The Three ways we smoked-wood flavored our Boston Butts!
The Three ways we smoked-wood flavored our Boston Butts!

3 METHODS OF SMOKING BOSTON BUTT Click To Tweet

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This certainly is a clear example of how anyone can produce authentic barbecue on the equipment they have even if it’s not a traditional smoker.

Boston Butt

It should come as no surprise that majority of grill owners invest in a gas grill for their outdoor cooking with over 80% of these owners investing in multiple accessories for that grill.  Often, many of these grill owners will venture to make an additional purchase of a second type of grill like a charcoal or pellet grill/smoker, in order to be able to cook more barbecue or smoked food options.

My intent is to demonstrate to you that you can produce authentic flavors, colors, textures, and aromas of favorite barbecue proteins with a variety of equipment, all outfitted with hardwood for the authentic wood flavoring.

I’ll be taking Boston butt to a traditional gas grill, a kettle charcoal grill, and a convection-style grill to demonstrate just how easy it is to cook this popular animal protein while giving you a bit of education on how these units are different when hardwood is incorporated.

Set Up Similarities and Differences

When it comes to setting up the grills for smoking, there are some obvious differences.  First, let me name the equipment brands I’ve included and the intended set up of each for cooking and smoking the Boston Butt cuts, all of which approximate 8 lbs.

Our Boston Butt (s) on the Stok Gas Grill with accompanying Smoker boxes
Our Boston Butt (s) on the Stok Gas Grill with accompanying Smoker boxes

The Stôk Quattro 4-Burner Grill:

If you are not familiar with this grill, it is equipped with an insert system to allow you to use a standard grilling grate, a griddle, grill basket, vegetable tray, pizza stone, Dutch oven, Wok, and other inserts that easily pop in and out of the cast iron grates.  Despite this feature, you can do traditional smoking using wood chunks without the need for the smoker/infuser insert.

Whenever I smoke on a traditional gas grill, I always set up a two-zone cooking method.  This means, on my 4-burner Stôk, I will ignite just two of the burners on one side.  You can either place wood chunks directly on the heat shields of the unit or use a metal smoker box.  My Boston butt will cook on the unlit side of the grill with a metal smoker box containing 3 wood chunks on the hot side.  I’ve also included a second smoker box to make it easier to swap out the first when the wood becomes completed charred.  My temperature is 225°F for the actual cooking.

Our Boston Butt on the Orion Cooker with Minuto® wood chips in the inner ring
Our Boston Butt on the Orion Cooker with Minuto® wood chips in the inner ring

Orion Cooker:

This is an outdoor convection unit that uses briquets for the heat and Minuto® Wood Chips placed around the drip/water pan for the wood flavoring.  This unit will be the fastest to cook the Boston Butt, with an anticipated timing of 4-1/2 hours total.  This is a direct cooking method that uses the radiated heat of the stainless-steel body to trap and circulate the heat for faster cooking time.

There is no ability to replenish the wood chips with this unit due to the high heat level.  About 15 lbs. of briquet and 4 ounces of Orion Custom Wood Chips is all that is needed to smoke, plus some water in the water/drip pan for a moist outcome.

Our Boston Butt on the Weber® kettle Grill with double filet wood chunks
Our Boston Butt on the Weber® kettle Grill with double filet wood chunks

Weber® Kettle 22” Charcoal Grill:

 Likely one of the most popular charcoal grills, the Weber® kettle provides for the opportunity to cook with charcoal and hardwood.  I’ll be setting up my grill using a two-zone method; charcoal/wood on half the fire area and the meat placed on the indirect side.

Due to the length of time Boston butt takes to cook, you likely will need to replenish the charcoal for maintenance of heat level.  I prefer to maintain a temperature around 250° F.

For similarities: both the Weber® and the Stôk grill were set up with a two-zone cooking method.  Both included use of the SmokinLicious® double filet wood chunk.  The length of cooking time between the charcoal unit and the gas unit are very similar, taking close to 10 hours.

For differences: temperature maintenance is easier with the gas and convection units.  The charcoal unit requires much more supervision to ensure that the fuel (charcoal) is replenished prior to the temperature of the grill decreasing significantly.  You are also able to check on the meat’s coloring and evenness of cooking with the charcoal and gas units while the convection unit is generally left alone until closer to the recommended cooking times.  Though you can check on the doneness of the meat at any point with the convection unit, generally there is no need to do anything but wait.

