The Three ways we smoked-wood flavored our Boston Butts!
The Three ways we smoked-wood flavored our Boston Butts!

3 METHODS OF SMOKING BOSTON BUTT Click To Tweet

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This certainly is a clear example of how anyone can produce authentic barbecue on the equipment they have even if it’s not a traditional smoker.

Boston Butt

It should come as no surprise that majority of grill owners invest in a gas grill for their outdoor cooking with over 80% of these owners investing in multiple accessories for that grill.  Often, many of these grill owners will venture to make an additional purchase of a second type of grill like a charcoal or pellet grill/smoker, in order to be able to cook more barbecue or smoked food options.

My intent is to demonstrate to you that you can produce authentic flavors, colors, textures, and aromas of favorite barbecue proteins with a variety of equipment, all outfitted with hardwood for the authentic wood flavoring.

I’ll be taking Boston butt to a traditional gas grill, a kettle charcoal grill, and a convection-style grill to demonstrate just how easy it is to cook this popular animal protein while giving you a bit of education on how these units are different when hardwood is incorporated.

Set Up Similarities and Differences

When it comes to setting up the grills for smoking, there are some obvious differences.  First, let me name the equipment brands I’ve included and the intended set up of each for cooking and smoking the Boston Butt cuts, all of which approximate 8 lbs.

Our Boston Butt (s) on the Stok Gas Grill with accompanying Smoker boxes
Our Boston Butt (s) on the Stok Gas Grill with accompanying Smoker boxes

The Stôk Quattro 4-Burner Grill:

If you are not familiar with this grill, it is equipped with an insert system to allow you to use a standard grilling grate, a griddle, grill basket, vegetable tray, pizza stone, Dutch oven, Wok, and other inserts that easily pop in and out of the cast iron grates.  Despite this feature, you can do traditional smoking using wood chunks without the need for the smoker/infuser insert.

Whenever I smoke on a traditional gas grill, I always set up a two-zone cooking method.  This means, on my 4-burner Stôk, I will ignite just two of the burners on one side.  You can either place wood chunks directly on the heat shields of the unit or use a metal smoker box.  My Boston butt will cook on the unlit side of the grill with a metal smoker box containing 3 wood chunks on the hot side.  I’ve also included a second smoker box to make it easier to swap out the first when the wood becomes completed charred.  My temperature is 225°F for the actual cooking.

Our Boston Butt on the Orion Cooker with Minuto® wood chips in the inner ring
Our Boston Butt on the Orion Cooker with Minuto® wood chips in the inner ring

Orion Cooker:

This is an outdoor convection unit that uses briquets for the heat and Minuto® Wood Chips placed around the drip/water pan for the wood flavoring.  This unit will be the fastest to cook the Boston Butt, with an anticipated timing of 4-1/2 hours total.  This is a direct cooking method that uses the radiated heat of the stainless-steel body to trap and circulate the heat for faster cooking time.

There is no ability to replenish the wood chips with this unit due to the high heat level.  About 15 lbs. of briquet and 4 ounces of Orion Custom Wood Chips is all that is needed to smoke, plus some water in the water/drip pan for a moist outcome.

Our Boston Butt on the Weber® kettle Grill with double filet wood chunks
Our Boston Butt on the Weber® kettle Grill with double filet wood chunks

Weber® Kettle 22” Charcoal Grill:

 Likely one of the most popular charcoal grills, the Weber® kettle provides for the opportunity to cook with charcoal and hardwood.  I’ll be setting up my grill using a two-zone method; charcoal/wood on half the fire area and the meat placed on the indirect side.

Due to the length of time Boston butt takes to cook, you likely will need to replenish the charcoal for maintenance of heat level.  I prefer to maintain a temperature around 250° F.

For similarities: both the Weber® and the Stôk grill were set up with a two-zone cooking method.  Both included use of the SmokinLicious® double filet wood chunk.  The length of cooking time between the charcoal unit and the gas unit are very similar, taking close to 10 hours.

For differences: temperature maintenance is easier with the gas and convection units.  The charcoal unit requires much more supervision to ensure that the fuel (charcoal) is replenished prior to the temperature of the grill decreasing significantly.  You are also able to check on the meat’s coloring and evenness of cooking with the charcoal and gas units while the convection unit is generally left alone until closer to the recommended cooking times.  Though you can check on the doneness of the meat at any point with the convection unit, generally there is no need to do anything but wait.

Regarding cooking variations, let’s discuss color, bark formation, moisture of the meat.

Barbecue By All Methods

With all four of the Boston Butt (s) prepared in the same manner – excess fat trimmed to ¼-inch or less, a dry rub applied on all sides, and marinated for 24 hours – this is a fair comparison of how each grilling and smoking method produces the barbecue results commonly looked for.

Bark:

Without question, bark or the outer crust that develops from exposure to a lower temperature, long cook time, and smoke vapor infusion was greatest on the Boston butt cooked on the Weber® Kettle 22” Charcoal Grill.  The gas grill produces the least amount of bark which is dominate on the outer edges and top surface.

Color:

The darkest coloring to the bark and the most obvious smoke ring was on the meat cooked on the charcoal grill.  The Orion Cooker produced a brown hue to the meat’s exterior while the meat cooked on the gas grill retained a red hue that was indicative of the dry rub color.  Charcoal grills will produce a black hued coloring due to two combustible materials: charcoal or charred wood and hardwood.

Moisture:

The meat that produced the greatest amount of rendered juice was from the charcoal cooking method.  Second, the convection grill method followed by the gas grill.  However, the greatest internal moisture level was obtained from the indirect cooking method on the gas grill, followed by the charcoal method and lastly the convection method.

Final Notes:

What we’ve set out to accomplish with this multi cook segment is to prove that no matter what equipment you have, you can produce authentic flavor, aroma and texture to Boston butt.  This can be invaluable for those times when you may not have a lot of time to supervise the smoker or grill but still want authentic barbecue.  Or, when you must make a lot of meat meaning you must use all the equipment options you have available.

All four Boston Butt (s) one done on charcoal with the Weber, another in the Orion with wood chips and two on the gas grill with wood chunks- the coloring is not much different!
All four Boston Butt (s) one done on charcoal with the Weber, another in the Orion with wood chips and two on the gas grill with wood chunks- the coloring is not much different!

From a taste perspective, our sampling group indicated that the strongest smoked flavor was from the charcoal unit, followed by the convection grill and lastly, the gas grill.  Keep this information in mind when you’re cooking for others, as boldness of the smoke flavor can be controlled not only by the amount of time exposed to the smoke vapor, but also with the equipment used for the cooking and the amount and type of hardwood used in the process.

This certainly is a clear example of how anyone can produce authentic barbecue on the equipment they have even if it’s not a traditional smoker.

Making you an informed consumer through valuable articles like this one.   Leave us a comment and follow us or subscribe for more great recipes, techniques, tips, and the science behind the flavor.  That’s SmokinLicious®.

SmokinLicious® Products used in these techniques:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Minuto®

More related reading on how Smokinlicious® reduces the risks of Microbial bacteria in our wood products
More related reading on smoking Boston Butt & other Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More blogs you may enjoy:

-Charwood Grilled Salmon Fillets for a Hint of Smoky Flavor

-GRILLED LAMB

-GIVE ME THAT BEEF BRISKET!

-ROSEMARY INFUSED SMOKED BEEF SHANKS FROM THE GRILL

Dr. Smoke- We used three different methods to cook our Boston Butts for a party! All turned out tasty!
Dr. Smoke- We used three different methods to cook our Boston Butts for a party! All turned out tasty!
When its Called Barbecue?

What does it mean when its called Barbecue Click To Tweet

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It’s time I go there.  I’ve fielded way too many questions to ignore it.  Now is the perfect time for me to opine on this highly controversial topic: when it’s called barbecue.

How do you define “true” barbecue?

I have three parameters to cooking that I’d like to address that should help explain my justification for what qualifies as barbecue.

Temperature Comes First

People are often surprised that I don’t include equipment in my considerations but if you’ve followed our recipe blog “Cooking With Dr. Smoke”, you’re well aware that we include a wide array of equipment to demonstrate wood flavor infusion to all types of foods.  One area we do focus on, however, is temperature when cooking.

