air collection for our products assure safety

Our investment in good air handling systems provide peace of mind for our customers during this COVID-19 outbreak that our products are packaged safely!

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You’re likely at the point where you’re starting to ask a few more questions about the handling of some items you purchase that previously may never have been given a second thought.  You also may be receiving frequent updates from suppliers apprising you of the steps they are taking to ensure no viral agents are being transferred with products they are handling.

This is the point where SmokinLicious® is different.  Handling and cleanliness of our products has been a priority from the start.  We worked to establish our procedures and improve on them as our business grew.

Currently, we have in place an air collection system that allows us to capture our sawdust and wood chip products utilizing clean air piping that provides for a dust-free product outcome, cleaner air for our employees to work in, and ease of moving the products from the collection bins to the finished packaging areas.  An added benefit, the product is not exposed to human handling.  Our employees handle the bins of finished product initially, then stage these for packaging as needed.

Our products are not stored as raw material on the ground or floors.  There are dedicated storage bins for each level of product that can easily be disinfected with natural, food-grade disinfectant methods as needed.

For SmokinLicious®, steps were already in place to maintain a healthy safe environment for our employees and products that make this recent pandemic concern easily managed by us.

It’s further piece of mind that we can continue to supply our pure, clean cooking woods for those that value the benefits of live fire cooking, whether on the grill, fire pit, smoker or fireplace.  Embrace the safety and ease of grilling at home once again with the incomparable flavor of wood.

Do you plan to grill and/or smoke more at home with the recent COVID-19 scare?  Leave us a comment and subscribe to get our latest tips, techniques, recipes and the science behind the fire and smoke, for all live fire cooking methods.  That’s your SmokinLicious®!  Ensuring your safety and knowledge.

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 air collection and other grilling safety tips see our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More blogs you might enjoy:

 

-WOOD SAFETY AND OUR EFFORTS TO PROTECT YOU!

-10 Thinks To Consider Before Purchasing Wood For Cooking, Grilling & Smoking

-COOKING WITH WOOD YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE TO THINK ABOUT YOUR SAFETY

 

SmokinLicious® products:

SmokinLicious Minuto® wood chips

Wood Chips- Minuto®, Piccolo

Smokin’ Dust

Dr. Smoke-

Dr. Smoke- We are sure glad we made the investment in our air handling systems to collect our dust and chip products without many human hands involved.

image of wood safety and our 75-75 rule

Our 75 degree c for 75 minutes is for wood safety product to protect your health and the environment.

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Wood Safety

You’re likely giving thought to many more potential hosts for the COVID-19 in an effort to keep everyone important to you safe and healthy.  Without question, everything you touch has the potential to be a host for the virus that is spreading so rapidly around the world.  It is without question, a scary time.  What you likely don’t realize is SmokinLicious® has always been committed to protecting our customers from the transfer of potential contaminants.

Not Just Any Wood Supplier

In our previously published article titled, DEMYSTIFYING TERMS USED FOR SELLING SMOKING & GRILLING WOOD we attempted to explain what the varying words used to describe preparation to wood sold for grilling and smoking actually meant.  The important point to take from this article is that these various “labels” don’t relate to what can assure bacterium and viral agents don’t survive if they grab onto the wood to ride as a viral or bacteria host.  In the end, we are the only current supplier who not only sells hardwood only for the purpose of cooking, but utilizes a heat treatment process that is at a level to ensure no microbial or viral agent can latch on to the wood and infect the user.

Even though we use an intense heat level of 75°C/167°F, we developed a method to ensure the hardwood is not dried out to to where it would be classified as firewood, something we never want to be compared with.

Remember, we know some fungi spores are only killed at 60 °C/140 °F, mold spores at 56 °C/133 °F, and listeria at 74 °C/165.2 °F. Although there is no confirmed data on the heat level that COVID-19 dies, we do know that sunlight results in the viral agent only surviving a few hours, given the intensity of the ultraviolet rays.  This suggests that heat does play an important role in reducing the virus surviving.

The current regulations in place for wood just don’t make assurances to safety.  Our efforts reinforce that potentially fatal bacterium cannot enter our food chain.  You can handle our packaging and cook with our products knowing we’ve done our part to ensure no transfer of bacterium or infectious agent.

Can your local firewood or other wood supplier make the same claim?  SmokinLicious® – the brand that’s pure, clean, and safe for cooking.

Do you plan to grill and/or smoke more at home with the recent COVID-19 scare?  Leave us a comment and subscribe to get our latest tips, techniques, recipes and the science behind the fire and smoke, for all live fire cooking methods.  That’s SmokinLicious®!

SmokinLicious® products:

Our hand split double filet smoker wood chunks

#woodchunks

Wood Chunks- Double or Single Filet

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 our wood safety and other  smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

Other blog topics you might like:

-TO BARK OR NOT

-10 Thinks To Consider Before Purchasing Wood For Cooking, Grilling & Smoking

-COOKING WITH WOOD YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE TO THINK ABOUT YOUR SAFETY

-WHY MICROBIAL BACTERIA RISK IN YOUR SMOKEHOUSE IS WINNING

Dr. Smoke- follow our wood safety when BBQ ng

Dr. Smoke- We practice wood safety with our Heating process!

 

Steps to make Homemade smoked Bacon

Steps to make Homemade smoked Bacon

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Just about everyone I know loves bacon, even if it’s the store-bought type.  There are so many foods that have been designed around bacon including a chocolate chip cookie recipe featuring caramelized bacon pieces and a bacon ice cream! (which we’ll offer a recipe for soon).

One thing most bacon lovers don’t know is just how easy it is to make your own bacon at home, even the smoked type.  You’ll be amazed at how different the taste and texture are with bacon you make at home.  Just know, my technique will require you to cure the pork belly for a minimum of 7 days so be sure you have refrigerator room and time to wait.  I know – when it comes to bacon it’s sooooo hard!  But it will be worth the wait!

Quality Meat a Must for Homemade Smoked Bacon

Our fresh butchered pork belly  begining our homemade smoked Belly steps

#porkbelly

When making homemade bacon, you’ll need a slab of pork belly, which is a relatively inexpensive cut of pork.   Since this process is a time investment, consider purchasing a quality cut of belly which would be labeled “organic”.  This cut normally comes from heritage breeds like Kurobuta and Berkshire.  This investment will result in richer, meatier, and cleaner flavors to the finished product.

Although a full pork belly will weigh around 12 lbs., you only need about 3 lbs. to give you a sizeable quantity of bacon.  Also, some belly will come with the skin still intact while others will already have the skin removed.  Note, you will need to remove the skin before curing so you likely will want to ask the butcher to do this for you.  If you’re doing skin removal yourself,  simply separate the skin from the fat layer at one corner by inserting a knife point.  Grab hold of the skin and begin making horizontal cuts with the knife in short sections, pulling the skin back as you go.  Leave as much fat layer as you can.  Once removed, it’s time to rub and cure.

