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

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

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!

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 Grilling Woods to the LP/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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BBQ Smoke color, Black, Brown White or Blue is the key to successful Barbecue flavor

BBQ Smoke color, Black, Brown White or Blue is the key to successful Barbecue flavor

BBQ Smoke Color know the differences 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’s a flavor experience that is in a league of its own.

Today, instead of concentrating on the cooking technique of wood-fires, let’s examine the smoke vapor.

Does the color of the smoke being produced mean anything for flavor outcome?

The quick answer: absolutely!  Let’s take a closer look at the finer points of smoke vapor colors.

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our food scale demonstrates Grande Sapore® and Double Filet wood chunks as a guide to adding wood flavoring with our Smokinlicious® products.

Our food scale demonstrates HOW MUCH of Grande Sapore® and Double Filet wood chunks as a guide to adding flavoring with our Smokinlicious® products.

One of the most common questions asked when it comes to smoking foods on a gas grill, traditional charcoal grill or smoker is, how much wood do I need? Likely the second most common question is where does the wood go? Click To Tweet

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Let’s break this down by equipment and method of smoking so you have a good place to start in answering the above questions.

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Learn how to turn your charcoal grill with the right hardwood chunks and chips!

Learn how to turn your charcoal grill with the right hardwood chunks and chips!

LEARN HOW TO TURN YOUR CHARCOAL GRILL INTO A SMOKER Click To Tweet

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Let’s be honest.  When you bought that charcoal grill you were likely thinking that you could both grill and smoke without needing to add anything.  Soon, you realized, that just wasn’t the case.  Now, you’re contemplating whether you need to purchase a smoker.  Well, hold on the shopping trip until you read this.

You can turn your charcoal grill into a smoker with these simple steps!

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IsIs it fresh, is always a question that comes from new smokehouse products wood chips customers only! Our old customers know that at Smokinlicious® we are cutting products daily and measuring moisture to produce the best smoking wood in the world! it fresh, is always a question that comes from new customers only! Our old customers know that at Smokinlicious® we are cutting products daily and measuring moisture to produce the best smoking wood in the world!

Is it fresh, is always a question that comes from new smokehouse products wood chips customers only! Our old customers know that at Smokinlicious® we are cutting products daily and measuring moisture to produce the best smoking wood in the world!

Smokehouse products, need fresh Smokinlicious® Minuto® and Piccolo® wood chips to produce the finest smoke flavor! Click To Tweet

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I always find it interesting when we receive a new inquiry about providing specialty products for commercial-grade smokehouses.   I’m speaking specifically to the large commercial-grade smokehouse.  The type that utilize walk-in, wall smokehouse units that can turn out hundreds of pounds of product each cycle.

First, there’s always the question if we can duplicate the current wood chip product.  That’s where the education begins.

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Smokinlicious® Cooking Wood in the chimney starter!

Smokinlicious® Cooking Wood in the chimney starter!

COOKING WOOD WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW Click To Tweet

 

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I’m going, to be frank.   When having an opportunity to search through social media photos of various foods cooked by fire and smoke and seeing a reference to the wood, I get uncomfortable.  There doesn’t appear to be the same concern for the choice of wood as there is for the rub, cut of meat, quality of meat, choice of equipment, and sauce.

Why is it that the wood used to flavor the foods grilled and smoked is an afterthought?

Rating Scale for Cooking Wood

Recently, I ran across an article in Reader’s Digest that focused on the dangers of wildfire smoke, especially for those living in areas of the United States that are hit repeatedly by these events.  What struck me the most was the Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index: good, moderate, unhealthy for sensitive groups, unhealthy, very unhealthy, and hazardous.  This guide is used to recommend evacuations of locations, use of HEPA filtration to allow people to remain in an affected area, and as a method of gaining valuable data post-fire on the effects, smoke has on plant life.  There is considerable data available from tree bark which has long been known to absorb pollutants.

This got me thinking about hardwoods used for smoking, grilling, and overall cooking of foods.  There is no regulatory agency that oversees wood used for cooking.  Despite efforts to get the Food Safety and Inspection Services division to recognize the risks associated with cooking with wood, no governmental agency has stepped up to offer regulations in this area such as established inspections of equipment and wood.

Why Kosher is important for Cooking wood!

As the manufacturer of all the products sold under the brand SmokinLicious®, we struggled with what steps to take that would demonstrate our commitment to only offer hardwoods that are considered safe for cooking.  Although we stressed that we are bark-free (an important step to reduce the exposure to toxins locked in the bark layers), that we only manufacture from the heartwood (an area of the tree that is known to be resistant to insects and decay), and that we manufacture each cut to the wood for the end cooking product, we simply desired some validation of these steps.

Since we’ve always considered the wood another ingredient to cooking, we decided to explore the options from the food perspective.  What certification could we apply for that would demonstrate that we are a food-related item?  Kosher certification was the perfect place to start!

Certification Means?

For us, the steps we’ve taken to obtain Kosher certification via VA’AD HAKASHRUS OF BUFFALO verified our commitment to keep our manufacturing facility at the highest standard possible.  People are drawn to kosher food for various reasons including quality, a healthy lifestyle, food safety, and allergy security.  By securing this certification, we can demonstrate to the public that our products satisfy the food quality and safety requirements they should strive for daily.  As such, our customers don’t have to settle for an unregulated product that frankly, could contain pretty much anything in the package because, as pointed out, there is no system of check on wood cooking and smoking products.

The SmokinLicious® Cooking Wood Index

Taking a page from the Environmental Protection Agency, I thought it would be helpful to develop an index to use for hardwood intended for cooking.  Our grading system is based on toxicity factors of a wood, ease of lighting, sustained burn, coal formation, smoke production, and heat level.  Our index is: Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor, Unhealthy.

Excellent: Alder, American Beech, Ash, Cherry, Hickory, Pecan, Maple, Apple

Good: Persimmon, Red Oak, White Oak, Mesquite

Fair: Birchwood, Chestnut, Walnut, Peach

Poor: Aspen, Basswood, Poplar, Sycamore, Butternut, Cottonwood, Elm, Willow, Dogwood

Unhealthy: Buckeye, Hackberry, Gum (Sweetgum)

We hope you will find this guide useful. Use it as a means of sorting through all the types of wood offerings to make an educated decision, to look for key information on the packaging that will confirm you are making a safe decision.  After all, why take any additional risks when it comes to the health and safety of your family.

Making you an informed consumer through valuable articles like this one.  Hope you enjoyed this blog about cooking with wood!  Leave us a comment and subscribe for more great recipes, techniques, tips, and the science behind the flavor, that’s SmokinLicious®.

Products discussed in this Blog:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

More related reading on Cooking wood, how to use and alter its great flavoring capabilities!

More related reading on Cooking wood, how to use and alter its great flavoring capabilities!

 Additional reading:

-WHAT WOOD TO USE FOR SMOKING: A PRIMER

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

-Is It Fresh? Here’s Why You Need to Know

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

Dr. Smoke- Cooking wood provides great flavor in our BBQ, Smoked Bacon, Ribs and even on Vegetables!

Dr. Smoke- Cooking wood provides great flavor in our BBQ, Smoked Bacon, Ribs and even on Vegetables!

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

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

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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!

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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 for smoking with pictures of our double filet for each species

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

WHAT WOOD TO USE FOR SMOKING Click To Tweet

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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.

(more…)

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

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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!

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