The foil pan is the handiest and, we believe, the indispensable part in all the stages necessary for cooking, functionality and sanitary purposes.
THE INDISPENSABLE FOIL PAN
Many people have their favorite tool when it comes to outdoor cooking. It might be a wireless thermometer, specific grill grate, awesome fire safe gloves, or the go-to chimney starter. For me, it’s likely the least expensive item you can think of – the disposable foil pan. I’m going to list for you my top 6 uses for a simple and inexpensive foil pan.
#1 Best Drip/Water Pan
This is likely the primary way I use a standard rectangular, ¼ sheet size disposable pan. I let this pan act as both a drip pan to collect juices from say pork shoulder, brisket, or lamb as well as to act as a water pan to produce a convection environment. First, I love to load my pan with vegetables like rough cut onion, whole garlic, celery, carrot, fresh herbs, etc. I also like to use different liquids based on what I’m cooking. For fish and seafood, I like juices and wines. For meats beer, ciders or full-bodied wines. I rarely ever do simple water in my water pan.
#2 Charcoal Keeper
There are times when you need to ensure that your charcoal is positioned ideally for specific foods to keep the heat distribution ideal and the cooker’s walls from radiating too much heat in a certain direction. One of the easiest ways to ensure that the heat radiates in the correct direction is to use a disposal foil pan. Once your charcoal is ready to be dumped from a chimney starter, dump it directly into a foil pan. This allows you to set an indirect method of cooking on a charcoal unit with greater ease. It also will keep the walls of the kettle grill from radiating too much heat to the center of the grill for the grilling of more fragile items like pizza, breads, and cakes. No more burnt centers, just even cooking.
Anything made with aluminum will be a great radiator and retainer of heat. That’s why I love to use disposable foil pans as warming units. When paired with a foil insulated blanket, you can maintain all types of proteins for up to 2 hours perfectly. Plus, if any liquids should leak, they will be capture in that pan.
#4 Gift Giving Essential
Whenever I make a substantial amount of something say pulled pork or smoked potato, I love to be able to pass along some of my efforts to family and friends. I love how these disposable pans can go from my hands, to someone’s refrigerator then to their oven or grill without needing to do a thing. These pans will not change the flavor of the food and can easily have liquid added to them without concern.
#5 Eliminate Cleaning Creosote
If you’ve ever used any glass, silicone, or enamel items on your smoker, you’ve probably had to deal with 2 issues: baked on creosote which is usually a brown-black tar like substance and imbedded smoke flavor in your silicone, something you cannot remove. Aluminum does not absorb flavors and any visible discolorations are simply thrown away with the pan. You don’t have to worry about clean up in any way.
#6 A Beach Grill
By purchasing a good quality stainless steel grill grate, just a small one, you can turn a foil pan into a beach grill. I call this a beach grill as the easiest set up is with sand already present on a beach but you can certainly purchase and bring to another location, a small bag of sand. Bring along or collect some rocks to act as a containment or barrier for the hot coals and fire. Mark an area around the pan using the rocks. Add charcoal to the pan and lite or pour hot coals directly into the pan from a chimney starter. Once the embers are hot, place a grill grate over the pan and you’re ready to grill with this disposable unit. The best part – all the ash will collect in the foil pan for easy disposal. Oh, and don’t forget to use the hot coals after for something great for the next day. Lay some peppers, hot or sweet, onions, even baked potatoes and your setting up for another meal.
These are just some of the great ways disposable aluminum foil pans can be used for outdoor wood fired cooking to keep things organized, simple, and still flavorful.
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In Smokinlicious® customers’ houses, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stocking was hung and filled with charwood with visions of great barbecue to come.
When it comes to Santa’s ‘Nice & Naughty List,’ Dr. Smoke of SmokinLicious® Gourmet Wood Products has this explanation for those that cook with wood- “If you’re fortunate to get Charwood® in your Christmas stocking, it’s a great cooking wood product and shouldn’t be confused with the message being sent by a stocking filled with coal!”