Rub and Cure to Flavor

Curing is preserving the meat.  This is done not only by the ingredients in our rub but also by the process of hot smoking which contains antimicrobial benefits.  Remember, when we are done with the smoking process, your bacon will be ready to eat as is, though you will be able to crisp it up if you want in a pan.

For my rub, I’ll be combining the following:

  • 1 cup of maple sugar, coconut sugar or regular sugar
  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon cracked black peppercorn
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
  • ¾ teaspoon pink salt also known as Prague Powder #1
  • 1 crumbled bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
Our seasoning mixture over the pork belly moving along for homemade smoked bacon

#briningporkbelly

Now cover every area of the pork belly with your rub.  Place the rubbed pork belly in either a 13×9 baking dish covered with plastic wrap or in a storage bag.  I prefer the jumbo size bags.  Just be sure to remove all the air from the bag before sealing.

Place the belly in the refrigerator.  Now starts the curing process.  As it cures, the meat releases liquid.  You’ll need to flip the meat every other day to ensure the cure is evenly distributed.  Begin checking after 7 days if the belly is fully cured.  You’ll know the pork belly is ready to be smoked when the meat feels firm to the touch but is still pliable.  Rinse the pork belly under cold water to remove any excess cure or the outcome will be too salty.  We are ready to smoke!

Make It Smoke!

Even if you don’t own a traditional smoker, you can still smoke the pork belly. Here’s the technique:

Charcoal Grill:

You will set up the charcoal grill using a two-zone cooking method.  Start by loading about 3 lbs. of briquets or hardwood charcoal on one side of the charcoal fuel area.   Place a water pan filled with water about 2-inches deep on the non-charcoal side. Then fill a chimney starter ½ full of briquets or hardwood charcoal.  Lite and allow to burn to hot coals, then pour the hot coals over the top of the unlit charcoal in your charcoal grill.  Add a couple of hardwood chunk pieces to the hot coals and allow to start smoking before you add the pork belly.  Once the chunks are smoking, place the cured pork belly on the unlit side of the grate fat side up.  Put the lid on and allow to smoke for about an hour without disturbing.  Keep in mind, your intake vent should be open ½ way as well as the outtake vent at ½.  A 3lb. pork belly will take about 1-1/2 to 2 hours to reach 150°F internal temperature.  By using both hot and cold charcoal, you should not need to replenish the coal bed, just may need to add another chunk or two of hardwood.

Our Pork Belly on the charcoal grill for our homemade smoked bacon

#charcoalgrilling

Gas Grill:

Place a smoker box of small wood chunks directly on your heat shield or on the grill grate.  Turn on only ½ the burners on your gas/LP grill and set to medium temperature setting.  Place a small pan of water on the warming grate to keep a moisture rich environment during the cooking process.  Allow the grill to reach 225°F and to have the wood chunks begin smoking.  Place the cured pork belly fat side up on the unlit side of the grill.  Allow the pork belly to cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 150°F.  Replenish the wood chunks in the smoker box as needed.

Traditional Smoker:

Set up your smoker as normal targeting a 225°F cooking temperature.  Be sure to include a water pan if your smoker doesn’t include one (a disposable foil pan works great).  Again, use 2-3 hardwood wood chunks for the flavor.  Place the pork belly fat side up and cook until the internal temperature reaches 150°F.

Ready to Eat!

Once the pork belly has reached 150°F internal temperature, it is ready to eat as it is fully cooked!  Remember, smoke has an antimicrobial quality which helps to make this consumable at this temperature level.  I recommend you allow the bacon to cool to room temperature on a wire rack set over a sheet pan.  Then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  This will set all those great flavors.

By slicing it paper thin, you can consume this cold and enjoy a more prominent smoke flavor.  However, you may pan fry this like traditional store-bought bacon or oven cook this on a rack over a foiled lined sheet pan for those who prefer a healthier, more rendered fat version.   This method also allows you to do a lot more bacon at one time then pan frying allows.  

Refrigerated homemade bacon will last 5-7 days while frozen will keep for several months.  Once you sample your own homemade smoked bacon, you’ll never purchase prepackaged again! 

Our finished homemade smoked bacon sliced

#smokedbacon

 

 

 

 

 

What’s your favorite method of smoking bacon?  Leave us a comment to opine and subscribe to get all our postings on tips, techniques and recipes.  Bringing innovation to wood fired cooking with recipes, techniques and the science behind the fire, smoke, and flavor. That’s SmokinLicious®.

SmokinLicious® Products used in this recipe:

Our hand split double filet smoker wood chunks

#woodchunks

Wood Chunks- Double or Single Filet

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 beyond homemade smoked bacon see our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

You also might like these blogs:

-MARINATING: THE MYTHS AND TRUTHS TO GUIDE YOU

-SO YOU WANT TO MAKE YOUR OWN DRY RUB

-SALT-FREE DRY RUBBED CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS

-SMOKED CHEESE & BACON QUICHE FEATURING COLD SMOKED CHEESES

Dr. Smoke-

Dr. Smoke- Great fun to make Homemade Smoked Bacon!

The SmokinLicious® culinary crew's two-zone cooking method set up to smoke Fava Beans on the Gas grill with Wood chunks!

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

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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

 smoker box and single filet wood chunks

 

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

setting up the smoker box on the grill

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.

Chef Bert & Tom explaining the two zone cooking method

#chefbertandtom

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.

Cook Anything!

Smoking Tomatoes on the gas grill with the two-zone cooking method

 

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.

What is a two zone fire?   You may ask…

 A two zone fire is also called two-zone cooking method can be used to grill or smoke any type of food on any grill (smoker, gas, charcoal, wood-fired or electric)!  Setting up a two-zone cooking method is very easy- have a hotter side on one half of the grill and a lower or no setting on the other half. A two zone fire gives the cook or chef “a stylized or finessed” way to grill without ruining great food flavors by over cooking.  It is especially the best way to cook meats and vegetables. Keep in mind that grills radiate and transfer heat, so it’s really not necessary to crank up every burner or heat source to a temp equivalent to the Sun!  It’s as simple as that!

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.

SmokinLicious products used in this blog:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single FiletVisit our store to buy products

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on #twozonecooking method and other food items to prepare

Additional reading:

-EASY GRILL ROASTED TOMATOES

-ODE TO THE GRILLED FAVA BEAN

-WOOD ROASTED ONIONS TO DIE FOR!

 

 

Dr. Smoke- The two-zone cooking method on the gas grill is a great time saver for the busy Chef trying to prepare other parts of the meal menu!

Dr. Smoke- The two-zone cooking method on the gas grill is a great time saver for the busy Chef trying to prepare other parts of the meal menu!

