For all my BBQ cooking friends who have been under the assumption that grilling is only for protein food groups, (beef, pork, fish etc.) boy do I have a taste revelation that could transform you into a disciple of the vegetable sections at local farmers markets– Char Grilled and Smoked Shallots!
The process is fairly straightforward but doesn’t get the impression that this food item is something that you can flop on the grill grate and walk away from for an extended period of time. Finesse is the cooking standard that must be applied to enjoy the maximum flavor result rendered from this sweet cousin of the onion family.
You can tell by my strong friendship with the folks at SmokinLicious® Gourmet Wood Products, that I’m a big advocate of grilling with a hardwood fire. It allows for uniform cooking temperatures while simultaneously infuses food items with a natural wood smoke flavor.
So, as we begin, go about preparing your grill with only the best hardwood cooking wood and remember- never, ever start your fire with a chemically based liquid starting fluid. Use a chimney starter!
While your grill preheats to a medium temperature, prepare the whole shallots by cutting off the tips and drizzling them with skins on using the high-quality EVOO and a touch of Kosher salt. You can even season with fresh thyme or sage and let marinate for a few minutes.
Grilled shallots are a great side dish or garnish to prepare alongside your protein or immediately after you have removed your meat to let it rest.
Place the shallots on the grate directly over the outer fringes of the embers, ideally between the smoking wood chips and outer ring of embers. Do not place them directly over the center most concentration of the embers. If you want a slightly stronger smoky flavor, cover. If not, leave uncovered.
Here’s where the finesse part comes in- over the next 3-10 minutes, (depending on the heat and size of the shallots) watch over the shallots like a hawk watches over hatchlings in a nest. Turn often, get a good char on all sides but, for Heaven’s sake – don’t allow them to ignite into a raging conflagration! If this happens, you will lose much of the smoky sweetness and be left with a bitter tasting, burnt onion. You can best determine a great finish when the outer skins are charred nicely while the centers have a soft, moist feel when gently squeezed with cooking tongs or fingers.
Remove from the grill, let them cool a bit. Once cooled for 2-5 minutes lightly squeeze the charred outer skin and out will come the sweet and delicious interior.
After you experience the fabulous smoky flavor of your grilled shallots, I’m sure you’ll have a greater appreciation for all the food flavor benefits that can be had from your backyard grill!
Our gorgeous filet of salmon is awaiting Chef Calle to turn it into Charwood Grilled Salmon on a kettle grill using a two-zone method along with Smokinlicious® wood chips!
Charwood Grilled Salmon Fillets for a Hint of Smoky Flavor
By: Chef Calle, Resident Executive Chef
Chef Calle here and thanks to SmokinLicious® Gourmet Wood Products, I’m going to offer an easy and palate-pleasing method to cook and lightly smoke fresh salmon fillets over a Charwood fire that features a small number of smoking chips. With this approach, the smoking chips infuse a delicate smoky flavor to the salmon without overpowering its delicious fresh taste.
Today, I’m using a Stok® Tourist™ grill, clearly one of the best Charwood grilling and smoking units on the market. If you don’t have a Stok®, just about any Charwood grill will work, if its heat chamber has room enough for both the Charwood and wood chips.
Preparation is key with salmon and setting up the cooking equipment. So, first prepare the fresh salmon fillets by lightly seasoning with EVOO, salt, pepper and if you have it- fresh dill or fennel. Let them sit and soak up all those great flavorful ingredients for about half an hour or until the salmon reaches room temperature. Chef’s Tip: Do not use salmon that is past its prime, thinking that the smoke will disguise the slightly off flavor of the fish. Only use the best salmon available.
While the fish is marinating, begin preparations for the actual grilling by first firing up SmokinLicious® all natural Charwood using a hollowed chimney starter. Never use charcoal lighter fluid! Or Charwood, charcoal briquettes, pretreated with petroleum-based starting fluid. In addition to ruining your salmon with a foul aftertaste, it’s safer not to consume the residue or remnants from petrochemical fire starter liquids.
After your embers have taken on a medium to high heat condition (grayish color), place them directly in the center of the grill’s heating chamber. Put the grill grate on over the fired embers and clean it by using either a halved onion or lemon like you would use a sponge but, do it quickly and in short strokes to avoid getting fingers or hands burned.
