Our preparation of smoked herbs, from picking, smoking and grinding to make smoked herb dust. Adding great flavor to dishes.
SMOKED HERBS FLAVORS WITH SMOKED HERB DUST
Don’t make the mistake of thinking fresh herbs are to be used in dishes as, well, fresh only. Although you may have dried your fresh herb harvest before, we are bringing another alternative to you.
We hot smoke the fresh herbs on the grill then turn them into a dust for use in all types of dishes. The smoking process will bring a depth of flavor that you’ve likely never experienced before. Go to the herb garden and pick your favorite varieties and let’s get making smoked herb dust!
Smoke Vapor Infusion
One thing about this smoked herb technique is you can do the smoke infusion by a variety of equipment methods.
For those with a gas grill, add wood chunks either directly to the heat shields on one side of the grill or add wood chunks to a metal smoker box that can be placed on the heat shields or the grill grate. For charcoal grill owners, light your charcoal and allow to reduce to hot coals only. Add a piece or two of hardwood chunks or a handful of hardwood chips to the hot coals. If possible, push the hot coals to one side of the grill. For both grill types, you want to use a two-zone cooking method so the herbs don’t catch fire.
For those that don’t own grilling equipment or who simply don’t want to bother lighting up the grill, you can use a handheld food smoker. Simply place micro wood chips in the bowl of the unit, place the herbs in a storage bag with the tubing of the smoker unit, cinch the end of the bag around the tubing, and light the chips. I like to leave the smoke in the bag for maximum smoke vapor infusion.
I used both my gas grill and charcoal grill for the smoke process by placing my herbs in a vegetable basket and grilling with the herbs on the unlit side of the grill. Within the first 5 minutes, you’ll see how the herbs lose moisture and begin the drying stage.
Tasting Notes: I find the handheld food smoker will produce the boldest smoke flavor to the herbs. The intensity of flavor rated from lightest to boldest based on equipment would be a gas grill, electric smoker, pellet smoker, charcoal grill, handheld food smoker.
Once the herbs have charred and dried, it’s time to remove them from the grill and bring them to the food processor. I have a mini processor that only has two settings: chop and grind. I prefer to use this appliance to bring the smoked herbs to dust level but a spice grinder works just as well.
First, remove all the herb leaves from the stems and place a small quantity in the food processor bowl. You can remove the leaves by placing the entire herb sprig in a colander and pressing the leaves through to parchment paper. Secure the lid and grind until you get as fine a dust as the appliance will allow. Both the appliance and the herb will determine how fine the herb dust will get. As you will see, basil dust becomes finer than oregano. This technique will work for just about any herb you can grow or locate at the market. Store the herb dust in glass or metal jars for up to a year.
Tasting Notes:Smoked herbs are much stronger in flavor than the standard dried herb. Adjust the amount used in recipes as needed. It is often best to start with less, taste, and then add more as needed.
So Many Uses
Experimentation is key when it comes to #herbdust. Most often, herbs will be applied to meats and poultry, perhaps rice and pasta dishes, but there are so many more foods that are good pairings for herb dust. Let’s take parsley as an example. Commonly used with fish and beef, parsley is a great pairing for sweet items as well. This includes banana and cream. It’s important that you look beyond the traditional side dishes and entrees and explore the sweet side of what herbs can offer. By doing so, you’re sure to find endless combinations that will tickle your palate and give you more pleasing menu experiences.
We are cooking on a chimney starter with a grill pan to nicely char our head of Cauliflower for this recipe!
COAL FIRE CAULIFLOWER BY COOKING ON A CHIMNEY STARTER
A cousin to broccoli, #cauliflower is one of those vegetables that can be eaten raw or cooked and converted to so many different textures. Best yet, cauliflower is one of those super cancer-fighting foods as it contains sulforaphane known to kill cancer stem cells.
I’ll be taking my head of cauliflower and introducing it to hot coals, first, direct heat using a #chimneystarter for the actual cooking and then directly on the hot coals to give it the perfect “meat” char. No matter what color you enjoy – white, yellow, purple – grab a head and get your chimney starter ready, as I show you how to use a chimney starter as an actual grill.
Why a Chimney Starter
There are times when you really don’t need to fire up a full charcoal area of coals on the charcoal grill. I have the perfect solution when you’re doing just a small quantity of a food, like our head of cauliflower. Use your chimney starter
To start, I place a mesh screen on the charcoal grill grate to help retain the small, hot coals for cooking. I have a collection of micro charcoal pieces that work perfectly for this type of cooking.
After lighting a Firestarter, I place the charcoal filled chimney starter on top of the Firestarter and allow the coals to burn down to hot embers. Hot embers are what I will be using to cook my fresh cauliflower, first, directly on the chimney starter, then on the mesh screen once I dump the hot embers from the chimney starter.
Prep and Cook
Cauliflower is so simple to prepare for chimney starter coal cooking. Just remove the thick stem and the green leaves, then cut in half. I’ll be placing a griddle pan directly over the chimney starter for the start of the cooking. I first drizzle a couple of tablespoons of a high heat tolerant oil over the cauliflower (I’m using avocado oil). Allow that to cook while you melt butter which will be poured over the cauliflower. I melt the butter directly on the grill while the cauliflower is cooking. Allow this to char the cauliflower on the griddle for about 12 minutes. We just want enough tenderness to allow the direct coal cooking to provide the flavor.
