Adding wood chunks to your charcoal can produce smoky results

TURN YOUR CHARCOAL GRILL INTO A SMOKER

Let’s be honest.  When you bought that charcoal grill you were likely thinking that you could both grill and smoke without needing to add anything.  Soon, you realized, that just wasn’t the case.  Now, you’re contemplating whether you need to purchase a smoker.  Well, hold on the shopping trip until you read this.

You can turn your charcoal grill into a smoker with these simple steps!

Any Charcoal Unit Will Smoke

Obviously, if you own a little tailgate model of a charcoal grill, you won’t be doing multiple slabs of ribs or a full packer cut brisket on that unit.  But you can smoke on any charcoal grill if you follow some simple steps and afford yourself enough time to do it right.

How To Add Smoking Woods to the Charcoal Grill

Essentially, when you smoke on a charcoal grill you are roasting outdoors like you do in your conventional oven.  If you use a good quality hardwood charcoal, you will get some flavor from that product but not like true smoked foods you may have experienced in your favorite barbecue restaurant.  That bolder smokey flavor only comes from hardwoods.

Picking Your Fuel and Smoke Flavor

There are three primary fuel types you can use in your charcoal grill: briquettes with instant lite, briquettes, and lump hardwood charcoal.  Right off the bat, I’m going to tell you to eliminate the briquettes with instant lite.  That is a product that contains an accelerant or petroleum product to make it quick lighting.  Unfortunately, it adds a very distinct, unpleasant component to the cooking process that can transfer off-flavors to your foods.  Stick with plain briquettes or lump hardwood charcoal.  Just note, that you likely will find a bit more ash developing faster with lump hardwood charcoals than you would with briquettes.

Picking the wood for smoke flavor has a few rules you should adhere to: only use hardwoods, try to limit the bark on the wood or go bark-free for the best temperature control, find woods that have some measurable moisture level so they smolder – around the 20% level is ideal, and use chunks of wood versus chips.

Indirect Cooking Method

What truly makes for barbecue and not just grilling is using the indirect method of cooking.  There are many ways to set up a two-zone cooking method which is also referred to as indirect cooking.  Often, what you are cooking and the quantity will determine the setup of the fuel.

There are two popular methods that work the best: banking the charcoal to one side of the unit with the food going on the unlit side and putting the charcoal on each side of the unit with the food going in the middle where no charcoal is present.

For those that need a bit more help keeping everything where it’s supposed to go, there is an accessory called the Slow ‘N Sear that works well with kettle grills and includes a trough that holds water.  This allows you to place foods on the upper grates as well as below on the opposite side of the charcoal.  It certainly will give you ample room to cook many pounds of meat.

Water Keeps Everything Moist

To ensure that any protein cooked on the grill remains moist and tender, include a water pan in your set up.  This is easily done by purchasing readily available disposable foil pans from the discount store.  The shape and size will be dependent on your actual grill.  I like to add warm water to the water pan so the grill does not have to exert energy to heat up the water, which takes heat away from the unit.  Remember, the water will be evaporating during the cooking process so have additional water available if it depletes before the cooking is complete.  Water pans are set in the base of the unit on the charcoal free side, directly under the food.  This will also act as a drip pan, catching all those juices as well.

Chimney Starter for Easy Lighting

Once you have your charcoal set up, the water pan laying in the charcoal free section, it’s time to light the charcoal.  The easiest way to do this and ensure that the grill gets hot pretty fast is to light a chimney starter.  These are portable containers made of metal that allow you to pour a couple of pounds of charcoal into and light from vent openings at the base.  Usually these devices require you to place newspaper at the base which is then lit with a lighter to ignite the cold charcoal.  I skip the newspaper step and simply use a MAP gas canister with easy operating torch head to light the charcoal.  The best part is I can leave the torch under the chimney starter on a safe surface such as concrete, while I finish the grill set up.  Once the charcoal at the bottom of the chimney starter is lit, I remove the torch and allow it to burn up through the rest of the charcoal.  Once the pieces are grayed over and showing hot embers, it’s ready to pour into the grill’s charcoal area.  I carefully pour the hot coals on top of the unlit coals.  This will ensure plenty of fuel during the cooking process.  Next, 3-4 smoker wood chunks are placed on the hot coal area.  I usually disperse these with a couple of inches between pieces.

