Maria's top 10 foods to bulk grill!

Maria’s top 10 foods to bulk grill!

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It is obvious that a return to a “normal” work environment is not likely soon. You may be one of the blessed who has decided you do not want to return to an office but rather continue the joys and challenges of working, educating, entertainment and sleeping from home.

To manage all these needs, meal planning needs to be addressed to allow for more family time. Rather than discuss animal proteins as we have previously done, the focus will be on other food categories that provide for endless options at mealtime.

Time to bring in our top 10 foods to get on the grill or smoker for fabulous flavor to your meals!

#1 Peppers

Do not purchase fire roasted peppers in the store! They are so easy to make using any type of grill you own and any pepper you prefer. By grilling in bulk, these can be added to meals like grilled sausage topped with peppers and onions, whipped into a fire roasted pepper tapenade for snacks or appetizers, bring an elevation to a salad, or as an addition to Dutch oven meals (think chili, goulash, mac and cheese).

Favorite SmokinLicious® Recipe: Charred Pepper Dip

#2 Potatoes

This group also includes sweet potato as they are just as fantastic on the grill. Whether you grill whole with the skin on, sliced or cubed, potato is a versatile vegetable that can work for any meal. Include them in an egg-based dish or make them into their own main course. Do not forget, they can be mashed as well for the ultimate smokey mashed potato. This is a bargain item as you get so many potatoes in a single bag with the finished product freezing well.

Favorite SmokinLicious® Recipe: Smoked Curry Potatoes

#3 Mushrooms

Fungi are one of my favorite items to infuse wood flavor to on the grill! There are so many varieties with each providing a variation in texture and flavor. Large mushrooms are perfect as a meat substitute. Like other items, they easily can be frozen to allow for quick meal preparation. One of my favorite uses is in sauces for meats, pasta, grains and vegetables. These also make a great pizza and bread topping.

Favorite SmokinLicious® Recipe: Smoked Mushroom with Ricotta

#4 Tomatoes

Although I am listing fruit in #6, know that tomato would also be included in this category. A separate listing is offered for the simple reason there are many varieties of tomatoes that surpass your average fruit.

Cherry tomatoes done whole on the grill, plum tomato diced and grilled in a pan make the perfect base for saucing, and hearty beefsteak tomato for pronounced tomato flavoring.

Favorite SmokinLicious® Recipe: Wood Fire Tomato with Rice

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Chef Bert brings Water Pan for Smoker to neighbor Tom!

Chef Bert brings Water Pan for Smoker to neighbor Tom!

Don't Forget the Water Pan For Smoker! Click To Tweet

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Neighbor Tom has his Chicken too dry almost a rock

Poor Tom! He, like many other grill and smoker enthusiasts out there, never learned the value of a water pan. By providing moisture to the grilling area, you can avoid drying out your meats and poultry and never have someone mistake your food for a rock!

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Our Neighbors at the BBQ don't understand to Wait on smoking ribs

Our Neighbors at the BBQ don’t understand to Wait on smoking ribs!

Wait on smoking ribs if you are a beginner Click To Tweet

Story time on Smoking Ribs:

Let me tell you a story about my neighbor, Tom, we can all relate to.

A few years ago, Tom, a semi-trained Chef, wanted to smoke some food. So like all newbies, Tom went off to a box store, picked out a smoker ( offset), loaded a big bag of charcoal, a big plastic bag of wood chunks; next stop was at the butcher for three racks of ribs! Arriving at home he assembled the smoker, filled up the firebox with charcoal and wood, put on the rack of ribs and cooked them for hours. Finally, before dusk, he presented his charred masterpiece to the family!

Oh, he claimed to love the over-smoked taste! Politely and begrudgingly, the family told him how good the ribs tasted! Well, the smoker never was used again, went to the garage sale, the massive amount of wood went to the campfire, the charcoal lasted the summer for the kettle grill! The moral here is “wait to take on the rib”! Dr. Smoke doesn’t want this to happen to you! So, here are some suggested tips to follow!

First, go purchase the smoker/grill of your choice; next purchase a bag of quality hardwood charcoal; go home and assemble the unit. Then take some vegetable/olive oil and coat the grill! This is what is called seasoning.

Burn #1: start a charcoal fire in the unit or firebox and let it bring the unit up to temperature (250 degrees F)- do not put any food in the unit! Then let it cool down overnight!

Burn #2: start a charcoal fire in the unit or firebox, bring to around 200 to 225 degrees F. then put on some pork or beef hot dogs in the unit, then time the cook, sample the dogs for flavor, watch for hot spots and learn how to smoke- this is not charring. Learn the smoking process in your unit!

Burn #3: start a charcoal fire in the unit or firebox, bring to around 200-225 degrees F, then put on some chicken legs or thighs. No chicken breast-you need something with a bone. Time the cooking and taste the product!

Now order a SMALL number of wood chunks or chips from SmokinLicious®.

Burn #4: do the same as burn #3 only reduce the amount of charcoal and add SmokinLicious® chunks/chips to produce the smoke. Again time the cook, taste the results. Chicken is like a sponge it will absorb a lot of smoke so be careful when adding the quantity of wood.

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BBQ Box Smoker should be used as much as your tongs on the gas grill!

