We consider ourselves part of the food industry. Smokinlicious® is compliant with all USDA (national & international) and local rules regarding the movement of our wood products. We take great pride in our Forest Stewardship practices
IS THE FOOD INDUSTRY CULPABLE FOR THE SPREAD OF OAK TREE MORTALITY?
In a previously published article about the food industry, we discussed the negative outcome as it relates to sales dollars when brands elect to go into the wood-fired cooking arena without researching anything about wood for cooking. Let’s take a step further and explore the actual wood and potential risks to that commodity when a brand fails to carry out a menu plan. Thus abandoning the wood-fired cooking concept.
I often wonder if the public is aware of all the pest infestations that are currently plaguing our country as a direct result of the movement of wood. Correction, that occurred due to global trade. Yes, it is the use of imported goods on wooden packaging materials in addition to imported plants that have resulted in infestations around our country. Each year, this risk of infestation continues to rise and frankly, I opine that it isn’t all due to importation.
What if the food industry is really the key exacerbator to this problem?
Emerald Ash Borer, Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, White Pine Blister, Gypsy Moth, Beech Bark Disease, Sirex Wood Wasp, Winter Moth, Dutch Elm Disease, Dogwood Anthracnose, Butternut Canker, Sudden Oak Death, Balsam Woolly Adelgid. These are just some of the infestations that are being tracked in the USA. Let’s take a closer look at one hardwood species that is of great concern to me: Oak.
It is the hardwood of choice when it comes to restaurants likely due to all the hype from the state of Texas when it comes to barbecue. They like their beef (brisket specifically) and they like it cooked over oak. As mentioned in our article “When A Flop Could Have Been A Success,” there were two franchise brands in particular, that banked on only oak for the success of their wood-fired menu items: Red Lobster and Applebee’s Bar & Grill.
The Food Industry
Red Lobster has over 700 locations while Applebee’s Bar & Grill has nearly 2000 locations. Now process those numbers. By sourcing it from whatever suppliers they can locate and then putting it into the food industry distribution network to be delivered with other restaurant goods including foods items like produce, spices, herbs, etc. Given the enactment of the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), we are starting to address some concerns related to the food industry. Unfortunately, the use of wood, more specifically firewood in restaurant kitchens, has not been identified as a need when it comes to health. Why?
Although Red Lobster has kept alive some of its wood-fired menu items and Applebee’s Bar & Grill is still attempting to get some life out of their wood-fired steaks, I state that these plans failed terribly. So, what happened to all the wood that was meant for these restaurants? Did it get thrown into a dumpster at each location to be transported to a landfill? Did employees volunteer to take some as firewood and transported it to their homes ignoring laws in place to stop the movement of firewood? Could some supply still be sitting idle in food distribution centers?
It appears clear that we need to start with this commodity called wood and delineate regulations when it comes to using this for cooking. Rather than mass labeling all wood as appropriate for cooking, when its intended for human consumption. How long before we realize that deforestation from the spread of pest disease has been aided by the restaurant industry? If we start to question what that wood-fired steak, salmon, or chicken was cooked over, we will understand how little is known about the cooking wood being used.
Dr Smoke- “Dr Smoke makes every effort possible to protect our forest from predator insects by carefully and cleanly processing all of our cooking wood products according to USDA standards. We are a supporter of integrated pest management.”
Smokinlicious® is the only company to produce enhanced Smokin’® Dust is over 15 flavors beyond just natural to use as a spice for your equipment.
SMOKIN’ DUST®: A SPICE FOR YOUR EQUIPMENT
There seems to be some legend out there that wood-fired cooking methods are all about the endless hours of tending food and fire that produce taste results that are only granted to a small percentage of committed cooks. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ready for simple methods of wood flavor infusion that do not take stockpiles of wood and equipment so large, you start thinking about adding on to your house?
Wood-fired cooking includes the simplest methods of wood infusion like the current rage with hand-held food smokers or even the stovetop smoker. Kitchen gadgets that have opened the door to anyone who wants to explore the fragrant and flavorful bounty that awaits all foods and beverages. One thing that still is evolving is the concept of spices not for your food but for your equipment!