Smoking the Salmon
Next, position small amounts of the smoking chips (a few large handfuls, I’m using SmokinLicious® Grande Sapore) around the outer fringes of the main concentration of burning Charwood. This allows the wood chips to take on two roles- 1) indirectly contributing to the cooking process, and; 2) producing a burst of smoky vapor that flavors the fillets.
A minute or two after you’ve positioned the smoking wood chips and reattached the grate, place the salmon fillets, skin side down on the grate, directly over the medium embers and cover. Grill and smoke the salmon for about 4 to 6 minutes, uncover and gently turn the fillets over, cover and grill and smoke the skinless side for no longer than 2 to 4 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets.
Chef’s Tip: Be careful not to overcook. You can gauge the finish of the fillets be being able to flake them with a fork.
When done, remove the skin by gently peeling away with a fork or just serve skin side down. For a nice finishing touch, brush with a bit more, high-quality EVOO, season with freshly ground salt and pepper to taste. Feel free to garnish with fresh dill, fennel edible flowers or lemon. Hope you enjoyed Chef Calle’s recipe Charwood Grilled Salmon Fillets for a Hint of Smoky Flavor!
We all love the time of year when we can abandon the indoor kitchen and head out to the grill for open air breathing, relaxing, and some great food. For those of you who are new to outdoor grilling or who may need a refresher, we are giving you our top TIPS FOR GRILLING SAFETY so there’s no chance your summer grilling season is remembered for another reason.
You probably wondered why about 15 years ago, outdoor kitchens became all the rage. The real purpose in having an area designated for outdoor cooking took hold when people realized these structures were highly durable and allowed for measures to be in place to ensure rogue hot coals from charcoal fires or excessive heat from gas grills didn’t ignite the surrounding structures like the house and garage. If you can’t afford a full outdoor kitchen layout, at least follow some of the basic ideas: set the cooking area a distance away from any building and preferably on a fire-proof surface like concrete, that is safely away from trees and grass.
Keep your grill clean. Whether it’s propane, natural gas, electric or charcoal, all grills need periodic cleaning to keep them performing optimally as well as to prevent those surprise grease fires. Any grill can have a grease fire! Clean the drip pan, grease pan, lid, walls and grilling grates. In addition to the safety need, this will give you the longest life out of the grills parts. If you grill a lot in a single season, then clean the equipment more than just at the start and end of the season.
Don’t use lighter fluid. This is a chemical designed to give quick life to briquets, charcoal, and wood. Don’t use it! It adds a prominent chemical taste to your foods and can result in a fire that goes wild. Learn what a chimney starter is, buy one, and use it. It is the safest and easiest method of lighting a fire for a charcoal/wood grill.
Take note of the clothing you choose to wear when you know you’re going to be in control of the grill. No dangling sleeves, strings, or flammable materials should be near the grill. Aprons are a great way to keep clean as well as to keep flowing clothing under control. Just be sure the ties to said apron don’t become a fire starter.
Outdoor cooking is an adult activity. Don’t assign a youngster to watch the grill. Grease fires account for most of the damaging fires resulting from grilling. Plus, it is so easy for youngsters to receive burns from brushing or directly touching the hot grill surfaces. Animals, too, should be kept away.
Always prepare for catastrophic events! That means keep a fire extinguisher handy, sand, or baking soda at the ready. Never attempt to put out a grease fire with water. Remember, when using a fire extinguisher, spray ahead of the fire and then move toward it.
Understand how your grill works. With multi-fuel options in one piece of equipment, you need to know how to close vents, valves to gas, and output drafts. Firing up the grill and having something uncontrollable occur is not the time to learn what those knobs, slides, and dials are for.
If nuts, bolts, or screws loosen up, take the time to secure them back in place, especially if they are on lids, wheels, or fuel areas. Grills need to be sturdy to withstand the constant opening and closing of the lid. Protect the surface the grill is on by investing in a grill mat that is fire retardant. Not only can it prevent the start of a fire, but it will protect your deck or patio material from needing replacement.
When lighting a gas grill, be sure to keep the lid open. Lighting when the lid is down can result in the gas pooling and exploding. This will result in the lid becoming a weapon of its own when it is blown off the grill!
