Smoking color is correct when white smoke is present

Smoking color is correct when white smoke is present

In Grilling the smoke means everything! Click To Tweet

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You smell it before you see it!  The aroma of foods being cooked outdoors.  When those foods involve cooking over wood – hardwood to be specific – well, it is a flavor experience that is in a league of its own.

Recently, our cartoon friends, Tom and Bert, had an exchange about what the color of smoke means.

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Chef Bert and Tom combining hardwoods for smoking flavors

Chef Bert and Tom combining hardwoods for smoking flavors

Learning how to combine Hardwood species to change their smokey flavoring Click To Tweet

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There is misinformation out there that you may have been victim to.  When cooking with hardwood, you may have been under the impression that only certain woods can be used with certain foods.  For instance, hickory is reserved only for pork shoulder and brisket.  Cherry for chicken, etc.

But that is hardly the truth.

Hardwood used for cooking must be viewed as another ingredient.  As a key ingredient, it needs to be balanced with the food item and other ingredients used in preparation before grilling and smoking.

The intent today is to provide a guide on combinations of hardwood that work well for specific foods.  Essentially, the ingredients of a rub, glaze, sauce or marinade will dictate what hardwoods will maximize all the flavors to become a finished masterpiece.

Hardwood Selection as a Compatible Ingredient

The goal when using hardwood is balance of the flavor outcome.  You never want the hardwood to produce an ashy or burnt flavor.  The essence of the wood should simply add to the beautiful flavor outcome for a memorable eating experience.

Here is SmokinLicious® rating on boldness of flavor for the hardwoods we offer:

When I design wood recipes for specific foods, I like to think about balancing out a medium or bolder flavor with one that is lighter.  For lighter fare items like vegetables and fish, two wood combinations are generally used while longer cooked animal proteins can tolerate three hardwoods well.

In the chart that follows, reference is provided to various foods that benefit from exposure to the specified hardwoods.   Use the color blocks indicated under each food group to guide you on combinations.  Find the same color blocks in that group, and you have the balanced combination of hardwood.   For instance, under Fruit, there are two red squares for an alder and cherry combination.  Under the Fish column, there are 3 options: Alder and Maple represented by the pink square, Beech and Cherry represented by the orange square, and Ash and Maple represented by the gray square.  These combinations are balanced by the essence they produce in the smoke vapor.  Just use equal parts of each wood and remember, always start with a small quantity of hardwood as it does not take much to produce great flavor.

TIP: if you are using a spicy rub, default to combinations that includes mild to moderate flavor intensity.  Using sweet ingredients, include a bolder hardwood flavor.

Our Guide

Experiment to find your favorite combinations of hardwood and soon you’ll have your own personal, detailed guide!

Do you have a favorite combination of hardwood?  Leave us a comment and subscribe to get our latest tips, techniques, recipes and the science behind the fire and smoke, for all live fire cooking methods.  That’s SmokinLicious!

Products discussed in this Blog:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

 

More Related reading on this subject- More Related reading on this subject of cooking & Grilling with wood

More Related reading on combining wood species and sizes to change their smoke profile and more!

Related Reading:

-COOKING WOOD WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

-WHAT WOOD TO USE FOR SMOKING: A PRIMER

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

Dr. Dr. Smoke- Combining hardwoods by mixing different species and sizes increases your smoking results!

Dr. Smoke- Combining hardwoods by mixing different species and sizes increases your smoking results!

 

Smokey Hungarian Peppers on our kettle Grill!

Smokey Hungarian Peppers on our kettle Grill!

Let's Do Smokey Hungarian Peppers on the Kettle Grill! Click To Tweet

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I love growing Hungarian wax peppers in my garden and then harvesting for recipes and freezing for future recipes.  Hungarian wax pepper come in different levels of heat depending on the variety chosen.  Mine are a hot variety but work perfectly for mixing with other creamy flavors to produce some great condiments and sauces. I will introduce you to two versions of my Smoked Hungarian Pepper Spread in our recipe blog which will post soon.

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Our top 12 Grilling Mistakes!

Our top 12 Grilling Mistakes!

Did you do one of these top 12 grilling mistakes this Year? Click To Tweet

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As a billion-dollar business, selling grills is likely not going away any time soon.  In fact, sales are gaining strength thanks to COVID-19 which forced many to find ways to keep cooking and eating interesting while forced to stay out of restaurants.

When asked, most people say they grill or barbeque for flavor.  If that is the case, then why are some of the most common practices the ones causing the most variation in the taste of your grilled foods?

Here are the top 12 grilling mistakes you should avoid.

#1 Skipping Preheat of the Grill

It does not matter if you prefer to use a gas grill or a charcoal unit, you need to preheat the grill before adding food.  Why?  It is the only way to avoid having your foods stick to the grill grate.  When you allow the metal to heat to a very hot level, the protein in meats cannot form a bond with the metal grate.  Plan about 5 minutes preheat time for charcoal grills and 15 minutes for gas units.

#2 Cooking on an Unclean Grill

Yeah, I know.  The grill is located outside so you think it does not need the same care and cleaning as your kitchen equipment indoors.  Wrong! Leftover food particles, grease, smoke tar and creosote can build up on various parts of the grill and cause changes in food flavors as well as make the food stick.  Plus, a grease trap that has never been emptied can ignite which will ruin your planned grill day!  Get in the habit of scraping the grill grate after preheating and lightly scrub the cooled down grill including the lid area, with steel wool and water.  The lid likes to hold on to carbonized grease which becomes flaky and falls off onto your foods if left in place.

