another article to explain the differences in smoke by color so let’s stick to the basics.  As I mentioned above, smoke vapor particles are quite small and are known to be attracted to moist surfaces.  With most equipment on the market today, materials used in construction ensure an efficient set up so air does not escape other than out the intended vents.   Don’t add wood to the equipment just because you don’t see smoke.  The best smoke vapor is barely visible and has a blue tint to it.  Rest assured, the wood is doing its job even if you don’t see a lot of smoke.  You certainly should smell the aroma of the wood as it combusts.

#4:  Stop Peeking When Your Smoking or Indirect Cooking

I know it’s hard to keep to this rule but you must stop opening the grill hood or smoker lid and looking!  Proper oxygen flow, a balance between intake of air and exhaust damper or vent, is critical to keep everything you grill, smoke or wood-fire tasting good.  If you’re using wood on a traditional charcoal smoker or kettle style grill, then you shouldn’t be checking anything – water pan, charcoal level, wood combustion – until at least a couple of hours have passed.  And for those units that have a charcoal access door, you can cause a temperature differential when you expose the hot coals to a flood of air as well as cause ash to become air born if windy.  No one likes ash on their foods!  Limit the amount of time you lift the lid.

#5: Pick the Right Moisture Level for the Cooking Technique

For most wood-fired cooking techniques, a moisture level of between 15-25% is ideal.  That level will allow you to hot smoke either via direct method (heat/smoke directly under the food) or indirect method (food placed to the side without direct heat under), produce smoke vapor on the gas grill using the diffusers/flavor bars or a smoker box, and do direct fire cooking.  For ember or coal cooking, I prefer to see a wood with a moisture level around 15%, as that will allow the wood to combust faster and produce the bed of coals needed for this type of cooking.  If the wood is too dry, say below 10%, you simply are using something designed for a maximum amount of heat output so that wood should be reserved for campfire cooking or direct hot searing.  Remember, moisture means there is water in the wood.  It takes some time to evaporate the water out which is how the wood will last longer during cooking.

#6: Hardwoods Only

Without question, the type of wood as well as the species is critical for a successful wood cooking event.  ONLY use hardwoods!  That means no pine, redwood, spruce, fir, cypress, cedar, or hemlock.  Softwoods contain a greater percentage of sap which translates into unpleasant flavors when you cook.  Additionally, many of these softwoods can trigger reactions to the digestive track which make many people sick.  Also, stick to hardwoods that have been tested for cooking.  Favorites include: apple, beech, hickory, pecan, oak, cherry, peach, maple, alder, ash, mesquite, walnut.

#7: Build a Hot Fire

Many equipment manufacturers include a charcoal basket or grate for the charcoal and wood to sit on.  This is done for a very specific reason; wood needs oxygen to generate heat.  If wood product sits in ash, it won’t burn consistently and cleanly.  This can result in soot coating your foods.  Also, don’t build a huge fire.  A small fire that can ignite unlit charcoal and wood is the ideal and produces the best temperature control and flavor.

#8: Balance Everything

Don’t simply purchased grilling, smoking, or cooking wood and throw it on the fire without thinking about how you want the dish to taste.  If you’re using sweeter ingredients, than pick a hardwood that has a bit more boldness to it like ash, beech, hickory or oak.  Fruity ingredients to the food doesn’t translate to using a fruity wood.  Remember, “taste is aroma” keep these tips in mind, you’re on the way to having one of the best outdoor cooking seasons ever when everyone wants to always gather at your house!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The steps and equipment used in the smoking of bananas for a dessert

Smoking Bananas

 

BANANA’S ULTIMATE SMOKY CREAMY GOODNESS!

Banana’s peak season is from January thru April but you can enjoy this fruit anytime of the year!  Although you’ve likely enjoyed most of your bananas raw, they are one fruit that works exceptionally well in all types of recipes, from breads, puddings, smoothies, cookies, and muffins, their sweet undertone makes them ideal as a dessert item.  With a light, creamy flavor you’ll find bananas are compatible with so many other ingredients like dark and white chocolate, coconut, blueberries, caramel, ginger, honey, sugar, vanilla, and many nuts.  The best part, is they work in recipes whether ripe, under ripe, or overripe!  The level of ripeness determines what you do with it.