Extremely Low Temperature (below 80° F):

If the first thing that comes to mind is a temperature under 80°F is just not cooking, you’d be right.  Basically, this is a temperature that is ideal to complete cold smoking.  Fish, cheese, and some meat products can be exposed to this low temperature process when a combustible plant material is used.  In most cases, that is wood to smolder and produce a gas or vapor.  The smoke vapor produced from the smoldering wood invokes flavor and preservative qualities to the foods without causing fragile items such as cheese, chocolate, and similar food items to have their molecular composition destroyed by heat. When meats are exposed to this low temperature environment with smoldering wood, the smoke vapor penetrates completely through the meat since there is no high heat surface hardening that occurs like with hot smoking temperatures.

Low Temperature (180° to 300°F):

We’ve all heard the term low and slow cooking.  This is the low temperature reference to cooking tougher cuts of meat.  However, for me, even more tender cuts can be done using low temperature cooking, especially when paired with an indirect cooking set up or two-zone cooking.  Additionally, this temperature range is not just for meats and poultry, but fish, fruits, and vegetables also benefit.

our thermometer at 350 degrees F is the beginning of high temperature cooking.
high temperatures

High Heat Temperature (350° to 550°F or more):

Higher temperatures are generally for cooking smaller cuts of meat and poultry that don’t require a lot of cooking time.  Plus, high heat temperature can develop the char crust exterior on foods that many people crave with outdoor meals.  Know that you can use traditional grills for both direct, high heat cooking as well as indirect set up.  The indirect will allow you to cook the food through by placing on the indirect, non-heat side and then use the direct side for adding a sear to the finished foods.

Combustible Material

If you agree with me that barbecue is cooking with smoke then you’ll understand the need for a combustible material.  Some type of plant material must be used to generate the smoke.  The most popular material is wood or hardwood to be specific, since you should never cook with softwoods due to their higher sapwood content, resin, and air space in the cell walls.

Smoke is a key ingredient to Barbecue
Smoke is a key ingredient to Barbecue

First, understand smoke is a gas or vapor and can result from juices and fats that drip off foods into the fuel area of equipment, result from a fuel source like charcoal emitting smoke at it gains temperature to produce hot coals, and result from wood or other plant material (think herbs, teas, etc.) that is ignited.  You’ve likely experienced the first when cooking hamburgers, hot dogs or steak on direct heat of a charcoal or gas grill and watched the flames start with each drip of the fats/juices.  Just as you’ve likely experienced lighting charcoal and having a plume of smoke sit until the charcoal begins to gray over and produce high heat.  Come Fall and Spring, if you are a leaf burner, you’ve experienced the thick sometimes choking smoke that results from burning leaves, certainly not a pleasant plant material to use for food cooking.

Once you have a source for the smoke understand that not all smoke is good.  For detailed information on this, see our published article on the types of smoke and what they mean for cooking.

Length of Time for Cooking

our Dr Smoke clock,  Always keep track of your cooking time.
Cooking Time is Important

Although you’ve likely read that true barbecue is done low (temperature) and slow (length of time to cook), I will tell you that you can still produce smoked foods using temperatures considered above traditional hot smoking levels and in shorter time periods.  I’ve done bone-in beef shanks on the gas grill using a two-zone cooking method with wood chunks and had these done in about 75 minutes using a temperature close to 300°F.  They, to me, are a true barbecue item, right down to the wet rub, wood flavor infusion, and smoke infused color.

I agree, tougher cuts of meat and poultry benefit from longer cooking times to allow the connective tissue to dissolve.  Plus, my preference is to use a temperature closer to 275°F for most of my animal protein cooking.  For my vegetables and fruits, though, I turn up the heat still using wood for true smoking. I use the tenderness of the vegetable and fruit to guide me on the timing.

Double Filet hardwood chunks pure wood and bark free!
Double Filet hardwood chunks pure wood and bark free!

In short, true barbecue is cooking with smoke and for me that is cooking with suitable hardwoods known to present pleasant flavors to foods you cook.  You can introduce hardwood to pretty much any type of equipment including home made smokers whether for the outdoors or on your indoor stove top.

The key is to utilize an ideal temperature to generate quality and flavorful smoke gas production, as well as a tempered hand in the amount of wood to use at a time.  You’ll find that you can produce the flavors of barbecue with any equipment and any food.  After all, barbecue seems to have gone beyond just animal proteins.

How do you define barbecue?   Leave us a comment to opine and subscribe for more great recipes, techniques, tips, and the science behind the flavor, that’s SmokinLicious®.

SmokinLicious® products in this blog:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

More related reading on when its called Barbecue and other smoking & grilling tips-techniques.
More related reading on when its called barbecue and other smoking & Grilling tips -technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More blogs on this topic:

-YOU ARE WHAT YOU EATII – APPLIES TO WOOD COOKING

-THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN $3.99 WOOD CHIPS FOR SMOKING AND THE SMOKINLICIOUS® BRAND

-SMOKING-GRILLING WOOD SELLING TERMS DEMYSTIFIED

Dr. Smoke-Dr. Smoke- The culinary team explores the question- When its Called Barbecue?
Dr. Smoke- The culinary team explores the question- When its Called Barbecue?
Smoked Whiskey Cocktails are great libations for drinking!
Smoked Whiskey Cocktails are great libations for drinking!

Guest blog- Kylee Harris, an events planner and writer.

 

Let's Smoke the Whiskey for our cocktails Click To Tweet

There are over 550 annual barbeque competition events in the United States. Originally constrained to the Southern states, barbeque is now ubiquitous in most parts of the country. Thanks to the popularity of all things vintage, craft cocktails have made a huge comeback, and although it may not seem so at first glance, these two are a match made in heaven. As creative as barbeque pitmasters can get with their rubs and sauces, so, too, can you with specialty cocktails to pair with smoked meats.

A Classic Match

You don’t need a pull-behind trailer rigged with the latest smoking equipment to make your own delicious smoked meats. As long as your kitchen is equipped with a stove, you can get in on this delicious food preparation. While you can purchase stovetop smokers, it’s fairly easy to DIY a smoker yourself with household products you probably already own. No matter what you’re serving, a Manhattan will pair beautifully with your meat.

Classic Manhattan

Classic Manhattan- for our smoked whiskey cocktails
Classic Manhattan (up)

Ingredients:

  • Ice
  • 2 oz. whiskey
  • ½ oz. sweet vermouth
  • dash of Angostura bitters
  • orange peel
  • Maraschino cherry

Shake whiskey, vermouth, and bitters with ice; strain into lowball glass. Rub the rim of your glass with the orange peel and garnish with cherry. Substitute vermouth with 1 oz. of agave nectar and use chocolate bitters and Jim Beam Devil’s Cut (barrel aged whiskey) for an alternate take on this classic.

Perfect for Summer

Take this simple, two-ingredient cocktail and kick it up a notch by infusing it with a smokey flavor that matches your menu. With a smoking gun (available for around $100, or you can make your own with some inexpensive tubing and a small-mouthed container), you can “rinse” your chilled glasses with smoke, or even smoke your entire concoction, using the same wood you use for your meat. The tartness of the grapefruit juice will cut the richness of the meat and is perfect for a backyard, al fresco dinner.

Jack Honey

Jack honey cocktail
Jack Honey cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey
  • 3 oz. fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice

Pour over ice into collins glass.

Something Truly Special

If your skills as a pitmaster aren’t the only thing you want to show off, here is a very special cocktail that will wow your guests. The smokey flavor and touch of cinnamon gives the classic whiskey sour a brand new twist that will leave your guests in awe. You’ll need to plan ahead for this one, as it requires two different, homemade syrups, but if you’re looking to win for best bartender, this one can’t lose.

Smokey Sour

classic whiskey sour
Classic whiskey sour

Ingredients:

  • Ice
  • 2 oz. whiskey
  • ¾ oz. fresh lemon juice
  • ½ oz. cinnamon bark syrup (.3 oz cinnamon bark, 1 cup Turbinado sugar, 1 cup water; bring ingredients to a boil and simmer over low heat for 2 minutes, let sit for 2 hours, strain and keep refrigerated)
  • ¼ oz. Lapsang souchong tea syrup (3-4 tea bags, 1 cup Turbinado sugar, 1 cup water; bring ingredients to a boil and simmer over low heat for 2 minutes, let sit for 2 hours, strain and keep refrigerated)
  • 1 egg white

Add all ingredients to a shaker and shake until frothy. Strain into a coupe glass. 

The bold, rich flavor of whiskey is the perfect complement to a rich, smoked meat dish; both American traditions trace their roots back to the South. If you are looking to skip the same old beer next time you smoke meat for your guests, you can’t go wrong with whiskey cocktails, either made-to-order or batched for a larger group. Let the elements of barbequing guide you to experiment with new techniques and flavors and take your pairings to a new level.