Our reference guide for what wood to use for smoking with pictures of our double filet for each species

Our reference guide for what wood to use for smoking

WHAT WOOD TO USE FOR SMOKING

I see the question asked so many times and in so many ways.  What is the best wood to use for smoking? What is the best wood to use for smoking (fill in the blank with your favorite food)?

I’m going to shake things up a bit by stating there is no rule book saying a specific wood must be used with a specific food.  There are, however, some basic things you should know to reduce the risks of toxicity, damage to your equipment, and overall ruining your barbecue.  Use the wrong hardwood and you can bitter any food you expose to that wood’s smoke.

Absolutely No Softwoods

Right up front, let me tell you, only smoke with hardwood.  Softwoods or coniferous woods should never be used for cooking because they have elevated sap levels and more air in their cell structure.  This causes the wood to burn fast, hot, produce lots of sparks, and produce unpleasant flavors not ideal for flavoring foods.  Let’s be clear on what a softwood is: pine, redwood, cedar, fir, spruce, hemlock, larch, cypress.

I realize that cedar has been a popular softwood used for plank cooking or wrapping foods.  If you want to learn more about the risks associated specifically with cedar, see my earlier article  and learn why you should discontinue this practice.

Chef Bert helps the differences between hardwoods and softwoods.

#chefbertandtom

Tom contemplating the difference between hardwood and softwood

#chefbertandtom

Meet the North American Hardwoods for what wood to use for smoking

Now, meet the North American Hardwoods!  Known as deciduous trees that produce broad leaves, produce a fruit or a nut, and generally go dormant in the winter, hardwoods are the woods to use for cooking and makeup roughly 40 percent of all trees in the United States.  However, not all hardwoods are created equal when it comes to flavoring foods.  Let’s examine some of the specific hardwoods of North America.  I am referencing our key to the boldness of the wood’s flavor (= Mild = Medium = Strong)

 Alder:

Part of the Birch family of hardwoods, Alder is a relatively soft hardwood of medium density.  It is most commonly used to smoke fish but can be used with mild poultry cuts, pork, vegetables, fruits and spices for natural wood flavoring/smoking.  The flavor profile is mild on our scale of boldness.  Alder provides a neutral coloring to the outer skin of foods and is the preference for those who like to cold smoke.

Ash:

Ash hardwood is part of the Oleaceae family or olive family of hardwoods and can be used with any food for natural wood flavoring/smoking.  The flavor profile is on the light side making it ideal for most any food but in particular, it works great with wood-fired pizza as it can lose moisture quickly providing for a great bed of coals.  Ash provides a neutral coloring to the outer skin of foods.

Aspen:

Considered a lightweight hardwood, Aspen is known to have “wet pockets” which can lead to some difficulty with using this as a cooking wood due to its tendency for bacteria development.  Variations in moisture can result in temperature variation during cooking which is directly opposite the goal when fire cooking.

   Basswood:

This hardwood is known as the preferred wood for carving.  It grows commonly with red oak, white ash, and sugar maple trees.  This wood is soft and light which makes it a quick burner.  It does not have any notable odor or taste which makes it a poor choice as a cooking wood.

American Beech:

This hardwood grows in large stands and mixes in with many of the other dominate hardwoods.  It is a popular filler wood for making charcoal so you know it burns long and evenly.  It is classified as moderate in flavor boldness.

 

Birchwood:

This can be an ideal firewood choice due to the prevalence of the varieties of birch and the strength of the wood itself.  However, it is not a highly flavorful hardwood for cooking and burns too hot.  If used for fire cooking, you will have a challenge controlling the cooking temperature.

Buckeye:

This hardwood produces a poisonous nut as well as twigs.  For that reason alone, it is not recommended as a smoking/cooking wood.

  

Butternut:

This hardwood belongs to the genus that includes walnut though it is not as weight-heavy a wood as walnut.  Don’t let the name confuse you.  There is no buttery taste to this wood.  In fact, it does not offer any balanced qualities when used for cooking and for that reason, is not recommended.

 

Cherry:

Like Oak, there are many species within the genus of cherry.  It has an obvious fruity aroma and tends to light easily producing a steady burn and flavor.  Wild or forest grown cherry is very different from orchard cherry which can have bitter undertones which may in part, be due to the chemical application commonly applied to nursery trees.  Feel free to use it with poultry, beef, pork, lamb, even vegetables, as it is a workhorse when it comes to flavoring foods.  Be sure to use a meat probe when cooking with cherry wood as this wood provides a reddish-pink hue to the meat that can easily be mistaken for under-cooking.

  Chestnut:

This is a very hearty hardwood that is resistive to decay so it is not necessarily an easy lighting wood.  It can be used for smoking though I certainly feel there are better choices out there.

  Cottonwood:

This hardwood is part of the genus that contains the aspens and poplars.  As such, like its siblings, it does not make for a good smoking wood.  In fact, when it becomes wet, it produces a sour odor which can transfer to food.

 

  Elm:

Although this is a dominant hardwood in the USA it is a hardwood that has no characteristic odor or taste.  For that reason, it does not make for an ideal cooking wood.

  Gum (Sweetgum):

A very heavy hardwood that holds moisture for indefinite periods of time which causes it to be a poor choice for pleasant smoke flavors.  This can produce musty aromas that can transmit to foods.

  Hackberry:

This is a moderately hard wood that has a yellow to grayish heartwood that does not make it the best choice for smoking.  The benefits of exposing food to this wood are not well documented and for that reason, is not an ideal choice.

  Hickory/Pecan:

Since these hardwoods are part of the same genus they share similar qualities: dense wood that is strong, can be difficult to lite, but produce a lot of color and flavor to foods.  What should be noted here is that not all the species are the same.  Some hickory varieties are very bold and can have bitter undertones.  It is important to learn the differences between varieties before selecting one for cooking.

   Maple:

There are over 120 species of maple so let’s clarify some of the terms.  Sugar maple and black maple are also called hard maple.  Silver maple, red maple, and boxelder are called soft maple.  These maples make for excellent smoking and cooking woods producing beautiful even coloring and a moderate flavor level.

   Persimmon:

This is not a heavily populated hardwood in the USA and it is a slow grower.  It can be confused with Hickory due to similar coloring.  However, it does not produce the same flavors as hickory.

  Poplar:

An extremely light hardwood that does not hold any ideal moisture for smoldering to produce a clean smoke.  Poplar burns too quickly to be an ideal choice for cooking.

  Sycamore:

Although this hardwood has a medium weight and can burn evenly and for good length, it does not do anything for coloring foods or adding any pleasant flavor.  For this reason, it is not recommended for cooking.

  Red Oak:

The oaks are the one hardwood that worldwide dominates with the greatest number of species.  This is a heavy wood that can be difficult to light but once it ignites, it produces intense smoke and flavoring that is easy to distinguish when consuming foods cooked over it.  Red oak has a strong aroma and flavor, requiring a trained hand to use it.