Whether you prefer a wood-fired oven, grill, or smoker, efficiency should be the key consideration. Higher quality materials, insulation, heat retention, and radiant heat, result in more efficient function of the appliance. Likely the most important consideration though, is the type of fuel you plan to use in the appliance. That is where efficiency takes on a whole new meaning.
So why do we call our product Charwood? In short, because our product is not standard charcoal. Our method of production is based on the Japanese direct method which removes pyroligneous acid during the charcoal making process. The difference is, when burning, there are almost no stimulating smells or smoke. We produce our Charwood in small batches, carbonizing at temperatures between 400 and 700 degrees Celsius. The Charwood is then smothered using a non-chemical procedure to cool it down. Plus, we produce a wood specific charwood for those that understand that every component used in wood-fired grilling, smoking, and cooking affects the outcome of overall taste in the food. As with ALL our products, we manufacture our Charwood with premium, heartwood that is 100% bark-free, not from recycled or waste wood by-products.
Happy Holidays from all of us at SmokinLicious®!!
Dr Smoke- “You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, if Santa puts charwood in your stocking.”
Not all wood supplier is like Smokinlicious®, cutting their product from forest grown fresh harvest. Rather they use recycled material.
WOOD SUPPLIER- ARE YOU GETTING WHAT YOU PAID FOR?
One of the things we do at SmokinLicious® for commercial-grade customers is take in a sample of their current smoking wood and analyze it. When you’re a Company producing a food product, you need consistency of the final product. When it comes to smoked foods, this can be a challenge as wood is a plant material that can be highly variable when put through the stages of combustion. If a mixture of woods is used in the process, combustion rate, biochar production, volatile burn off, and other parameters of the wood can be affected in a negative way.
Like a Game of Roulette
If a price is the only factor guiding your decision on a wood supplier, then you are playing a game of roulette. Just like any other business transaction, you should be looking for authenticity of the wood. Let me give you an example:
Germany is the only country currently taking direct steps to protect woods on the endangered species list. Yes, there is such a list of 183 countries participating in some level of enforcement. The direct goal of The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) is to prevent deforestation but the challenge, as with most lofty goals, is personnel to enforce the regulation. Germany is uncovering case after case of fraudulent wood sales and finding that less expensive woods in the manufacture while invoices reflect another more expensive wood.
Now, look at smoking wood products. There are no regulations. A company can package wood product of pretty much any condition, label it as a specific species, and put it into the marketplace. There is no accounting for:
▪ how the wood was collected
▪ what the wood pieces are made from
▪ treatments conducted on the wood
▪ if the wood is 100% of a specific species
▪ the origination of the wood
▪ the age of the wood
Mixed Product Dominates
I can’t even count how many times we’ve visited a Company’s location to view their wood supply and find that what they thought they were purchasing is not what’s present. Some suppliers have gone so far as to including softwoods in the product labeled as hardwood! This doesn’t happen with just the larger pieces of wood either. Microchips commonly used in industrial smokehouses rarely contain 100% of a said wood. Perhaps this is the reason why packaging regulations for a smokehouse bacon or ham can state it is Applewood smoked when Applewood may have only made up 10% of the wood used in the smoking process!
Ask and Demand
The budget for wood can be substantial for companies and restaurants. You have every right to demand a product’s accountability. Ask questions!
What is the origin of the wood? Remember, many smoking wood suppliers are not involved in the manufacturing process. They are the seller, not the manufacturer meaning they likely have little or no knowledge of the history of the wood.
Has the wood undergone any processes? Kiln dried? Preservation chemical added? If the wood didn’t start out for cooking, it is likely that processes used to stabilize the wood for its main purpose, say flooring, were applied. That won’t make it the best choice for a cooking method or even a safe choice.
You have every right to request a Letter of Guarantee or Letter of Authenticity. Remember, woods used for food preparation or cooking currently have no universal regulations. The only wood regulation that exists in the USA is regarding moving firewood and that is regulated primarily by the individual states.
Why be so concerned about the wood when we don’t consume wood?