SmokinLicious® products:

Wood Chips- Minuto® & Piccolo®

More related reading on how Smokinlicious® reduces the risks of Microbial bacteria in our wood products
More related reading on smoked Whiskey Cocktails & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs

More related blogs:

-How To Maintain A Safe Kitchen Environment

-HOW TO MAKE THE BEST SMOKY COCKTAILS

-SMOKY BOURBON CRANBERRY COCKTAIL

Dr. Smoke- Thank you Kaylee for another very informative article!
Dr. Smoke- Thank you Kylee for another very informative article!
Olive Trees of Italy are facing the same Bacterium invasion as the USA
Italy’s Olive Trees

ITALY’S OLIVE TREES FALL TO BACTERIUM Click To Tweet

I am a wood geek.  I love the living cells of trees and the hundreds of compounds that produce the various aromatics, tannins and flavors that make trees so valuable for medicinal, cosmetic, and flavoring uses.  Whenever I’m in the woods, I always feel like these giants are breathing with me.

Then my joyful thoughts turn sad.  Observing over the years how our lifestyle and explorative ways have changed our atmosphere which in turn changes the natural order of things.  One of those things is our trees.

But North America is not alone!  Battles over the loss of various hardwoods and softwoods continue as we fight to save the forest giants as well as orchard soldiers around the globe.

Prepare for Higher Olive Oil Pricing

It’s called Xylella fastidiosa and it’s a deadly bacterium that is gaining attention as it takes mark on the olive trees and groves of Italy since 2013.  In 2016, this bacterium was blamed for the death of some one million olive trees in Southern Italy most of which were cut down to stop the deadly bacterium from spreading.  But it hasn’t stopped.  Even with netting and routine pruning, olive trees continue to suffer and eventually die or are cut down. 

We know that the bacterium starts somewhere within the heart of the tree and then travels towards the roots and branches.  This is the reason pruning can sometimes be beneficial.  Research has also shown that there are specific varieties of olive trees that are more susceptible to Xylella resulting in growers moving toward varieties with less risk when they replace or add new growth areas.

There is a pest, the meadow spittlebug, that is the carrier of Xylella and the reason it is necessary to net the trees to prevent this pest from traveling and spreading this major bacterium concern to other areas and other countries.

Much like our North American Emerald Ash Borer pest that is responsible for tens of millions of ash tree death and destruction, the meadow spittlebug and the Xylella bacterium it can carry results in loss of olive production to those damaged branches.  Although the olive oil pressed from the olives research shows does not carry any disease or risk, the bacterium has significantly reduced the volume of olives available to produce oil.  Thus, pricing goes up as availability of olives depletes.

It’s Not Just an Olive Concern

You might think this is just an olive tree issue but you’d be deadly wrong.  Xylella is a strain of bacterium that is considered one of the most dangerous plant bacteria in the world.  It causes a tree to die of thirst from the inside out by blocking the xylem or transport tissue of the tree responsible for moving water and nutrients from the roots upwards to other parts of the tree. Xylella is then carried from tree to tree by the spittlebug who latch on to the tree’s xylem tubes sucking out liquid.  When they travel to the next tree to feed, the bacterium they’ve picked up is passed into that tree’s xylem when they go to feed again.  With no cure, the plant or tree stays infected for life, until it dies. 

There have been strains of Xylella fastidiosa in citrus as well as pear, peach and plum.  There is also a potential new strain in Southern California that could affect the grape production which could decimate the wine production something not needed after all the years of wildfires.

Continents currently affected by this bacterium include North America, Europe, and Asia but more are expected.

What’s Next?

In my opinion, the focused concern is on the specific market of product whether it be olive oil, wine, or fruits and not on the tree destruction that is occurring all around us.  I’m wondering how much longer we have to witness century old trees dying and family businesses evaporating from what appears to be nature taking back or returning to the soil what she feels is rightly hers.  I can’t help but think that these pests that are invading our largest plants on our planet are likely the result of our own actions or even inaction.

How concerned are you about the North American trees?  Leave us a comment and subscribe to get our latest tips, techniques, and recipes, plus, the science behind the fire and smoke. 

SmokinLicious® products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®, Minuto® & Piccolo®

Charwood

More related reading on how Smokinlicious® reduces the risks of Microbial bacteria in our wood products
More related reading on smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More related reading:

-I’LL TAKE MINE WITH AN OLIVE!

-TO BARK OR NOT

-IS THE FOOD INDUSTRY CULPABLE FOR THE SPREAD OF OAK TREE MORTALITY?

Dr. Smoke- Olive trees are threaten with pest just like our forests in the USA.
Dr. Smoke- protect our tree resources.


Picking the ideal fire set up for cooking depends on circumstances- this is the cabin Style
Picking the ideal fire set up for cooking depends on circumstances- this is the cabin Style

YOUR IDEAL FIRE SETUP FOR COOKING Click To Tweet


We are so lucky to have so many options for cooking our foods, not to mention the option to not cook at all!  This got me thinking about the fact that we do rely on our outdoor equipment and cookware when it comes to outdoor cooking.  Even if you’re a person who has experience campfire cooking, you likely do this style of cooking with one type of fire setup .

Let’s look at some of the options for setting up an outdoor fire that don’t include purchased equipment, just the natural elements found outdoors – rock, tinder, kindling, and logs/wood.  As I always like to remind you, though you may not use this information immediately, you should read it and keep a reference handy for when a situation may arise that you need it, such as a natural disaster, power grid emergency or other such catastrophic event.

Setup #1: Trench Fire

Trench style fire Set up
Trench style fire Set up

One of the best reasons for learning this type of fire set up is it works particularly well in windy conditions.  The key is to dig a trench that is large enough to acquire oxygen to keep it going.  Best sizing is 12 inches wide by 36 inches long by 12 inches deep.  Find rocks to add to the bottom of the trench that are hard and porous-free.  Be sure the 12-inch depth is AFTER the rocks are added.  Now build your fire on top of the rocks.  You can secure tree branches to act as postings for supporting a spit or layer green branches (not dried branches) over the top of the pit for placing your foods.  Of course, if you have a grill grate, place over the hole for direct grilling. 

Setup #2: Dakota Fire Hole 

The Dakota Hole fire set up
The Dakota Hole fire set up

The Dakota Fire Hole measure 12-inches deep by 12-inches wide with a channel that is 6-inches wide off to one side of the main fire area.  There should be a 12-inch space between the chimney opening and the channel.  The channel is dug at an angle meeting at the base of the fire pit area 12-inches down.  Build a fire at the base of the chimney area which draws air in from the side channel producing a draft for outtake at the top of the fire pit.  This is another cooking method that burns wood efficiently and produces very little smoke.  Plus, if you should need to keep yourself concealed, no one can see the glow of the burning fire because it is concealed underground.

Setup #3: Bushcraft Fire

This is an ideal fire setup when you know you can remain in a specified area for a longer time period.  It is perfect for sustaining a fire for days as it includes flat rocks for cooking on, a rock surround for maintaining a safe fire area, and a keyhole channel made of rock that allows you to place larger logs for continuous burn.  This produces a great bed of coals for cooking and if made against a rock barrier or tree stump, it can also provide the heat output necessary to keep you warm.  Plus, you can simply push the long log pieces into the fire circle when additional wood is need for heat and/or coals.  No need to keep splitting wood.

Setup #4: Log Cabin Style

This is a familiar fire set up in the camping world.  It is easy to do as you simply alternate pieces of wood from vertical positioning to horizontal, like building a Lincoln Log set, with tinder and kindling placed inside the base.  This is a setup that produces a great bed of coals so it is perfect for cooking but depending on the amount of time you need for cooking, may require replenishment of wood.  

The Upside Down Fire

This setup is essentially a log cabin style setup in reverse.  Instead of tinder placed under the base of the logs, it is placed on top.  This is also known as a top-down fire.  Although you can use this for cooking, I’ve found it doesn’t produce the best coal bed.  It does, however, burn a long time.

Other Fire Setups

There are some additional fire setups that you may be familiar with but are not considered ideal for cooking. These include:

Tepee Fire: burns very hot and fast producing more ash than usable coals

Teepe Style fire Set up
Teepe Style fire Set up

Lean To: although ideal for windy conditions, this setup does not produce any uniform coal bed and very limited heat

The Star Fire: Although this can produce a very long burn, because of the extension of longer pieces of log in a star-shape to the center of the fire, a true cooking coal bed is not formed, just a lot of ash.

