September 2019

We consider ourselves part of the food industry. Smokinlicious® is compliant with all USDA (national & international) and local rules regarding the movement of our wood products. We take great pride in our Forest Stewardship practices to stop oak tree mortality.

We consider ourselves part of the food industry. Smokinlicious® is compliant with all USDA (national & international) and local rules regarding the movement of our wood products. We take great pride in our Forest Stewardship practices to stop oak tree mortality.


To our blog kiwifruit gets smoky

In a previously published article about the food industry; we discussed the negative outcome as it relates to sales dollars when brands elect to go into the wood-fired cooking arena without researching anything about wood for cooking. Let’s take a step further and explore the actual wood and potential risks like oak tree mortality when a brand fails to carry out a menu plan, thus abandoning the wood-fired cooking concept.

I often wonder if the public is aware of all the pest infestations that are currently plaguing our country as a direct result of the movement of wood. Correction, that occurred due to global trade. Yes, it is the use of imported goods on wooden packaging materials in addition to imported plants that have resulted in infestations around our country. Each year, this risk of infestation continues to rise and frankly, I opine that it isn’t all due to importation.

What if the food industry is really the key contributor to this problem?

Emerald Ash Borer, Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, White Pine Blister, Gypsy Moth, Beech Bark Disease, Sirex Wood Wasp, Winter Moth, Dutch Elm Disease, Dogwood Anthracnose, Butternut Canker, Sudden Oak Death, Balsam Woolly Adelgid.

These are just some of the infestations that are being tracked in the USA. Let’s take a closer look at one hardwood species that is of great concern: Oak.

It is the hardwood of choice when it comes to restaurants likely due to all the hype from the state of Texas when it comes to barbecue. They like their beef (brisket specifically) and they like it cooked over oak. As mentioned in our article When A Flop Could Have Been A Success,” there were two franchise brands in particular, that banked on only oak for the success of their wood-fired menu items: Red Lobster and Applebee’s Bar & Grill.

Oak Tree Mortality & the Food Industry

Red Lobster has over 700 locations while Applebee’s Bar & Grill has nearly 2000 locations. Now process those numbers. By sourcing it from whatever suppliers they can locate and then putting it into the food industry distribution network to be delivered with other restaurant goods (including foods items like produce, spices, herbs, etc). Given the enactment of the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), we are starting to address some concerns related to the food industry. Unfortunately, the use of wood, more specifically firewood in restaurant kitchens, has not been identified as a need when it comes to health. Why?

Although Red Lobster has kept alive some of its wood-fired menu items and Applebee’s Bar & Grill is still attempting to get some life out of their wood-fired steaks, I state that these plans failed terribly. So, what happened to all the wood that was meant for these restaurants? Did it get thrown into a dumpster at each location to be transported to a landfill? Did employees volunteer to take some as firewood and transport it to their homes ignoring laws in to stop the movement of firewood? Could some supply still be sitting idle in food distribution centers?


It appears clear that we need to start with the commodity called wood and delineate regulations when it comes to using it for cooking. Rather than mass labeling all wood as appropriate for cooking, when its involved in food consumption. How long before we realize that deforestation from the spread of pest disease has been aided by the restaurant industry? If we start to question what that wood-fired steak, salmon, or chicken was cooked over, we will understand how little is known about the cooking wood being used.

More Related reading on "What Wood for Smoking" and other great smoking and grilling tips and techniques

More Related reading on “What Wood for Smoking” and other great smoking and grilling tips and techniques

Related reading:





Purchase products:

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Wood Chunks- Double and Single Filet

Dr Smoke- “Dr Smoke makes every effort possible to protect our forest from disease and blight that cause such outcomes as oak tree mortality. We are a supporter of forest stewardship and integrated pest management.”

Zucchini is a great vegetable to not only grill but ember cook. It has the density to hold up over the high heat. Add a distinct char taste to this abundant vegetable either as a side dish or an ingredient by making ember fired fresh zucchini.

Zucchini is a great vegetable to not only grill but ember cook. It has the density to hold up over the high heat. Add a distinct char taste to this abundant vegetable either as a side dish or an ingredient by making ember fired fresh zucchini.


How to cook your zucchini on hot coals.

Listen to the audio of this blog

I love thick-skinned vegetables that come in season during Summer. They are the perfect items to light a fire and make some hot coals to ember fire flavor into them.