  Walnut:

One of the heaviest hardwoods available, it belongs to the same genus as hickory and pecan.  If classified as smoking, it is on the bold side and should be used in small quantities.  The wood produces a very dark outer “bark” coloring.

  White Oak:

Similar in structure to Red Oak, the white variety tends to be less strong aromatically though it still produces an obvious bold flavor to foods.  Because it is a heavy, dense wood, it holds moisture for a long time making it more ideal for hot smoking and grilling rather than for cold smoke application.

There you have a quick guide on the hardwoods of North America and those considered ideals for fire cooking.  Experiment and keep a written log of what works with the other ingredients you use in your wood cooking.  Hope you enjoyed our discussion of what wood to use for smoking!

What is the best wood to smoke meat with?

Although we would all love to give credit to just one item, it’s a combination of the hardwood type, the cut of meat, what you do to the meat (marinade, rub, etc.), and how it is cooked (charcoal grill, gas grill, electric grill, etc.).

Generally, bolder meats like beef respond to bolder hardwoods like oak and hickory for pronounced flavor while more subtle meats like chicken tend to be flavored nicely with the more moderate hardwoods like maple, ash and cherry.  Pork is pretty-middle-of-the-road when it comes to the meat’s boldness, so it can take either a bold or moderate hardwood species.

In case you didn’t notice, we have purposely omitted orchard woods because at SmokinLicious® we are concerned about the spraying and chemical pesticides that may make these woods not suitable for smoking.

owhat wod to use for smoking

SmokinLicious® products used in this blog:

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Wood Chunks- Single & Double Filet

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Additional reading:

-BEYOND PRICING: THE TOP THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN PURCHASING COOKING WOOD

-IS WOOD-TAR CREOSOTE THE ‘MONSTER’ TO WOOD-FIRED COOKING

-TO BARK OR NOT

what wood to use for smoking

Dr Smoke Our reccommendation on what wood to use for smoking

Dr. Smoke- Our recommendation on what wood to use for smoking

Try our technique on Smokey Sweet Potatoes for a great addition to your BBQ!

Try our technique on Smokey Sweet Potatoes for a great addition to your BBQ!

Try Smokey Sweet Potatoes for your BBQ Click To Tweet

Listen to the audio of this blog

 

We introduced you to smoked potatoes some time ago giving you an easy method of smoking cubed potatoes .  Now, we look at sweet potato, a very popular root vegetable that does particularly well on the grill.  This time, we’ll smoke the potatoes whole to allow for versatility for recipes.

Get 5 or 6 sweet potatoes selected, preferably of equal size, and let’s get to the grill!

Choose Your Equipment

I’m going to use two pieces of equipment today to demonstrate how easily it is to work with what you own to add a smoke component

For my gas grill, I’ll be using a smoker box equipped with 3-4 wood chunks in double filet size.  For the charcoal grill, I’m incorporating both lump charcoal and briquet for the fuel and adding double filet wood chunks for flavor.  My charcoal grill is a traditional kettle grill.  Both these units are set up for two-zone cooking which means the fuel is on one side – in the case of the gas grill, burners are lit on one side only, for the charcoal grill, charcoal is banked to one side of the grill, using both lit and unlit coals to sustain the heat level.  All cooking will be done on the side that does not have any direct heat.

Our Smokinlicious wood chunks on the coals providing great smokey flavor for these smokey Sweet Potatoes

#woodchunks

With a target cooking temperature of 325-350°F, these sweet potatoes will cook up and get smoky in no time!

Tasting Notes: Preparation of the sweet potatoes prior to smoking is simple.  Wash the potatoes well, pat dry, and then trim off the two ends.  Using a knife, pierce the ends one time and the sides several times to provide injection areas for the smoke vapor.  This will ensure an even smoke flavor.

No Work Grilling & Smoking Smokey Sweet Potatoes

Once the grill of your choice is set up, it’s just a matter of placing the whole potatoes on the grill grate, indirect side, and allowing them to tenderize.  This will take about 75 minutes total.  There is no need to do any rotation of the potatoes; just allow to infuse with flavor. 

Our double filet wood chunks in the smoker box on the gas grill providing the flavor for our smokey sweet potatoes

#twozonecooking

If you’ve followed our recommendation for the charcoal grill – placing unlit charcoal/briquets on the direct side of the grill, lighting a chimney starter of charcoal, and pouring over the unlit coals when glowing hot, then adding the wood chunks – you’ll have plenty of fuel for the entire cook time.

Once tender, remove from the grill and set aside to use in your favorite sweet potato recipe.  I’ll be making a smoked sweet potato and chipotle soup with mine, which we will post the recipe soon.

One important point is to know that the boldness of the smoke will be much greater from a charcoal grill than a gas/LP unit.  You can see the difference on the skin of the potatoes that I’ve grilled today.  Nevertheless, grilled and smoked sweet potatoes are full of sweet, smoky flavor you’ll want to enjoy all year long.

What’s your favorite sweet potato recipe?  Leave us a comment to opine and subscribe to get all our postings on tips, techniques and recipes.  Bringing innovation to wood fired cooking with recipes, techniques and the science behind the fire, smoke, and flavor. That’s SmokinLicious®.

SmokinLicious® Products Used in this recipe:

Foto de nuestros trozos de madera especial usó en filete flanco enrollado

#woodchunks

Wood Chunks- Double Filet

More related reading on smokey sweet potatoes- see our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More related reading on smokey sweet potatoes- see our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

Other blog topics like this one:

-INFUSING WOOD SMOKE INTO BRUSSELS SPROUTS

-HOW TO TURN YOUR CHARCOAL GRILL INTO A SMOKER.

-SMOKED CHEESY POTATOES- WHAT A WONDERFUL TWIST

Dr. Smoke- Smokey Sweet Potatoes are just Yummy!

Dr. Smoke- Smokey Sweet Potatoes are just Yummy!

In the Bark or Not debate this Diagram shows the two key elements of the tree that can affect your Barbecue results. Smokinlicious® only harvest wood from the heartwood of the tree.

In the Wood Bark or Not debate this Diagram shows the two key elements of the tree that can effect your Barbecue results. Smokinlicious® only harvest wood from the heartwood of the tree.

This Diagram shows the two key elements of the tree that can affect your Barbecue results. Smokinlicious® only harvests wood from the heartwood of the tree.

Listen to the audio of this blog about Bark or Not

Listen to the audio of this blog about Bark or Not

TO BARK OR NOT

Should I cook with wood bark or go bark-free?

I’ve heard all kinds of reasoning for leaving the bark on: it burns up right away so you don’t need to worry.  It’s what gives the flavor to foods.  It’s what gives the color to smoked and grilled foods.  It is the essence of BBQ!