Additional Tips

As a final reminder when it comes to cooking by outdoor fire, you are not cooking with flame or for that matter, direct heat.  Use the hot coals that are produced from the fire to cook with.  That includes placing heat tolerant cookware on or in the hot coals, or even burying within the coals.  The rocks are an energy absorber, producing a lot of heat.  Clean, large rocks can be used like a griddle surface and have foods cooked directly on their surface.  Remember, they get very hot so any unclean quality to them will be burned off with the heat.

A final note, always have fire proof gloves available to grab log pieces in the fire or cookware placement and removal.  A coal shovel is ideal as well for moving hot coals around.  Don’t forget, when you’re finished with the fire you made, ensure that all hot embers and coals are extinguished.

Do you have a favorite method of stacking wood for a cooking fire?  Leave us a comment to let us know.  We welcome all types of questions and encourage you to follow and subscribe to our social channels so you don’t miss anything.  We look forward to providing you with additional tips, techniques, recipes, and the science for all things wood-fired cooked.

SmokinLicious® products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®, Minuto® & Piccolo®

Charwood

More related reading on how Smokinlicious® reduces the risks of Microbial bacteria in our wood products
More related reading on smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

Related reading:

-GOING BEYOND “FIRE” COOKING

-THE HISTORY OF FIRE COOKING PART I

-OPEN PIT COOKING FIRE BUILDING: PART I

Dr. Smoke- picking the ideal fire set up is a great beginning to great results
Dr. Smoke- picking the ideal fire set up is a great beginning to great results
The simple campfire has many uses!
The simple campfire provides more uses beyond just fire cooking!


fire cooking and beyond! Click To Tweet

Listen to the audio of this blog

You’ve likely heard this phrase before whether as a child, adult or at intervals of both.  “Fire is meant to be respected.”  I’m going to go one step further.  Fire should not only be respected, it should be honored and appreciated for all it can offer.   I’m going to point out to you just what other uses fire can present to you.  Perhaps next time you light a fire whether in your charcoal chimney starter, charcoal grill, fireplace, or even outdoor fire pit, you’ll give some pause to the other uses to keep in your knowledge arsenal for times you may need this information.  As I age, I am always in tune with my environment and how I can use it to survive if a situation I can’t control should call for it.

Use #1: Heat

If you are fortunate as I am to have an outdoor source of fire other than your traditional grill, then you’ve likely found yourself enjoying this first benefit of fire.  Heat.  But you likely don’t know about the radiant heat quality of fire.  With a single fire, only the surfaces facing it are warmed.  When it comes to surviving outdoors with heat from a fire, this is when you will want to learn about reflective ability of the fire.

If you have a choice in fire building location when you need it for survival, elect to build one near a large rock or tree stump but add a reflector component on the other side of the fire.  This will allow the rock or tree stump to absorb the heat from the fire and then reflect it back.  By adding a reflector on the other side of the fire, you will enjoy heat both on your back and front, the ideal for surviving if you must rely on fire for body temperature.  Plus, the two reflecting points will force the smoke to go upward allowing you to avoid smoke in the eyes. 

Use #2: Signaling

We all know that fire makes smoke and that smoke acts as a signal.  When you want to be found, this is the perfect means for attracting attention.  What you need to know is that the terrain plays a part in being seen.  If you want to use smoke to signal for help, then seek high points for making one.

Use #3: Water Sterilization

If you are in a dire situation where you’ve been unable to bring many supplies with you, know that fire can aid your ability to stay alive.  You can only survive 3 days without water so finding water is a priority.  You can sterilize water found from any source for consumption by boiling it which is a temperature of 212°F.  Essentially, 1 liter of water per person will get you through survival of 3-4 days. 

Use #4: Preserving Foods

We tend to rely on someone else in the food production chain to preserve food but you may find a time where you either want to do this for your own family or you have to.  Drying, smoking, pickling, and salting are methods of preserving foods from micro-organisms that spoil food.  When you smoke meat you dehydrate it and produce a protective coating on the outside that prevents bacteria and condensation from penetrating.  This is a means of ensuring you have a food supply that can keep you alive for quite a long time.

Use #5: Protection

If you’ve ever been camping or glamping in a forest area, then you know that you are never alone.  Wildlife dominates in these areas.  Fire can be a protector when it comes to keeping these visitors at bay.  Always be sure to have a portable fire set up such as a rag tied to the end of stick or similar tool to use as a portable weapon should a forest resident elect to come close to you.

Do you have another survival use for fire?  Leave us a comment to share your views.  Bringing you informative recipes, techniques, and the science beyond the fire, smoke, and flavor.  That’s SmokinLicious®!

SmokinLicious® products recommended:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®, Minuto® & Piccolo®

Charwood

More related reading on how Smokinlicious® reduces the risks of Microbial bacteria in our wood products
More related reading on fire cooking, smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

Other blogs like this one:

THE HISTORY OF FIRE COOKING PART I

-OPEN PIT COOKING FIRE BUILDING: PART I

-HOW TO TURN YOUR CHARCOAL GRILL INTO A SMOKER


Dr. Smoke-fire is for more than just cooking!
Dr. Smoke- fire cooking and beyond!
Wood Lignin is what produces the great flavor in Barbecue
Wood Lignin is what produces the great flavor in Barbecue

Choosing wood species for their lignin can help your BBQ! Click To Tweet

Listen to the audio of this blog

Let me start this article by first reminding you that wood contains hundreds of compounds that honestly, we don’t know everything about.  For this reason, I am only speaking today regarding those known compounds and what they contribute to foods cooked by wood fire.  Specifically, I’ll be looking at lignin which is the only large-scale biomass source that has aromatic functionality.  In English, this is what gives wood-fired foods the distinct flavor and aroma.

Often, you read about specific flavors and aromas as they apply to meats but today, I want to delve into the compounds that are most prevalent by wood species and what they offer to food.

Refresher on Lignin

Lignin is one of the primary compounds responsible for cell construction in a tree and makes up 15-30% of wood cells.  It has a primary role in conducting water to feed the tree’s cells and when burned, yields a tremendous amount of energy.   Plus, lignin produces rigidity in cell walls which prevents rot.

As a polymer or large molecule composed of many repeated subunits that bond together, it is the only one that is not composed of carbohydrate (sugar) monomers.  Because lignin is a polymer, there are many possible bonding patterns between the individual units, thus, we don’t have full knowledge of all the possibilities.

What we do know is lignin contains phenols or hydroxyl groups which are alcohols.  As these compounds work together, they produce a preservative action on the food which is antibacterial in nature.  The surface of the smoked food is modified with resulting flavors and aromas which are associated with barbecued foods.   Let’s take a closer look at these smoke vapor flavors.

Profiles of Smoke Compounds Click To Tweet

If you recall our publication on wood-tar creosote we tapped into the science of wood-tar creosote and its purpose as a preservative as well as producer of flavor, color, and aroma to barbecued foods.  In that article, we just barely mentioned the compounds responsible for the flavors.  Let’s provide you with the main compound list and what the odor and flavor descriptors are.

Phenol: this compound provides the sharp, robust aromas and the astringent, sharp aftertaste to wood fired foods.

Dimethylphenol: another compound that has a sharp, robust odor that also has a sweet aromatic undertone.  Flavors are sweet, charred, and astringent.

Isoeugenol: this is the compound associated with vanilla aromatics in addition to sweet and fruity.  Flavor descriptors include sweet, smoked-ham notes, hydrolyzed vegetable protein-like, with clove-like undertones.

4-Methylguaiacol: another compound that includes vanilla-like, fruity, cinnamon-ish, and smoky odors, with flavors of caramel, vanilla, sweet, and pleasant notes.

o-Cresol: odors are smoked sausage like with robust, sharp undertones.  This one on its own can produce more unpleasant smoky flavors.

Guaiacol: Smoky, sharp, aromatic aromas with flavors that are spicy, sharp, sweet and dry.  This is the yellowish aromatic oil that forms from creosote.

Syringol: Sausage-like aromatic that is sharp and sweet, with a spicy note.  These flavors include whiskey notes with smoky-char taste.

Lignin Levels in North American Hardwoods

I’m going to report the lignin levels of common North American hardwoods derived from the Klason lignin method, which values the residue remaining after solubilizing the carbohydrate with strong mineral acid.  What follows are percentages of oven-dried woods with temperatures ranging from 68°F/20°C to 248°F/120°C.