We’re getting ready to coal roast one of my favorite vegetables – zucchini! This is so simple to do and produces an extraordinary flavor for zucchini to be eaten on its own or to be used in your favorite recipe. Clean out the fire pit, charcoal grill or outdoor fireplace and prepare to roastember fired fresh zucchini” directly on the hot coals.

Building A Small Fire

Starting the fire to burn down the wood into coalsKnow this from the start – You do not need a large fire! A small fire is best to accomplish your cooking in about an hour’s time. For my fire, I am using ten SmokinLicious Single Filet Wood Chunks in Ash with a couple of pieces of charwood that were left over from a previous cook. Why Ash hardwood? Because it is hands down, the best hardwood to produce an even bed of coals which is what you want when you coal roast.

I stack the wood so there is quite a bit of air space between the pieces. This ensures I have good oxygen flow to produce combustion quickly. My technique is to stand the wood pieces on their end and make a circle. I try to have a couple of pieces in the center kind of tipped on to each other. Remember, you want to produce hot embers quickly so it only requires a little wood and a lot of oxygen to burn things down. I light my wood using a small butane torch. Leave the torch in place until I’m sure the wood has ignited. I keep the lid off my charcoal grill so I can push the combustion process through completion and get those ash covered, hot embers.

Red Means Hot

Red Hot coals is the goal before adding the zucchiniYou will know when the coals or embers are ready for cooking when you have uniform coals and they are glowing red from the bottom and gray on top. I keep a couple of larger coals banked to the side to maintain heat and for reserved hot coals. Just in case I need to rake more to the cooking side. I like to nestle a high heat metal cooking rack on the hot coals and then place my whole zucchini on the rack. This allows for little ash to accumulate on the skin. Remember, those coals are very hot so the zucchini will take less than 20 minutes to tenderize and char.

Turn For Full Char

Zucchini on the grilling rack over the hot fire coalsWith the zucchini and coal rack in place, I give the embers about 8 minutes to char and cook the first side of the zucchini. After that time, I gently turn the zucchini so that each side gets an even char. Once the first 8 minutes are done, there will be less time needed for each of the other sides as the zucchini will hold heat. I’ve added one additional wood piece to my banked fire just to be sure I have enough heat in the coal area. I will not put the lid on the unit during the entire cooking process as this is open fire cooking. My total coal cooking time is approximately 16 minutes.

Perfection In Smoke & Char on Ember Fired Fresh Zucchini

Dr. Smoke's clock for the cooking time requiredAfter placing my ember fired fresh zucchini on hot coals for about 16 minutes total, turning several times to get an even char, this spectacular vegetable is ready for eating. You will see, there is very little coal bed left following this technique so remember, if you are cooking more than a couple of zucchini, you will need a larger coal bed.

For those of you thinking that the black, charred skin will be bitter and not appealing to eat, think again. Most of the char will rub right off but the flavor will be infused throughout the ember fired fresh zucchini. I’ve sliced mine about ¼-inch thick as I plan to make a galette of ricotta, garlic oil, and basil.

The Culinary Crew wants you to know

… that ember roasting is ideal to boost up the bland, delicately flavored zucchini and will add a rich, wood-fired taste dimension to any dish featuring this exquisite summer squash. So, be prepared to enjoy a rich, char-smoked variation of your ratatouille, quesadillas, stuffed zucchini or soups from ember cooked zucchini!

Check in soon for our post on that recipe. Did you love this wood-fired technique? Leave a comment and subscribe as we continue to bring you new ideas, tips, techniques and recipes for all things wood-fired, smoked, and charred!

You may also enjoy reading:

-Top 10 Vegetables to Cook in Hot Embers



-Ember cooked Sweet Peppers

SmokinLicious® products:

Wood Chunks- Single Filet


Our Roasted Tomatoes on the gas grill with smoker box containing two Double Filet wood chunks!

Our Roasted Tomatoes on the gas grill with smoker box containing two Double Filet wood chunks!

Our Roasted Tomatoes on the gas grill with smoker box containing two Double Filet wood chunks! Click To Tweet

listen to our blog

Listen to Easy Grill Roasted Tomatoes Blog

Many of us love to grow vegetable gardens but soon find we have an overabundance of certain items like tomatoes (though these are technically a fruit). I’m here to give you a super easy method of bringing tenderness, juiciness, and great wood flavor to this summer favorite.

