Our asparagus after seasoning and ready to become Charcoal grilled Asparagus!
By Chef C. V. Calle Guest Chef in Residence, SmokinLicious Kitchens
Nothing in the vegetable word represents late spring-early summer than fresh local asparagus but the window for fresh local asparagus is a short one. The growing season in our area (Western New York State) typically begins mid to late May and lasts until mid to late June all depending on the weather. Buying your asparagus at a Farmers Market or a Farm Stand provides the highest quality asparagus.
Luckily asparagus season corresponds to the beginning of outdoor grilling season and that is a good thing. If you have never prepared asparagus on the grill read this and you may never want to boil or steam asparagus again.
Fortunately for me, my good friends Terry and Donna Grant, owners of SmokinLicious® Gourmet Wood Products in Olean, New York provided me with their locally manufactured charwood product for grilling. Try it and you will never go back to charcoal briquettes again. SmokinLicious® all-natural charwood, adds flavor as well as the high heat needed for proper grilling. Remember, cooking with wood is not just a heat source because when you grill with high-quality wood products like SmokinLicious® you add substantial and delicious flavor to whatever is on the grill.
This is a simple recipe and takes just minutes to prepare.
Ingredients: (serves 2 to 4 persons as a side dish)
1 pound local farmer’s market asparagus
high-quality extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
salt & pepper
Wash and break off the tough bottom two inches of each asparagus spear
Toss with EVOO and lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste
Place asparagus on a hot grill top
Cook 3-10 minutes; depending on the size of the stems and until lightly charred on the outside but the stems remain firm and crisp (al dente). Tasting a spear or two while cooking will let you know when they are ready to eat
Remove from grill, add salt and pepper to taste and you are ready to go
Optional plating technique: top with fresh Parmesan Reggiano cheese and drizzle with a high-quality balsamic glaze
The above recipe is suitable for anyone including vegans. If you are a meat eater, always grill your asparagus after you finish grilling your meat. While the beef, pork, lamb or chicken rests you can complete this process. Place asparagus spears on the grill where the meat was located, and the small amount of fat left on the grill top adds to the flavor of the natural wood. (This recipe can also be used on a gas grill with wood chunks placed on the heat shields).
Our Char-wood is produced by Direct firing our North American hardwood blocks until the right amount of Carbonization is achieved!
WHY CHAR-WOOD IS THE BETTER OPTION OVER CHARCOAL
Binchotan charcoal is made from the Japanese direct fire method of making charcoal with Kiln! Japanese charcoal making has been around for centuries and burns longer than lump hardwood charcoal! We have replicated their process and make our Char-wood from our North American hardwood blocks! Carbonization is key to Char!
Frankly, the term “charwood” may be a new one for you. Although its function is like charcoal, the benefits clearly outweigh those of charcoal. Let’s examine the key reasons why charwood may be the better option for outdoor cooking over standard charcoal.
Hopefully, if you’ve been engaging in outdoor grilling and/or smoking for some time. You’ve understood the need for a fuel material that burns evenly and hot. You’ve likely also heard the controversy that’s brewed for years about what is the best product to use for the fuel. Products range from briquets, lump hardwood charcoal, specialty wood charcoal, and compressed woods like pellets and compressed wood blocks. The key is to understand that some of these products could contain binding agents as well as accelerants to make for easy lighting.
Carbonization is the conversion of an organic matter into carbon. Carbon is an element that forms when the organic matter is heated to a high level without oxygen, burning off the volatile gases, leaving the pure carbon behind. Although commercial material production, whether briquet, hardwood charcoal, or standard charcoal have different percentages of carbonization in the outcome, most are above 90%. That high level of carbonization is what allows for heat to be produced for outdoor cooking.
When you use straight charcoal briquets, you are getting heat only with no flavor as that is a fully carbonized or charred product. Many prefer to use briquets because they are uniform in size and give the same outcome every time they are used. Fill a chimney starter with briquets, and you’ll have the same number of briquets fit in the chimney every time.
When you use lump hardwood charcoal, you will get variation in sizing from small, chip-like pieces to half-log size pieces. Here’s information you need to know. Although the label may read “hardwood”, there is no information on where that hardwood derived from. Often, manufacturers of lump hardwood charcoal produce their product from recycled materials such as old pallets, lumber scraps from flooring, cabinet, and furniture makers. They may take in scraps from lumber mills. When this material is carbonized, it will do so at various levels due to the variation in material sizing.