#3 Not Oiling the Grill Grate

In addition to preheating the grill oiling the grate is key to keeping food from sticking.  This needs to be done whether your cooking on gas or charcoal.  Using tongs, dip a wad of paper towels in vegetable oil and wipe the preheated, scrubbed cooking grate before adding food.

#4 Using Lighter Fluid

For charcoal grill lovers, stop ruining your foods with lighter fluid.  Coals are easier to lite with lighter fluid for one reason only – the chemicals make for quick lighting.  They also impart those chemical flavors to your food.  Learn to use a chimney starter with either newspaper for lighting or a Firestarter placed at the bottom.   And this leads us to …

#5 Not Having Enough Coals

Depending on the size of the chimney starter you purchase, the average weight of charcoal used in one is 3 pounds.  If your planning a full day of grilling, that one chimney starter will not be enough.  Do not forget to load the charcoal area of the grill with unlit charcoal before the hot coals are added. The hot coals will gradually ignite the unlit and keep the temperature going so you can keep cooking.

#6 Pouring the Coals Too Soon

Once you have the chimney starter lit, leave it alone!  Too often, the chimney is poured before the top layer of coals is covered with ash.  That means, the coals are a gray color not black.  If you do not allow the coals to fully heat, you will not be able to sustain the temperature of the equipment for cooking or worse, the fire could go completely out.

#7 Turning Meat Too Soon

We covered why it is so important to preheat the grill before placing food on the grate.  Part of the “non-stick” relates to turning meat. The meat’s surface needs to be hot enough to release from the grate.  If  you don’t wait long enough, the meat will tear.  Wait until you can easily lift the meat before making the turn.

#8 Running Out of Propane

I think just about everyone at one time or another makes the mistake of starting a grilling day and the propane tank runs out!  Here is a trick for those who own a tank that has no fuel gauge. Boil one cup of water and pour it down the side of the tank.  Feel the metal with your hand.  Where you feel warmth on the tank means that area of the tank is empty.  Feel coolness, that is the current level of available propane.

#9 Cooking with the Lid Open

Apart from lighting a gas grill, which should always be done with the lid up, you should do cooking with the lid down.  Remember, gas grills deliver less heat than charcoal models.  Keep the lid down to trap as much heat as possible.

#10 Lifting the Lid During Cooking

Having a hinged lid seems to imply that you are to readily open and close it at a whim.  Nothing is further from the truth!  Just like your oven, ever time you open the lid on the grill, you allow heat to escape forcing it to work harder to maintain the heat setting.  Leave the lid alone!

#11 Using Vents for Proper Airflow

Comparable to the dials on an oven, vents are what control airflow to either boost the heat of the grill, reduce the heat, and extinguish fire/heat.  On a charcoal grill, there are vents on the bottom of the charcoal area as well as the top of the lid.  The bottom vents draw in oxygen to feed the fire while the top provide for the draft.  Balance the two openings and you succeed in reaching regulated temperature, just like setting the dial on your stove.  Gas grills also have vents but they are usually fixed and intended to release some gases and heat from the higher BTU burner ratings.

#12 Using Only One Cooking Set Up on the Grill

Grills allow for so much versatility in cooking essentially any food item, whether that is animal protein, fruit, vegetables or even bread and baked items.  Do not limit yourself to just one grill set up!  If you are one to lite up all the burners on the grill or place your hot coals all throughout the charcoal area of your grill, then you are missing out.  Direct fire works for quick cooking methods like burgers and hot dogs, but it is not the best set up for other foods.  Learn to use a two-zone set up: heat on only one half of the grill area while food is placed on the unheated side.  You will have the benefit of controlled cooking when needed and the option for direct char and searing for finishing items or for quick cook foods on the direct fire side.

Did we miss a grilling mistake?  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 tips, techniques, recipes, and the science for all things wood-fired cooked.

SmokinLicious® products used in this blog:

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Wood Chunks- Single & Double Filet

More Related reading on Grilling mistakes and other good Techniques to follow

More Related reading on Grilling mistakes and other good Techniques

Related reading:

-COOKING WOOD WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

-WHAT WOOD FOR SMOKING: A PRIMER

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

 

 

Dr. Smoke- Our Dozen of top grilling mistakes people make! Avoid these to be king of the Q

Dr. Smoke- Our Dozen of top grilling mistakes people make! Avoid these to be king of the Q

Picture of beef cut with rosemary is a perfect picture for Kylee Harris's guest blog benefits of eating smoked meat

Benefits of eating smoked meat by Kylee Harris is a great read for our subscribers!

Guest blog- Kylee Harris on Benefit of Eating Smoked Meat

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While smoking meat has been known to be a rather controversial cooking method, there may just be some benefits when eating it in moderation as part of a healthy and balanced diet. From being a great source of nutrition to offering a low-fat alternative to other meat cooking methods, smoking your meat may just become your favorite — if it isn’t already! No matter what kind of meat you prefer to smoke, the health benefits that can come along with it can make your favorite smoked meal a regular occurrence.