Collect your favorite tomato varieties from the garden and meet me at the grill for this great, easy technique.

Preparing for the Grill for Roasted Tomatoes


<strong>As Fall approaches think about the storage of cooking wood.</strong>

As Fall approaches think about the storage of cooking wood.

Donna from our culinary staff

Posted By Donna G




Listen to the audio of this blog

It seems every year as we approach the Fall, weather predictions are made on how severe the winter will be. This includes predictions on subzero cold in our area of the Northeast USA. In preparation for whatever Mother Nature brings our way, we thought this would be a good time to remind you about the storage and maintenance of your cooking wood products. Storage of wood is necessary to keep the flavor essence at its best which makes your foods taste great!


How to set a Stok™ Grill: Our Video Response

We received the following inquiry from a Stok™ Grill user and Smokinlicious® blog follower:

“I want to smoke ribs on my STOK™ drum charcoal grill but am worried about getting a consistent temp and my ratio of wood chips to lump charcoal“?

Listen And Watch PART ONE:


Thank you, Mr. Brown, for your question submitted @smokinlicious on Instagram. Follow us on our blog, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, as we explore the culinary delights of wood-fired cooking and all the superb flavors! Wood – it’s not just for traditional barbecue – it has SO many great uses: ember cooking, baking, roasting, searing, cold smoking, etc.

Keep your questions coming!

Bon Bar B Q

Dr. Smoke and the Culinary Smoke Team


Thank you, to our follower who had a queston on how to set a Stok™ Grill

Thank you, to our follower who had a question on how to set a Kettle Grill


Eastern Alder tree growing in our meadow provides a light smoky taste to food when used for cooking. Perfect for fish and light tasting fare.

Eastern Alder wood for a light smoke wood flavor


As we highlight another hardwood from our offerings, we need to start by pointing out that we are referring to Eastern Alder not the better known Western Alder or Red Alder of the west coast. Eastern Alder is part of the Birch family, with the scientific name of Alnus but the common names for the varieties found in the Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania regions of Eastern Alder (Smooth Alder), White Alder, Red Alder.

Alder is a relatively soft hardwood of medium density. It is most commonly used with fish but I think I need to stress here that really any cooking hardwood can be used with any food item at the discretion of the cook. Many factors play in to how a hardwood reveals itself during the cooking event: rub ingredients, brine ingredients, quality of the meat/poultry/fish, freshness of the food item, style of cooking (over the coals, in the coals, indirect heat, etc.) and most importantly, oxygen flow which feeds the combustion of the wood. Alder provides a neutral coloring to the outer skin of foods which is why it is a favorite for fish. Would this be a first choice for say a steak or other beef item? No, but I certainly like to use it for lots of other things like fruit, vegetables, cheese dishes, and of course, fish.

For cooking, you can expect Alder to perform as follows:

Heat Level: Medium – 17.6MBTU

Fuel Efficiency: Fair

Ease of Lighting: Good

Ideal Uses: Cold Smoking/Poaching/Grilling/Stove Top Smoking

When you’re looking for something on the lighter menu of woods, keep Alder in mind, and explore its lighter heat level and versatility for the more delicate items of cooking.


Additional information:




Purchase products:

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Wood Chunks- Double and Single Filet

Dr Smoke- "Eastern Alder is a very versatile wood for all foods."

Dr Smoke- “Eastern Alder is a very versatile wood for all foods.”

Savory Smoky-Grilled Potatoes

Savory Smoky-Grilled Potato (es)

listen to our blog

listen to our blog regarding wood chips for smoking


SMOKY-GRILLED POTATO: OUR #1 CROP GETS A NEW FLAVOR TAKE-As the #1 crop in the world, available all year, potatoes are a favorite for a variety of reasons. Get the nutritional benefit of this abundant vegetable by adding flavor in a different way – cooking it over charcoal and hardwood!

Ingredients for Your Smoky-Grilled Potato Dish:

Simple Preparation For a Simple Vegetable

I’m using small red and white potatoes. You’ll need a knife and cutting board, as I like to cut these small potatoes in half to allow for maximum wood fire flavoring. I’m going to use a vegetable grill pan but you can use any heat safe pan whether foil, glass, heat-safe ceramic, or cast iron. Cut each potato in half, and place in the grill pan.