We may not consume the wood in its natural form but we certainly consume food products cooked over or near that wood, that infuses many of the organic compounds of the wood. Not all organic compounds are good. There are many known toxicities in certain species of wood with softwoods containing the highest risk. That is the reason why you should never cook with a softwood. Other wood has the potential to cause sickness and in some cases, if a person’s system is already compromised, death.
Take the time to learn about the wood you will use in the cooking method and ask the questions that could be the difference between a successful venture and partnership with your wood supplier or a disaster you simply didn’t need.
Proving you with additional information on woods including the science behind the fire, along with tips, techniques, and recipes. That’s why you should subscribe and follow us so you don’t miss a thing.
Dr. Smoke- know your wood supplier “As one of the premier cooking wood manufactures in the world, always use caution on sourcing wood, especially when you’re going to cook with it- too much is being labelled “green” and it’s not fit for cooking.”
Infusing cherry wood smoke into Brussels sprouts using the gas grill is simple and easy and adds a very flavorful touch to this hearty vegetable.
INFUSING WOOD SMOKE INTO BRUSSELS SPROUTS
A favorite of the cabbage family, Brussels sprouts came to the United States via French immigration in the 18th century. They are dominantly grown in California and available June thru January making them a Fall and holiday menu favorite. SmokinLicious® will take the flavors up a notch and add wood smoke into Brussels sprouts for two upcoming recipes. We’ll do this on the gas grill fit with wild cherry wood chunks to bring subtle smokiness to the finish sprouts. First purchase 3 lbs. of Brussels sprouts and get two cherry single filet chunks, and you’re ready to fire up the grill and get smoking.
The Easy Grill Method
Bringing the flavor of wood smoke into Brussels sprouts is so easy. To start, gather about 3 lbs. of Brussels sprouts, some cooking oil, butter, and a heavy-duty skillet. I prefer a nut oil like walnut or almond. For a skillet I’ll be using cast iron. I’ve trimmed the ends on about half the sprouts and for the other half, I’ve trimmed the ends and cut them in half. That’s it! Fire up the grill and get ready for a quick method of adding great wood-fired flavor.
It only takes a couple of pieces of wood chunk to bring fabulous flavor to the grill. I set up a cast iron pan on one side and place two cherry wood chunks on the heat shields of the far burner. Let the pan heat up for about 5 minutes then pour in a couple of tablespoons of oil and heat. Right before I add the Brussels sprouts, I add a couple of tablespoons of butter. In go the whole Brussels sprouts and the lid comes down. Leave untouched for about 5 minutes before turning.
As I have two recipes in mind I’m cooking two batches of Brussels sprouts: one batch whole and one batch halved. After leaving for 5 minutes, I stir them to ensure that all surfaces are infused with wood flavor. I maintain a temperature of 350-375° F which will make this a quick cooking method. The first 5 minutes, the lid is down but once stirred, you can finish the cooking with lid up. Remember, cast iron will retain heat, so you can turn the heat off and let sit for about 5 minutes.
After stirring a couple of times, both the whole and halved Brussels sprouts are ready in about 20 minutes time. I simply remove them from the heat and bring them in to be added to my favorite recipes.
I have two recipes I’ll be working on: Smoky Brussels Sprout Gratin and Tortellini with Lemon and Smoked Brussels Sprouts. These truly are the most flavorful Brussels sprouts! For those of you thinking about a holiday meal with them, well, the grill will give you that extra oven room you need. Take advantage of the long harvest season and try these mini cabbages on your grill. Check in for our recipes soon so we can get you started on how to use your prized sprouts.
Bringing you new methods of infusing wood fired flavor into seasonal items. Be sure to subscribe and follow us to gain great tips, techniques, recipes and the science behind the fire.
6 REASONS WHY CEDAR WOOD SHOULD NOT BE YOUR TOP CHOICE FOR COOKING
You love different techniques for cooking and absorb new information like a sponge. In particularly, you love outdoor methods of cooking. One of your favorites is plank cooking on cedar wood. Every time you read a recipe, they all call for use of a cedar plank or cedar wrap.