BBQ Box Smoker should be used as much as your tongs on the gas grill!

Learn how to use the BBQ box smoker Click To Tweet

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Bert and Tom discuss when the weather is cold use your BBQ box smoker year round!

We have all been in Tom’s position. We love grilling and smoking but prefer the warmer weather. For those of us in 4 season climates with below zero temperatures in winter and lots of snow, it seems too hard to continuing grilling! But just as Bert remarks, you do not have to give up cooking outdoors just because of the weather.

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Thinking about using cedar wood for cooking? 6 reasons to don't!

Thinking about using cedar wood for cooking? 6 reasons to don’t!

6 REASONS TO AVOID CEDAR WOOD FOR COOKING

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You love different techniques for cooking and absorb new information like a sponge. In particularly, you love outdoor methods of cooking. One of your favorites is plank cooking on cedar wood. Every time you read a recipe, they all call for use of a cedar plank or other methods to use cedar wood for cooking.

But is cedar really the best choice? More so, is cedar wood for cooking a safe choice?

Let’s examine the top 6 reasons why cedar wood for cooking may not be an ideal choice. Click To Tweet

#1 Softwood Classification Presents a Concern for Using Cedar Wood for Cooking

Cedar wood is not a hardwood. It is a softwood that is from the gymnosperm trees meaning, it is a conifer or cone producing tree. As a rule, softwoods should not be used for cooking as they contain a lot of air and sap which equates to a fast burn and unpleasant flavors. In fact, there are many softwoods that can be toxic if cooked over.

#2 Poor Fire Resistance

During plank cooking, you are using the wood as a vessel to infuse flavor to whatever food is placed on top of the plank. Here’s the concern with cedar – because it is a lower density wood (23 lb./ft³), it has very poor fire resistance. That means, it reaches full combustion much faster than hardwood and will burn as a result. Certainly, that’s not what you’re looking for when you plank cook.

#3 Poreless

Unlike hardwood which contain pores in the cell walls, softwoods like cedar are poreless. They use cell components called tracheids to transport water and nutrients. In addition, the organic compound lignin found in the cell walls, is much lower than in traditional hardwoods used for cooking. Why is this an issue? Lignin is what gives wood fired cooking the distinct flavor and aroma to foods. In using cedar wood for cooking, the average lignin composition is 20%±4 compared to common hardwoods used for wood-fired cooking which average 28%±3.

#4 Plicatic Acid

Cedar contains chemical properties (specifically plicatic acid) that are shown to be a good absorber of odors and moisture. This is one of the key reasons why cedar is a preferred softwood for pest control to keep fleas, ants, mites, moths, and mosquitoes away. When exposed to plicatic acid for lengthy periods of time, a condition known as “cedar asthma” can develop.

Additionally, a regular exposure to the cedar oil found in the wood can result in contact dermatitis or skin irritation, rhinitis, and conjunctivitis.

#5 Animal Toxicity

There are many studies available on how the use of cedar wood chips and shavings have affected animals continually exposed to these products. Most studies show a correlation with liver dysfunction in animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, and hamsters. In fact, smaller animals, like guinea pigs and hamsters, have a higher incidence of death which may be attributed to plicatic acid exposure. The phenols and aromatic hydrocarbons also have been shown to cause respiratory problems in animals like those listed above.

#6 Not All Cedar Is The Same

Cedar is part of the pine family of trees with native origin in North Africa and Asia. There are no native cedar trees to North America. The red cedar common in the Eastern USA is part of the Juniper family and can be highly toxic if taken internally. Under no circumstances should you ever cook with red cedar from the Eastern states of the USA.

USA cedar trees are referred to as false cedars since there are no native varieties. There are commonly 5 varieties of the false cedars available: Western Red Cedar (common to Southern Alaska, Northern California, and the Rockies), Northern White Cedar (Southeastern Canada, Northeastern quarter of the USA, south into Tennessee, and west into Iowa), Eastern Red (Aromatic) Cedar (Eastern USA), Yellow Cedar (Pacific Northwest from Alaska to British Columbia into Oregon), Spanish Cedar (although Native to South and Central America, it was planted in Florida). Every false cedar has some known health risks with the most common being respiratory due to toxicity of its pollen, oil, or other chemical compound.

Now you’re asking..

“So if there are all these documented health risks, how and why have cedar plank cooking and other methods of cedar wood cooking gain so much popularity?” I suppose the easiest answer is that cedar was used by the earliest settlers in the Pacific Northwest as a means of preserving, storing and cooking the seasonal fish. Think about the limitations of the day: they would be using resources that are available without thought to the items we ponder today like health, future risk, etc. This concept was examined from a different perspective many years later with the desire for flavor, appearance, and functionality.

We often make the mistake of jumping into something full throttle before asking some of the key questions to keep our bodies safe and healthy. Remember, there’s lots of documentation out there stating why you should not cook with softwood yet when it comes to cedar wood cooking, specifically, cedar plank cooking, we don’t seem to carry that issue forward. I don’t think I’ll ever understand why.

We love providing information to our readers and subscribers that is not in the open and letting you weigh the information for your own verdict. All types of questions are welcome and we encourage you to follow and subscribe to our social channels so you don’t miss anything. We look forward to providing you with tips, techniques, recipes, and the science for all things wood-fired cooked.