Regarding cooking variations, let’s discuss color, bark formation, moisture of the meat.

Barbecue By All Methods

With all four of the Boston Butt (s) prepared in the same manner – excess fat trimmed to ¼-inch or less, a dry rub applied on all sides, and marinated for 24 hours – this is a fair comparison of how each grilling and smoking method produces the barbecue results commonly looked for.

Bark:

Without question, bark or the outer crust that develops from exposure to a lower temperature, long cook time, and smoke vapor infusion was greatest on the Boston butt cooked on the Weber® Kettle 22” Charcoal Grill.  The gas grill produces the least amount of bark which is dominate on the outer edges and top surface.

Color:

The darkest coloring to the bark and the most obvious smoke ring was on the meat cooked on the charcoal grill.  The Orion Cooker produced a brown hue to the meat’s exterior while the meat cooked on the gas grill retained a red hue that was indicative of the dry rub color.  Charcoal grills will produce a black hued coloring due to two combustible materials: charcoal or charred wood and hardwood.

Moisture:

The meat that produced the greatest amount of rendered juice was from the charcoal cooking method.  Second, the convection grill method followed by the gas grill.  However, the greatest internal moisture level was obtained from the indirect cooking method on the gas grill, followed by the charcoal method and lastly the convection method.

Final Notes:

What we’ve set out to accomplish with this multi cook segment is to prove that no matter what equipment you have, you can produce authentic flavor, aroma and texture to Boston butt.  This can be invaluable for those times when you may not have a lot of time to supervise the smoker or grill but still want authentic barbecue.  Or, when you must make a lot of meat meaning you must use all the equipment options you have available.

All four Boston Butt (s) one done on charcoal with the Weber, another in the Orion with wood chips and two on the gas grill with wood chunks- the coloring is not much different!
All four Boston Butt (s) one done on charcoal with the Weber, another in the Orion with wood chips and two on the gas grill with wood chunks- the coloring is not much different!

From a taste perspective, our sampling group indicated that the strongest smoked flavor was from the charcoal unit, followed by the convection grill and lastly, the gas grill.  Keep this information in mind when you’re cooking for others, as boldness of the smoke flavor can be controlled not only by the amount of time exposed to the smoke vapor, but also with the equipment used for the cooking and the amount and type of hardwood used in the process.

This certainly is a clear example of how anyone can produce authentic barbecue on the equipment they have even if it’s not a traditional smoker.

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

SmokinLicious® Products used in these techniques:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Minuto®

More related reading on how Smokinlicious® reduces the risks of Microbial bacteria in our wood products
More related reading on smoking Boston Butt & other Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More blogs you may enjoy:

-Charwood Grilled Salmon Fillets for a Hint of Smoky Flavor

-GRILLED LAMB

-GIVE ME THAT BEEF BRISKET!

-ROSEMARY INFUSED SMOKED BEEF SHANKS FROM THE GRILL

Dr. Smoke- We used three different methods to cook our Boston Butts for a party! All turned out tasty!
Dr. Smoke- We used three different methods to cook our Boston Butts for a party! All turned out tasty!
When its Called Barbecue?

What does it mean when its called Barbecue Click To Tweet

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It’s time I go there.  I’ve fielded way too many questions to ignore it.  Now is the perfect time for me to opine on this highly controversial topic: when it’s called barbecue.

How do you define “true” barbecue?

I have three parameters to cooking that I’d like to address that should help explain my justification for what qualifies as barbecue.

Temperature Comes First

People are often surprised that I don’t include equipment in my considerations but if you’ve followed our recipe blog “Cooking With Dr. Smoke”, you’re well aware that we include a wide array of equipment to demonstrate wood flavor infusion to all types of foods.  One area we do focus on, however, is temperature when cooking.