But is cedar really the best choice? More so, is cedar a safe choice?
Cedar wood is not a hardwood. It is a softwood that is from the gymnosperm trees meaning, it is a conifer or cone producing tree. As a rule, softwoods should not be used for cooking as they contain a lot of air and sap which equates to a fast burn and unpleasant flavors. In fact, there are many softwoods that can be toxic if cooked over.
#2 Poor Fire Resistance
During plank cooking, you are using the wood as a vessel to infuse flavor to whatever food is placed on top of the plank. Here’s the concern with cedar – because it is a lower density wood (23 lb./ft³), it has very poor fire resistance. That means, it reaches full combustion much faster than hardwood and will burn as a result. Certainly, that’s not what you’re looking for when you plank cook.
Unlike hardwood which contain pores in the cell walls, softwoods like cedar are poreless. They use cell components called tracheids to transport water and nutrients. In addition, the organic compound lignin found in the cell walls, is much lower than in traditional hardwoods used for cooking. Why is this an issue? Lignin is what gives wood fired cooking the distinct flavor and aroma to foods. For cedar, the average lignin composition is 20%±4 compared to common hardwoods used for wood-fired cooking which average 28%±3.
#4 Plicatic Acid
Cedar contains chemical properties (specifically plicatic acid) that are shown to be a good absorber of odors and moisture. This is one of the key reasons why cedar is a preferred softwood for pest control to keep fleas, ants, mites, moths, and mosquitoes away. When exposed to plicatic acid for lengthy periods of time, a condition known as “cedar asthma” can develop.
Additionally, a regular exposure to the cedar oil found in the wood can result in contact dermatitis or skin irritation, rhinitis, and conjunctivitis.
#5 Animal Toxicity
There are many studies available on how the use of cedar wood chips and shavings have affected animals continually exposed to these products. Most studies show a correlation with liver dysfunction in animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, and hamsters. In fact, smaller animals, like guinea pigs and hamsters, have a higher incidence of death which may be attributed to plicatic acid exposure. The phenols and aromatic hydrocarbons also have been shown to cause respiratory problems in animals like those listed above.
#6 Not All Cedar Is The Same
Cedar is part of the pine family of trees with native origin in North Africa and Asia. There are no native cedar trees to North America. The red cedar common in the Eastern USA is part of the Juniper family and can be highly toxic if taken internally. Under no circumstances should you ever cook with red cedar from the Eastern states of the USA.
USA cedar trees are referred to as false cedars since there are no native varieties. There are commonly 5 varieties of the false cedars available: Western Red Cedar (common to Southern Alaska, Northern California, and the Rockies), Northern White Cedar (Southeastern Canada, Northeastern quarter of the USA, south into Tennessee, and west into Iowa), Eastern Red (Aromatic) Cedar (Eastern USA), Yellow Cedar (Pacific Northwest from Alaska to British Columbia into Oregon), Spanish Cedar (although Native to South and Central America, it was planted in Florida). Every false cedar has some known health risks with the most common being respiratory due to toxicity of its pollen, oil, or other chemical compound.
Now you’re asking..
“So if there are all these documented health risks, how did cedar plank cooking gain so much popularity?” I suppose the easiest answer is that cedar was used by the earliest settlers in the Pacific Northwest as a means of preserving, storing and cooking the seasonal fish. Think about the limitations of the day: they would be using resources that are available without thought to the items we ponder today like health, future risk, etc. This concept was examined from a different perspective many years later with the desire for flavor, appearance, and functionality.
We often make the mistake of jumping into something full throttle before asking some of the key questions to keep our bodies safe and healthy. Remember, there’s lots of documentation out there stating why you should not cooking with softwood yet when it comes to plank cooking, specifically, cedar plank cooking, we don’t seem to carry that issue forward. I don’t think I’ll ever understand why.
We love providing information to our readers and subscribers that is not in the open and letting you weigh the information for your own verdict. All types of questions are welcome and we 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.