A Body-Building Source of Protein

Meat is well-known for being a great source of protein for those focused on body-building fitness goals, though smoking it has been known to be hazardous to your health when done in ways that allow harmful carcinogens into the food. However, one study shows that the amount of carcinogens in smoked meat depends on the smoking method used. For instance, some woods, like hickory can allow for fewer carcinogens as opposed to others like beech. For that reason, smoking meat with healthier options (like hickory) can reduce the number of carcinogens and allow you to reap the protein-packed benefits at the same time.

Through less-carcinogenic smoking options, you’ll be able to consume healthier prepared smoked meat, which can provide a great source of protein and energy. This is especially beneficial for people who are looking to stay in shape and build muscle in conjunction with other body-building supplements like Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators, or SARMS, which are known to have limited side-effects. Overall, it’s quite possible that smoking your meat (in addition to a healthy diet and exercise regime) may have a huge payoff when it comes to the gym.

A Low-Fat Option

When many think of cooking their favorite meat dish, there’s no doubt that oils, fats, or other unhealthy additives play a part. For instance, frying chicken can involve excess greases.

However, smoking your meat can prove to be a great way to avoid these extra and unnecessary fats, bringing a more guilt-free alternative to the table over sauteeing or pan-frying it. The process of smoking the meat may even be able to reduce the fat that’s in the meat itself, by allowing it to drip out – thus decreasing the total fat content.

A Great Source of Nutrients

One of the greatest things about smoking meat is how it can provide essential nutrients to the body. For example, smoked fish is abundant in omega-3 fatty acids, which are known for lowering blood pressure and slowing down the process of plaque developing in the arteries. Many other smoked meats also provide a high content of iron as well, a vital mineral mainly found in red blood cells that plays a role in immune system function and even treating conditions like anemia.

While smoking your meat can be a flavorful way to cook it, it’s important to know that there may just be some health benefits involved. From being a great source of nutrients to being part of a healthy and balanced diet, smoking your meat with less carcinogenic wood can prove to be quite beneficial to your health.

More related reading on benefits of eating smoked meat see our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More related reading on benefits of eating smoked meat see our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

Related readings:

-3 METHODS OF SMOKING BOSTON BUTT FOR AUTHENTIC BARBECUE FLAVOR

-WHY IS MY BARBECUE MEAT DRY??

-CUTS OF MEAT THAT GRILL & SMOKE WELL & PROVIDE MORE THAN ONE MEAL

-THE SCIENCE OF MEAT COLOR INCLUDING THE INFAMOUS SMOKE RING

Dr. Smoke-Kylee Harris's Benefits of eating Smoked meat is full of great information.

Dr. Smoke-Kylee Harris’s Benefits of Eating Smoked meat is full of great information.

Wet or dry wood for smoking? Which is the best!

Wet or dry wood for smoking? Which is the best!

Soak or not to soak my wood prior to smoking? Click To Tweet

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This is one of the top questions heard when it comes to cooking with wood.  Do you soak the wood chunks or chips before using on the grill or smoker?

I have a definite answer which is do not soak the wood before using in your equipment.

Let us examine why.

Water Becomes Steam

Any time water is introduced to a preheated piece of equipment, whether it is an LP/gas grill, electric unit, or charcoal grill, it will affect the temperature of that equipment.  For the LP/gas and electric units, this can be seen in the call for more gas or electric energy to keep the temperature at the preset level.  For the charcoal unit, the water will reduce the heat of the coals and the fire will need to work harder to regain the energy to sustain the target temperature.

Wet Produces Off Flavor

There is an ideal moisture range for hardwood used for cooking, which includes grilling, smoking, direct coal and ember methods.  You will hear the terms “seasoned” and “green”.  “Green” wood refers to fresh cut wood which has not had an opportunity to dry out.  The risks of using this type of wood is it will burn at variant rates, emit more sap, and has the potential to impart bitter and musty flavors.  “Seasoned” woods refer to hardwoods that have dried out naturally.  These will provide for more consistent temperature, provide cleaner flavors, and combust with less creosote build-up.  Just be aware, you do not want firewood!  If you Google seasoned wood, you will read that this is wood left to dry for 9-12 months or more.  Do not leave your wood that long as it will not release any essence that produces the flavor.

Mold Potential

The wetter the wood the more potential there is for mold to develop.  Mold needs 3 conditions:  moist or damp locations to grow, a food source to survive, ideal temperatures usually from 32° to 120°F but love 70-90°F.

It is important that though you will use wood dry on any equipment (unless the equipment manufacturer specifically requests you soak the wood in water) that the wood not be completely dehydrated of all moisture.  We recommend that you cook with wood that is approximately 20-25% moisture level.  This is the main reason why at SmokinLicious®, we take the moisture reading on every order and provide that information to you.  Here is a tip: if you see wood that is packaged in a plastic bag with no air holes, that is completely dry wood and will not provide any flavor or essence of the wood.  It merely becomes a heat source

Wood Chips Combust Faster

One product that chronically is misrepresented to be prepared wet are wood chips.  I have yet to see packaging in the retail box stores that states to use the chips dry.  All brands make a recommendation to soak the wood chips and apply them to a coal fire wet.  If you do as recommended, you will not only stall the temperature of your equipment, you will stall the production of smoke vapor production.  Remember, water must become steam for the wood to be dry enough to combust.