Well, my intention is to simply provide you with more detail about what is in the bark and then you can decide for yourself if you want to include it in your wood-fired cooking method.

What Is Bark?

There are two types of bark in every tree: living bark which is called phloem and dead bark called rhytidome.  For today’s discussion, I am only focusing on the rhytidome or dead bark which is the outer bark layer.

Outer bark’s main purpose is to protect the wood tissues against mechanical damage and preserve the wood tissues from temperature and humidity variations.  Bark chemistry is much more complicated than wood tissue chemistry but let’s cover the basics.

Chemistry of Bark

Outer bark has high concentrations of pectin, phenolic compounds, and minerals.  Although the exact chemical levels vary by species, the location of the tree, the age of the tree, and growth conditions of the tree let me list some of the common extractives:

ethyl ether – a common laboratory solvent as well as a starter fluid component

dichloromethane – common compound used in paint strippers and degreasers as well as to decaffeinate coffees and teas

calcium oxalate crystals – a calcium salt found in plant materials with a link to kidney stones in humans

Air Pollutant Meter

For many years, university and research facilities around the world have used tree bark as a bioindicator of air pollutant levels as the bark is highly porous, rough, and high in lipids making its surface ideal for absorption.  It’s been proven that tree bark soaks up airborne gases and particles.  In fact, in my own home state of New York, the Niagara Falls area trees have been noted to have significantly higher levels of Dechlorane. Plus, a flame retardant chemical that is produced by a factory in that city.  How much higher?  Several thousand times higher!

After many decades of non-regulated chemical use in various products – think pesticides, flame retardants, building material preservatives, etc. – and with the subsequent halting of production of many of these highly toxic chemicals in the 1980s and 90s, research now shows that as those chemicals evaporated, they became airborne particles.  Those particles landed and were absorbed by the outer tree bark.

Temperature Fluctuation

My experience with bark-on woods used for the intended purpose of cooking has been that bark results in temperature control issues.  Often, when the bark combusts it does so in variable levels, producing a short burst of elevated temperature.  This is likely due in part, to the chemical air pollutant particles that have settled into the outer bark layer.  Knowing that bark harbors impurities that the tree is exposed to, I hypothesize that there likely are other particles, likely transferred via air as well as direct contact from the carrier (think animals, humans, etc.), that are absorbed by the tree’s bark.

Change of Taste

Just as lighter fluid can add unpleasant or at the very least a distinct taste difference in foods cooked over product lit with lighter fluid, I caution that some of you will also find an off taste to foods cooked over bark-on woods.

If you are lucky enough to have a source of wood within your own property, that has no neighborly contact with chemical industry, and you feel confident that the bark-on wood is safe, then the choice to cook with it may be easy.

If you rely on an outside source say a firewood supplier, you may want to rethink cooking over that bark-on product. Click To Tweet

Can you use bark in a smoker?

Bark on wood used for cooking isn’t at all a good thing!  A tree’s bark is its outer skin which protects it from exposure to external elements like mold and harmful chemical air pollutants. This should not be confused with the dark outer layer found on smoked foods- this is not harmful. Tree bark cooking wood is not a healthy choice and could be tainted by even trace amounts of pollutants that have been absorbed over a tree’s life.

Chef Bert explaining that bark protects the tree

#chefbertandtom

Chef Bert warns Tom that bark absorbs toxins

#chefbertandtom

We hope you found the article interesting and helpful.  Leave a comment or suggestion as we’d love to hear from you so we can bring the information you’re looking for.   And don’t forget, follow us and subscribe so you don’t miss anything!­­

 

 

 

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 bark free cooking wood see our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

Additional Reading You May Like:

10 Thinks To Consider Before Purchasing Wood For Cooking, Grilling & Smoking

-THE BALANCE OF WOOD LIGNIN IN BARBECUE

-APPLEWOOD – WHY WE DON’T USE IT! – HERE’S WHY

SmokinLicious® products referenced in this blog:

Smoking Wood Chips- Grande® Sapore

Dr Smoke- "Dr Smoke is very biased over this topic. After years of cooking, the inclusion of bark in a smoker adds impurities trapped in the bark to your food. We are a no bark proponent!"

Dr. Smoke- “Dr. Smoke is very biased over this topic. After years of cooking, the inclusion of bark in a smoker adds impurities trapped in the bark to your food. We are a NO bark propendents in the Bark or not debate”

Showing how to infuse cherry wood smoke into brussels sprouts using an iron skillet on the gas grill is simple and easy and adds a smoky touch

Infusing cherry wood smoke into Brussels sprouts using the gas grill is simple and easy and adds a very flavorful touch to this hearty vegetable.

INFUSING WOOD SMOKE INTO BRUSSELS SPROUTS

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A favorite of the cabbage family, Brussels sprouts came to the United States via French immigration in the 18th century.    They are dominantly grown in California and available June thru January making them a Fall and holiday menu favorite.  SmokinLicious® will take the flavors up a notch and add wood smoke into Brussels sprouts for two upcoming recipes.  We’ll do this on the gas grill fit with wild cherry wood chunks to bring subtle smokiness to the finish sprouts.  First purchase 3 lbs. of Brussels sprouts and get two cherry single filet chunks, and you’re ready to fire up the grill and get smoking.

The Easy Grill Method for Infusing Wood Smoke into Brussels Sprouts

Bringing the flavor of wood smoke into Brussels sprouts is so easy.  To start, gather about 3 lbs. of Brussels sprouts, some cooking oil, butter, and a heavy-duty skillet. I prefer a nut oil like walnut or almond. For a skillet I’ll be using cast iron.  I’ve trimmed the ends on about half the sprouts and for the other half, I’ve trimmed the ends and cut them in half.  That’s it!  Fire up the grill and get ready for a quick method of adding great wood-fired flavor.

It only takes a couple of pieces of wood chunk to bring fabulous flavor to the grill.  I set up a cast iron pan on one side and place two cherry wood chunks on the heat shields of the far burner.  Let the pan heat up for about 5 minutes then pour in a couple of tablespoons of oil and heat.  Right before I add the Brussels sprouts, I add a couple of tablespoons of butter.  In go the whole Brussels sprouts and the lid comes down.  Leave untouched for about 5 minutes before turning.

Flavor Finish

As I have two recipes in mind I’m cooking two batches of Brussels sprouts: one batch whole and one batch halved.  After leaving for 5 minutes, I stir them to ensure that all surfaces are infused with wood flavor.  I maintain a temperature of 350-375° F which will make this a quick cooking method.  The first 5 minutes, the lid is down but once stirred, you can finish the cooking with lid up.  Remember, cast iron will retain heat, so you can turn the heat off and let sit for about 5 minutes.

The cooking time for this recipe is approximately 20 minutesAfter stirring a couple of times, both the whole and halved Brussels sprouts are ready in about 20 minutes time.  I simply remove them from the heat and bring them in to be added to my favorite recipes.