Moist Cold Surfaces Attract Smoke Vapor

With the grill set up complete, the hot coals going and the smoker wood chunks beginning to smolder, it’s time for the meat.  Always take the prepared meat directly from the refrigerator to the grill COLD!  Cold foods will attract smoke vapor faster, allowing the vapor to condense on the food’s surface.  The water pan will ensure that moisture remains within the grill which also will ensure attraction of the smoke vapor.

Vent Settings Guarantee Temperature Control!

Although charcoal as a fuel also aides in temperature control, I’m going to speak about air control.   To sustain fire or combustion, you need oxygen flowing into the grill, stimulating the hot coals.  This is the intake damper.  Close it completely, and you’ll put the fire out and lose all temperature.  Open it wide and you’ll increase the temperature as the coals get stimulated for more heat.

On the opposing end is the exhaust damper also called a vent or flue/chimney.  This vent is what pulls in the oxygen through the lower intake damper.  Yes, smoke is expelled through the exhaust vent but heat as well as the gases that are derived from the combustion of the fuel material including the hardwood smoker chunks are also vented.  The exhaust vent needs to be partially open all the time.  If the temperature starts to fall, open the intake damper wider.  If the temperature is too high, reduce the oxygen to the fire by closing the intake damper.

Now, make your shopping list for your favorite foods to smoke and set up that charcoal grill for a fabulous flavorful day.  It’s really that simple!

Recommended Additional Reading:

The Precious Forest

Is Heartwood Really The ‘Heart’ Of The Tree?

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

 

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showing how to add smoking wood chunks over the difusser will add wood flavor to any LP grill

Gas grill technique for adding smoking wood chunks to develop a smoke flavor to your cooking.

HOW TO TURN YOUR LP/GAS GRILL INTO A SMOKER

This is the year!  You made a promise to yourself, family and friends that this outdoor cooking season, you were going to bring more flavor to meals cooked on the grill by incorporating smoking wood and grilling wood.  All you need to know is, what are the options for setting up the grill for this type of cooking without purchasing a smoker?

We have the answer and lots of options to utilize your existing equipment!

LP/Gas Grills of All Types

There is a great deal of variation in LP/Gas Grilling equipment in terms of grilling surface space, number of burners, BTU rating, etc.  Know up front, that this will play into how frequently you need to replenish grilling or smoking wood or even to monitor the foods being smoked on the grill.  Essentially, these tips will work on any brand/model that you may own.

How To Add Grilling Woods to the LP/Gas Grill

Heat diffusers are commonly found on newer models of grills.  They are made of high heat tolerant metal and cover the actual burners of the unit.  Their purpose is to ensure even heat distribution throughout the grill so both radiant and conductive heat are maximized.

Wood Chunks On The Diffusers

If you have a grill model that has heat diffusers (remember, they may go by other names like flavorizer bars, flame tamers, heat plates, burner shields and heat distributors) then you’re ready to use smoking wood chunks on your unit!  Yes, I said smoking chunks.  This is by far the easiest method of getting true smoke flavor to the foods being cooked.  Plus, you can set up an indirect method of cooking using smoking chunks.

You will need 3-4 wood chunks sized to fit over your heat diffusers and under the grill grate when set in place.  A 2x2x3-inch size fits most units and these should have some measurable moisture level; at least 20% moisture is ideal meaning you won’t need to presoak the wood.  If you have an old grill model before heat diffusers were standard, you can still use smoking wood chunks by placing them in a smoker box.  These boxes will generally fit 3-4 chunks of the size referenced above but be sure to use a good quality box.  My preference is cast iron.  Insert the chunks into the smoker box and leave the lid off!