Extremely Low Temperature (below 80° F):

If the first thing that comes to mind is a temperature under 80°F is just not cooking, you’d be right.  Basically, this is a temperature that is ideal to complete cold smoking.  Fish, cheese, and some meat products can be exposed to this low temperature process when a combustible plant material is used.  In most cases, that is wood to smolder and produce a gas or vapor.  The smoke vapor produced from the smoldering wood invokes flavor and preservative qualities to the foods without causing fragile items such as cheese, chocolate, and similar food items to have their molecular composition destroyed by heat. When meats are exposed to this low temperature environment with smoldering wood, the smoke vapor penetrates completely through the meat since there is no high heat surface hardening that occurs like with hot smoking temperatures.

Low Temperature (180° to 300°F):

We’ve all heard the term low and slow cooking.  This is the low temperature reference to cooking tougher cuts of meat.  However, for me, even more tender cuts can be done using low temperature cooking, especially when paired with an indirect cooking set up or two-zone cooking.  Additionally, this temperature range is not just for meats and poultry, but fish, fruits, and vegetables also benefit.

our thermometer at 350 degrees F is the beginning of high temperature cooking.
high temperatures

High Heat Temperature (350° to 550°F or more):

Higher temperatures are generally for cooking smaller cuts of meat and poultry that don’t require a lot of cooking time.  Plus, high heat temperature can develop the char crust exterior on foods that many people crave with outdoor meals.  Know that you can use traditional grills for both direct, high heat cooking as well as indirect set up.  The indirect will allow you to cook the food through by placing on the indirect, non-heat side and then use the direct side for adding a sear to the finished foods.

Combustible Material

If you agree with me that barbecue is cooking with smoke then you’ll understand the need for a combustible material.  Some type of plant material must be used to generate the smoke.  The most popular material is wood or hardwood to be specific, since you should never cook with softwoods due to their higher sapwood content, resin, and air space in the cell walls.

Smoke is a key ingredient to Barbecue
Smoke is a key ingredient to Barbecue

First, understand smoke is a gas or vapor and can result from juices and fats that drip off foods into the fuel area of equipment, result from a fuel source like charcoal emitting smoke at it gains temperature to produce hot coals, and result from wood or other plant material (think herbs, teas, etc.) that is ignited.  You’ve likely experienced the first when cooking hamburgers, hot dogs or steak on direct heat of a charcoal or gas grill and watched the flames start with each drip of the fats/juices.  Just as you’ve likely experienced lighting charcoal and having a plume of smoke sit until the charcoal begins to gray over and produce high heat.  Come Fall and Spring, if you are a leaf burner, you’ve experienced the thick sometimes choking smoke that results from burning leaves, certainly not a pleasant plant material to use for food cooking.

Once you have a source for the smoke understand that not all smoke is good.  For detailed information on this, see our published article on the types of smoke and what they mean for cooking.

Length of Time for Cooking

our Dr Smoke clock,  Always keep track of your cooking time.
Cooking Time is Important

Although you’ve likely read that true barbecue is done low (temperature) and slow (length of time to cook), I will tell you that you can still produce smoked foods using temperatures considered above traditional hot smoking levels and in shorter time periods.  I’ve done bone-in beef shanks on the gas grill using a two-zone cooking method with wood chunks and had these done in about 75 minutes using a temperature close to 300°F.  They, to me, are a true barbecue item, right down to the wet rub, wood flavor infusion, and smoke infused color.

I agree, tougher cuts of meat and poultry benefit from longer cooking times to allow the connective tissue to dissolve.  Plus, my preference is to use a temperature closer to 275°F for most of my animal protein cooking.  For my vegetables and fruits, though, I turn up the heat still using wood for true smoking. I use the tenderness of the vegetable and fruit to guide me on the timing.

Double Filet hardwood chunks pure wood and bark free!
Double Filet hardwood chunks pure wood and bark free!

In short, true barbecue is cooking with smoke and for me that is cooking with suitable hardwoods known to present pleasant flavors to foods you cook.  You can introduce hardwood to pretty much any type of equipment including home made smokers whether for the outdoors or on your indoor stove top.

The key is to utilize an ideal temperature to generate quality and flavorful smoke gas production, as well as a tempered hand in the amount of wood to use at a time.  You’ll find that you can produce the flavors of barbecue with any equipment and any food.  After all, barbecue seems to have gone beyond just animal proteins.

How do you define barbecue?   Leave us a comment to opine and subscribe for more great recipes, techniques, tips, and the science behind the flavor, that’s SmokinLicious®.