I have two recipes I’ll be working on: Smoky Brussels Sprout Gratin and Tortellini with Lemon and Smoked Brussels Sprouts.  These truly are the most flavorful Brussels sprouts! For those of you thinking about a holiday meal with them, well, the grill will give you that extra oven room you need.  Take advantage of the long harvest season and try these mini cabbages on your grill.  Check in for our recipes soon so we can get you started on how to use your prized sprouts.

Bringing you new methods of infusing wood fired flavor into seasonal items.  Be sure to subscribe and follow us to gain great tips, techniques, recipes and the science behind the fire.

The Culinary Crew wants you to know…

 Chef Bert and Tom discuss how to infuse wood smoke into brussels sprouts.

#chefbertandtom

… that the direct infusion of hardwood-fired smoke to foods, like Brussels Sprouts, is considered a flavor ingredient, much in the same way that spices, minerals and sauces enhance taste.  When fired, the components of smoke vapor carry the hardwood’s distinctive flavor profile directly into meats, seafood, fruits or vegetables with pleasing results to the palate.

SmokinLicious Products used in this recipe- wood smoke into brussels sprouts:

Our Single Filet is hand split to the proper size for larger equipment infusing wonderful wood smoke into brussels sprouts.

#singlefilet #woodchunks

Wood Chunks- Single Filet

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Additional reading:

-WOOD GRILLING AVOCADO

-HOW TO TURN YOUR LP/GAS GRILL INTO A SMOKER

-WHAT’S IN THE SMOKINLICIOUS® WOOD CHUNK BOX?

 

 

Dr Smoke- "Soften the taste of your Brussels sprouts by adding smoke flavoring from your gas grill using Smokinlicious® cherry wood chunks."

Dr Smoke- “Soften the taste of your Brussels sprouts by adding smoke flavoring from your gas grill using Smokinlicious® cherry wood chunks.”

Guest Blog- Kylee Harris on Coffee Smoked Foods!
Guest Blog- Kylee Harris on Coffee Smoked Foods!

Kylee Harris on Coffee Smoked Foods– At one point, all foods had an element of smoke; everything was cooked over an open fire before gas and electric stoves came about. It’s thought that the smell and imparted taste of smoke is programmed into mankind as a result, which is why smoked foods are popular all over the globe. Meat, seafood, and even smoky desserts like fruit pies, are still flavored with a variety of wood smoke. Recently, professional and home cooks alike have begun to wonder about the hidden potential of another thing close to their hearts: coffee. Smoking food with a combination of wood and coffee beans could be the next big taste revolution.

Coffee Varieties for Smoking Foods

Just as there is a variety of options when it comes to smoking food with wood, there are a few choices in coffee as well. For flavor profile, darker and richer bean varieties pair best with red meat, while more mild varieties are better sampled with poultry and seafood. There’s also the question of regular or decaffeinated types of coffee. No, smoking with coffee won’t caffeinate your food (though wouldn’t that be interesting), but there can be a difference in flavor here as well. Regular has a higher level of acidity and thus bitterness, while decaf is less so. Rule of thumb: if you like the bitter tang of a certain coffee, then you will probably like the flavors it lends to smoked food.

Beans, Grounds, and Pellets

Of course, flavor is one thing- this is open to individual tastes- but what about what works best for the actual smoking process? Ground coffee is great as a marinade or rub for meat, but it burns up too quickly to be very useful for smoking. Coffee beans are better for the process, as they can burn more slowly. A combination of wood chips with coffee beans (a 3:1 ratio) is a good balance, allowing the coffee beans to add their subtle flavors without becoming too smoky and overpowering. There’s also the option of coffee pellets, which are coffee grounds and saw dust pressed into compact pellets used as a fuel for both cooking and heating. These are said to have a much more subtle flavor when used for cooking and work particularly well, according to fans, for flavoring smoked corned beef.

Pre-Roasted Versus Green Coffee Beans

While both grounds and pellets have their place, most people prefer smoking food with whole coffee beans, which then poses the question: raw and green, or already roasted? The answer really depends on personal preference, once again. Green coffee beans will give off much more smoke, which can be a good thing if that’s the flavor you’d like to try. Pre roasted, on the other hand, will smoke less, but may need to be soaked in water first in order to be able to smolder for a longer time to produce a sustained smoking processes. 

As you can see, there are quite a few choices you can make to customize your coffee-smoked food experience. Experimenting with flavors and methods is what really makes cooking the art form that it so clearly is. The options are plentiful, and the vision (or taste, as it is) is all up to you.

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 our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

Other blogs you might enjoy:

Great Sustainable Wines To Pair With Your Smoked Meat

How To Maintain A Safe Kitchen Environment

Himalayan Salt Blocks: Benefits, Uses, and Tips

Dr. Smoke-
Dr. Smoke- Kylee Harrris discusses Coffee Smoked Foods

Our preparation of smoked herbs, from picking, smoking and grinding to make smoked herb dust. Adding great flavor to dishes.

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

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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, smoked herbs.

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

Fresh herbs on the grill using a grilling cage

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. 

Grinding Process

smoked herbs in the food processor for reduction into smoked herbs dust

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

finished herb bottles of smoked Basil and Smoked oregano

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.

The Culinary Crew wants you to know …

… that the two-zone method is certainly a practice that you will want to master and prioritize in your wood cooking toolkit, especially when grilling and smoking delicate fresh consumables like herbs.  Not only will two-zone cooking avoid those acrid tastes associated with flare ups, it will infuse your food items with a nice balance of wood smoke flavoring.

SmokinLicious® products used in this blog:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Minuto & Piccolo

More Related reading on smoked herbs and other great grillable flavoring ideas

More Related reading on smoked #herbs and other great grillable flavoring idea

Additional reading:

-WHY TWO-ZONE COOKING METHOD LET’S YOU WALK AWAY FROM THE GRILL

-STOVE TOP SMOKED CHIVES

-PAN COOK ZUCCHINI ON THE GRILL WITH WOOD FLAVOR

Dr. Smoke- Our process to prepare the smoked herbs is easily done on our gas grill with our double or single filet wood chunks!

Dr. Smoke- Our process to prepare the smoked herbs is easily done on our gas grill with our double or single filet wood chunks!

Our Hickory double filet is great for most smoking or grilling equipment - So YES-HICKORY THE WOOD TO SMOKE!

Our Hickory double filet is great for most smoking or grilling equipment – So YES-HICKORY THE WOOD TO SMOKE!

listen to this pod cast

to IS HICKORY THE WOOD TO SMOKE & Grill WITH

 

IS HICKORY THE WOOD TO SMOKE & GRILL WITH? Click To Tweet

The question is one of the most common we hear.  What is the most popular wood you sell? 

Initially, our response was that there wasn’t one hardwood that was dominating the order system.  That certainly has changed over the course of the past few years.

