Our Fresh Herbs smoked and Iced ready to bring great flavors to our winter soups!
HERBS SMOKED AND ICED MAKE THE PERFECT WINTER FLAVOR CUBE
Here’s the perfect way to keep great flavors on hand for when you need them. I’m going to show you how to make smoked herb flavor cubes which consist of our previously smoked fresh herbs and, in my case, bone broth. Whether you smoke all the components of these flavorful cubes or not is up to you. I happen to like the combination of smoked bone broth and smoked herbs for some of my soups, sauces, and glazes. These are the perfect little flavor gems for all your recipes and the prefrozen cubes make adding so simple.
Here is all you need to make these flavorful cubes . Silicone ice cube trays, your choice of herbs and spices, as well as broth or stock. It will take about one quart of broth to make 40 flavor cubes.
To make portioning the cubes a snap, I use a measuring cup for the liquid. As I previously smoked my herbs and placed them in spice jars, I can portion out the herbs directly from the jars. Today, I’m using smoked parsley and oregano dust for infused broth cubes. These are two of my more popular blends for sauces, soups, and extra flavor to vegetables. Be sure your broth or stock is well strained before adding to the cube trays.
Tasting Notes: Don’t forget about fruits as well. These make perfect flavor cubes and can be cold smoked using a handheld food smoker .
1-2-3 And Done!
The best part of making flavor cubes is the freezer does most of the work. I simply place previously smoked herbs of my choice into the bottom of the silicone tray compartments and pour in the broth. I like to put my cube trays on mini sheet pans for easy placement and removal from the freezer. Just be sure to label the trays so when you go to un-mold, everything will be easy to identify. That’s it! How easy is that??
Tasting Notes:You do not have to use silicone cube trays but I prefer these to metal or plastic. I find they don’t taint the flavor of the cubes and they are extremely easy to release.
A New Umami
After adding smoked herbs to silicone ice trays and pouring in smoked bone broth, these flavor cubes just take hours of freezer time to set and then they are ready for use. I like to un-mold mine and place in storage bags that allow me to reach in, grab what I need, and reseal the rest. The depth of flavor these little cubes add to soup and sauces, whether for meats and poultry or vegetables, is fabulous.
Don’t forget to experiment with a variety of tastes and don’t feel you are restricted to just one herb or spice per cube. Make flavor blends like Indian flavor cubes with curry, ginger, allspice, and cumin. Or an Italian blend with oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme and rosemary. Or, combine fruit and spices for cocktail-like blends. There are no rules to the combinations you can use so find the flavors you love and flavor cube away!
Our not so smokey Smoked Turkey is from cooking this on the gas grill, not on a smoker. We selected this photo because of the great color- not dark like a traditional smoker can impart!
THE NOT-SO-SMOKEY SMOKED TURKEY
Listen to our blog #smokinlicious- smoked turkey
Turkey is one of those items that is generally made for a special event – Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year – and not associated with everyday cooking. I’m here to tell you that it’s easy to enjoy turkey any time of year when you use a gas grill for the cooking and smoke infusion. All you need is a turkey (preferably one under 15 lbs.), 6 wood chunks, a water pan with hot water, and your favorite gas grill.
Turkey 101 Prep
I’m fortunate to have a local fresh turkey farm, Sprague’s Turkey Farm in Portville, NY, close by so I’ve ordered one that is under 14 lbs. Before preparing the turkey for marinating overnight, I first need to remove the parts that are commonly found inside the turkey. This includes the neck, heart, liver, and gizzard which is part of the turkey’s digestive tract. These parts do make for great stock so if you can, save them to add to a stockpot down the road.
Once the organs and neck are removed, it’s important to wash the entire turkey under running water. After a thorough wash, pat dry with some paper towels and place in a shallow pan for the rub application.
Herb and Spice Rub
After washing and patting dry the turkey, I trim the excess skin from the neck area and then begin applying the rub. I’ve combined an assortment of herbs and spices for my rub as I tend to like a potent mix of ingredients to balance the fresh meat and smoke. My rub includes: allspice, clove, basil, cumin, cardamom, coriander, cinnamon, celery salt, garlic and onion powder, oregano, orange and lemon peel, paprika, and ancho chili powder. I make sure to cover the entire surface of the bird. I add a few drops of avocado oil and then apply additional rub. This will be refrigerated overnight to allow the flavors to marry and penetrate to the meat.