SmokinLicious® products in this blog:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

More related reading on when its called Barbecue and other smoking & grilling tips-techniques.
More related reading on when its called barbecue and other smoking & Grilling tips -technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More blogs on this topic:

-YOU ARE WHAT YOU EATII – APPLIES TO WOOD COOKING

-THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN $3.99 WOOD CHIPS FOR SMOKING AND THE SMOKINLICIOUS® BRAND

-SMOKING-GRILLING WOOD SELLING TERMS DEMYSTIFIED

Dr. Smoke-Dr. Smoke- The culinary team explores the question- When its Called Barbecue?
Dr. Smoke- The culinary team explores the question- When its Called Barbecue?
Smoked Whiskey Cocktails are great libations for drinking!
Smoked Whiskey Cocktails are great libations for drinking!

Guest blog- Kylee Harris, an events planner and writer.

 

Let's Smoke the Whiskey for our cocktails Click To Tweet

There are over 550 annual barbeque competition events in the United States. Originally constrained to the Southern states, barbeque is now ubiquitous in most parts of the country. Thanks to the popularity of all things vintage, craft cocktails have made a huge comeback, and although it may not seem so at first glance, these two are a match made in heaven. As creative as barbeque pitmasters can get with their rubs and sauces, so, too, can you with specialty cocktails to pair with smoked meats.

A Classic Match

You don’t need a pull-behind trailer rigged with the latest smoking equipment to make your own delicious smoked meats. As long as your kitchen is equipped with a stove, you can get in on this delicious food preparation. While you can purchase stovetop smokers, it’s fairly easy to DIY a smoker yourself with household products you probably already own. No matter what you’re serving, a Manhattan will pair beautifully with your meat.

Classic Manhattan

Classic Manhattan- for our smoked whiskey cocktails
Classic Manhattan (up)

Ingredients:

  • Ice
  • 2 oz. whiskey
  • ½ oz. sweet vermouth
  • dash of Angostura bitters
  • orange peel
  • Maraschino cherry

Shake whiskey, vermouth, and bitters with ice; strain into lowball glass. Rub the rim of your glass with the orange peel and garnish with cherry. Substitute vermouth with 1 oz. of agave nectar and use chocolate bitters and Jim Beam Devil’s Cut (barrel aged whiskey) for an alternate take on this classic.

Perfect for Summer

Take this simple, two-ingredient cocktail and kick it up a notch by infusing it with a smokey flavor that matches your menu. With a smoking gun (available for around $100, or you can make your own with some inexpensive tubing and a small-mouthed container), you can “rinse” your chilled glasses with smoke, or even smoke your entire concoction, using the same wood you use for your meat. The tartness of the grapefruit juice will cut the richness of the meat and is perfect for a backyard, al fresco dinner.

Jack Honey

Jack honey cocktail
Jack Honey cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey
  • 3 oz. fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice

Pour over ice into collins glass.

Something Truly Special

If your skills as a pitmaster aren’t the only thing you want to show off, here is a very special cocktail that will wow your guests. The smokey flavor and touch of cinnamon gives the classic whiskey sour a brand new twist that will leave your guests in awe. You’ll need to plan ahead for this one, as it requires two different, homemade syrups, but if you’re looking to win for best bartender, this one can’t lose.

Smokey Sour

classic whiskey sour
Classic whiskey sour

Ingredients:

  • Ice
  • 2 oz. whiskey
  • ¾ oz. fresh lemon juice
  • ½ oz. cinnamon bark syrup (.3 oz cinnamon bark, 1 cup Turbinado sugar, 1 cup water; bring ingredients to a boil and simmer over low heat for 2 minutes, let sit for 2 hours, strain and keep refrigerated)
  • ¼ oz. Lapsang souchong tea syrup (3-4 tea bags, 1 cup Turbinado sugar, 1 cup water; bring ingredients to a boil and simmer over low heat for 2 minutes, let sit for 2 hours, strain and keep refrigerated)
  • 1 egg white

Add all ingredients to a shaker and shake until frothy. Strain into a coupe glass. 