That means when you cook with it or for that matter when you lite it, expect great variation from use to use due to all the inconsistency in sizing. The inconsistency will produce a lower percentage of carbonized material than briquets. So know you may get some minimal flavor from lump hardwood due to poorly carbonized larger pieces of product. This is the reason there is more ash production with lump hardwood charcoals.
Specialty charcoals, generally made in other countries, are a particularly hard substance, light in weight product, that can be a challenge to lite. Once they are ignited, however, they produce a lot of heat – often more than the standard briquet. Very little ash is produced and there is no flavor from this product.
When SmokinLicious® made the decision to manufacture a charwood product, we researched extensively why the Japanese binchotan charcoal, also called white charcoal, was so popular and expensive. We found that though it could be a challenge to lite, it burned extremely hot, clean, leaving little to no ash, produced no smoke and no flavor. We produced a similar set up to the Japanese direct-fire method with our charwood production. Instead of using miniature branches, we use consistently sized wood blocks. Unlike the binchotan, we do not do a complete carbonization. The result is you get the ease of lighting like a lump hardwood charcoal, the flavor of premium hardwood. Plus, the reduced ash production of a briquet, and reduced smoke output than burning wood alone. We see this as the best of all the options out there.
Now, instead of viewing your charcoal as just a heat generator, when you use SmokinLicious® charwood you have one product that can be used as fuel for temperature while the reduced carbonized center portion produces the flavor. A premium product that gives premium results!
Our shopping cart full of products ready to be shipped to customers by FedEx. Shipping is included in our price which is why we won’t sell product on Amazon.
WHY WE WON’T SELL PRODUCT ON AMAZON ®
We have been an online shopping source since 2005! We promote quality products and living wages for our employees! Producing a list of food safe woods, bark-free cooking wood only from the heartwood of a tree! Our internet online business brings “fresh” products to you! Which is why we won’t sell product on Amazon!
I won’t deny that I am just as guilty as the next person when it comes to wanting more out of every 24 hours I can get. This is the main reason why I am an internet shopper. I rarely frequent an actual retail store aside from a wholesale club to purchase office supplies and the occasional trip to the grocery store.
I also won’t deny that I am an avid Amazon.com shopper! Just about everything you can think of, I have purchased: clothes, specialty paint, make-up, kitchen supplies, food products, small appliances, area rugs – like I said, just about every category they offer.
So why aren’t SmokinLicious® products offered for sale on Amazon.com?
“Negative” Feedback Services
Today, there is literally a service for anything and everything. That includes services to pay individuals to post negative reviews on a seller’s product and services. Let me be clear. SmokinLicious® certainly has had negative issues arise from time to time in the past 13 years. When they occur, we have our own procedure in place for remedying the situation which often results in great appreciation from the customer and a brand loyalty relationship developing. However, when negative feedback occurs when selling on Amazon.com, it can take a little as .0008% reported issues of the total products sold to kick you out as a seller! Kicking you out means you’ve lost all the inventory costs you started out with as Amazon.com ties up your account.
Open Market for Copy Cats
As anyone who has been in business for themselves can attest to, you spend months working on verbiage for your products, photo imagery for a gallery, and unique header descriptors to bring attention and get you sales. The last thing you want is someone stealing your work and posting to a seller’s listing on Amazon.com. That can and has happened! When it does, you are obligated to show proof of ownership of all content if you want to bring issue against an Amazon.com seller.
Worse yet, the other seller may be allowed to continue to sell a product that looks exactly like yours but maybe lesser quality in similar packaging! Plus, it is easy for your photo to be high-jacked and replaced with another image to cause high percentages of returns. Remember, there is a return option that states the item “does not match description,” allowing the buyer to make the return easily while you get a demerit from Amazon.com.
Sinking Price Margin
By far this is the number one issue for my brand to use Amazon.com. For a good majority of shoppers on this site, they are price driven in their choices. Imagine SmokinLicious®Grande Sapore® wood chips going against the company that sweeps wood shavings off the floor from their flooring or cabinet making business, placing them in a cheap plastic bag, and slapping a simple label over the bag. That company can afford to list the price at $3.99 a bag when they have no extra costs involved for the material, just the cheap packaging. We are not in the market to compete on price. We are in the market to compete on quality and purity of product. That’s it!
For the brand SmokinLicious®, we are all about quality, safety, legitimacy, and value! Our goal is to enable anyone around the globe who enjoys wood-fired cooking to do without having to think about the cleanliness and type of wood. We’ve selected the safest hardwoods to cook with, stripped them of all the impure bark, reduced the wood to just heartwood so you have the fillet of the tree and dialed in the moisture so you have success at the grill, smoker or plancha every time. You’ll find us online 24/7 to fill your needs in North America, the UK, and soon, in South Africa and New Zealand.