Acer saccharum Marsh./Sugar Maple = 22%

Alnus rubra Bong./Red Alder = 24%

Betula alleghanienstis Britton/Yellow Birch = 21%

Carya glaubra (Mill.)/Sweet Pignut Hickory = 24%

Carya ovata (Mill.) K. Koch/Shagbark Hickory = 21%

Fagus grandifolia Ehrh./American Beech = 22%

Fraxinus Americana L./White Ash = 26%

Populus tremoides Michx./ Quaking Aspen = 19%

Prunus serotine Ehrh./Black Cherry = 21%

Quercus alba L./White Oak = 27%

Quercus prinus L./Chestnut Oak = 24%

Quercus rubra L./Northern Red Oak = 24%

Quercus stellate Wangenh./ Post Oak = 24%

What do all these percentages mean when it comes to your barbecue?  You can assume that the higher numbers mean there are larger numbers of compounds at work to flavor your foods.  It’s obvious that woods like hickory and oak have great percentages of phenol, guaiacol, and dimethylphenol, since these woods tend to produce the boldest flavors.  Those hardwoods like cherry, alder, and maple have the compounds of methylguaiacol and isoeugenol coming forward in the flavors which results in sweeter and more toned coloring to meats. Another factor that must be kept in mind when examining lignin is the heat level the wood is exposed to.  Cook at a higher temperature and these compounds can become muddier as combustion occurs more rapidly producing ash accumulation that can change flavors and aromas quickly.   All factor in to the resulting flavor, color and aroma of barbecued foods, whether animal protein, vegetable, fruit, or other.  This just further supports that wood-fired cooking is an art that requires a balanced hand that understands the importance of controlling as many factors as possible, primary of which is cooking temperature and airflow to bring out the highest percentage of beneficial compounds the wood can offer.

What is your favorite hardwood or mixture of hardwoods to cook with?  Leave us a comment to share your views.  Bringing you informative recipes, techniques, and the science beyond the fire, smoke, and flavor.  That’s SmokinLicious®!

SmokinLicious® products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®, Minuto® & Piccolo®

More related reading on how Smokinlicious® reduces the risks of Microbial bacteria in our wood products
More related reading on smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More information on the composition of wood:

-6 REASONS WHY CEDAR WOOD SHOULD NOT BE YOUR TOP CHOICE FOR COOKING

-TO BARK OR NOT

-Lab Report on Moisture and storage of wood

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

Dr. Smoke-
Dr. Smoke- the amount of wood lignin and taste is the “art” of Barbecue

Maintaining a Safe Kitchen should be your primary attention! Click To Tweet

Guest Blogger Kylee Harris
Guest Blogger Kylee Harris on safe kitchen
Listen to the audio of this blog
Introducing Kylee Harris as our Guest Blogger

Foodborne illnesses and allergies are common problems that affect many Americans. The CDC estimates that Americans acquire roughly 9.4 million food related illnesses each year, and more than 19 million people were diagnosed with allergies in 2017 alone. Between one and three percent of beef may contain toxic strains of E. coli, which sicken as many as 265,000 Americans each year. Fortunately, the high temperatures involved with smoking meats can help protect your family from E. coli infection. Since the kitchen is a haven for germs and irritants that can make you and your family sick, knowing how to maintain a sanitary environment can make the difference between a healthy family and one who becomes ill frequently.

Eliminating Mold for a Safe Kitchen

Although mold doesn’t grow quite as readily in the kitchen as it might in the bathroom, without proper attention, your kitchen can become an ideal home for types of mold that could be aggravating or even causing allergies in the younger members of your family. The heat and humidity that is the result of cooking in a kitchen provides an optimum environment for mold. Kitchen sink leaks may also lead to the development of mold if left undetected as well as garbage cans and disposals. Turning on kitchen fans and opening windows in the kitchen and in the whole house will lower the level of humidity in the kitchen while also allowing fresh air to enter. If you live in a humid climate, purchasing a dehumidifier will be the best bet for preventing humidity related mold growth. Checking for leaks regularly, as well as keeping your kitchen environment clean, including the regular sanitation of cupboards and drawers will also help to eliminate mold growth in the kitchen.

Preventing Foodborne Illnesses in a Safe kitchen

Another common way that an unclean kitchen can lead to illness is through foodborne illnesses, due to incorrect preparation or spoiled food.  Proper handling of foods, particularly raw meat, can prevent your family from making that list. Smoking meat and other delicious foods can have rewarding results, but if food is not handled properly, unfortunate consequences may result. Washing hands for 20 seconds with warm, soapy water both before and after preparing food is the first line of defense against foodborne illness. Washing hands immediately after coming into contact with raw meat, as well as any surfaces the meat might have touched with hot, soapy water will help you have peace of mind that your meal will not make you sick. Proper food handling, like cooking meat to the correct temperature, will allow you to fully enjoy a delicious steak, possibly smoked with hickory chips.

Making sure to create a clean and safe environment, free from mold, germs and various contaminants, will allow your family to maintain the high levels of health we all strive for.  Be sure to always follow proper food safety guidelines, and check for mold regularly, as not doing so could negatively affect your family.

More related reading on how Smokinlicious® reduces the risks of Microbial bacteria in our wood products
More related reading on smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More blogs like this one:

-Outdoor kitchen location tips

-Does Outdoor Kitchen Stainless Steel Rust

THE WOMAN’S GUIDE TO ‘MAN’-ING THE GRILL

Dr. Smoke- food Safety begins with a sanitary Kitchen
Dr. Smoke- food Safety begins with a sanitary Kitchen
Our Fresh Okra ready and on the stove top smoker pan to become our Smoked Okra
Our Fresh Okra ready and on the stove top smoker pan to become our Smoked Okra

Smoked Okra- Veggies like a Smoky flavor Too!

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It’s time to bring a smoky flavor to one of my favorite though limited in availability, vegetables – smoked okra!  Known as a super healthy food but one that sometimes confuses people on how to cook and eat it, I’m going to bring you an easy method of tenderizing and infusing okra with a pleasant smoky flavor that doesn’t stimulate the sticky juice known to lurk inside. 

Though I’m going to use a stove top smoker for my infusion, you can easily adapt this method to the gas grill, charcoal grill or electric smoker using a vegetable basket or tray.  Seek out some vibrant green, firm okra and let’s get started on a new way to cook and flavor this healthy vegetable.

Smoker Set Up

The nordic ware stove top smoker we used
#smokedokra

I’m using my Nordic Ware Stove Top Kettle Smoker for this hot smoking method.  To start, I place the smoker base on the unlit burner and add about ¼ cup of Minuto® Wood Chips – I’m using a #6 in Sugar Maple – from SmokinLicious®.  I place the drip pan on top of the wood chips and then ensure the food insert pan is clean and dry.  For vegetables, I usually use a medium heat setting on my stove – I have a gas stove top.  This will register between 200-250°F on the kettle smoker’s temperature gauge.  Next, I’ll do a simple preparation to the okra and we’ll be ready to turn on the heat to the stove top unit.

Tasting Notes: For the charcoal grill set up, use a two-zone cooking method – charcoal and wood lit on one half of the grill while the vegetable tray or basket containing the okra will go on the unlit side of the grill.  Do the same set up on the gas grill.  For the electric smoker, be sure to use a lower heat setting – around 180°F.

Trim and Smoke

Nothing could be simpler than the preparation for okra.  You’ll want to ensure that the outside is clean and dry so a simple water wash is good with a pat dry.  I like to remove the stem top to allow penetration of the smoke vapor into the center of the pod.

our prepared fresh okra on the smoker pan
#okra

Place about one pound of fresh okra with the stem tops trimmed into the smoker’s food tray.  Try making an even layer of pods so the smoke vapor can flavor the pods evenly.  Cover the kettle smoker with the lid and turn the burner on to a medium setting.  I use my stove’s vent on high to keep the aroma down somewhat. 

Allow the okra pods to tenderize and smoke for about 20 minutes before checking.  You just want them to be tender (not falling apart), to where a knife can still cut them into pieces.  Once done, remove the pods to a bowl and use these in recipes calling for okra or you can serve as is with a favorite sauce. 

