January 2020


We are cooking on a chimney starter with a grill pan to nicely char our head of Cauliflower for this recipe!

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

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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

All our hot embers accumulated in the Chimney starter provides an excellent heat source for cooking

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.

Chef Bert stresses the importance of not using lighter fluid

#chefbertandtom

Prep and Cook

Pouring the butter over the cauliflower resting on our grill plan

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

nicely charred Cauliflower ready for our recipe!

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®.

What does a chimney starter do?

A chimney starter, also called a charcoal chimney, is an environmentally friendly way to ignite either lump charcoal, briquettes or cooking wood without the use of petro-chemicals.  Concentrated, intense heat from flames rises in the chamber and ignites charcoal or wood.  Chimney starters can be used to conveniently ember cook smaller quantities of food.  It is an ideal means to coal fire or ember cook cauliflower.

SmokinLicious® products used in this blog:

Our hand split double filet smoker wood chunks

#woodchunks

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on Grilling ideas beyond cooking on a #chimneystarter !

Related reading:

-Cauliflower roasted on LP/Gas Grill over wood chunks

-EMBER COOKED SWEET PEPPERS

-Grilling/Roasting Broccoli on the Grill

-EMBER COOKING/ROASTING GARLIC IN AN IRON SKILLET

Dr. Smoke- Only need to char up a head of Cauliflower, do your cooking on a chimney starter instead of lighting the grill!

Dr. Smoke- Only need to char up a head of Cauliflower, do your cooking on a chimney starter instead of lighting the grill!

Our Char-wood is produced by Direct firing our North American hardwood blocks until the right amount of Carbonization is achieved!

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

SUMMARY:

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!

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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.

Carbonization

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.

Flavor

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.

Benefits of SmokinLicious® Charwood

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!

What is Japanese charcoal?

Binchotan charcoal is made from the Japanese direct fire method of making charcoal with a kiln that has been around for centuries. Japanese charcoal is very expensive and burns longer than lump hardwood charcoal!

Is charcoal made from wood?

Charcoal briquets and lump charcoal are made from recycled materials such as old pallets, lumber scraps from flooring, cabinet, and furniture makers. Some charcoal products may contain binding agents as well as accelerants to make for easy lighting.

Is wood better than charcoal?

Cooking wood can offer an ease of lighting and flavor to your foods while its fuel performance is more consistent than that of many carbonized charcoal products. Plus, wood produces less ash than lump charcoal or briquettes.

SmokinLicious® products:

SmokinLicious® Charwood is produced in a similar set up to the Japanese direct-fire method.Char-wood

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Additional reading:

-WHY CHARCOAL IS NOT AN INGREDIENT

-WOOD-FIRED APPLES MAKE THE BEST CAKE

-6 TIPS FOR A HEALTHY OUTDOOR COOKING SEASON

 

Dr. Smoke- Your will love using our Charwood!

Dr. Smoke- Your will love using our Char-wood!

Marinating our Riblets

Marinating our Riblets in Zip Lock bag

Marinating- the Truths to guide you Click To Tweet

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Marinating-At one time or another, I’m sure you’ve either purchased a prepared marinade or constructed your own to use with some type of animal protein.  Likely, your goal was to either add flavor or to tenderize or both.  But, let me ask you: do you really know what marinades do for specific foods and do you know how to use them?

My intention is to debunk the myths, get at the truth of what marinades can do and provide a guide on marinade amounts and ideal marinating times for specific foods.

Let’s get started!

PART I: Myth to Truth

How Deep Do Marinades Go?

One of my favorite myths is that of the depth that marinades penetrate in meat.  The tale is that once a meat is exposed to a marinade, it will get completely thru but this is far from the truth.

Marinades are a surface to few millimeters below surface benefit no matter what the content of the soaking liquid.  The oil, herbs, seasonings and spices only add flavor to the exterior of the food with no ingredient ever penetrating to the center of the meat.

Are Bottled Dressings a Marinade?