The bold, rich flavor of whiskey is the perfect complement to a rich, smoked meat dish; both American traditions trace their roots back to the South. If you are looking to skip the same old beer next time you smoke meat for your guests, you can’t go wrong with whiskey cocktails, either made-to-order or batched for a larger group. Let the elements of barbequing guide you to experiment with new techniques and flavors and take your pairings to a new level.

SmokinLicious® products:

Wood Chips- Minuto® & Piccolo®

More related reading on how Smokinlicious® reduces the risks of Microbial bacteria in our wood products
More related reading on smoked Whiskey Cocktails & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs

More related blogs:

-How To Maintain A Safe Kitchen Environment

-HOW TO MAKE THE BEST SMOKY COCKTAILS

-SMOKY BOURBON CRANBERRY COCKTAIL

Dr. Smoke- Thank you Kaylee for another very informative article!
Dr. Smoke- Thank you Kylee for another very informative article!
Picking the ideal fire set up for cooking depends on circumstances- this is the cabin Style
Picking the ideal fire set up for cooking depends on circumstances- this is the cabin Style

YOUR IDEAL FIRE SETUP FOR COOKING Click To Tweet


We are so lucky to have so many options for cooking our foods, not to mention the option to not cook at all!  This got me thinking about the fact that we do rely on our outdoor equipment and cookware when it comes to outdoor cooking.  Even if you’re a person who has experience campfire cooking, you likely do this style of cooking with one type of fire setup .

Let’s look at some of the options for setting up an outdoor fire that don’t include purchased equipment, just the natural elements found outdoors – rock, tinder, kindling, and logs/wood.  As I always like to remind you, though you may not use this information immediately, you should read it and keep a reference handy for when a situation may arise that you need it, such as a natural disaster, power grid emergency or other such catastrophic event.

Setup #1: Trench Fire

Trench style fire Set up
Trench style fire Set up

One of the best reasons for learning this type of fire set up is it works particularly well in windy conditions.  The key is to dig a trench that is large enough to acquire oxygen to keep it going.  Best sizing is 12 inches wide by 36 inches long by 12 inches deep.  Find rocks to add to the bottom of the trench that are hard and porous-free.  Be sure the 12-inch depth is AFTER the rocks are added.  Now build your fire on top of the rocks.  You can secure tree branches to act as postings for supporting a spit or layer green branches (not dried branches) over the top of the pit for placing your foods.  Of course, if you have a grill grate, place over the hole for direct grilling. 

Setup #2: Dakota Fire Hole 

The Dakota Hole fire set up
The Dakota Hole fire set up

The Dakota Fire Hole measure 12-inches deep by 12-inches wide with a channel that is 6-inches wide off to one side of the main fire area.  There should be a 12-inch space between the chimney opening and the channel.  The channel is dug at an angle meeting at the base of the fire pit area 12-inches down.  Build a fire at the base of the chimney area which draws air in from the side channel producing a draft for outtake at the top of the fire pit.  This is another cooking method that burns wood efficiently and produces very little smoke.  Plus, if you should need to keep yourself concealed, no one can see the glow of the burning fire because it is concealed underground.

Setup #3: Bushcraft Fire

This is an ideal fire setup when you know you can remain in a specified area for a longer time period.  It is perfect for sustaining a fire for days as it includes flat rocks for cooking on, a rock surround for maintaining a safe fire area, and a keyhole channel made of rock that allows you to place larger logs for continuous burn.  This produces a great bed of coals for cooking and if made against a rock barrier or tree stump, it can also provide the heat output necessary to keep you warm.  Plus, you can simply push the long log pieces into the fire circle when additional wood is need for heat and/or coals.  No need to keep splitting wood.

Setup #4: Log Cabin Style

This is a familiar fire set up in the camping world.  It is easy to do as you simply alternate pieces of wood from vertical positioning to horizontal, like building a Lincoln Log set, with tinder and kindling placed inside the base.  This is a setup that produces a great bed of coals so it is perfect for cooking but depending on the amount of time you need for cooking, may require replenishment of wood.  

The Upside Down Fire

This setup is essentially a log cabin style setup in reverse.  Instead of tinder placed under the base of the logs, it is placed on top.  This is also known as a top-down fire.  Although you can use this for cooking, I’ve found it doesn’t produce the best coal bed.  It does, however, burn a long time.