 Indirect Cooking Method

What truly makes for barbecue and not just grilling or smoking on an LP/Gas unit is using the indirect method of cooking.  The smoking wood chunks will be set on a burner that is turned on to medium or medium-high heat depending on the BTU level of your unit.  The higher the BTU level, use a medium setting.  Overall, you want the grill’s temperature to average 225-250° F for cooking traditional BBQ items like ribs, brisket, pork shoulder, and poultry.  If using the smoker box, you will place the box on the grill grate of the side with the burner lit.  My preference is, if doing very large cuts of meat, to turn on two burners if you have a 3-burner or more unit.  The foods will be placed on the unlit side of the grill.

Water Keeps Everything Moist

To ensure that any meat or poultry cooked on the grill remains moist and tender, include a water pan or two in your set up.  This is easily done by purchasing readily available disposable pie tins from the discount store.  I like to add warm to hot water so the grill does not have to exert much energy to heat up the water, which takes heat away from the unit.  Remember, the water will be evaporating during the cooking or smoking process so have additional water available if it depletes before the cooking is complete.  Water pans are set on the unlit burner side of the grill, directly under the food.  This will also act as a drip pan, catching all those juices.

Moist Cold Surfaces Attract Smoke Vapor

You have your smoking wood chunks on the lit burner, your water pans on the unlit burner, the grill’s temperature is holding steady, the grill grate has been in place taking on heat – we’re now ready for the meat.  Always take the prepared meat directly from the refrigerator to the grill COLD!  Cold foods will attract smoke vapor faster, allowing the vapor to condense on the food’s surface.  A moist surface also help attract the smoke so feel free to keep a spray bottle of water to spritz your meat’s surface as needed, though this often is not needed.

Leave the Lid Alone!

Remember, this isn’t traditional grilling on the grill.  We are doing barbecue smoking using an indirect method of cooking.  Keep the lid closed!  Every time you do so, you release heat, smoke, and moisture.  What you do need to watch closely is the temperature of your unit as the consistent temperature is what ensures an evenly cooked food item, as well as a tender, moist outcome.

Was this just what you were looking for?  If so, leave a comment as we’d love to hear from you.  Don’t forget to let us know what other questions you have, as we also design our postings after the needs of our follows.  As always, subscribe and follow us, so you don’t miss a thing!

Recommended Additional Reading:

Boost Up The Flavor Of Your Smoker Box

Can Hardwood Be Too Dry For Cooking?

Dr Smoke- “Get the most out of your LP gas grill by adding smoking wood.”

Descriptive guide for women maning the grill

Woman ‘Man’-ing the Grill- Tools are Essential

 

Part one of the Audio:

Part two of the the Audio:

It’s long been the equipment associated with the guys.  Perhaps it’s due to the primal start of cooking over live fire which initially was a man’s skill.  Hunt the animal and cook it on fire and hot coals.

Recently, the trend has begun to turn around in favor of more women grilling components of a meal on the grill.  In fact, it’s not just the traditional LP/gas grill but charcoal grills as well, as women take their new recipe and technique finds out of the traditional indoor kitchen and to the outdoors.

Just Because It’s Outside Doesn’t Change The Purpose

There is no question that outdoor grilling equipment has evolved into something of fantasy.  We now have choices beyond the standard LP, natural gas, charcoal, and electric grills.  Many brands are now featuring dual fuel cooking, meaning they may have gas or electric assist but use wood and/or charcoal for heat and flavor!

What does this mean for the ladies who want to do more outdoor cooking on the grill?

 Versatility!  It is so easy to cook an entire meal on the grill without it taking several hours or more.

Accessorize!

The key to ensuring that an entire meal can be cooked on the grill is to have the right tools and that includes some accessory items.  Let’s look at each recommended item and answer the question why it’s important to the woman’s full meal grill event.

#1 Grill Grate Accessories:

First up, the grill pan, grill basket or grill topper.  These are perfect for vegetables and fruits making it so easy to ensure that the food doesn’t stick to the grill grates and that every piece gets cooked evenly.  Plus, since many grills are now sold with a side burner, you can always steam or par boil tougher vegetables first, then transfer to the grill pan/basket/topper.  Or, use that side burner to make rice for a healthy starch side.  Don’t have a side burner on your grill or are using a charcoal grill?  Then buy a butane burner!  These are so inexpensive yet give you another cooking option to get everything ready at the same time.