What should you take away from this article?  It does matter if the wood used for grilling and smoking is wet or dry. Do not stall your cooking, do not taint your food’s flavor, do not risk your health by using wet wood.  Keep it dry for clean, pure flavors that make wood-fired foods so enjoyable.

Do you have a target moisture level or seasoning time you keep your hardwood at?  Leave us a comment and subscribe to get our latest tips, techniques, recipes and the science behind the fire and smoke, for all live fire cooking methods.  That’s SmokinLicious!

SmokinLicious® Products:

Smoking Wood Chunks- Double and Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Wood Chips- Minuto® and Piccolo®

More Related reading beyond wet or dry wood for smoking and preparing your wood for the smoker!

More Related reading beyond wet or dry wood for smoking and preparing your wood for the smoker!

Other valuable information:

-HOW MUCH WOOD TO ADD WHEN SMOKING

-SMOKEHOUSE PRODUCTS WOOD CHIPS- HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

-WHAT WOOD FOR SMOKING: A PRIMER

 

 

Dr. Smoke- wet or dry wood for smoking is an important technique!

Dr. Smoke- wet or dry wood for smoking is an important technique!

Brining Sciene for the ultimate meat!

Brining Sciene for the ultimate meat!

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BRINING SCIENCE -You’ve likely heard the term brine and might have a concept of what is involved when this solution is applied to meat but have you every understood the simplicity of how this solution improves the overall quality?

Let’s equip you with the science behind brining and a guide on producing a successful brine solution for meats, poultry and fish.

Osmosis and Diffusion

Brine is a salt and water solution used to soak food in, usually meat proteins, to improve the overall quality by a change in the structure of the proteins in the muscle of the brined meat.  There are three primary reasons to brine: texture, flavor, and moisture retention.  To get these results, osmosis must take place.

Osmosis is the movement of a higher concentration of water to a lower concentration of water through a semi-permeable membrane.  To create osmosis, you must start with a solution. The water being solvent (higher percentage of water) and the salt being the solute (lower percentage of salt to the water percentage).

With a balanced solution, brined proteins have an increased level of moisture when compared to non-brined proteins.  Now, know up front, that you certainly could soak a protein in plain water and have it gain moisture but this process would be much slower than if you add salt to the water.  Also, proteins don’t bind to water as effectively during the cooking process which is why salt is introduced when cooking.

Here’s the process of a brine: Salt is sodium chloride (NaCl) and when dissolved into water, it breaks into a positively charged sodium ion and negatively charged chloride ion.  Both these ions will diffuse throughout food flowing from areas of higher concentration to areas of lower concentration.  It takes 100-1,000 times longer for salt to diffuse into food than heat.  The negatively charged ions repel one another creating gaps in the muscle fiber for water to enter the food product.  The food protein will then bind water more tightly which prevents the muscle fibers from shrinking and squeezing water out during the cooking process.

Three Types of Brining Strategies

There are three recognized methods of brining: Dry Rub Brining, Gradient Brining, and Equilibrium Brining.

Dry Rub Brining:

This is likely the most widely used form of brining as it is fast and easy.  Salt and other dry ingredients like herbs and spices rubbed onto the surface of the meat.  How do you know the percentage of salt?  Start by calculating 1% of the proteins weight.  For example, if you are doing a rack of pork ribs that weigh 3 pounds, the amount of salt used in the dry rub would be 1% of that weight minus the bone weight, which is generally calculated as 40% of the gross weight.  Thus, that 3 pound rack of ribs would be reduced to 1.8 pounds for the calculation of salt at 1%.

Gradient Brining:

This is referred to as a traditional brining method as is includes a 5-10% salt content which after the food is soaked in the brine solution, the surface of brined foods is rinsed under cold water to remove excess sodium from the surface.   Salt is dissolved into water with the amount of salt used determined by the desired brine salinity, again, usually between 5-10% of the weight of the water (desired brine salinity X water weight = salt weight).  As an example, it takes 1,000 grams of water to cover chicken.  If we want 5% salinity, then we would require 50 grams of salt in our brine solution (1,000g X .05 (5%) = 50g salt).

Equilibrium Brining:

This method of bring requires a salt or salinity meter to read the salt content in the brine solution during the brining process.  The goal is to have the parts per million (PPM) on the meter drop to half of its initial reading.  This is the state of equilibrium and brining is complete.  This method requires you to calculate the PPM – 1 parts per million equals 1mg/1,000g.  1g = 1,000mg.  If you desire a 1% salt water solution, dissolve 10g or 10,000mg of salt into 1,000g or 1,000,000mg of water producing a salt content of 10,000PPM.

A Bit of Sweet

Although we refer to a brine as a salt and water solution, there is a third component to consider for use.  Sweetener usually in the form of sugar but can be honey, or even a sugar-based soda.  Although sugar does nothing for the texture of the brined meat, it does add flavor and promotes better browning of the skin. 

Once you have your brine solution, there are a few methods to speed up the brining process.

Jaccard meat tenderizer
Jaccard

The first method is a Jaccard, a mechanical meat tenderizer.  A Jaccard tenderizer utilizes several rows of thin, penetrating blades, honed to a razor sharp edge on two sides that cooks can press into the meat’s surface, to create a series of small channels that break up the tough tissue and create a more tender texture.