Purchase products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single 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

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

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

DrDr. Smoke says "Just because it might be a "fad," cedar wood for cooking may not be good for your health."

Dr. Smoke says “Just because it might be a “fad,” cedar wood for cooking may not be good for your health.”

 

Smoking color is correct when white smoke is present

Smoking color is correct when white smoke is present

In Grilling the smoke means everything! Click To Tweet

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You smell it before you see it! The aroma of foods being cooked outdoors. When those foods involve cooking over wood – hardwood to be specific – well, it is a flavor experience that is in a league of its own.

Recently, our cartoon friends, Tom and Bert, had an exchange about what the color of smoke means.

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Open Pit cooking fire We built by using Smokinlicious ash wood to develop great coals for our ember cooking of Peppers

Build an open pit cooking fire for grilling and ember cooking! Is easier than you may think follow our steps below!

OPEN PIT COOKING- BUILDING THE PERFECT FIRE

SmokinLicious® receives a lot of questions about wood-fired cooking and one of the most repetitive concerns the building of the fire for cooking. We’ve developed this series to address how to build the fire by equipment and technique. For Part I, we cover the open pit cooking fire.

Get Organized- Open Pit Cooking

The first step is to know where you will build the fire. Are you planning on using an outdoor fireplace, a fire pit, or will you construct a temporary fire location?

When using an existing fireplace located outdoors, you must ensure that the firebox is clean of previous ash and wood. The same is true for a open pit cooking fire pit. If you will set up a temporary location for the fire, consider what you will use for materials to secure the area. It is never recommended to use your patio, paved driveway or lawn because a hot fire is sure to damage them or, at the very least, mar their appearance (thin charcoal black coating the surface). Using large stones, interlocking bricks, or a metal fire ring work great at securing the area to contain your fire.

Once you’ve decided on the location, you’ll need to collect some supplies to make the cooking safe and fun.

▪ material to contain the fire like stones, bricks or a cast iron/wrought iron ring. You can use an outdoor fireplace or open pit cooking fire pit whether permanent or portable

▪ water, shovel, dirt, and/or fire extinguisher to deal with potential fire spread or wayward embers

▪Smokinlicious® smoking wood chips for quick lighting

picture of Smokinlicious Double filet wood chunks make a perfect source for developing the perfect cooking firesmall twigs or small pieces of hardwood to create a tepee around the wood chips (we like our Smokinlicious® smoking double or single filet chunks)

▪ larger hardwood pieces to create a 2nd tepee around the first (Smokinlicious®1/4 cut logs work great for that)

▪ rolled newspaper or fire starters

▪ have additional hardwood for producing more coals for cooking as needed

▪ a coal rake, fireplace tongs for moving and relocating wood pieces, spray bottle of water to tame flames near food, instant read thermometer (you can also use a traditional wrought-iron log holder to make the fire – the hot coals will fall through and then you rake them to the cooking side)

The Perfect Fire for Open Pit Cooking

Always take note of the day’s temperature, wind conditions/direction, and conditions of your wood (dry or wet, fresh cut or aged) before you start. You want to be sure you set up and start the fire where the wind direction won’t cause smoke to enter house windows or the dining area. Keep those locations upwind.

stack the wood into a teepee shape to maintain the flame and burning processIn your fire safe area, pile up a few handfuls of hardwood chips (you can use newspaper but I like to try to stay with wood in its natural state). Make a small tepee around the wood chips using small wood pieces (our single filet wood chunks work great) or twigs. Make a second tepee of larger wood pieces around the first one. You’ll see that you’re graduating from small wood pieces to larger as you build but you’re also ensuring good oxygen pockets to help feed the fire to the next level. This is what ensures even combustion and even coals. Now, light the wood chips at the center and allow everything to ignite. Don’t add any additional wood until you see the outside wood ablaze.

Fire for Fuel, Coals for Open Pit Cooking

The purpose of your shovel other than as protector of wayward fire, is to take those hot coals and move them to the cooking area. Remember, the fire area is not where you are going to cook. That location is nearby but not with the flames. You should never cook over direct flame as it will overcarbonize the foods and result in bitter tastes.

Ideally, you want to cook over coals that have a white colored ash over them. Now, here’s how to determine temperature of those coals: hold your hand over the coals the distance your foods will be. If you can only hold your hand for a count of 2 seconds before you need to pull it away, that is high heat. 3-4 seconds is medium-high, 5-6 seconds is medium and 7-8 seconds is low heat.

Bring on the Food!

We have burnt down the ash single fillet into a bed of hot coals. Ash wood is a perfect coaling wood to useOnce your coals are at the perfect temperature for the foods you want to cook, it’s all about cooking! Remember, you can set up different heat areas to cook different foods. That’s what makes the experience with wood cooking, specifically with coals, so exhilarating.

We hope this article was full information you didn’t know. Leave us a comment and subscribe so you don’t miss anything concerning wood fired cooking, flavors, and the science behind the fire.

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

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

Interested in reading more? Try:

-Top 10 Vegetables to Cook in Hot Embers

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

Purchase products:

Wood Chunks- Double and Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Smoker Logs

Dr Smoke- "Spending time on fire preparation for open pit cooking will enhance your cooking results."