I hope you gained a better understanding of SmokinLicious® and why we do what we do! Leave us a comment and subscribe to get our latest articles and information on recipes, techniques, and the science beyond the fire, smoke, and flavor.
Our suggestive tips to avoid WHY IS MY BARBECUE MEAT DRY
WHY IS MY BARBECUE MEAT DRY??
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!
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.
Tip #1: Own a Good Meat Thermometer
There is no way around it! You need to own a good meat thermometer. That is truly the only way to know when meats are done before you keep them on the grill or smoker too long. There is no one internal temperature that is good for all meats either! Don’t think because you cook chicken until 160°F that this is the ideal temperature for beef, lamb, fish, pork, and sausage.
Tip #2: Know Ideal Food Temperatures
It is vital that you know when to pull the meat off a grill or smoker. All chicken and turkey need to cook until 160°F (71°C). Ham, sausage and hot dogs should have a minimum temperature of 140°F (60°C). Pork including ribs and shoulder need to register 145°F (63°C) while pork steak, chops, roasts can have a range based on doneness preference: 120-130°F (49-54°C) for rare, 130-135°F (54-57°C) for medium-rare/medium, 145-155°F (63-68°C) for medium-well, and 155°F (68°C) and above for well-done. Beef, lamb, and venison range 120-130°F (49-54°C) for rare, 130-145°F (54-63°C) for medium, 145-155°F (63-68°C) for medium-well, and over 155°F (68°C) for well-done.
Tip #3: Flip, Flip, Flip
When you grill over high heat, it becomes vital that you learn to flip more often. The results will be better flavor, better color to the food, even doneness and a quicker cooking time. The flip ensures that only even heat levels get in instead of too high which results in a burnt, charred mess.
Tip #4: Moist Burgers Every Time
Burgers can become extremely dry due to the higher heat level they are cooked over. To keep as much moisture into the meat, here are a couple of tricks. The first is to add 1-2 tablespoons of either mayo or Greek yogurt to your ground meat or turkey. Mix well then form into your burgers. I sometimes like to mix in ricotta cheese! Or you can add an herb-butter patty to the center of the burger to add moisture. Be sure to follow Tip #3 with burgers!
Tip #5: Consider Marinating
Although you can now purchase cuts of meat in most stores pre-marinated, I beg you to do this step yourself to control the additives and preservatives that are commonly found in the prepackaged items. Marinating cuts of meats, especially thinner cuts, produces great flavors and can make for a moister experience as the liquid finds the cracks and crevices on the meat. It helps to make small slices in the cut of meat to help with the marinade absorption. There really is no need to marinate overnight though you can do that. Just know that a couple of hours for meat in a marinade is enough to produce a great outcome. Plus, marinated foods reduced the unhealthy chemical compounds that can form when you use a hot grilling technique.
Tip #6: Considering Brining
A brine is a wet, salty, slightly sweet mixture that you soak your meat in. The salt and sugar react with the protein in meats to help retain moisture. It’s like having a protective moisture-shield around the meat.
Tip #7: Use an Indirect Method of Cooking
An indirect or two-zone cooking method refers to using one side of your equipment for heat while the other side is used for the actual food placement. By keeping the lid on the grill or smoker, you will retain the heat and radiate it throughout the grill. If you want to produce a crust on your food, you can easily move it to the direct fireside for a few minutes to accomplish that. On a gas grill, you would lite the burners on only one side of the grill. On a charcoal grill or smoker, you would place and lite the charcoal on just one side of the charcoal area.
Tip #8: Foil Wrap
Aluminum foil, the heavy-duty kind, works wonders at keeping foods moist. By adding 1-2 ounces of liquid to the foil with the meat placed inside and any other ingredients you want to incorporate flavors from, you allow steam to be produced inside the packet and keep everything super moist. Just be sure you crimp the foil tightly around the food so nothing escapes.
Tip #9: Extend the Cooking Time
If you’re able to plan out your outdoor cooking event, then consider doing a combination of a two-zone cooking method with lower level temperature cooking. Any time you can cook at a lower temperature for a longer time, you allow the collagen in meat to breakdown producing a gelatin that releases great flavor. The two-zone cooking method will allow the meat to receive heat in every direction at an even level.
There you have it! Some concrete tips to ensure you can produce tender and juicy results on your grill or smoker and won’t say Why is My Barbecue Meat Dry!