Injection tube for adding brine deep into food
Injection

The second, is injection.  A special marinade/brine injector dispenses the brine to the interior of the meat, thus, speeding up the process of diffusion.

Vacuum brining machine
Vacuum brining

 The last method is vacuum tumbling.  This process “tumbles” proteins and brines/marinades together under vacuum.  The combination of low atmospheric pressure and the tumbling process can reduce the time needed for brining to mere minutes.

Brining Guide

The goal of a brine is to produce juicy, tender and seasoned items. Overall, brining foods adds less than 1/8 teaspoon of salt equivalent to your overall daily sodium consumption so you can brine without worry about exceeding the recommended sodium allowances.

Smokinlicious Brine guide
Smokinlicious Brine guide

SmokinLicious® Products:

Smoking Wood Chunks- Double and Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Wood Chips- Minuto® and Piccolo®

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

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

Other valuable information:

SALT CHOICES: HOW MUCH AND WHAT KIND?

GRILLING & SMOKING QUESTIONS/ANSWERS THAT MAY SURPRISE YOU!

-SO YOU WANT TO MAKE YOUR OWN DRY RUB

WHY IS MY BARBECUE MEAT DRY??

Dr. Smoke- follow our Brining guide
Dr. Smoke- follow our Brining guide

During stay at home or Quarantine doesn't mean you should place your taste buds on hold!

During stay at home or Quarantine doesn’t mean you should place your taste buds on hold!

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Stay at Home

You’ve committed to a stay-cation.  Lists of games to play, tasks to complete, books to read, and movies and shows to see have been compiled.  Now its time to give some thought to the food that will sustain you during this time.

Don’t compromise taste because your afraid to make too much work out of cooking.  Using the grill is a super easy way to keep your foods and meals highly flavorful.  Let’s give you some ideas that will provide options for everyone to feel satisfied and pleasantly full.

The Breakdown

I think the easiest way to view meal preparation when you focus on the grill as your primary method of cooking is to breakdown foods by categories.

Fruits:

This group of food can make some of the best grilled items.  Already sweet in flavor, grilling them produces more vibrant flavor as the heat caramelizes the natural sugars and produces a char to the outside of the fruit.  When selecting fruits for the grill, be sure they are ripe but not over-ripened to where they present as soft, or they will have tendency to break apart on the grill.  Keep the pieces of fruit large when placing on the grill to maintain as much cell structure as possible.  Brush the fruit pieces lightly with a high heat oil like coconut, avocado, or grape seed.  The key is to leave the pieces untouched for at least 3 minutes before flipping to get great char and flavor infusion.  Perfect fruits for the grill: banana, avocado, apple, mango, peach, papaya, pineapple, peach, pear, plum, grapes, cranberry, eggplant, kiwi, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, tomato.

Vegetables:

You likely are already aware of popular vegetables to grill like corn on the cob, peppers, and onions, but there are so many more that pair perfectly with the grill.  In fact, I would go as far as saying ANY vegetable is appropriate for the grill, you just need to control those that should be exposed to direct heat versus indirect.  The easy method of determining heat level is the thicker the skin on the veggie, the more tolerant to direct heat.  All vegetables can cook on the grill in less than 10 minutes so time really isn’t a factor.  Always remember to avoid moving the vegetables on the grill until they have cooked for at least 3-4 minutes.  For preparation to the vegetables, most require just quartering or slicing in half, with some going on whole like tomatoes and smaller mushrooms.  Basting with high heat tolerant oils is also recommended.

Nuts and Seeds:

These are foods that react with a super boost in flavor when exposed to the heat of a grill and flavor of wood on the grill.  Any seed or nut can be grilled by using a disposable foil pan or griddle pan designed for grilling.  These items take about 15-20 minutes and should be stirred every 5-8 minutes to prevent scorching.

Baked Items:

Anything you normally would bake in an oven can be done on the grill.   This includes cookies, cakes, breads, pies, tarts, and pastry.  Just remember, like vegetables, these items can be a bit more fragile.  Using a two-zone cooking set up on the grill – baked item placed on the unlit side of the grill while the heat is on the opposite side – produces a radiant heat that will cook the item evenly and without any direct hot spots.  I will say that baked items tend to do best on a LP/Gas grill versus charcoal unit.

Animal Proteins:

Of course, animal proteins are well known as a grilled food item.  My recommendation here is to marinate items with either wet or dry rubs for 8 hours to ensure great moisture in the finished product.

As a final note, grilled foods store very well and don’t lose any of their flavor when refrigerated.  Plus, it’s easy to grill a variety of items at the same time.  Any meal – breakfast, lunch, dinner – can be done exclusively on a grill.  For those that love even more char flavoring, think about adding wood chunks either in a smoking box or directly on grates or heat shields.  You can learn more about this technique for the gas grill here.

Do you plan to take a stay-cation?  Leave us a comment and subscribe to get our latest tips, techniques, recipes and the science behind the fire and smoke, for all live fire cooking methods.  That’s SmokinLicious!

Purchase products:

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

Wood Chunks- Single & Double Filet

More related reading on more to do during this staycation year see our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More related reading on more to do during stay at home time see our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More blogs you might enjoy!