Dr Smoke- “Spending time on fire preparation for open pit cooking will enhance your cooking results.”

Chef Bert and Tom combining hardwoods for smoking flavors

Chef Bert and Tom combining hardwoods for smoking flavors

Learning how to combine Hardwood species to change their smokey flavoring Click To Tweet

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There is misinformation out there that you may have been victim to. When cooking with hardwood, you may have been under the impression that only certain woods can be used with certain foods. For instance, hickory is reserved only for pork shoulder and brisket. Cherry for chicken, etc.

But that is hardly the truth.

Hardwood used for cooking must be viewed as another ingredient. As a key ingredient, it needs to be balanced with the food item and other ingredients used in preparation before grilling and smoking.

The intent today is to provide a guide on combinations of hardwood that work well for specific foods. Essentially, the ingredients of a rub, glaze, sauce or marinade will dictate what hardwoods will maximize all the flavors to become a finished masterpiece.

Hardwood Selection as a Compatible Ingredient

The goal when using hardwood is balance of the flavor outcome. You never want the hardwood to produce an ashy or burnt flavor. The essence of the wood should simply add to the beautiful flavor outcome for a memorable eating experience.

Here is SmokinLicious® rating on boldness of flavor for the hardwoods we offer:

When I design wood recipes for specific foods, I like to think about balancing out a medium or bolder flavor with one that is lighter. For lighter fare items like vegetables and fish, two wood combinations are generally used while longer cooked animal proteins can tolerate three hardwoods well.

In the chart that follows, reference is provided to various foods that benefit from exposure to the specified hardwoods. Use the color blocks indicated under each food group to guide you on combinations. Find the same color blocks in that group, and you have the balanced combination of hardwood. For instance, under Fruit, there are two red squares for an alder and cherry combination. Under the Fish column, there are 3 options: Alder and Maple represented by the pink square, Beech and Cherry represented by the orange square, and Ash and Maple represented by the gray square. These combinations are balanced by the essence they produce in the smoke vapor. Just use equal parts of each wood and remember, always start with a small quantity of hardwood as it does not take much to produce great flavor.

TIP: if you are using a spicy rub, default to combinations that includes mild to moderate flavor intensity. Using sweet ingredients, include a bolder hardwood flavor.

Our Guide

Experiment to find your favorite combinations of hardwood and soon you’ll have your own personal, detailed guide!

Do you have a favorite combination of hardwood? 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!

Products discussed in this Blog:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

 

More Related reading on this subject- More Related reading on this subject of cooking & Grilling with wood

More Related reading on combining wood species and sizes to change their smoke profile and more!

Related Reading:

-COOKING WOOD WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

-WHAT WOOD TO USE FOR SMOKING: A PRIMER

-10 THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE PURCHASING WOOD FOR COOKING, GRILLING & SMOKING

Dr. Dr. Smoke- Combining hardwoods by mixing different species and sizes increases your smoking results!

Dr. Smoke- Combining hardwoods by mixing different species and sizes increases your smoking results!

 

Our top 12 Grilling Mistakes!

Our top 12 Grilling Mistakes!

Did you do one of these top 12 grilling mistakes this Year? Click To Tweet

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As a billion-dollar business, selling grills is likely not going away any time soon. In fact, sales are gaining strength thanks to COVID-19 which forced many to find ways to keep cooking and eating interesting while forced to stay out of restaurants.

When asked, most people say they grill or barbeque for flavor. If that is the case, then why are some of the most common practices the ones causing the most variation in the taste of your grilled foods?

Here are the top 12 grilling mistakes you should avoid.

#1 Skipping Preheat of the Grill

It does not matter if you prefer to use a gas grill or a charcoal unit, you need to preheat the grill before adding food. Why? It is the only way to avoid having your foods stick to the grill grate. When you allow the metal to heat to a very hot level, the protein in meats cannot form a bond with the metal grate. Plan about 5 minutes preheat time for charcoal grills and 15 minutes for gas units.

#2 Cooking on an Unclean Grill

Yeah, I know. The grill is located outside so you think it does not need the same care and cleaning as your kitchen equipment indoors. Wrong! Leftover food particles, grease, smoke tar and creosote can build up on various parts of the grill and cause changes in food flavors as well as make the food stick. Plus, a grease trap that has never been emptied can ignite which will ruin your planned grill day! Get in the habit of scraping the grill grate after preheating and lightly scrub the cooled down grill including the lid area, with steel wool and water. The lid likes to hold on to carbonized grease which becomes flaky and falls off onto your foods if left in place.

#3 Not Oiling the Grill Grate

In addition to preheating the grill oiling the grate is key to keeping food from sticking. This needs to be done whether your cooking on gas or charcoal. Using tongs, dip a wad of paper towels in vegetable oil and wipe the preheated, scrubbed cooking grate before adding food.