In this series, we’re going to use the Gourmia® hand held food smoker with Piccolo® Chips in Size 8 from SmokinLicious® Gourmet Wood Products to get the perfect level of smoke using this quick, easy method.  No spending hours over a traditional smoker and taking the risk of your bananas turning to mush!  Get ready for a new flavor to your traditional banana for drinks, breakfast items, and desserts.

MATERIALS:

I’ll be using the Gourmia® hand held food smoker for this series, but any similar unit will work fine.  In addition, you will need a cookie sheet, a food storage bag large enough to go over the cookie sheet or you can use plastic wrap, bananas – any variety will do, SmokinLicious® Minuto® Chips in either size #6, #8 or #10, and a lighter or kitchen torch.  When selecting your bananas, look for evenly colored yellow bananas flecked with tiny brown specks which indicates ripeness. Avoid those with any visible blemishes as that usually indicates the fruit is bruised.

Be sure you are doing the smoking process in a well ventilated area or even outside.  Kitchen hoods work great!

 PREPARING THE HAND HELD SMOKER:

Gourmia® Hand-held Smoker

Gourmia® Hand-held Smoker

A good rule of thumb prior to starting your smoking process is to be sure everything is in working order.  Check the batteries of your hand held food smoker and the butane level of your lighter. You’ll also need a few tablespoons of SmokinLicious® Gourmet Wood Products Minuto® Wood Chips available. I’m going to use Cherry today to keep the fruit flavoring marriage.

Attach the smoking tube to the hand held unit and have a lighter at the  ready.  It is important not to over stuff the bowl of the hand held smoker with chips as a little goes a long way. Now, place the Minuto® wood chips in the bowl of the unit being sure not to stuff.  Remember, once lit, these hand held units produce a lot of smoke vapor quickly so everything needs to be set up well.

PREPARING THE BANANAS:

Cutting and removing the peel to prep the bananas

Removing the peel

I have a preference for using  a small sheet pan or cookie sheet when I cold smoke fruits.  It makes it very easy to expose the fruit to the smoke vapor without the need to rotate the food.  As I want to get good wood flavor to the bananas, I am peeling them and cutting them in 2 inch pieces as the recipe I plan to use them in will require smaller segments. I then placed the cut pieces on the sheet pan, and then secure a food storage bag or plastic wrap over the pan.  Be sure you are able to draw in the end of the bag as if you’re going to tie it off with a twist tie.  The ability to cinch off the bag is what will ensure that the smoke vapor produced is trapped within the food bag and infuses each piece. If using plastic wrap, leave one end loose so you can insert the smoking tube. The length of time you leave the smoke vapor in the bag or under the plastic wrap will determine the strength of the flavor.  I plan to incorporate dark chocolate, coconut and nuts with my smoked banana so I will be filling the bag with smoke vapor and allowing it to dissipate on its own.  Remember, you have control of when you release the smoke so timing is up to you!

 

 

 

Smoking the bananas with the Gourmia Mini Smoker

Smoking the Bananas with the Gourmia® Mini Smoker

SMOKING PROCESS

 

My Gourmia® hand held food smoker is assembled and filled with Wild Cherry Minuto® wood chips in Size #8 from SmokinLicious®.  I now position the smoking tubing within the sealed bag or under the plastic wrap if you are using that, and cinch the excess around the tube to prevent any smoke from exiting while the unit is on.  I turn on the hand held smoker and lite the Minuto® wood chips.  Once I have enough smoke into the bag, I will shut the unit off, remove the tubing, and seal the bag using a cable tie or tighten the wrap around the sheet pan.  Can it get any easier than that?  This will let you see just how long smoke vapor can last in a contained area.

 

 

THE SMOKY FINISH:

As I see the bag start to clear of the smoke vapor, it’s time to release the cable tie and be ready to remove my smoked banana slices for my recipe. So, what do you do with smoked banana?   What can you think of?  Essentially any recipe that calls for banana can be considered for smoked banana. I’ll get you started with our upcoming series on Smoked Banana Double Bites that you’ll fall in love with.  Oh, don’t forget, smoked bananas freeze exceptionally well so put some away for those days when you want something made with the sweet, creaminess of banana and you’ll have a great start.

Bon Appetitó!

The finish- Smoked Bananas

The finish- Smoked Bananas

 

 

 

 

 

Dr Smoke

Dr. Smoke

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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