Tasting Notes: Feel free to incorporate different herbs and spices in your rub as there are no rules when it comes to combinations.
Smoking on the Gas Grill
As you can see in some of the photos, this was a cold day at the grill, with a temperature below 25°F. I prepare my LP/Gas grill by first removing one of the grill grates, exposing two of my burner shields. To one of the shields I place 3 double filet wood chunks from SmokinLicious®. Now I lite only two burners; the one with the wood chunks and the one directly next to that. I set these burners to medium heat to start. Just before I’m ready to grill, I check the temperature readout and adjust my heat setting until I hit my target temperature of 325°F.
Time to add the rubbed turkey to the unlit side of the grill and my water pan right next to the bird. I insert a thermometer and close the lid. Basically, for the next couple of hours, I just need to monitor that the water pan has enough hot water in it and the bird gets spritz with water to keep the skin moist.
Tasting Notes: Although I’ve placed my water pan to the side of my turkey, between the lit and unlit sides of the grill, you can use this as a drip pan and place this directly under the turkey. I elected not to do this today due to my low outdoor temperature.
Time to Serve!
If you’ve maintained the steady temperature of 325°F and hot water in the drip pan, you won’t need to stay with the grill during most of the turkey’s cooking time. My skin has crisped up thanks to maintaining moisture both on the bird’s skin and in the cooker with my water pan. I remove the turkey and take it to the kitchen where I cover it for about 30 minutes prior to carving. It’s super tender, moist, with a crunch to the skin. The best part is that the smoke is subtle and does not over power the fresh meat.
That’s why the two-zone method of smoking is perfect when your feeding a variety of tastes. Those that tend to avoid smoked foods will find this full of flavor that is well balanced due to our rub and consistent cooking temperature. My turkey of 13-1/2 pounds took just about 4 hours to finish with very little effort on my part, even with a 22°F outdoor temperature and wind chill. The best part is my oven was free to cook a bunch of side dishes so everything was timed perfectly for the table.
What’s your favorite preparation for turkey? Bringing innovation to wood fired cooking with recipes, techniques and the science behind the fire, smoke, and flavor. That’s SmokinLicious®.
Don’t ruin your Smoking & Grilling Experience by making simple mistakes!
10 THINGS YOU DO THAT RUIN YOUR SMOKING & GRILLING EXPERIENCE
We’ve all had those moments when the food comes off the smoker or grill and we wonder, What went wrong??
Sometimes the event is so bad you want to swear off outdoor cooking for good. I’m here to ask you to step away from the ledge and think about whether you do any of the following things. The more items on the list you engage in, the more likely you can benefit from my suggestions.
#1 Resting Meat
This tends to be the common practice for roasts and steaks/chops. You’ve managed to get a nice crisp skin to the roast or steak and then you let it sit or rest, thinking it will make the outcome juicier. You end up with a soft skin, a wet outside, and waxy fat. These are meat cuts that don’t require resting. In fact, they will rest enough on your dinner plate so they are best served hot of the grill or smoker, without a rest period.
#2 Using Too Much Wood
You know that charcoal and gas are the fuels used to reach and maintain temperature while you’re cooking, and that hardwood is what flavors your food. You want to ensure there is adequate smoke flavor so you add 10 pieces of wood chunks to the hot coals when you start cooking. Then after the first hour, you add another 6 pieces of wood. STOP! That is way too much and simply put, a waste of a tree. On average it takes just 6 ounces of wood to start flavoring meat. My rule of thumb is to add 3-4 wood pieces for a full chimney of charcoal plus a couple of pounds of unlit. Only when those pieces are fully combusted (black and ashy) do I add a couple more pieces. Depending on what and how long I’m cooking, I may only use 6 pieces total.