#4 Using Lighter Fluid

For charcoal grill lovers, stop ruining your foods with lighter fluid. Coals are easier to lite with lighter fluid for one reason only – the chemicals make for quick lighting. They also impart those chemical flavors to your food. Learn to use a chimney starter with either newspaper for lighting or a Firestarter placed at the bottom. And this leads us to …

#5 Not Having Enough Coals

Depending on the size of the chimney starter you purchase, the average weight of charcoal used in one is 3 pounds. If your planning a full day of grilling, that one chimney starter will not be enough. Do not forget to load the charcoal area of the grill with unlit charcoal before the hot coals are added. The hot coals will gradually ignite the unlit and keep the temperature going so you can keep cooking.

#6 Pouring the Coals Too Soon

Once you have the chimney starter lit, leave it alone! Too often, the chimney is poured before the top layer of coals is covered with ash. That means, the coals are a gray color not black. If you do not allow the coals to fully heat, you will not be able to sustain the temperature of the equipment for cooking or worse, the fire could go completely out.

#7 Turning Meat Too Soon

We covered why it is so important to preheat the grill before placing food on the grate. Part of the “non-stick” relates to turning meat. The meat’s surface needs to be hot enough to release from the grate. If you don’t wait long enough, the meat will tear. Wait until you can easily lift the meat before making the turn.

#8 Running Out of Propane

I think just about everyone at one time or another makes the mistake of starting a grilling day and the propane tank runs out! Here is a trick for those who own a tank that has no fuel gauge. Boil one cup of water and pour it down the side of the tank. Feel the metal with your hand. Where you feel warmth on the tank means that area of the tank is empty. Feel coolness, that is the current level of available propane.

#9 Cooking with the Lid Open

Apart from lighting a gas grill, which should always be done with the lid up, you should do cooking with the lid down. Remember, gas grills deliver less heat than charcoal models. Keep the lid down to trap as much heat as possible.

#10 Lifting the Lid During Cooking

Having a hinged lid seems to imply that you are to readily open and close it at a whim. Nothing is further from the truth! Just like your oven, ever time you open the lid on the grill, you allow heat to escape forcing it to work harder to maintain the heat setting. Leave the lid alone!

#11 Using Vents for Proper Airflow

Comparable to the dials on an oven, vents are what control airflow to either boost the heat of the grill, reduce the heat, and extinguish fire/heat. On a charcoal grill, there are vents on the bottom of the charcoal area as well as the top of the lid. The bottom vents draw in oxygen to feed the fire while the top provide for the draft. Balance the two openings and you succeed in reaching regulated temperature, just like setting the dial on your stove. Gas grills also have vents but they are usually fixed and intended to release some gases and heat from the higher BTU burner ratings.

#12 Using Only One Cooking Set Up on the Grill

Grills allow for so much versatility in cooking essentially any food item, whether that is animal protein, fruit, vegetables or even bread and baked items. Do not limit yourself to just one grill set up! If you are one to lite up all the burners on the grill or place your hot coals all throughout the charcoal area of your grill, then you are missing out. Direct fire works for quick cooking methods like burgers and hot dogs, but it is not the best set up for other foods. Learn to use a two-zone set up: heat on only one half of the grill area while food is placed on the unheated side. You will have the benefit of controlled cooking when needed and the option for direct char and searing for finishing items or for quick cook foods on the direct fire side.

Did we miss a grilling mistake? Leave us a comment to let us know. We welcome all types of questions and encourage you to follow and subscribe to our social channels so you don’t miss anything. We look forward to providing you with tips, techniques, recipes, and the science for all things wood-fired cooked.

SmokinLicious® products used in this blog:

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Wood Chunks- Single & Double Filet

More Related reading on Grilling mistakes and other good Techniques to follow

More Related reading on Grilling mistakes and other good Techniques

Related reading:

-COOKING WOOD WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

-WHAT WOOD FOR SMOKING: A PRIMER

-10 THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE PURCHASING WOOD FOR COOKING, GRILLING & SMOKING

 

 

Dr. Smoke- Our Dozen of top grilling mistakes people make! Avoid these to be king of the Q

Dr. Smoke- Our Dozen of top grilling mistakes people make! Avoid these to be king of the Q

Our nicely grill marked avocado halves look yummy after we did our wood grilled avocado technique explained in this blog.

Wood grilled avocado is a fun way to add different flavor to this wonderful fruit.

WOOD FIRED GRILLED AVOCADO

To our blog kiwifruit gets smoky

Oh, the wonderful, healthy, creamy, flavorful avocado. With more potassium than a banana and 18 amino acids for daily intake, you can’t go wrong with this single seed fruit.

Did you ever think to grill this fabulous fruit with a little wood to give it even more flavor? We’ll show you just how easy grilled avocado can be on the gas grill using wood chunks for your smoke infusion.

Grilled Avocado with a Wood Fired Touch

Regardless of the brand of gas grill you have, you can add wood chunks to the grill for wood fired flavor. My grill has heat shields over the burners so I use that area to add one small wood chunk under the grill grate, directly on the heat shield. No, you won’t damage your grill, as the wood combusts to ash and basically blows away.

One chunk is all it will take to get great flavor into the avocados. I keep the burner that the wood chunk is located on set to medium as well as the burner next to that one on medium. Since I have 4 burners, 2 are on and 2 are off.

Once the grill is to 300° F, this technique will take less than 20 minutes.