Seasoning and Oil Bring Out the Best

Just 3 simple ingredients are needed before the pan is placed on the grill. Drizzle three tablespoons of oil over the halved potatoes, then add coarse salt and fresh pepper. The oil can be grapeseed, walnut, almond, vegetable, or canola, anything you have and prefer. Mix well to ensure each potato is coated, then let rest to allow the seasonings to penetrate before adding to the hot grill.

Charcoal Grill Set Up

Time to get the grill ready. I’ll be using a combination of charcoal and wood – charcoal as the fuel for heat and wood chunks and chips for flavor. Keeping my intake vents open on the kettle grill, I start a chimney full of charcoal. Just one chimney will be needed for the actual cooking. I lay a small line of unlit coals down both the right and left side of the charcoal grate to keep my temperature stable through the cook. I pour the hot coals in the middle then add two Sugar Maple wood chunks and a handful of Wild Cherry Grande Sapore® wood chips on top of the hot coals. On goes the food grate and then my vegetable pan of halved seasoned potatoes.

The depth of Flavor Through Smoke

Once the wood is set up and the food grate is on, the pan of potatoes is added. Put the grill cover on and adjust the lid outtake vent to 1/3 open position. Now, adjust the lower intake vent to the ½ open position. Let the potatoes cook for about 25 minutes prior to stirring. You’ll see the golden hue from the maple and cherry smoke vapor. Be sure to rotate the potatoes on the bottom to the top so that there is even color and flavor to each piece. The total cook time will be close to an hour but each grill and charcoal will perform differently so be sure to watch closely after the first 35 minutes. Remove when the potatoes can be pierced easily with a toothpick or knife tip.

Smoky-Grilled Potato- Full Flavor With All the Nutrition Intact

With all the nutritional value still intake, these golden, smoky potatoes are ready to eat as is or you can include them in your favorite potato recipes. I’ll be giving a smoky edge to my interpretation of a potato curry in our next recipe feature. Take advantage of this popular comfort vegetable and the ease of using a charcoal/wood grill for cooking and give your meals a memorable flavor enhancement.

The Culinary Crew wants you to know

that potatoes are one of the easiest veggies to grill or smoke! A minimum amount of effort will yield maximum deliciousness. Go ahead and experiment with a variety of your favorite spices or ingredients when grilling or smoking your spuds. Cilantro, curry, garlic or onion powder and even a touch of cayenne pepper can add a taste zip to these great and hardy tubers. There are many varieties of potatoes and they all do well on a grill or in a smoker but, just remember- the fresher the better!

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on our feature so start the conversation with a comment!

Related Reading




SmokinLicious® Products in this blog:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Dr. Smoke try this smoky-grilled potato technique!

Dr. Smoke try this smoky-grilled potato technique!

Smoke some Potatoes add cheese for our Smoked Cheesy Potatoes-- oh so yummy!

Smoke some Potatoes add cheese for our Smoked Cheesy Potatoes– oh so yummy!

Try this recipe!- Smoked Cheesy Potatoes-- oh so yummy! Click To Tweet


Below is a recipe for Smoke Cheesy Potatoes (serves 6) that have been made at our events.

Smoked Cheesy Potatoes- Ingredients:

  • 1 package frozen diced potatoes or 16 oz. Fresh potato
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cups of shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 6 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 ½ cups of heavy cream
  • ½ cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper


In a foil pan, place the diced potatoes, diced red pepper, diced onion, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Sprinkle 2 cups of the shredded white cheddar cheese over the potato mixture. Mix gently and set aside. Mix the parmesan cheese and heavy cream together. Pour over the potato mixture. Top with the remaining 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. Place the foil pan on the smoker grate and smoke at 275° to 300° for 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Stir mixture a couple of times through the cooking process.

“Made the Smokinlicious® way!”

Read more:

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject


-The Top 10 Vegetables To Cook In Hot Embers



SmokinLicious® Products:

Wood Chunks: Double and Single Filet

Wood Chips: Grande Sapore®, Minuto®, & Piccolo®

Dr. Smoke says Nothing is finer than Smoked Cheesy Potatoes!

Dr. Smoke says Nothing is finer than Smoked Cheesy Potatoes!