#3 You Soaked Your Smoking/Grilling Wood
I know this is one of the biggest controversies out there when it comes to smoking with wood. To soak or not. I take the stand that you should never soak the wood as adding water will only fluctuate your cooking temperature and take more energy away from the fire to steam the water from the wood. Remember, the wood cannot start to combust until the excess water has been vaporized. Work with a wood that has at least 20% moisture for the best flavor.
#4 Room Temperature Meat
It is well documented that when you want to attract smoke vapor from burning wood, colder temperatures are like a magnet. Don’t take the meat out of the refrigerator until right before you’re ready to place it on the grill. In addition to attracting smoke vapor, colder temperature meats will warm up faster in your equipment than if you left them out on the kitchen counter.
#5 Searing to Lock in Juices
This is the one item even well-known restaurants can get wrong. Searing meats before finish cooking does not lock in the juices. What it does do is brown the outside of the meat and firm up the outer surface, giving a distinct pleasant flavor. The meat fibers do not get sealed by this method or produce any additional juiciness to the meat.
#6 Marinating Overnight or Longer
As marinades tend to contain oil and meat is made up mostly of water, the two tend to compete against each other. Here’s the thing with marinades. Marinating for long periods of time do not allow the marinade to penetrate any deeper than if you marinate for just one hour. In fact, you have an increased risk of breaking down the meat fibers too far with a marinade, producing a soggy outer layer. Stick to short marinade times and understand most of that flavor will penetrate only to the outside layer.
#7 Don’t Trim the Fat Cap
Just like meat being made up of mostly water, fat is made up of oil. Again, water and oil don’t mix. Leaving a fat cap on meat only allows it to melt and drip into the equipment you’re using. This can produce some additional flavors to the meat but allow too many drippings into the fire area, and you’ll cause flare ups that will deposit soot onto your meat. Don’t forget, most of us have a habit of trimming fat off meat before we consume it.
#8 It’s Done When There’s No Pink Meat
I’m not sure how many ways I can say this so I’ll be blunt. YOU NEED AN EASY READ DIGITAL THERMOMETER WHEN YOU COOK!! That is the only way to know when various meats and poultry are fully cooked. Follow safe temperature guidelines and don’t go by the color of the meat. Remember, bone marrow reveals itself differently in animal proteins which causes variation in pink, red and even purple coloring near bone.
#9 Steak Should Always Have Grill Marks
Grill marks are not the mark of a great steak ! A uniform brown coloring on the meat’s surface is what your goal should be. That means a deep sear was achieved and great flavor is hidden underneath. The only way to achieve that is to learn how to direct cook the steak with a higher cooking temperature and frequent turning. This allows for maximum radiant heat and even coloring and cooking.
#10 You Use Something Other Than Water in the Water Pan
There are all kinds of justifications for why liquids like beer, juice, wine, etc. should be used in a water pan while cooking. It produces better flavor, it penetrates deeper, it produces more moisture. Let me be clear. It’s called a water pan for a reason. It is designed to hold water and hot water at that. By starting with hot water, you allow the energy of the fire to go directly to cooking the meat not heating up the water. Water evaporates which produces a moisture rich environment keeping meats from drying out. Other liquids will not evaporate and could even burn in the pan due to sugar alcohol levels.
Even if you’ve checked off a lot of these items as practices your guilty of engaging in, it’s easy to turn around your outdoor grilling and smoking skills. In the end, it will be safer for your guests, better for your meat investments, and an overall more pleasurable experience doing the cooking.
Do you have a bad habit you turned around when you grill and smoke? Leave us a comment to let us know. We welcome all types of questions and 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.
Our animation of Charcoal-Wood Burning Grills and how well SmokinLicious® wood products flavor!
“MATCH YOUR COOKER” – CHARCOAL-WOOD BURNING GRILLS: THE WOOD MASTER’S 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 charcoal-wood burning grill equipment; these are grills that capable of using charcoal and wood for authentic charcoal grilling. 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.
For now, we introduce you to our wood master’s guide to SmokinLicious® cooking woods for specific smokers.
We hope you view this guide as a helpful resource for selecting the perfect culinary wood for your equipment. As always, our Wood Guide Team is ready to answer your additional questions and further assist you with the perfect grilling and smoking experience!