Never move a grill indoors including to a garage! I know. Space is always an issue when you entertain and a grill can take a lot of that valuable space. But there is no way around the fact that these pieces of equipment require outdoor air to prevent accumulation of volatile gases that can make you and everyone around ill or worse. Plus, these units radiate a lot of heat and that heat can spread quickly to other surfaces like the garage door, walls, siding, canopies, lawn chairs – you name it. Always maintain a 3- foot barrier around the grill including above it to ensure no issues.
Have you experienced a disaster while grilling? Tell us what safety tip you wish you had known about before disaster struck. Get tips, techniques, recipes, and the science behind the flame and fire to improve your skills with wood-fired cooking! Follow our TIPS FOR GRILLING SAFETY for a wonderful safe grilling season!
When you are going through the steps of installing an outdoor kitchen, you’ll quickly find that deciding where to set it up is one of the most difficult and impactful decisions of the process. Since you have multiple options, it can be hard to figure out exactly where to put it. We’ve come up with a list of things to consider to help you decide!
Be Conscious of Sun and Shade
Summer is prime time for outdoor kitchen use. So, when planning your outdoor kitchen, bank on warm temperatures and lots of sun, and take reactive measures. Placing your outdoor kitchen under existing shade, or planning to add new sources of shade will provide you and your guest’s comfort year-round.
Natural shade from trees and vines is best because they ventilate easily. As an added bonus vines and trees “transpire,” evaporate moisture to cool themselves, creating their own natural misting system.
There are plenty of man-made shade options as well, such as pergolas, or trellises. The growing popularity of transition rooms provides an even more permanent and durable option for your outdoor kitchen.
Leverage Your Natural Space
Do you have a pool or hot tub in your yard? A beautiful garden? When choosing where to add your outdoor kitchen, take note of any existing structures or features that you want to complement. Also be wary of design overlap. The last thing you want is for your outdoor kitchen covering to inadvertently shade your vegetable garden.
In addition, when planning the placement of your outdoor kitchen, it’s important to consider the relationship between the indoor and outdoor versions, and how they will be used together when cooking or entertaining. If you have a large outdoor space to work with, it may prove prudent to place your outdoor kitchen in closer proximity to your indoor kitchen to create a seamless transition between indoors and outdoors.
Consider the View
Another crucial element to consider when you’re placing your outdoor kitchen is your views and sight lines. You can have the most beautiful outdoor kitchen in the world, but when your guests sit down to eat at the table, if they’re facing a brick wall or the old shed in your backyard, that’s what they’re going to remember. So, be sure to consider the view when you’re trying to find the perfect location for your stainless steel outdoor kitchen.
Another key consideration is the location that will provide the most privacy from neighbors. Screening views with trees and shrubbery will provide privacy while also providing a noise buffer for your close neighbors.
Don’t Forget Utilities
When planning your outdoor kitchen layouts, keep in mind the best practical placement or installation of the necessary gas, water, and electrical supply. Note where your water, gas and electric lines are, and design your kitchen accordingly.
Furthermore, when placing your grill or smoker, think about the natural flow of wind – make sure that smoke from the grill will be carried away from dining and living areas. You should also think about making sure the kitchen area is located a safe distance from doors and entryways to keep foot traffic away from potential hazards.
Additionally, make sure to place all outdoor cooking appliances away from areas where children play or where people play sports. You’ll want to avoid basketballs or soccer balls bouncing over onto a hot grill.
Don’t Shy Away From the Roof
When one thinks “outdoor kitchen,” the tendency is to think of backyards – but that doesn’t have to always be the case. Especially if you have a small or nonexistent lawn space, building your stainless outdoor kitchen on the roof can prove a very viable design option.
If you are choosing this option though, pay special attention to restrictions and codes. They vary by municipality, so check with your town’s building department to find out rules about setbacks, fire safety, and what kind of permits you’ll need to file. We recommend working with a general contractor so you are up to code and all safety requirements are included.
Fit Your Needs
The right spot to place an outdoor kitchen will vary from homeowner to homeowner. You may like the idea of an outdoor cooking area just outside the back door of your house or a freestanding pavilion near your pool area.
At the end of the day, there’s no one “right” spot for your outdoor kitchen. But by using these outdoor kitchen location tips, you’ll ensure you make an excellent choice.