We all look for ways to cut corners and one of the myths out there is that bottled dressings work just fine as a substitute marinade.  The truth, however, is bottled dressings have high levels of acidity which when exposed to meat protein tend to break down the meat molecules too far resulting in a mushy texture.  Additionally, bottled dressings are loaded with unwanted ingredients like sweeteners (sugar), gums, and stabilizers and lack ingredients that give any real flavor.

How Long Should You Marinate Meat?

As mentioned above, since marinades don’t penetrate deeply into meat, a longer marinating time doesn’t mean more tender or flavorful meat.  In fact, the opposite becomes true.  Marinating too long will allow the protein bonds in the meat to weaken resulting in a mushy exterior which can prevent the meat from holding on to moisture.  That means you end up with a dry piece of meat.

Doesn’t the Acid in a Marinade Tenderize Meat?

When you’re looking to tenderize meat what you are really doing is breaking down connective tissue in the meat which is what produces tough cuts. Connective tissue is made up of collagen and fiber which can be weakened by an acidic ingredient like vinegar, wine, citrus juice, etc.  The problem again is this affect is surface only and cannot penetrate to the core of the meat.  Best advise is to use these ingredients sparingly and for shorter marinating times.

Can You Use a Marinade on Any Meat?

Since you’ve learned that marinades benefit the surface of the meat only, it is best for them to be used with thinner cuts of meat, like chicken breasts, cutlets, chunked meats, steak, and chops.  Larger cuts of meat do best with a wet rub or spice paste.

PART II: Marinating Tips for High Flavor and Juiciness

Tip #1 Flavorings and Seasonings: Use a lot of these ingredients in marinades and be sure to watch the salt or it will inhibit the absorption of other herbs, spices, and seasonings.

Tip #2 Score the Meat: To achieve as much penetration as possible, score the meat’s surface with a knife or prick the surface with a fork.

Tip #3 Reactivating the Marinade: I personally like to marinate in a storage bag but you can use chaffing dishes or other similar large baking dishes covered with plastic wrap.  When using a storage bag, ensure that all the air is out of the bag before sealing.  Halfway through the marinating time, flip the storage bag or stir the meat in a dish to ensure everything is getting even soaking time.

Tip #4 Refrigeration: One risk with marinating is the development of microorganisms since you are dealing with raw meat.  You can reduce this risk but getting your marinated meat in the refrigerator as quickly as possible to avoid the temperature danger zone of 40-140°F when bacteria can spread rapidly.

Tip #5 Wipe Off Excess and Discard Leftover: Remember, you’ve just marinated raw meat so never keep used marinade.  It needs to be discarded immediately.  If you feel you want to offer some of the marinade to go on the cooked food, simply keep a small amount separate from the marinating meat.  Also, so you don’t get excessive flare-up on the grill, wipe off excess marinade from the meat before grilling.

PART III: Can you Marinate too long?

Guide to Marinating Foods

This guide is intended to provide a starting point for specific foods on the quantity of marinade needed and the timing of the marinating process.

Smokinlicious marinating table, providing marinating time by food tryupe
Smokinlicious marinating table

By following these tips and guidelines, you’ll be sure to keep your foods moist, flavorful and promote a great mouth-food experience texture-wise.

Do you have favorite marinade ingredients?  Leave us a comment to opine.  Making you an informed consumer through valuable articles like this one.   Leave us a comment and follow us or subscribe for more great recipes, techniques, tips, and the science behind the flavor and fire.  That’s SmokinLicious®.

SmokinLicious® Products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

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

More related reading on Applewood and other orchard woods see our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!
More related reading on Marinating- our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

Other topics you may enjoy:

HOW TO MAKE THE NEW PLANT-BASED BURGER TASTE EVEN MEATIER!

GRILLING & SMOKING QUESTIONS/ANSWERS THAT MAY SURPRISE YOU!

-THE 3 PRIMARY HEAT SOURCES FOR GRILLING MEAT

Dr. Smoke-
Dr. Smoke- Marinating adds great flavor to your food

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