Embers Give Char Flavor
After the cauliflower has produced some tenderness while direct cooking over the chimney starter, it’s time to remove the griddle pan and dump the hot coals onto the mesh. You’ll see I’ve placed a large wood chunk just off the hot coals to produce some additional wood-fired flavor. Now in goes the cauliflower steaks. I position them right on the hot coals. Don’t turn or disturb these pieces for a least 8 minutes at which time, flip the cauliflower to char the other side. This is what produces the fabulous “meaty” char taste and why cauliflower is done on the grill is often referred to as a cauliflower steak.
If you will use the cauliflower in a recipe, then cooking about 12 minutes on the coals will be enough. If enjoying as is, then cook slightly longer and enjoy. This truly is the easiest method of cooking a single head of cauliflower for a true char flavor. Which I will be taking to a cauliflower rice recipe that’s coming up!
Have you ever cooked directly on a chimney starter? Leave us a comment to share. Bringing innovation to wood-fired cooking with recipes, techniques and the science behind the fire, smoke, and flavor. That’s SmokinLicious®.
The SmokinLicious® culinary crew’s two-zone cooking method set up to smoke Fava Beans on the Gas grill with Wood chunks!
WHY TWO-ZONE COOKING METHOD LET’S YOU WALK AWAY FROM THE GRILL
We all know that the key to easy and successful outdoor cooking is to control the temperature. I also believe that outdoor cooking should not hold you hostage at the grill. That’s why everyone should learn the two-zone cooking method for grilling.
Let’s cover what type of cooking you can do by this method, why it’s so successful, and how to set up the zones.
Why Two-Zone is Best
Two-zone cooking can be done on any type of grill no matter the fuel source. What is two-zone cooking? Using the fuel source on only half the grill while the other half holds the food. Although you may use the unlit side of the grill for most of the cooking, you have the benefit of finishing crispy skins of items or quick cooking thinner cuts of meats on the direct heat side.
Two-zone cooking is also called direct and indirect cooking. The indirect side uses indirect convection heat to cook the food which means the heat generated by the lit side radiates into the material of the equipment and produces heat (convection heat) on the unlit side. The direct side produces the heat within the unit and can be used when quick cooking is needed or when a food that has been cooked on the indirect side needs crisping, additional coloring, or some char.
Set Up a Two-Zone
The primary reason you want to set up two-zone cooking is most of the grill cooking does not require direct heat. When you consistently cook foods, especially meats, over direct heat, you easily can have dried, stiff, flavorless results. This is due to the components of meat reacting at different temperatures that with direct cooking occur too fast to react.
I will tell you that you need a grilling area that is large enough to establish two zones. I judge the space needed with a rectangular, disposable foil pan. If the pan can fit on half the grill area without issue, then you have plenty of room for a two-zone setup. When using a gas grill, this means lighting the burners on one half of the grill. If you don’t have an even number of burners, then decide how many are to be turned on and how many left off. With a charcoal grill, placing the hot coals on only half the charcoal area. On an electric unit, if you can manipulate the heating element, isolate the element to one side of the unit. The temperature that works ideally for two-zone cooking is 225°F. Of course, I always add wood chunks to give a smoky flavor to the foods. Remember, the hardwood goes on the direct side of the grill or lit burner or hot coals.
Note that you can also use a water pan using two zones. This can be placed on either side of the grill depending on when you need the direct heat side. Keep in mind, when doing meats, it’s great to place a pan under the meat with vegetables (onions, potatoes, celery, peppers, etc.) and a small amount of liquid that can collect the meat renderings. You can also place pans of beans to catch those drippings. Anything is fair game.
For those times when you don’t want to add any additional foods, you can simply lay a thin foil pan under the grill grate of the indirect side or a sheet of foil. That will collect any fat drippings.
Since radiant heat is what you are cooking with when foods are placed on the indirect side, you can cook anything. I love doing tarts and cakes via this method, especially during the hot months when you don’t want to lite your indoor oven. In fact, those are the times that I cook an entire meal using a two-zone setup.
You can also cook multiple items using both direct and indirect heat. A long cooking meat goes on the indirect side, is cooked to temperature and held there, while a side dish is cooked on direct heat. Don’t forget, if the cookware you use is high heat tolerant, you can use cookware as well. This is how I can make cakes, tarts, and bread on the grill. You need to view this equipment like an oven as that is essentially what it is!
Use Like an Oven & Walk Away
I’m going, to be honest. Although it’s true that you can produce more moist foods using a two-zone method the real reason I love this method of cooking is I can walk away from the grill. This is particularly true when using a gas grill which holds the temperature steady, which for me, is 250°F for long cook meats and regular baking temperatures for all my cookies, cakes, tarts, bread. Remember, charcoal grills will still require you to refuel so the temperature can fluctuate more if you’re not careful. Keeping an extra chimney starter of charcoal going will solve that issue.
As a final note, even though two-zone cooking allows you more time away from the grill, you still need a good digital thermometer to monitor the temperature of the food. Invest in an easy read one and you’ll really enjoy this new way of grilling and smoking.
Our drawing of the typical offset smokers, which come in a variety of sizes! Study our Smokers list
“MATCH YOUR COOKER” – SMOKERS LIST-OUR WOOD MASTERS GUIDE
For those that have followed us for years, you know we are proud that almost from the start of our Company, we were committed to providing a guide for equipment to cooking wood product match. We refer to our guide affectionately as “Match Your Cooker”.
In this article, we are covering our recommendations for smoker equipment; these are cookers that are dedicated for use as a smoker, usually hot smoking at that. As there are always new equipment lines and models released, our plan is to provide regular updates. We also encourage you to send us a message when you don’t see a manufacturer or model listed so we can add this to our listing.
For now, we introduce you to our wood master’s guide to SmokinLicious®cooking woods for specific smokers.