-HOW TO KEEP FOOD INTERESTING, PRESERVED & SAFE DURING QUARANTINE

-HOW TO TURN YOUR LP/GAS GRILL INTO A SMOKER

-WHY TWO-ZONE COOKING METHOD LET’S YOU WALK AWAY FROM THE GRILL

-HOW TO TURN YOUR CHARCOAL GRILL INTO A SMOKER

Dr. Smoke-

Dr. Smoke-Don’t put your taste buds on hold during this stay at home or Quarantine year!

Bagged boxed or canned foods can be cooked on any grill

Any grill, yes gas grill,bagged boxed or canned foods can be cooked!

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Bagged Boxed or Canned

If you have one or more grills at your home then likely, without even knowing it, you have prepped for emergency situations.  I’ve been encouraged to see while social distancing is in place, people are reaching out to their grills to cook family meals.  It is simply fabulous!

Don’t limit the use of this cooking equipment to the traditional items like animal proteins and thick-skinned vegetables like peppers, onions, and corn.  Embrace the concept that nearly anything can be cooked on the grill.

Bagged Food Items

Common bagged food items that are considered perfect for storing as emergency food rations include: rice, dried pasta, dried beans, oats, quinoa, trail mix, dried fruits, candy, snack foods like chips and cookies, cornmeal, granola, and more.

Any of these items can be used in food preparation on the grill as long as you have cookware that can tolerate the heat of the grill or even use disposable foil pans or aluminum foil that you can mold into your own cookware.

Starting with common items like rice, dried pasta and beans, and quinoa, these items can be cooked in water or broth using cookware placed directly on the grill grate.  Generally, direct heat works for these items, since you need to reach a boil and then simmer these items for a relatively long period before they are tender.  Trail mix, oats and dried fruits work great as breakfast items to cook with milk or milk substitutes, again using a saucepan directly on the grill.  Snack foods, candy, trail mix and more work well for making desserts on the grill.  Cookie crumbs work for making tart and pie shells, crushed chips for crusting animal proteins, and candy for those special treats that may just include some type of chocolate candy and prepared phyllo dough sheets, which I always keep available in my freezer for spur of the moment needs.

Boxed Food Items

Although some of the items listed above such as dried pasta, rice, and beans also come in box packaging, I want to address some of the other boxed foods that you may not think of cooking on the grill.  As life has become busier, many food manufacturing companies maximized the need for ready meals by providing meal prep in a box that just may need the addition of a protein or liquid to bring the meal alive.  Don’ forget to use the grill for these items.  For example, macaroni and cheese often comes in a box with the packaged ingredients that only require the addition of milk.  Here’s where you can take these items and step the up.  Cook the boxed item in a saucepan on the grill while also grilling some meat or poultry that can be added to the boxed item for more nutritional value.  Knorr® is another company that makes many main entrées in a packet or box that can easily be cooked and modified on the grill.   Other options to cook on the grill: Stove Top Stuffing, Chef Boyardee Pizza Maker, Near East rice blends, Hamburger Helper, Miracle Noodle packets, and more.

Canned Food Items

Without question, this is a large concentration of foods that are packaged in cans.  When you can cook these items on the grill with a bit of wood for added flavor, you’ll bring this from an ordinary food to something with greater flavor depth.  Dinty Moore stews, Chef Boyardee pasta and meat items, Hormel items like tamales and hash, Campbell’s soups, and even some upscale items like Duck Confit are available in cans and ready for the pot located on the grill.

Final Tips

We often have considered the grill as a “summer” or “good weather” item only to be used when we feel like it.  Turn your thinking around and start to view the grill as a true extension of the kitchen that should be used frequently.  If you’ve never considered owning a charcoal grill, bring one in as the ultimate prepper item.  You will no longer be dependent on propane or gas to operate it, just charcoal or other plant based combustible material.  That type of grill could truly save you in a pinch.  Or, consider doing a safe set up of an outdoor self-made grill, which just requires some fire-safe material like stone, brick, sand, or metal.  Use a grill grate you already have or high heat cookware to do the cooking by hot coals and fire.

I always recommend you keep an inventory of disposable foil pans around for outdoor cooking as well.  This is an easy method of cooking foods without breaking out a ton of pots and pans that will require cleaning.  Although I still like to clean some of my foil pans for re-use, know you always have the option to use and discard.  This is particularly helpful when utilities may be down.

If you’re quarantined, what type of foods are you cooking and how?  Leave us a comment and subscribe to get our latest tips, techniques, recipes and the science behind the fire and smoke, for all live fire cooking methods.  That’s SmokinLicious!

SmokinLicious® Products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

More related reading cooking Canned, boxed or bagged foods on a grill along with other tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More related reading cooking  bagged boxed or canned foods on a grill along with other tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

Additional reading

-CUTS OF MEAT THAT GRILL & SMOKE WELL & PROVIDE MORE THAN ONE MEAL

-HOW TO KEEP FOOD INTERESTING, PRESERVED & SAFE DURING QUARANTINE

-Thermal Heating Process is Why You Shouldn’t Be Concerned About Receiving a SmokinLicious® Package

-THE SMOKER WATER PAN EXPLAINED!

 

Dr. Smoke-

Dr. Smoke-Bagged boxed or canned foods can be made interestingly flavorful on any grill

We use a moisture reader to maintain proper wood chip wetness of our products.

We use a moisture reader to maintain proper wood chip wetness of our products.