Simple Preparation for Wood Fired Grilled Avocado

The only preparation needed for the avocados is to cut them in half and remove the seed. The avocados are placed flesh side down on the grate only on the side with the burners off. The heat captured within the grill will spread throughout the grilling area and cook the avocado while adding wood smoke vapor. Note, it’s important that you don’t attempt to move the avocados for at least 10 minutes otherwise you will find the avocado flesh will stick to the grate and you’ll lose much of the fruit’s flesh. Wait until some of the fat renders and chars making removal so simple.

Grilled Avocado- Prep To Finish In Less Than 20 Minutes

In less than 20 minutes you will have wonderfully wood flavored, charred flesh avocados ready for your favorite recipes. Think of using this fruit in smoothies, dips, on salads, as a creamy ingredient for sauces – remember, avocado can be used to substitute the amount of butter used in most recipes. We will take some of our avocado and make a wood fired guacamole first. Our recipe will post soon so stay tuned and don’t’ forget to send us your pics of wood fired avocado.

Did you get motivated to fire up the grill with wood? Send us a comment or your avocado fired pics and don’t forget to subscribe. Bringing you fun, innovative tips, techniques and recipes on all wood fired methods for foods, beverages, spices, herbs and so much more.

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

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

Be sure to check out:

-The Top 10 Vegetables To Cook In Hot Embers

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

-STEPPING UP RADISH SALAD WITH A WOOD-FIRED FLARE

Purchase products:

Wood Chunks- Double and Single Filet

Dr Smoke- "For a great smoky flavor try a wood fired grilled avocado."

Dr Smoke- “For a great smoky flavor try a wood fired grilled avocado.”

Smokinlicious® Grande Sapore-larger smoker wood chips are crushed to preserve the great moisture level to be released during the cooking process.

Smokinlicious® Grande Sapore-larger smoker wood chips or woood nuggets are crushed to preserve the great moisture level to be released during the cooking process.

A MESSAGE FROM DR. SMOKE on WOOD NUGGETS:

I want to thank everyone for their feedback and comments regarding “One Size Does Not Fit Everything!” There are so many smokers/grills on the market today, and we’ve always felt that one wood chip size does not fit every piece of equipment! Is the description “wafer”, nuggets, or chip size?? Users of the various equipment always seem to be trying to fit either an oversized piece or an undersized into unit to make it work! Just like when a recipe calls for a Tablespoon, you don’t add a cup. It’s the same concept with wood smoke flavoring of food!

So, after much research and work in the test kitchen, we, at SmokinLicious® will be welcoming new equipment at our facility to manufacture a variety of wood chip sizes. Our packages will begin to distinguish the following new concepts:

  • Wood Species
  • Sizing of the product
  • Fines Fraction
  • Bark Particles
  • Wetness (moisture) level
  • Ash level

Although we have been providing this customization to our wholesale customers for some time, we feel the time is right to make this information available to our internet/home user customers!

The first scheduled product will be the “SmokinLicious® “Wood Nuggets.” This product will consist of wood pieces approximately 30-35 mm by 15 mm, a perfect size when you want to add something other than a “double filet” chunk to the process but need something more than a small chip in order to avoid flare ups over hot coals. The Wood Nugget will have plenty of substance to produce excellent smoke vapor, the most vital element for infusing wood smoke flavor in foods.

This will allow the backyard barbecuer the means to set up the fire with a base hardwood for smoking and add something at the end to match- just like what commercial smokehouses do! Use your base hickory and add cherry nuggets to provide some great red hue to the end product!

At SmokinLicious®, we are constantly refining products and techniques for food smoking, grilling, ember fire and oven cooking. We will have a classification of products anticipated to be completed by the end of this year. We will introduce this array of wood cooking and smoking products over the internet by Spring 2015! As always, we welcome your comments and feedback!

Bon Bar B Que,

Dr. Smoke- Our nuggets is a cross-over cooking & smoking wood product.

Dr. Smoke- Our wood Nuggets offer the same superb Smokinlicious® flavor quality when your smoker or grill needs something bigger than chips but less that chunks.

For more related reading on this subject, check out these articles-

For more reading on cooking and smoking wood, check out these article:

Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About Cooking Wood

Facts to Know Before Purchasing Cooking Wood

The Smokinlicious® Wood Guide

 

Wet or dry wood for smoking? Which is the best!

Wet or dry wood for smoking? Which is the best!

Soak or not to soak my wood prior to smoking? Click To Tweet

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This is one of the top questions heard when it comes to cooking with wood. Do you soak the wood chunks or chips before using on the grill or smoker?

I have a definite answer which is do not soak the wood before using in your equipment.

Let us examine why.

Water Becomes Steam

Any time water is introduced to a preheated piece of equipment, whether it is an LP/gas grill, electric unit, or charcoal grill, it will affect the temperature of that equipment. For the LP/gas and electric units, this can be seen in the call for more gas or electric energy to keep the temperature at the preset level. For the charcoal unit, the water will reduce the heat of the coals and the fire will need to work harder to regain the energy to sustain the target temperature.

