December 2016


 DON’T PUT CULINARY QUALITY WOOD LAST!

Case Notes: A restaurant is preparing to open in a new location and made the decision to invest in an Italian made pizza oven that has an option for wood-fired cooking.  This equipment would take 6 months to manufacture and deliver to the USA, which gave the owners time to complete renovations on their new building in preparation for the free-standing oven’s installation.  During that time, menu development and plating options were reviewed and decided upon.

The one planning need that was left to the last minute – locating the supplier for the cooking hardwood and determining appropriate sizing for the new equipment!  WHY???

It always surprises me that restaurateurs are willing to spend $50,000 and up for commercial equipment that does a specific function or technique, yet they don’t spend the time before that purchase ensuring they can obtain the quality accessory needs to get every benefit from that investment.

Here’s the best part: often these equipment lines tote that they can do all sorts of functions including wood-fired cooking techniques.  The truth – they aren’t really promoting that function of their equipment line!  They simply want to sell you the equipment and have you use standard fuel options like electric and gas.  How did I come to this conclusion?  By the content of the user’s manual.

Many do not reference:

  • size of wood product needed for the equipment
  • how to light the product
  • how much of the product to use
  • where to locate a supplier of the cooking wood
  • pictorials of the steps to do the technique
  • provide a troubleshooting guide.

Do you really want to spend $50,000, $60,000, $100,000 and be left to fend for yourself with that investment?

Take the appropriate steps when considering additions to or replacements in your equipment line.  Research not only the equipment but what is needed to do the smoke infusion technique with that equipment.  Yes, wood chips are readily available even though there is a high level of variation between products.  But other products are not so easy to find like wood pieces larger than wood chips but smaller than split firewood logs.

In addition, wood-fired techniques can also require additional “tools” to be available in the kitchen that may not have been standard inventory before.

Such things as:

  • fire retardant gloves
  • fire grade tools like long-handled tongs and a wood poker
  • a MAP canister/torch for lighting the fire
  • an infrared thermometer for reading temperatures within the cooking chamber
  • an ash receptacle.

Prioritize the needs of a wood-fired equipment addition by first reviewing the best option in equipment for your business’ need and second, assessing all the requirements of the wood to be successful in bringing this technique to your kitchen!

 

Dr. Smoke- only manufacturers Culinary Quality wood- Nothing else!!

Dr. Smoke- only manufacturers Culinary Quality wood- Nothing else!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Collage of Smoked Chestnuts go on a Stovetop Smoker

Collage of Smoked Chestnuts go on a Stovetop Smoker

TO THE SMOKE THE CHESTNUTS GO ON A STOVETOP SMOKER!

Depending on where your located, chestnuts may only be available for a short period each year, usually around the holidays.  Mostly pan roasted in the oven, why not do something unique with this prized fruit and smoke them!  In addition to the chestnuts, you’ll need a stovetop smoker, purchased or you can make your own with tools likely in your kitchen.  You can see our writing on the “The Kitchen Find” which will guide you on what is needed.

You will also need:

You will find chestnuts available prepackaged or in bulk when in season.  Although the packaged product will include a directive to cut an X in the flat surface of each nut, I grew up in a household where we always cut off the stem side.  This is the small, dark cap side to the chestnut.  The chestnut has a cap and a pointed end giving it a bloated teardrop look.  I have found that when smoking, I get better control of the smoke infusion with a fresh cut to one end.  Keep in mind, not all the chestnuts purchased will likely be viable as often mold will take hold of some of the chestnuts which you won’t see until you cut into them.  As the chestnuts age, they can develop a fuzzy mold on the outside which will tell you not to waste your time cutting that one open!  Simply discard!

Generally, chestnuts have a flat side and a rounded side.

To prepare them:

  • lay the chestnut on the cutting board with the flat side down.  Place your knife blade over the small dark cap, and slice off in one motion.  This will reveal the chestnut meat inside which will have a yellow-white hue.  Once the cap is off, you’ll be able to tell if any mold has set in as it will have a marked gray/black appearance.  If any mold is noted, discard the chestnut as it won’t cook tender.  If the majority is free of mold, go ahead and keep it for the smoking/cooking process.Triming the chestnuts

 

To do stovetop smoking, there are 4 parts needed:

  • a pan to hold the heat and wood chips
  • a drip pan to prevent rendered fat and juices from entering the wood. Generally, you only need the drip pan when you actually have a food item that will produce juices or fat drippings.
  • a grill pan
  • a lid.

Note: Chestnuts will not produce any drippings though they do have a percentage of water that will be released as steam into the lid of the pan.  Just be sure when you open the lid that you keep any collected water from dripping back into the cooking grate.

Now it’s time to start the heat under your smoker pan. 

Chestnuts in the stovetop smoker pan

  • Place the base of the stovetop smoker over the burner and turn the burner to medium.
  • Add about 1 handful of wood chips.  I am using SmokinLicious® Minuto® Wood Chips Size #6 in Wild Cherry which will provide great color to the chestnut’s meat.  The wood chips will combust and char but they will not ignite and there won’t be any need to add any additional wood chips.  One handful is all it will take to both cook and flavor the chestnuts.
  • After adding the wood chips to the smoker base, place the grill pan on next.  Take the prepared chestnuts and spread them evenly into the grill pan.  Then cover with the lid.  Do not change the heat level during the cooking/smoking process.  There is no need to rotate the chestnuts as the cut end will ensure that the heat and smoke vapor penetrate each piece.
  • The cooking process will take between 40-60 minutes depending on the number and size of the chestnuts used.  I usually do a check about 30 minutes in order to gauge the total cook time.

As you check the chestnuts and start seeing the shell separate from the meat, you’ll know you are getting close to the tender stage.  Here is my trick for checking for doneness.  Take the end of a paring knife and gently insert the tip into the center of the chestnut meat.  If the blade passes into the flesh without effort, you are finished with the cooking process.

  • Turn off the heat to the smoker pan and allow the chestnuts to rest for a few minutes before removing from the pan.  Remember, these shells will be very hot so use tongs to remove them from the pan.

Minuto Chips

You can see that despite the Minuto® Chips being exposed to consistent heat for about an hour, they merely smolder and char, never igniting.  In fact, you could easily use these chips again for another short cook item and they would still give off great flavor.  Once the chestnuts have cooled enough to handle, I remove all the shell and membrane.  These golden beauties are now ready to eat or to add a special flavor to recipes calling for chestnuts.  Just another way to bring something new to a seasonal favorite.  Try this seasonal favorite of ours- to The Smoke the chestnuts go on a stovetop smoker!

 

Bon Bar B Que

Dr. Smoke- Great of the holiday to the smoke the chestnuts go on a stovetop smoker!

Dr. Smoke- Great for the holiday to the smoke the chestnuts go on a stovetop smoker!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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