Wood Chip Wetness chart for smoking and grilling with Wood! Click To Tweet

 

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Wood Chip Wetness  Reference Data

If you’ve been following the Smokinlicious® Culinary Wood Products website for a while, then you’re very aware of how serious we take wood. It is extremely important to us to educate you on hardwood and how it can be used for cooking.  We know there are choices out there when it comes to purchasing wood.  That’s why we love to make comparisons between popular products on the market.

Recently, we investigated the moisture levels of two popular name-brand products that are available across the USA. Using a commercial-grade moisture reader (Delmhorst Instrument Co., RDM-3 #12084), we recorded the moisture level of both name-brand smoking wood chips. One was Hickory, the other Mesquite – two very popular wood species for smoking.

Why should you care about the moisture level of the wood?

Moisture is what causes wood to smolder rather than burn up.  It’s the difference between  firewood and cooking wood.  If you want to burn a fire for heat output only, then you need dry wood.  If you want to cook flavorful foods by fire, the wood needs some measurable moisture, preferably over 15%, in order to flavor the food with the essence of the wood.

The Results Are In!

The Hickory wood chips registered 7% moisture and the Mesquite 7.3%! Although SmokinLicious® is not a manufacturer of Mesquite products (we only manufacturer products native to our area), we are able to provide you with comparable numbers for our seven hardwood species. On average, the following are the moisture levels for our woods:

Alder = 19.8%

Ash = 20.2%

Hickory = 25.6%

Red Oak = 26.2%

Sugar Maple = 24.4%

White Oak = 21.9%

Wild Cherry = 23.8%

Be An Educated Shopper

It is important to remember that when shopping for smoking wood chips and chunks, products that are packaged in plastic bags generally must have an average moisture level of less than 8% to remain stable enough to prevent mold growth and spoilage. Unfortunately, this means this type of product would compromise your cooking flavor, as once the molecules of the wood are deprived of air circulation and moisture, they permanently die and cannot be re-hydrated.  That means, don’t waste your time trying soak the wood.  It will do nothing but produce a  musty smell when burning.

SmokinLicious Culinary Wood Products only sells our products fresh! You’ll never see our gourmet woods sealed in plastic and now you know why!

More Related reading on smoker wood chip wetness

More Related reading on smoker wood chip wetness

Dr. Smoke- we provide the wood chip moisture readings on all our packages as guidance for the chef to gauge the amount of smoke output to their tasting needs.

Dr. Smoke- we provide the wood chip moisture readings on all our packages as guidance for the chef to gauge the amount of smoke output to their tasting needs.

 

The ways to use wood chunks on gas grill!

The ways to use wood chunks on gas grill!

Try wood chunks on gas grill for a natural taste! Click To Tweet

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

 

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

LP/Gas Grills of All Types

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

How To Add Grilling Woods to the LP/Gas Grill

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

Wood Chunks On The Diffusers

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

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

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Our collage for makeing Spatchcock Smoked Turkey showing the breast bone removal

Spatchcock Smoked Turkey is perfect for even cooking! Moist and smokey what a delectable combination

Try this Spatchock Smoked Turkey Click To Tweet

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Smoked Spatchcock Turkey

Often when faced with cooking a whole turkey, you find the challenge of ensuring every part of the bird is cooked to temperature.  This can result in some extra work in ensuring that certain parts that cook faster don’t dry out or burn on the exterior.  Think the wings and drumsticks.  It’s a lot of work!

I’m going to introduce you to a method of cooking a turkey that will ensure every part cooks at the same rate and to the same doneness level without having to cover specific parts with foil.  Spatchcocking a whole turkey meets that goal and by doing the cooking process on the gas grill with hardwood, you get the added benefit of a smoke flavor and oven room for preparing other dishes.

Order up a whole turkey, preferably under 24 lbs., and let’s meet in the kitchen to prepare the bird for smoking.

Does Fresh Make a Difference?

Our Fresh Turkey out of the box ready for us to do Spatchcock Smoked Turkey

#freshturkey

 There is no question that I prefer a fresh turkey over frozen as the flavor is simply cleaner and the bird produces super moist meat compared to a frozen turkey.  We are fortunate to have within 10 miles of our location, a fresh turkey farm that harvests turkeys once a year, just a couple of days ahead of Thanksgiving.  My bird weighed in just under 22lbs. The organs and neck are removed from the cavity and the bird flipped breast side down to expose the backbone.  This is where we start our spatchcock process. Get sharp cutting shears ready as we prepare to remove the backbone of our turkey.

Tasting Notes: If fresh whole turkey is not available, you may substitute frozen whole turkey.  Just be sure it is completely defrosted and pat dried before starting this recipe.

Flatten and Rub for a Perfect Spatchcock Smoked Turkey

I won’t lie to you.  Removing the backbone of a fresh turkey can be a bit of work, but it is so worth it.  Start on one side of the backbone, insert sharp kitchen shears, and start to snip away.  You’ll draw the shears along the edge of the backbone, releasing the bone from the meat.  Done correctly, the spine will come out in one piece.