If you’ve read some of our previous articles on wood flavoring you’ll come to understand and appreciate that there is no set rule on wood-fired cooking. Oh, yes, there is plenty of science when it comes to cooking with fire or as I like to say when you combust to flavor, which is what you are accomplishing with wood for cooking. I feel more attention should be given to the actual wood products put into the equipment rather than focusing on the ingredients to the foods being cooked.
First, wood to us IS an ingredient, one that still needs to be balanced with the other components to bring forth a food memory. As an ingredient, the easiest by far to manage for wood flavor infusion is sawdust or in our Company’s listing,Smokin’ Dust®. Compatible with all types of equipment, Smokin’ Dust®literally becomes a ‘spice’ for your equipment.
Thinking of island flavors of pineapple, coconut, and mango for a recipe? Why not add one or more of those flavorings through the wood product? Yes, using all-natural flavoring infused into ourSmokin’ Dust® is one of the quickest methods of getting the great flavor to a specific regional dish. With 15 flavor-infused options that are 100% all natural, designed for cooking, and infused in hardwood, as well as 8 natural hardwood flavors, we’ve given new meaning to the word ‘spice’ as ours can now apply to the wood product! Remember, applewood doesn’t smell or taste anything like an apple. Use our apple infused product, and you’ll experience hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, and the bite of an apple!
As we highlight another hardwood from our offerings, we need to start by pointing out that we are referring to Eastern Alder not the better known Western Alder or Red Alder of the west coast. Eastern Alder is part of the Birch family, with the scientific name of Alnus but the common names for the varieties found in the Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania regions of Eastern Alder (Smooth Alder), White Alder, Red Alder.
Alder is a relatively soft hardwood of medium density. It is most commonly used with fish but I think I need to stress here that really any cooking hardwood can be used with any food item at the discretion of the cook. Many factors play in to how a hardwood reveals itself during the cooking event: rub ingredients, brine ingredients, quality of the meat/poultry/fish, freshness of the food item, style of cooking (over the coals, in the coals, indirect heat, etc.) and most importantly, oxygen flow which feeds the combustion of the wood. Alder provides a neutral coloring to the outer skin of foods which is why it is a favorite for fish. Would this be a first choice for say a steak or other beef item? No, but I certainly like to use it for lots of other things like fruit, vegetables, cheese dishes, and of course, fish.
For cooking, you can expect Alder to perform as follows:
Wood grilling avocado is a fun way to add different flavor to this wonderful fruit.
WOOD GRILLING AVOCADO
Oh, the wonderful, healthy, creamy, flavorful avocado. With more potassium than a banana and 18 amino acids for daily intake, you can’t go wrong with this single seed fruit.
Did you ever think to grill this fabulous fruit with a little wood to give it even more flavor? We’ll show you just how easy it is to wood grilling avocado on the gas grill using wood chunks for your smoke infusion.
Making It More Than A Grill
Regardless of the brand of gas grill you have, you can add wood chunks to the grill for wood fired flavor. My grill has heat shields over the burners so I use that area to add one small wood chunk under the grill grate, directly on the heat shield. No, you won’t damage your grill, as the wood combusts to ash and basically blows away.
One chunk is all it will take to get great flavor into the avocados. I keep the burner that the wood chunk is located on set to medium as well as the burner next to that one on medium. Since I have 4 burners, 2 are on and 2 are off.
Once the grill is to 300° F, this technique will take less than 20 minutes.
Simple Wood Grilling Avocado Preparation
The only preparation needed for the avocados is to cut them in half and remove the seed. The avocados are placed flesh side down on the grate only on the side with the burners off. The heat captured within the grill will spread throughout the grilling area and cook the avocado while adding wood smoke vapor. Note, it’s important that you don’t attempt to move the avocados for at least 10 minutes otherwise you will find the avocado flesh will stick to the grate and you’ll lose much of the fruit’s flesh. Wait until some of the fat renders and chars making removal so simple.
Prep To Finish In Less Than 20 Minutes
In less than 20 minutes you will have wonderfully wood flavored, charred flesh avocados ready for your favorite recipes. Think of using this fruit in smoothies, dips, on salads, as a creamy ingredient for sauces – remember, avocado can be used to substitute the amount of butter used in most recipes. We will take some of our avocado and make a wood fired guacamole first. Our recipe will post soon so stay tuned and don’t’ forget to send us your pics of wood fired avocado.
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