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.”

 

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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smoke vapor from the grill

Smoke vapor from the grill

Tap for audio

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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