Wet Produces Off Flavor

There is an ideal moisture range for hardwood used for cooking, which includes grilling, smoking, direct coal and ember methods. You will hear the terms “seasoned” and “green”. “Green” wood refers to fresh cut wood which has not had an opportunity to dry out. The risks of using this type of wood is it will burn at variant rates, emit more sap, and has the potential to impart bitter and musty flavors. “Seasoned” woods refer to hardwoods that have dried out naturally. These will provide for more consistent temperature, provide cleaner flavors, and combust with less creosote build-up. Just be aware, you do not want firewood! If you Google seasoned wood, you will read that this is wood left to dry for 9-12 months or more. Do not leave your wood that long as it will not release any essence that produces the flavor.

Mold Potential

The wetter the wood the more potential there is for mold to develop. Mold needs 3 conditions: moist or damp locations to grow, a food source to survive, ideal temperatures usually from 32° to 120°F but love 70-90°F.

It is important that though you will use wood dry on any equipment (unless the equipment manufacturer specifically requests you soak the wood in water) that the wood not be completely dehydrated of all moisture. We recommend that you cook with wood that is approximately 20-25% moisture level. This is the main reason why at SmokinLicious®, we take the moisture reading on every order and provide that information to you. Here is a tip: if you see wood that is packaged in a plastic bag with no air holes, that is completely dry wood and will not provide any flavor or essence of the wood. It merely becomes a heat source

Wood Chips Combust Faster

One product that chronically is misrepresented to be prepared wet are wood chips. I have yet to see packaging in the retail box stores that states to use the chips dry. All brands make a recommendation to soak the wood chips and apply them to a coal fire wet. If you do as recommended, you will not only stall the temperature of your equipment, you will stall the production of smoke vapor production. Remember, water must become steam for the wood to be dry enough to combust.

What should you take away from this article? It does matter if the wood used for grilling and smoking is wet or dry. Do not stall your cooking, do not taint your food’s flavor, do not risk your health by using wet wood. Keep it dry for clean, pure flavors that make wood-fired foods so enjoyable.

Do you have a target moisture level or seasoning time you keep your hardwood at? 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:

Smoking Wood Chunks- Double and Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Wood Chips- Minuto® and Piccolo®

More Related reading beyond wet or dry wood for smoking and preparing your wood for the smoker!

More Related reading beyond wet or dry wood for smoking and preparing your wood for the smoker!

Other valuable information:

-HOW MUCH WOOD TO ADD WHEN SMOKING

-SMOKEHOUSE PRODUCTS WOOD CHIPS- HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

-WHAT WOOD FOR SMOKING: A PRIMER

 

 

Dr. Smoke- wet or dry wood for smoking is an important technique!

Dr. Smoke- wet or dry wood for smoking is an important technique!

During stay at home or Quarantine doesn't mean you should place your taste buds on hold!

During stay at home or Quarantine doesn’t mean you should place your taste buds on hold!

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Stay at Home

You’ve committed to a stay-cation. Lists of games to play, tasks to complete, books to read, and movies and shows to see have been compiled. Now its time to give some thought to the food that will sustain you during this time.

Don’t compromise taste because your afraid to make too much work out of cooking. Using the grill is a super easy way to keep your foods and meals highly flavorful. Let’s give you some ideas that will provide options for everyone to feel satisfied and pleasantly full.

The Breakdown

I think the easiest way to view meal preparation when you focus on the grill as your primary method of cooking is to breakdown foods by categories.

Fruits:

This group of food can make some of the best grilled items. Already sweet in flavor, grilling them produces more vibrant flavor as the heat caramelizes the natural sugars and produces a char to the outside of the fruit. When selecting fruits for the grill, be sure they are ripe but not over-ripened to where they present as soft, or they will have tendency to break apart on the grill. Keep the pieces of fruit large when placing on the grill to maintain as much cell structure as possible. Brush the fruit pieces lightly with a high heat oil like coconut, avocado, or grape seed. The key is to leave the pieces untouched for at least 3 minutes before flipping to get great char and flavor infusion. Perfect fruits for the grill: banana, avocado, apple, mango, peach, papaya, pineapple, peach, pear, plum, grapes, cranberry, eggplant, kiwi, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, tomato.

Vegetables:

You likely are already aware of popular vegetables to grill like corn on the cob, peppers, and onions, but there are so many more that pair perfectly with the grill. In fact, I would go as far as saying ANY vegetable is appropriate for the grill, you just need to control those that should be exposed to direct heat versus indirect. The easy method of determining heat level is the thicker the skin on the veggie, the more tolerant to direct heat. All vegetables can cook on the grill in less than 10 minutes so time really isn’t a factor. Always remember to avoid moving the vegetables on the grill until they have cooked for at least 3-4 minutes. For preparation to the vegetables, most require just quartering or slicing in half, with some going on whole like tomatoes and smaller mushrooms. Basting with high heat tolerant oils is also recommended.

Nuts and Seeds:

These are foods that react with a super boost in flavor when exposed to the heat of a grill and flavor of wood on the grill. Any seed or nut can be grilled by using a disposable foil pan or griddle pan designed for grilling. These items take about 15-20 minutes and should be stirred every 5-8 minutes to prevent scorching.

Baked Items:

Anything you normally would bake in an oven can be done on the grill. This includes cookies, cakes, breads, pies, tarts, and pastry. Just remember, like vegetables, these items can be a bit more fragile. Using a two-zone cooking set up on the grill – baked item placed on the unlit side of the grill while the heat is on the opposite side – produces a radiant heat that will cook the item evenly and without any direct hot spots. I will say that baked items tend to do best on a LP/Gas grill versus charcoal unit.