#2 Easy Charcoal Lighting:

If you don’t know what a chimney starter is, time to learn.  The charcoal chimney starter is the best way to light a charcoal fire.  Although these traditionally use newspaper at the bottom (for ignition) and load charcoal chunks (can be briquettes or lump) into the body of the unit, I take a simple method of lighting my chimney.  I load with my favorite charcoal and use a butane torch under the unit to light – no newspaper needed.  This allows me to leave the butane on auto fire for a few minutes to ensure the lower coals are lit.  Simply pull the torch out, shake the chimney while wearing fire gloves, and return to a heat safe surface until the top coals turn white-gray.  Oh, and you can always light the chimney off that side burner too!

#3 Purchase 2 Thermometers

Stop guessing at when things are done!  You need to invest in 2 quality thermometers; one for the grill/smoker and one instant-read for the food.  Be sure the thermometers you invest in can take a reading in 5 seconds or less, have at least a 4-inch probe for thicker cuts of meat, and have cables that are durable (if you don’t go with a wireless), especially for equipment thermometers that are placed through venting holes or under lids.

#4 Silicone

Anything made from silicone will become a lifesaver at the grill.  Silicone pot handle covers, spatulas, heat resistant tongs – you get the idea.  This material can handle the high heat of grills so stock up on those items you’ll need and use the most.  Suggestions? Tongs, pot handle covers, spatulas, spoons, mat.

Diversify!

Grilling does not necessarily mean you must put all foods on the grill grates.  Use high heat cookware to help you out.  Think cast iron or high heat clay and enamels meant for the grill.  These are perfect for starting one pot wonders like legumes, pasta dishes, even sauces.  With a roomy enough grill, you can fit many different items – grill pan/basket, Dutch oven, and rib racks.  Don’t forget most grills come equipped with a lower and upper grill rack so more fragile items that need less heat can go to the top.  Here’s some tips on food to cooking equipment match:

Tip #1: Cast Iron and Charcoal

Cast iron is, without question, the best material for cooking directly in the coals.  Here’s a tip – if you have an outdoor fireplace or even a fire pit that uses wood, you can do this method of cooking by placing your cast iron skillet or Dutch oven directly in the coals.  Keep in mind, I said coals, not flame.  Coals have a very high BTU rating and can cook foods within cast iron as if they are in the oven.  Just be sure to pack the hot coals around the cast iron after placing the pan in the coal bed.  Perfect items to try: vegetable medley, roasted potato, curry dishes, au gratin dishes.

Tip #2: Cast Iron and LP/Gas Grill

Just like having the side burner on a grill, cast iron on the grill is like having an extra pot on the stove.  Cast iron comes in lots of sizes and cookware type: saucepan, skillet, Dutch oven.  Anything you would traditionally make in cookware on the stove can be done on the grill.  The key is to ensure that you have this on a section of the grill that isn’t set to “high”, as cast iron holds heat.

Tip #3: The Upper Grill Rack

Though small in overall size, the upper grill rack is designed for those fragile items or for items that require simple warming.  Think melting butter for vegetables, heating sauces, warming bread and rolls.  Use it!  It can be of great value to keep you from needing anything indoors.

Tip #4: The Rotisserie

If you have a grill with a rotisserie, use it!  Keep in mind, as that item turns on that rod, the meat or poultry renders some fantastic juices.  Catch them!  Put a high heat pan under the food item with some great vegetables and use the drippings to add superb flavor to the cooking process.

Flavor It Up!

Now, let’s be clear!  Unless you’ve invested in a dual fuel or hybrid grill, one that allows you to use charcoal and/or smoking wood, most standard LP grills are just that: grills not smokers.  If you don’t have a hybrid but want to get some smoking woods flavoring to your foods, then start thinking of adding charcoal and wood chunks!  Yes, you heard me right.  Wood Chunks vs. woodchips which was the product of choice for years with LP grills.

Why Smoking Wood Chunks?