Without question, Hickory has become the most requested hardwood.

Why Hickory The Wood To Smoke?

I truly believe the catalyst for the popularity of hickory particularly for smoking foods, is television and YouTube.  Yes, all those cooking and food shows and YouTube channels have catapulted grilling/smoking with wood and charcoal leaning toward Hickory.  As if Hickory is the only choice for “real” barbecue.

Some of the roots of the popularity of Hickory is the generational secrets of barbecue.  Hickory has been, for many decades, a commonly found hardwood in the traditional barbecue states who are credited with bringing barbecue to the limelight.  North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia and then advancing west to such states as Tennessee, Missouri, and Alabama.  Gradually, those who wanted to duplicate the smoke flavors of the south continued to request hickory.  The result: hickory has become one of the highest demand hardwoods in North America.

Is There a Holy Grail for Smoking Wood?

Without question, those known in the world of barbecue as major players have stimulated the belief that their choice in smoking wood is the key to their success and notoriety.  Here’s is the conflict: many fail to admit that there are many other factors that account for their success.  Although they may have made their mark by sticking with that one wood for the entire time they cooked and gained popularity, they also committed to specific equipment, fuel product say a specific brand of charcoal, meat supplier, whether they keep the bark on the wood or remove it, and brands or recipes for rubs/sauces/marinades.  ALL these items factor into the overall success of a cooking event even in barbecue.

Life of the Tree is Key

I won’t get into the details about one brand of charcoal or briquette over another, or the influence of a wet or dry rub on the meat’s ability to absorb smoke vapor.  Those discussions will be for another day.  What I will stress is that the climate and soil of tree’s location is by far a key determinate in whether it will make a great smoking or grilling wood.  Specifically, the more balanced the pH level of the soil the tree’s roots are bound to and the amount of precipitation the tree is exposed to in a given year, directly affect how favorable the wood will be for smoking, grilling, and cooking in general.

I’m often told by new customers who had previous experience with hickory and found it to be too strong in flavor, producing too dark a coloring to the food’s exterior, and often producing a sooty appearance to both the food and equipment, that once they tried our wood, they had the exact opposite result.  Why?  The easiest answer is we simply have better-growing conditions in the Northeast than other areas that grow Hickory trees.  Plus, we have access to the better species of this hardwood family.

More Choices Don’t Always Mean Better Outcome

With over 20 species of Hickory in North America, they are not all equal when it comes to cooking with them.  Many of these 20 species are known to produce bitter undertones when foods are exposed to their smoke vapor.  That means poor results for the cook or Pitmaster who believes in hickory for their food production.

I like to compare hardwoods for cooking to extra virgin olive oil.  There are hundreds if not thousands of brands of olive oil available.  Yet, many producers marketing an extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) are using low-grade oils in the production rather than meet the requirements for EVOO labeling.  Wood is similar.  There is no obligation to label where the wood comes from, how old it is, how it was processed, what species it is from, and if it is from the raw material of the timbered tree or a by-product or waste product of another use.  Just like olive oil producers using pomace or the olive residue left over from the traditional production of olive oil, hardwood can be a leftover as well and re-purposed into something it wasn’t initially intended for.

Blaze Your Own Trail

My hope is that I’ve stimulated some thinking into what makes for a great smoking wood, grilling wood, or cooking wood in general.  Instead of duplicating a celebrity figure or following a current fad, blaze your own trail into what pleases you and the people you are serving your amazing grilled and smoked foods from the wood fire to.  With so many factors affecting a food’s taste, appearance, and aroma, it’s time to simply experiment, keep a log, and find what pleases you.  It may turn out to be one hardwood that you feel is the wood or it could simply be the food that guides you.  Hope you enjoyed our blog IS HICKORY THE WOOD TO SMOKE & GRILL WITH?

The Culinary Crew wants you to know …

… that your wood cooking and food smoking experiences can offer a good variety of great tastes and awesome flavors by using the full range of acceptable hardwood species.  Without a doubt, hickory commands a lot of media market attention and is a very popular choice but don’t look past other hardwoods like oak, maple, cherry, alder, beech and ash to deliver great results!

We hope this latest posting was informative.  Leave a comment or suggestion as we love hearing from you, especially when it comes to what you want to learn about next.  As always, subscribe and follow us so you don’t miss out on the latest information.

Additional reading the topic of wood species and other cooking ideas!

Additional reading the topic of wood species and other cooking ideas!

Additional reading:

-WHAT A NUTTY CHOICE!

-THE TOP 8 MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN COOKING & GRILLING WITH WOOD

-WHAT’S IN THE SMOKINLICIOUS® WOOD CHUNK BOX?

-TO BARK OR NOT

SmokinLicious® products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Wood Chips- Minuto® & Piccolo®

Dr. Smoke- "While hickory is the number one choice for Southern barbecue, it should not be your only choice. When asked YES-HICKORY THE WOOD TO SMOKE!

Dr. Smoke- “While hickory is the number one choice for Southern barbecue, it should not be your only choice. When asked YES-HICKORY THE WOOD TO SMOKE!

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.

EMBER FIRED 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 chardwood 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 FIRED ZUCCHINI & RICOTTA GALETTE

-SUCCULENT WOOD FIRED STUFFED TOMATO WITH HERB RICE

-Ember cooked Sweet Peppers

SmokinLicious® products:

Wood Chunks- Single Filet

Charwood

Savory Smoky-Grilled Potatoes

Savory Smoky-Grilled Potato (es)

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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:

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.

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!

Dr. Smoke try this smoky-grilled potato technique!

Dr. Smoke try this smoky-grilled potato technique!

Related Reading

-HOW TO USE CHARCOAL WITH WOOD IN COOKING

-HOW TO TURN YOUR CHARCOAL GRILL INTO A SMOKER

Smoked cheesy potatoes- what a wonderful twist!

SMOKED CHEESY POTATOES- WHAT A WONDERFUL TWIST

SmokinLicious® Products in this blog:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Hot Ember cook- can be done in a cast iron plan, fire box and even in a Hibachi! Try this unique cooking method to add a flare and unique tastes to your outdoor grilling and cooking!

To Hot Ember cook vegetables it can be done in a cask iron plan, fire box and even in a Hibachi! Try this unique cooking method to add a flare and unique tastes to your outdoor grilling and cooking!

TOP 10 VEGETABLES TO HOT EMBER COOK

I want to be perfectly clear – this is not cooking over hot flame or direct flame.  This is cooking after the wood and/or charcoal has burned down in to very hot coals; when the coals develop a white-gray ash coating. THIS is the time to hot ember cook or coal cook these select vegetables.

The Rules of Hot Ember and Ash Cooking

The essence of using all that the wood can give for cooking. That it was ember or coal cooking is.   I want to be sure there is no misunderstanding on what is needed to do this type of cooking safely and effectively.