I plan to make a soup with this batch of smoked okra that will compliment my diced tomatoes.  You’ll find that recipe publishing soon under the title “Wood Fired Okra Soup,” which is a great way to enjoy the healthy benefits of this less used vegetable.

our finished bowl of smoked okra soup
#okrasoup

Tasting Notes: By smoking the okra you’ll find the mucilaginous juice reduces significantly.  There will still be enough of this juice left within the pods to gently thicken the soup.  I prefer to start cooking this soup, then refrigerator overnight, and reheat for serving the next day.  This produces the perfect, slightly thickened consistency to be ladled over cooked rice.

Do you have a favorite method of cooking okra?  Leave us a comment to opine and subscribe to get all our postings on tips, techniques and recipes.  Bringing innovation to wood fired cooking with recipes, techniques and the science behind the fire, smoke, and flavor. That’s SmokinLicious®.

SmokinLicious® products used for this technique:

Wood Chips- Wood Chips

More related reading on smoking & Grilling tips and technique besides smoked okra
More related reading on smoking & Grilling tips and technique besides smoked okra

More blogs you may enjoy:

-A DIY STOVE TOP SMOKER MAKES PERFECT SMOKED RICOTTA CHEESE

-PERFECTION OF THE SMOKED PEAR!

-CHARRED BROCCOLI SOUP!

Dr. Smoke- Wood Fired Smoke Okra is fun and easy to prepare on the stove top with a smoker unit or a stock pot!
Dr. Smoke- Wood Fired Smoke Okra is fun and easy to prepare on the stove top with a smoker unit or a stock pot!
Your BBQ shoes for safety is as important as comfort!
Your BBQ shoes for safety is as important as comfort!

“Wear your shoes!” how to protect  your feet around  hot embers!

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I remember a particular year, I believe it was 2007, when my Culinary Events Crew traveled to 29 of the 50 states in the US and 4 provinces of Canada.  I felt like I never slept in my own bed and constantly was repacking the suitcase with clothing suitable for the area we would be traveling to.

That was the year I lost my favorite lace up/zipper ankle boots to the fire.

Not literally burning in a fire but from repeated exposure to hot, stray coals that are common when you engage in wood fired cooking.  I was constantly stepping on these stray embers and this consistency lead to me putting more than one hole in my favorite boots.

It was a lesson well learned and one I want to pass on to you.

Don’t Be Surprised

Just as your educated that the standard oven mitt won’t cut it when your dealing with excessive heat levels in metal equipment commonly used for wood fired cooking, the same holds true for your footwear.  When working around chimney starters that spit and shoot hot sparks of scalding coals and water pans that hold 212°F water, flip flops are not the ideal choice in footwear.  Unlike the professional kitchen where Chef’s clogs are the ideal to prevent slips and falls on the constantly wet floors as well as to keep your tootsies comfortable when on your feet 15 hours a day, cooking with fire takes some thought for footwear practicality.

That led me to look at options in footwear designed for safety, specifically fire safety.

We are testing the indestructible shoe for hot ember resistance on the soles
indestructible shoes

Indestructible® Shoes

We run a factory operation at SmokinLicious®, which means we have strict policy when it comes to personal protective equipment or PPE.  That includes policy on footwear that specifies the need for steel toed footwear.

Over the course of a decade, safety footwear has seen a metamorphosis in style, comfort level, and level of protection.  Gone are the days of limited color options and welcome the new days of vibrant patterns and even height options on the boot cuff.  I was particularly intrigued with a relatively new shoe on the market called the Indestructible® Shoes. 

Not only are the shoes stylish, but they offer features many other work shoes can’t match.  Like the steel toed cap that cannot be penetrated by nails, saw blades, and weight (see the very impressive videos on these tests). With a shockproof midsole, these are also a work shoe that can be worn for hours.

But given that we work around a lot of extremely hot fires that emit stray coals, we wanted to ensure that the anti-slip rubber soles would not only protect you from slips but also from the penetrating heat of hot coals and embers.  That led us to conduct our own tolerance testing.

The Test

After firing up the charwood production oven and running a full day of production, we removed hot embers from the oven that had a heat temperature of nearly 1000°F.  Our controlled testing included establishing a coal bed within an aluminum foil pan since aluminum is a great medium for radiating heat.  We also elected to test the shoe without weight bearing so note that we cannot speak on this parameter, merely the shoes’ outer sole tested on high heat without weighted pressure from a wearer.

There were three levels of testing: 30 seconds, 60 seconds, and 90 seconds which in our opinion, simulated the length of time a person would stand stationary at a high fire or cooker.  Following each test, the shoe was placed in snow with an ambient temperature of 30°F.  We also alternated shoes between tests to ensure no carryover temperature of significance factored in to the stability of each test level.

Temperature of the hot embers is 963 F
963 degrees F of heat
shoe on the hot embers
Shoe on the hot embers
measuring the time resting on the hot embers
Time for resting on the hot embers- 30, 60, 90 seconds
Sole inspection post resting on hot embers
Sole inspection post resting on hot embers
shoe sole resting in the snow to provide the cool down for our experiment
Shoe sole resting in the snow to provide the cool down for our experiment
Temperature of sole post cool down
Temperature of sole post cool down

Results

At all three test levels, the Indestructible® Shoes performed brilliantly.  Although there is an obvious odor of the heated rubber, it is not considered excessively dangerous.  Keep in mind, the thermodynamics of heating rubber results in the rubber shrinking not expanding with heat like other materials.  This is due to the molecules of the rubber becoming disordered unlike when they are at a normal temperature which results in the molecules becoming less disordered (i.e. entropy/isothermal).

There was minimal discoloration to the lightest coloring of the rubber sole which is a reaction of the rubber’s cells and the carbon in the combusted material.

Overall the Indestructible® Shoes proved to be a great option for those who work with live fire and hot coals for cooking.  Between the steel-toe and the thick rubber outer sole, as well the shock-proof inner sole, these are an option in footwear for the barbecue and live-fire cooking enthusiast, whether amateur or professional, in protective footwear that is comfortable, long-wearing and fashionable.

You can find the Indestructible® Shoes at: https://indestructibleshoes.com/

What is your favorite footwear when you barbecue?  Leave us a comment to share your views.  Bringing you informative recipes, techniques, and the science beyond the fire, smoke, and flavor.  That’s SmokinLicious®!

More related reading on how Smokinlicious® reduces the risks of Microbial bacteria in our wood products
More related reading on smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

Related reading:

-Outdoor kitchen location tips

-Does Outdoor Kitchen Stainless Steel Rust

-10 TIPS FOR GRILLING SAFETY

-COOKING WITH WOOD YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE TO THINK ABOUT YOUR SAFETY

Dr. Smoke- testing BBQ shoes for your safety!
Dr. Smoke- testing BBQ shoes for your safety!
Smoked Ricotta Cheese- with wood chips on the Stove top
Making Smoked Ricotta Cheese on the stove top


How to Do Smoked Ricotta Cheese on the Stove Top Click To Tweet

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Smoked Ricotta Cheese – I know not everyone has a dedicated stove top smoker but I do know that we all have a large stock pot handy.  I’m going to show you an easy way to convert that pot to a stove top smoker by using micro wood chips, aluminum foil, and a roasting rack.  I’ll explain to you a combination hot/cold smoking method to bring a smoke flavor to whole milk ricotta, that will allow you to use this product in any recipe calling for traditional ricotta.   Find your stock pot and roasting rack, and let’s get smoking!

Making the Stove Top Smoker

Once you’ve selected a stock pot to use for the smoking, the preparation of the pot is quite simple.  Start by placing 2 sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil in the bottom of the pot, allowing it to go up the sides slightly.  Then select the micro wood chips of your choice – I’m using a Sugar Maple Minuto® wood chip in size #6 – and spread into a thin layer on the foiled bottom.  Add a roasting rack.  Mine is round to fit easily in my pot.  I also like to line the lid of the pot in foil as all hardwood contains creosote which can cause some discoloration to the pot.  The foil will protect this from happening and makes clean up a breeze. 

Then place the prepared pot with the lid in place over a medium-high heat and allow the chips to heat until they are consistently producing smoke.  This will take less than 15 minutes.

Once the chips have started to combust and produce smoke vapor, it will be time to add the ricotta.  I am doing 3 pounds of whole milk ricotta as I plan to make a dessert pastry horn and then keep some spare smoked ricotta cheese for pasta recipes. 

After 12-15 minutes of heating, lift the lid and place a heat safe container of the ricotta on the rack inside your smoking pot.  Secure the lid in place and allow this to stay on the heat for about 5 minutes.  Then shut the heat off and leave the pot with the ricotta inside untouched for about an hour.  Let the smoke infusion occur with this cold smoke technique.