We have cut and completely removed the breast bone, which will allow us to press down and flatten the turkey

#spatchock

With the backbone removed it’s time for the final preparation to the turkey.  Flip the turkey back so the breast is facing up.  Time to break the breastbone so the turkey will lay flat on the cooking sheet pan.  This will take both hands and a lot of force.  Position your hands across the breast and push down with all your force until you hear the breast plate break.  Now the turkey should be able to lay flat on a sheet pan equipped with a rack for rendering all the juice and allowing even heat distribution around the entire bird.  The rack is key to use so heat distributes evenly.  The turkey is now ready for a rub with your favorite seasonings, herbs, and spices.

Using your hands to push down and flatten the Turkey on the cooking sheet allows for an even cook!

#spatchocking

I’m using a simple herb rub that includes fresh sage, oregano, thyme, crushed red pepper, black pepper, marjoram, basil and cumin.  I place my ground rub all over the skin of the bird and on the exposed meat side, reaching under the breast skin as well.  Now cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  All this work can be done the night prior to grilling ensuring all that is left to do, is the simple two-zone cooking.  Remember, two-zone cooking  involves turning only half the burners on and placing a metal smoker box of wood chunks on the hot grate or directly on the heat shield of the hot burners.   Be sure you have the box and hardwood at the ready for this step.

With our prepared spatchcock turkey readied, the sheet pan is added to the grill on the no heat side and the lid is closed.  I leave this to cook on its own for about two hours before returning to rotate the pan, checking the smoker box of wood chunks I’m using on the lit side of the grill for the great smoke flavor.  Remember, the heat from the burners that are lit will radiate throughout the entire grill, grill-roasting the turkey while the heat stimulates the release of the smoke vapor from the wood.

We use our smoker box with Double Filet Wood chunks to add the smoke while doing a two zone cooking method!

#twozonecooking #woodchunks#smokerbox

Tasting Notes: If you prefer, you can cook the turkey directly on the grill grate.  Just be sure to place a water pan under the grate to collect all the juices.

Ready in No Time

My nearly 22 lb. fresh turkey takes about 3-3/4 hours to reach a 165°F internal temperature.  In total, I use about 8 double filet wood chunks for the entire process.  The best part, I can do other things while the turkey cooks, then rest it for about 20 minutes before carving.  Don’t forget about all the beautiful juice it produces in the pan as well.  Make gravy, use it as au jus, or save it for producing stock.  Spatchcock fresh turkey – the easiest method of no-fuss grilling and smoking of a turkey!

What’s your favorite spatchcock turkey recipe?  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®.

Nice golden brown color to the bird, just cut into it for the best moist meat!

#spatchcocksmokedturkey

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SmokinLicious® Products used in this technique:

Our hand split double filet smoker wood chunks

#woodchunks

Wood Chunks- Double Filet

More related reading on Spatchcock Smoked Turkey and other Sptachcocking itmes see our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More related reading on Spatchcock Smoked Turkey and other Sptachcocking itmes see our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More blog topics you might enjoy:

-SPATCHCOCK CHICKEN IS THE WAY TO MOISTURE & HARDWOOD FOR FLAVOR

-SMOKE A TURKEY- LEARN HOW

-THE NOT-SO-SMOKEY SMOKED TURKEY

-WHY TWO-ZONE COOKING METHOD LET’S YOU WALK AWAY FROM THE GRILL

Dr. Smoke- Great moist smokey meat from our Spatchcock Smoked Turkey- awesome way to cook the "bird"

Dr. Smoke- Great moist smokey meat from our Spatchcock Smoked Turkey- awesome way to cook the “bird”

We discuss how long do wood chips last in an electric smoker!

We discuss how long do wood chips last in an electric smoker!

How long do wood chips last in an electric smoker Click To Tweet

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Without question, electric smokers are by far the easiest smokers to manage as they require no charcoal lighting, no constant checking of the fuel supply, and usually no messy ash pan.  These are units that are designed to run on very little wood product, usually between 2-5 ounces because the actual ‘fuel’ is an electric coil.  No gas, charcoal, or pellet.

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Let's stop the Dry Smoker effect-BBQ meats with our 9 easy steps!

Let’s stop the Dry Smoker effect-BBQ meats with our 9 easy steps!

WHY IS MY BARBECUE MEAT DRY?? Click To Tweet

Summary:

The best way to keep meat moist while smoking is to follow the recommended cooking temperatures for meats! Wood fired cooking, wood smoker, electric smoker, charcoal grill, or gas grill a meat thermometer is a MUST! Meat cooking temperature is important for outdoor cooking to prevent why is my barbecue meat dry!

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You thought you timed the meat perfectly on your smoker or grill.  When it came time to cut it, all you found was a gray, dry former piece of meat staring back at you.

What went wrong?

Don’t fall into your old habits when it comes to outdoor cooking, whether you’re using a traditional wood or electric smoker, charcoal grill or gas grill.  Learn some easy tips to keep your foods juicy and enticing this outdoor cooking season.

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Tom and Chef Burt discuss the Fun Things to Smoke other than Meat!

Tom and Chef Burt discuss the Fun Things to Smoke other than Meat!

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Fun things to smoke beside Meat! Click To Tweet

 

We are going beyond the obvious and the traditional when it comes to items that you can smoke.  It’s time to up your skills and menu items with the top things you would never think of to smoke.

Keep in mind, we are not just referring to hot smoking.  We’re including the quick technique of handheld food smoking as well as stove top smoking in a pan.

Let’s get to it!

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