Animal Proteins:

Of course, animal proteins are well known as a grilled food item. My recommendation here is to marinate items with either wet or dry rubs for 8 hours to ensure great moisture in the finished product.

As a final note, grilled foods store very well and don’t lose any of their flavor when refrigerated. Plus, it’s easy to grill a variety of items at the same time. Any meal – breakfast, lunch, dinner – can be done exclusively on a grill. For those that love even more char flavoring, think about adding wood chunks either in a smoking box or directly on grates or heat shields. You can learn more about this technique for the gas grill here.

Do you plan to take a stay-cation? 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!

Purchase products:

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

Wood Chunks- Single & Double Filet

Charwood

More related reading on more to do during this staycation year see our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More related reading on more to do during stay at home time see our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More blogs you might enjoy!

-HOW TO KEEP FOOD INTERESTING, PRESERVED & SAFE DURING QUARANTINE

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

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

-HOW TO TURN YOUR CHARCOAL GRILL INTO A SMOKER

Dr. Smoke-

Dr. Smoke-Don’t put your taste buds on hold during this stay at home or Quarantine year!

Our forest grown Hickory cooking wood blocks are center cut with NO BARK! Perfect sizing when you need a "chunky" piece of hardwood for smoking and wood-fired cooking!

Our forest grown Hickory cooking wood blocks are center cut with NO BARK! Perfect sizing when you need a “chunky” piece of hardwood for smoking and wood-fired cooking!

 

HICKORY COOKING WOOD- WHAT A “NUTTY” CHOICE

Continuing our feature on specific hardwoods for the sole purpose of wood-fired cooking, let me introduce you to very popular choice, especially when it comes to hot smoking or pit roasting techniques and meats.

Hickory hardwood is part of the Juglandaceae family of wood better known as the Walnut family. The scientific names for the varieties we manufacture are Carya glabra (Mill.) sweet and Carya laciniosa (Michx.f.) but the common names for the varieties found in the Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania regions include Pignut Hickory, Sweet Pignut, Smoothbark Hickory, Kingnut.

Hickory cooking wood is most commonly used with animal proteins like beef (ribs, brisket), pork (shoulder, ribs), and game (elk, bison, moose, duck, deer). Its overall flavor profile is more significant with a moderate level of infusion. It often is described as having a bacon-like undertone. Because the overall infusion is on the stronger side, it works well when mixed with a lighter hardwood or fruit wood like ash, cherry, or maple to balance the use of Hickory with non-animal proteins.

The overall color that results from the smoke vapor of hickory cooking wood is on the brown or deep side.

Heat Level: High – 27.5 MBTU

Fuel Efficiency: Excellent

Ease of Lighting: Fair

Ideal Uses: Grilling/Roasting/Braising/Pit Roasting/Hot Smoking

HICKORY TREE Oh, and the answer is no, you don’t need to be concerned with the use of hickory cooking wood for those with a nut allergy. The trigger for an allergic reaction is contained within the nut themselves rather than the tree and occurs when the nut is cracked. So enjoy this giant of the forest and Bon-Bar-B-Q!

 

 

 

 

 

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The ways to use wood chunks on gas grill!

The ways to use wood chunks on gas grill!

Try wood chunks on gas grill for a natural taste! Click To Tweet

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This is the year! You made a promise to yourself, family and friends that this outdoor cooking season, you were going to bring more flavor to meals cooked on the grill by incorporating smoking wood and grilling wood. All you need to know is, what are the options for setting up the grill for this type of cooking without purchasing a smoker?

 

We have the answer and lots of options to utilize your existing equipment!

LP/Gas Grills of All Types

There is a great deal of variation in LP/Gas Grilling equipment in terms of grilling surface space, the number of burners, BTU rating, etc. Know up front, that this will play into how frequently you need to replenish grilling or smoking wood or even to monitor the foods being smoked on the grill. Essentially, these tips will work on any brand/model that you may own.

How To Add Wood Chunks on Gas Grill

Heat diffusers are commonly found on newer models of grills. They are made of high heat tolerant metal and cover the actual burners of the unit. Their purpose is to ensure even heat distribution throughout the grill so both radiant and conductive heat is maximized.

Wood Chunks On The Diffusers

If you have a grill model that has heat diffusers (remember, they may go by other names like flavorizer bars, flame tamers, heat plates, burner shields, and heat distributors) then you’re ready to use smoking wood chunks on your unit! Yes, I said smoking chunks. This is by far the easiest method of getting the true smoke flavor to the foods being cooked. Plus, you can set up an indirect method of cooking using smoking chunks.

You will need 3-4 wood chunks sized to fit over your heat diffusers and under the grill grate when setting in place. A 2x2x3-inch size fits most units and these should have some measurable moisture level; at least 20% moisture is ideal meaning you won’t need to presoak the wood. If you have an old grill model before heat diffusers were standard, you can still use smoking wood chunks by placing them in a smoker box. These boxes will generally fit 3-4 chunks of the size referenced above but be sure to use a good quality box. My preference is cast iron. Insert the chunks into the smoker box and leave the lid off!

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