Tasting Notes: Any hardwood can be used for the smoke infusion but note that by retaining the pot lid in place, you are limiting the oxygen that can enter the pot.  This produces a much bolder smoke infusion than is common with the same wood used on a traditional smoker or grill.

Smoky, Creamy Goodness

Here’s something to keep in mind with this stove top DIY smoking technique.  I have a very tight seal on my pot which means it doesn’t take a lot of wood chip product to infuse a smoky flavor in the ricotta.  Plus, the fat level of this dairy product attracts smoke vapor well as this is high in water content which smoke vapor is naturally attracted to. 

If after about an hour, and after you’ve sampled the smoked ricotta, you still desire more smoke, simply turn the heat back on for about 10 minutes to stimulate the chips for additional combustion.  Then repeat turning off the heat and allowing the ricotta to sit absorbing the smoke for the set amount of additional time you want.  Once done, refrigerate the smoked ricotta until you are ready to use it, keeping this covered well.  If any liquid accumulates while refrigerated, simply pour off before using the smoked ricotta in a recipe. 

To get your recipe ideas stimulated, I’ll offer up my Smoked Ricotta Pastry Horn recipe which is super easy, fabulous looking, and can be made with an assortment of filling options.  Keep watching our website for the announcement on this recipe release.

What’s your favorite food to stove top smoke?  Leave us a comment to opine and subscribe to get all our postings on tips, techniques and recipes.  Bringing innovation to wood fired cooking with recipes, techniques and the science behind the fire, smoke, and flavor. That’s SmokinLicious®.

SmokinLicious® products used in this blog:

Wood Chips- Minuto®

More related reading on Smoked Ricotta cheese in a horn, plus other smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!
More related reading on Smoked Ricotta cheese in a horn, plus other smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs

Additional reading:

-THE EASY METHOD TO COLD SMOKED CHEESE

-THE KITCHEN FIND!

-TO THE SMOKE THE CHESTNUT GOES!

Dr. Smoke- Try our Stove top approach for Smoked Ricotta Cheese very easy
Dr. Smoke- Try our Stove top approach for Smoked Ricotta Cheese very easy
This 18th century smokehouse reminds us that the art of smoking food with wood is part of our heritage.
This 18th Century Smokehouse reminds us that the art of preserving food with wood is part of our heritage.

Exploring this Smokehouse in New Jersey

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I had an opportunity to visit an original smokehouse in Hopewell, NJ that is beyond impressive.  Knowing that this structure likely dates to the late 1700’s, I was most impressed with how the structure maintained itself over the years and how functional it remained.

Let me provide a brief history on these fascinating structures as well as share some images of the Hopewell, NJ structure.

A Necessity to Farm Life

If you were a farm in New Jersey like many New England states, a smokehouse was a necessity.  Pigs were commonly raised during the 17th century and butchered in the month of December in order to be able to slaughter and preserve the meat through use of a smokehouse also called smoak house or meat house.

From earliest times, a smokehouse was a small enclosed shelter, where a fire could be kept smoldering for weeks, which slowly released its smoke to the hanging meat that was hung to keep it safe from vermin and thieves.

Smoke has long been known to contain compounds that act as preservatives. Phenol and other phenolic compounds in wood smoke are both antioxidants which slow rancidification of animal fats, and antimicrobials, which slow bacterial growth. Antimicrobials in wood smoke include formaldehyde, acetic acid, and other organic acids, which give wood smoke a low pH.  

Although the process of smoking the meat could take days of preparation, generally the fresh cuts of meat were packed in tubs of coarse salt for about six weeks while the salt drew most of the water from the flesh. Then the salted meats were hung in the smokehouse that contained a small fire which smoldered for one to two weeks. The result was dried, long-lasting, smoke-flavored meat that would age in the same smokehouse for up to two years before being consumed.

The Hopewell Smokehouse

With its original mortar and stone, this Hopewell, NJ smokehouse is a real gem! 

The only door into the smokehouse, made wide for loading and unloading

Estimated to date in the late 1700’s, this was used for both storing and smoking meats, as evidence by the original steel hanging system.  You can clearly see the venting chamber which acts as the outtake while circular holes present air intake.  These were so well made that despite minor ground shifting, they are still as strong as ever.

The chimney stack for venting
look at the amount of light from the window built into this smokehouse

This structure contains stacks of original bricks which were found in the house and subsequently moved to this location.  The house still contains the original, super large stone fireplace that served as the wood fire cooking area and heat generator for the home.

the side view with window providing work light

Without question, these early smokehouses are an opportunity to view just what living was like before refrigeration and other luxuries of our current society.  I’m constantly keeping me eyes toward the fields and yards of historic areas in search of these hidden gems that started us on our hunger for smoked foods.

Is there a historic smokehouse near you?  Leave us a comment to share your views.  Bringing you informative recipes, techniques, and the science beyond the fire, smoke, and flavor.  That’s SmokinLicious®!

SmokinLicious® products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®, Minuto® & Piccolo®

More related reading on how Smokinlicious® reduces the risks of Microbial bacteria in our wood products
More related reading on smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

Additional reading:

-WHY MICROBIAL BACTERIA RISK IN YOUR SMOKEHOUSE IS WINNING

-Food & Smokehouse Processing Double Standard?

-WOOD SUPPLIER- ARE YOU GETTING WHAT YOU PAID FOR?

Dr. Smoke- Great day exploring the history of smoking when there were actual structures!
Dr. Smoke- Great day exploring the history of smoking when there were actual structures!
We need to keep out Microbial Bacteria from the food chain!
We need to keep out Microbial Bacteria from the food chain!

Prevent microbial bacteria in the food system. Click To Tweet

Listen to the audio of this blog

With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting some 48,000 cases of food borne illness events each year, resulting in some 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths, food borne illness outbreaks are serious concerns.  This is an added stress to manufacturing facilities that produce smoked food products as they must adhere to multiple regulations regarding the raw food product, smoke process and final smoked food product.  The last thing a facility needs is to worry about the wood material used in the smoking process but that should be a priority for these facilities.  Why?

Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella enteritidis, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Lactobacillus plantarum, Pseudomonas fluorescens, and Aspergillus flavus have all been shown to survive on plastic material meaning that if a supplier utilizes the standard GMA pallet commonly found in the grocery industry, these microbial bacteria or viruses survive and can flourish increasing the risk that they can be introduced to new food product placed on these recycled plastic  pallets.

Hosts of Contamination

With the recent outbreaks affecting romaine lettuce (from E. coli) and beef (from salmonella), attention is being drawn to other potential hosts for the transfer of the bacteria.  We know the common hosts: unsanitary conditions at a farm or packaging facility, food handlers failing to employ personal hygiene standards prior to working with food, food exposed to climate conditions that stimulate the bacteria development.  One potential host that has not been fully publicized is the packaging materials used to transport.   Unfortunately, it is the lack of enforcement in this area that puts the smokehouse industry at further risk.

Raw Material Transport

Many smokehouse operations purchase wood product for the smoke infusion from companies that supply the wood chip in paper bags that are then stacked on wooden or plastic GMA pallets.  Although some of these suppliers may be able to attest that the wood chips have been kiln dried or heat treated to a certain temperature, none confirm to a heat level that would kill all the bacteria previously listed.  Specifically, listeria, which requires a temperature of 74 °C/165.2 °F to be killed, is a key concern in smokehouse operations that include meat, poultry and fish products.

The risk is elevated by the potential for these bags to be penetrated by a stray nail from a wood pallet or sharp edge of a plastic pallet.  If the pallet contains the bacteria, it is a host that can transmit to anything it has contact with.

Decreasing Your Risk

In previous testing of wood pallets, one or more of salmonella, E. coli, and listeria were found to be present in as much as 6.8 million spores/gram which is classified as an extremely high count.  Given that domestically, there is no requirement for wood pallets to be heat treated for movement between states, the contamination can be passed to multiple locations with food when the pallet remains in the transportation system.

Although there have been efforts to change the transport of food by road and rail through the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), to date nothing has been regulated on the packaging materials that the food is placed on.

One encouraging finding is that cardboard materials, if correctly stored, reduce the potential for cross-contamination of food due to a quicker viability loss by spoilage and pathogenic microorganisms compared to the plastic packaging.  For this reason, SmokinLicious® only packages our smokehouse wood chip products in cardboard packaging that is then placed on a pallet that has been heat treated to an internal core temperature of 75°C/167°F and holds this minimum temperature for 75 minutes.  We adhere to a higher heat treatment standard as the health and safety of everyone using our culinary products is of highest importance.  We believe that hardwood used for cooking should be regulated independently and adhere to stricter standards than those currently in place for the general wood industry.  Until that regulation is written and enforced, SmokinLicious® will self-regulate our product to this level.