Most grills today are designed with covers for the gas burners to diffuse the heat more evenly.  They go by a lot of names: heat distributors, flame tamers, heat plates, burner shields, flavorizer bars.  The addition to the traditional LP grill is the reason why you can use smoking wood chunks.  Simply place a few small wood chunks under the grill grate right on top of the heat diffuser.  Be sure you only put chunks on a burner you will ignite.  Replace the grill grate and you’re ready to go!  And, yes, you will get real wood smoke vapor to flavor whatever you’re cooking on the grill.  I promise!

Final Points

“Man”-ing the grill is no different than planning a meal in your conventional kitchen.  Pick out the components of the meal and decide what needs to cook where on the grill: directly on the grate, on the rotisserie, in cast iron, on the coals.  If doing a meat, be sure to marinate 6 hours or best, overnight, to ensure a moist outcome and to reduce cooking time.

Have everything prepped including the grilling tools you will need and this is a walk in the park for the woman that is use to planning daily meals for her family.  The best part, you can enjoy more of those great warm days and not sweat in the confines of the hot summer kitchen!

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Dr Smoke

Dr. Smoke- “Behind every good grill is a woman.”

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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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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Smoking Boxes Available at Retail Locations

Smoking Boxes Available at Retail Locations

                                                               BOOST IT!

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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october-page-oneoctober-dr-smoke-newsletter-october-2016_page_2

 

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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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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Welcome QVC shoppers who purchased the Technique Pre-seasoned Cast Iron 11″ BBQ Grill Pan & Smoker over the U. S. holiday weekend (July 4th). Dr Smoke did some research and watched the demonstration of this product by the great people of QVC. During the segment that I watched they recommended the use of Smokin’ Dust® with this unit. While this is true, I would also recommend the use of Smokinlicious Wood Chips as well! We have tested other stove top smokers and found that with the heavier “cast” iron pans our Wood Chips sometimes perform better than our Smokin’ Dust®

When applying our Smokinlicious Smokin’ Dust® with the Technique Pre-seasoned Cast Iron 11” BBQ Grill Pan & Smoker you may have to add water to make a paste and put it on the bottom tray of the unit. This will prolong the burn life of the Smokin’ Dust® and increase the smoke flavor during the cooking process

We have ordered a unit and will be testing our products in the next couple of weeks. Dr Smoke and the culinary crew will be testing this unit and will be adding information to our Match your Cooker section of our web site. Please check back to Smokinlicious®for updates! Please enjoy your unit!

If you need additional assistance, regarding product compatibility, or tips on smoking,please call 1-800-941-5054

Bon Bar B Q!

Dr Smoke

 

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TO THE BEECH WE GO!

Smokinlicious® is pleased to announce that we have added an eighth hardwood species to our product line.  Beech is now available in gourmet wood chips, double and single filet wood chunk, wood blocks and heartwood logs for purchase!

Here is the smoker’s introduction to this species

>> There are ten different varieties of Beech available around the world, but we will generally harvest American Beech or Red Beech(Fagus grandifolia Ehrh).

>> The heartwood is dark to reddish brown.

>> American Beech has been a popular choice for charcoal making because it burns so long.

>> Beech and Oak are part of the same wood family(Fagaceae), therefore, Beech is similar in flavor to White Oak.  It is considered a medium to bold flavor.  In our opinion it should be used mostly with beef, pork, venison and other wild game versus poultry.

We hope you try and enjoy this great addition to our hardwood family of products.  Remember all barbecue, NO bark!

 

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OUR NEW ARRIVAL

Smokinlicious® Gourmet Wood Products is pleased to announce the arrival of our new retail Wood Chunk packaging! Like our gourmet Wood Chips, you will now find our speciality cuts of gourmet 

 

Bag of Smokinlicious Wood Chips

Wood chunks available at select stores in our new paper packaging. Available in our “Double Filet“, “Single Filet“, and “Natural Grilling” speciality cuts, our wood chunks all come with the moisture level reading recorded right on the package! No more guessing about the moisture of the wood! Look for this product and all our exceptional gourmet products at a retailer near you. Or check our website for the nearest distributor.

 

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