Rule #1: If going with all wood for the coals, only use hardwood and clean hardwood at that.  You’re going to lay foods into this material so I believe it should be clean and mold free with moisture level 15-20%.  If higher, it will simply take longer to get to the coal stage.

Rule #2: Again, if using all hardwood, try to limit the bark or go bark-free if possible to reduce the potential for mold spores that can be released into the air.

Rule #3: Have everything ready before you start.   You’ll need an ash-coal hoe, fire gloves, and small coal shovel at the ready.  I would also have tongs for those times when you don’t bury your foods completely in the coals but rather lay them which requires turning of the vegetables.

Rule #4: Equipment wise, you can use a charcoal grill that has fire brick added for insulation, a clean fireplace (I prefer an outdoor unit), a clean fire pit, or an open pit built in a safe area with brick or gravel as the base to protect the fire from spreading.

Hot Embers Birthed in One Hour

On average, it will take about an hour to move a small fire from flame to hot ember.  Depending on whether you elect to use charcoal or wood will determine the amount of time the fire needs to burn down – an all charcoal fire will be 30-45 minutes; all hardwood fire about 45-60 minutes.  Remember, charcoal produces heat and little smoke, whereas hardwood, produces heat, smoke and specific aromatics and flavorings in that smoke.  At the hot ember-coal level, both have equal carbonization and act similar for this method of cooking.

Using approximately 8 lbs. of charcoal or 10 lbs. of hardwood, or any combination of the two, light a fire in the equipment of your choice.  Let the fire completely burn down until only hot coals remain.  Rake the coals to produce a thick even bed.  Then select your favorite vegetables from the ones listed below, and you’re on your way!  Always keep a small fire going for additional hot coals if doing large amounts of vegetables.

Vegetables That Love Hot Coals

Here are the top 10 vegetables to hot ember cook for fantastic flavor:

 

Asparagus         Broccoli          Cauliflower        Eggplant

Garlic        Leeks         Gourds (squash, pumpkin)

Onion       Peppers       Potato

If you want minimal monitoring to the actual cooking process, then place the selected vegetables into the bed of coals and then shovel hot coals and ash over the top so that the entire vegetable surface is covered in embers.  Leave untouched until tenderized, which will be 45-60 minutes depending on the vegetable selected.   Otherwise, you can set vegetables within the coal bed and turn them during the cooking process to ensure even char.

The Culinary Team wants you to know …

that cooking food with wood, whether it be directly on embers or more of the traditional way- above the heat source on grates, needn’t be an all meat, all protein cooking episode.  As our blog explains many vegetables can and should be the “main event” for your wood-fired cooking events.  Dense or thick-skinned fruits are great too!  So, be it veggies or fruits, ember cooked or grilled conventionally, your taste buds will be treated to rich, unparalleled flavors.  Give ‘em a try!

Leave a comment or suggestion as we’d love to hear from you so we can bring the information you’re looking for.  And don’t forget, follow us and subscribe so you don’t miss a thing!­­

For related reading:

-THAT EMBER GLOW!

-EMBER FIRED ASPARAGUS ON THE HIBACHI

-EMBER COOKED SWEET PEPPERS

-EMBER COOKING/ROASTING GARLIC IN AN IRON SKILLET

SmokinLicious products in this blog:

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Dr Smoke- “Try ember cooking; it is a great way to entertain your guests and enhance your grilling skills.”

We ask the question why people grill and found the response much different than our expectation.
When you ask why people grill we found the answer very interesting!
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You may not be aware that every year a trade show is held usually in the month of March that is dedicated to all things related to fireplace, stove, heater, barbecue, and outdoor living appliances and accessories.  In addition to the trade show, this organization, known as HPBA or Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, conducts various surveys every couple of years.   A recent survey was posted asking the question “Why do people grill?”

The top answer to this survey surprised and THRILLED me!

Most Recent Statistics

For North America, owning a grill is common.  Currently, in the United States, 7 of 10 adults own a grill while in Canada that number increases to 8 of 10.  Gas grills remain the most popular (64%) with charcoal units coming in second (44%).  When looking at the most popular times of the year to use the grill, holidays, of course, dominate.  Memorial Day and 4th of July are the clear winners for firing up the grill but Father’s Day remains a high demand grilling day as well likely due to this holiday falling right before true summer begins on the North American calendar.  Of course, Labor Day is not far behind on the list. 

This survey will be conducted again in 2019 with updated numbers likely available by the close of the year.  I can’t wait to view them to see current trends.

Now to the question of “Why do people grill?” 

It’s All About Flavor

The number one reason people stated for grilling is for flavor!  This got me thinking about this answer. 

What exactly made the flavor difference? Is it that the heat of the grill produced changes in the ingredients used?  Was it the charring affect from direct fire of the grill which leads to a distinct taste?  Or was it the flavor choices used when grilling with wood like wood chips, wood chunks, and charcoal?

I think without adding these follow up questions, it’s very hard to know just what the flavor enhancer is when grilling for these respondents. 

For me, there is no question that it is the introduction of smoke to my outdoor cooking experience.  Whether I’m cooking on a gas grill that I’ve included a smoker box of wood chunks, a charcoal grill equipped with hardwood charcoal or charwood plus wood chunks, an electric grill I’ve incorporate a micro wood chip product, or my outdoor fireplace that I’ve converted to an open pit fire using hardwood, I let the tantalizing smoke vapor work with the other ingredients of my foods to bring out the best of all the blended flavors. 

Smokinlicous Charwood products.
#charwood

Direct fire or indirect cooking, either way the eating experience of foods cooked grilled, smoked, or by embers is unique and is likely the reason why people from around the world continue to seek out these methods of cooking. 

Smokinlicious Double filet smoking wood chunks
Smokinlicious Double filet smoking wood chunks

So I agree with the 72% of North Americans who say they grill for flavor but I’d certainly add that I grill for flavor that is heightened by the addition of the natural plant material known as hardwood which takes my grilling to an umami level that’s hard to beat by any other cooking method.

What is your reason for grilling?  Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to follow us on all platforms.  Providing tips, techniques, recipes, and the science behind the flame and fire to improve your skills with wood-fired cooking! That’s SmokinLicious®!

SmokinLicious products in this blog:

Charwood

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

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

More related reading on on Why people Grill see our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!
More related reading on on Why people Grill see our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More blogs you might enjoy:

BOOST UP THE FLAVOR OF YOUR SMOKER BOX!

GRILLING & SMOKING QUESTIONS/ANSWERS THAT MAY SURPRISE YOU!

TEMPERATURE, MATERIAL AND TIME DETERMINE WHEN ITS CALLED BARBECUE

Dr. Smoke-
Dr. Smoke- The answer to Why people grill was a pleasant surprise to our Smokinlicious® products and the flavour they bring to BBQ foods!

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