At SmokinLicious®, we believe in Quality and Safety over profit!  Isn’t it time your smokehouse joins us and takes a proactive stand against microbial bacteria like listeria, salmonella, and E. coli and help in the fight to rid our foods of life-threatening bacteria.

What is your biggest concern in your smokehouse food operation?  Leave us a comment to share your views.  Bringing you informative recipes, techniques, and the science beyond the fire, smoke, and flavor.  That’s SmokinLicious®!

SmokinLicious products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

More related reading on how Smokinlicious® reduces the risks of Microbial bacteria in our wood products

More related reading on smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®, Minuto® & Piccolo®

Additional reading:

-6 REASONS WHY CEDAR WOOD SHOULD NOT BE YOUR TOP CHOICE FOR COOKING

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

IS WOOD-TAR CREOSOTE THE ‘MONSTER’ TO WOOD-FIRED COOKING

Dr. Smoke- we do our part thru heat treatment to reduce microbial bacteria risks!
Dr. Smoke- we do our part thru heat treatment to reduce microbial bacteria risks!

Himalayan Salt Blocks used for grilling

Himalayan Salt Blocks used for grilling! – #himalayansaltblock

Himalayan Salt Blocks: Benefits, Uses, and Tips

Jeffrey Lewis (Bio)

Hey there, friends! I’m Jeffrey. I’m a blogger at Ittefaq Salt. Thank you for joining me, as I share different aspects of my life. I’m so thrilled you stopped by! I love to create a beautiful, thriving life around me and helping others to do the same. I love writing about nature, health, food and nutrition-related topics.

You must be aware of the importance of salt for our body. It is required for the proper functioning of many body functions. But have you ever heard about using Himalayan salt blocks for cooking? Well, this is becoming a trend among those who want to add a wow factor to their cooking. The idea of cooking on these salt blocks is itself very fascinating. But there are more benefits that you can get from these incredible salt blocks as well.

Keep on reading to know more about these amazing salt blocks.

What Are Himalayan Salt Blocks?

As the name suggests, these are the big Himalayan salt slabs that are hand mined from Khewra salt mines in Pakistan. These are hand carved into different sizes and thickness. Click here to know more about these salt blocks.

These salt blocks are made of pink hued Himalayan salt crystals that are locked up in mountains for over 250 million years. This salt is unrefined, unprocessed and free from contaminations. This is to be the purest salt due to the extreme pressure that it has experienced over a long period of time.

Himalayan salt provides a number of health related benefits due to which it is being widely used as an alternative to regular table salt. It contains 84 minerals that fulfill our body’s mineral requirement. It is said to be helpful in maintaining the body’s pH level, regulating blood pressure and reducing water retention.

So, these Himalayan salt blocks have all the goodness of this salt.

Benefits of Himalayan Salt Blocks:

  • These salt blocks are heat resistant and can hold temperature for a long time which makes them really useful. These are good for both high and low temperature and can be used for cooking and chilling the food.
  • Cooking on a salt block means you are adding flavor along with 84 minerals of Himalayan salt to your food.
  • Salt blocks have moisture retention and low absorbency properties which make them anti-bacterial. Because of this, these blocks are an amazing choice for serving and presenting food.

Seafood resting on top of salt block

#saltblocks

Uses of Himalayan Salt Blocks:

Himalayan salt blocks are so versatile in their usage due to their tendency of temperature. These blocks are hand carved into different sizes so that they can be used for various purposes.

  • You can cook and grill different kinds of food on these blocks such as meat, vegetables etc. This will make your grilling more fun and exciting. It not only gives a very subtle saltiness to your food but also imparts minerals to the food.
  • Salt blocks can also be used for curing of some food items such as salmon fish. It will increase the shelf life of the fish.
  • Due to its ability to hold temperature for a long time it can also be used for chilling the food.
  • Another amazing use of this block is to use it for serving a variety of foods. It will make the food more presentable.

salt block on grill with food on top

#Himalayansalt

Tips for Using Salt Blocks:

  • First of all, you need to choose the salt block that has right size and thickness according to your need.
  • Salt block needs to be tempered before using it for the first time. For this, you need to heat it slowly at a low temperature in an oven, then increase the temperature gradually until you reach 500°C. After that, cool it down to room temperature. This process will improve the cooking surface and strength.
  • If you want to use it for cooking, you always need to pre-heat it. It will make cooking and grilling easy.
  • It is also very easy to maintain and clean a salt block. After using it, cool it down and wipe with any damp cloth. Then let it air dry and store in a cool and dry place.

Himalayan salt blocks are not just pretty with their pink hues but also add flavor and nutritional value to the food along with so many other uses. These all natural blocks are a must have cooking tool in any kitchen to add uniqueness and creativity to the cooking. These will not only add to the beauty of your kitchen but also a unique and creative way to cook the food. So, next time if you want to impress your guests, grill and serve food on these blocks.

Smoky Cocktails are the best way to bring in the smoky flavors during the cold wintry nights! Or to just add a pre-taste to your upcoming BBQ!

Smoky Cocktails are the best way to bring in the smoky flavors during the cold wintry nights! Or to just add a pre-taste to your upcoming BBQ! Learn the easy steps

HOW TO MAKE THE BEST SMOKY COCKTAILS Click To Tweet

Listen to the audio of this blog

An easy way to give your guests or yourself for that matter, a change from the old cocktail is to smoke the entire drink or a component of the cocktail.  I’m going to provide you with some examples of how to take any cocktail recipe and advance its flavor to something spectacular.  Once you see how simple it is to build a balanced cocktail with smoke infusion as one component, you’ll be ready to upgrade your cocktail recipes to include smoke as your hidden umami.

What to Smoke

The easiest method of smoking a cocktail is to smoke the finished drink.  However, depending on what cocktail ingredients your using, this may result in a drink that is too strong.  Generally, speaking, a sweeter drink can tolerate more smoke vapor.

Here are some options for you to consider when contemplating a smoked cocktail: you can smoke the entire drink, you can smoke one ingredient of the drink, or you can smoke the water to make the ice for the drink. One of my rules is the more ingredients in the cocktail, the more likely you can smoke the entire drink.

For ingredients, any one or a combination of ingredients can be smoked.  Simple syrup, cream, citrus, etc. are all good options.  Keep in mind that smoke is attracted the most to cold items so if you want an intense smoked cocktail, chill the ingredient first prior to smoking.

Tasting Notes: Keep in mind, when you cold smoke using a handheld food smoker, the intensity of the smoke can be high.  Due to the immediate ignition of the micro chips, the smoke production is great.  You can control the level of smoke by only trapping a small quantity of smoke for a lighter infusion versus allowing the container to fill completely with smoke vapor.

The breville handheld smoker

#handheldsmoker

Balancing Smoke with Other Flavors

Whether the cocktail contains fruit, hard liquor, or cream, you can make a flavorful and desired cocktail.  For a drink like the Jack Frost which contains lots of sweet juice and cream of coconut, smoking the entire drink provides great balance.  For a drink like the Harvest Sparkle, smoking the simple syrup works well.  Our Cranberry Bourbon cocktail goes hardy whether served hot or cold when we cold smoke the whiskey.  And the Winter Wonderland enjoys a smoky layer to the cream of coconut for a luscious take on this four-ingredient cocktail.  Never forget, when in a pinch, consider simply smoking the water to make the ice cubes for a no-fail option on the smoked cocktail, that will remain subtle for most any guest who is served.

Do you have a favorite smoked cocktail?  Leave us a comment to let us know and subscribe to our channel to get all the tips, techniques, and recipes we bring your way.  Always eager to share our expertise on all things wood fired, that’s SmokinLicious®!

SmokinLicious products used in this blog:

Wood Chips- Piccolo®

More Related reading

More related reading on smoky cocktails and specific drink recipes in our recipe blog!

Additional reading:

-SMOKY BOURBON CRANBERRY COCKTAIL

-ELEVATE YOUR KIWI CAIPIROSKA

-THE SMOKED PEAR BELLINI COCKTAIL

-STRAWBERRIES GET SMOKY FOR AN AQUA FRESCA COCKTAIL

Dr. Smoke-

Dr. Smoke it is easy to make smoky cocktails with a handheld food smoker!

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