Other Fire Setups

There are some additional fire setups that you may be familiar with but are not considered ideal for cooking. These include:

Tepee Fire: burns very hot and fast producing more ash than usable coals

Teepe Style fire Set up
Teepe Style fire Set up

Lean To: although ideal for windy conditions, this setup does not produce any uniform coal bed and very limited heat

The Star Fire: Although this can produce a very long burn, because of the extension of longer pieces of log in a star-shape to the center of the fire, a true cooking coal bed is not formed, just a lot of ash.

Additional Tips

As a final reminder when it comes to cooking by outdoor fire, you are not cooking with flame or for that matter, direct heat.  Use the hot coals that are produced from the fire to cook with.  That includes placing heat tolerant cookware on or in the hot coals, or even burying within the coals.  The rocks are an energy absorber, producing a lot of heat.  Clean, large rocks can be used like a griddle surface and have foods cooked directly on their surface.  Remember, they get very hot so any unclean quality to them will be burned off with the heat.

A final note, always have fire proof gloves available to grab log pieces in the fire or cookware placement and removal.  A coal shovel is ideal as well for moving hot coals around.  Don’t forget, when you’re finished with the fire you made, ensure that all hot embers and coals are extinguished.

Do you have a favorite method of stacking wood for a cooking fire?  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 additional tips, techniques, recipes, and the science for all things wood-fired cooked.

SmokinLicious® products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

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

Charwood

More related reading on how Smokinlicious® reduces the risks of Microbial bacteria in our wood products
More related reading on smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

Related reading:

-GOING BEYOND “FIRE” COOKING

-THE HISTORY OF FIRE COOKING PART I

-OPEN PIT COOKING FIRE BUILDING: PART I

Dr. Smoke- picking the ideal fire set up is a great beginning to great results
Dr. Smoke- picking the ideal fire set up is a great beginning to great results
The simple campfire has many uses!
The simple campfire provides more uses beyond just fire cooking!


fire cooking and beyond! Click To Tweet

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You’ve likely heard this phrase before whether as a child, adult or at intervals of both.  “Fire is meant to be respected.”  I’m going to go one step further.  Fire should not only be respected, it should be honored and appreciated for all it can offer.   I’m going to point out to you just what other uses fire can present to you.  Perhaps next time you light a fire whether in your charcoal chimney starter, charcoal grill, fireplace, or even outdoor fire pit, you’ll give some pause to the other uses to keep in your knowledge arsenal for times you may need this information.  As I age, I am always in tune with my environment and how I can use it to survive if a situation I can’t control should call for it.

Use #1: Heat

If you are fortunate as I am to have an outdoor source of fire other than your traditional grill, then you’ve likely found yourself enjoying this first benefit of fire.  Heat.  But you likely don’t know about the radiant heat quality of fire.  With a single fire, only the surfaces facing it are warmed.  When it comes to surviving outdoors with heat from a fire, this is when you will want to learn about reflective ability of the fire.

If you have a choice in fire building location when you need it for survival, elect to build one near a large rock or tree stump but add a reflector component on the other side of the fire.  This will allow the rock or tree stump to absorb the heat from the fire and then reflect it back.  By adding a reflector on the other side of the fire, you will enjoy heat both on your back and front, the ideal for surviving if you must rely on fire for body temperature.  Plus, the two reflecting points will force the smoke to go upward allowing you to avoid smoke in the eyes. 

Use #2: Signaling

We all know that fire makes smoke and that smoke acts as a signal.  When you want to be found, this is the perfect means for attracting attention.  What you need to know is that the terrain plays a part in being seen.  If you want to use smoke to signal for help, then seek high points for making one.

Use #3: Water Sterilization

If you are in a dire situation where you’ve been unable to bring many supplies with you, know that fire can aid your ability to stay alive.  You can only survive 3 days without water so finding water is a priority.  You can sterilize water found from any source for consumption by boiling it which is a temperature of 212°F.  Essentially, 1 liter of water per person will get you through survival of 3-4 days. 

Use #4: Preserving Foods

We tend to rely on someone else in the food production chain to preserve food but you may find a time where you either want to do this for your own family or you have to.  Drying, smoking, pickling, and salting are methods of preserving foods from micro-organisms that spoil food.  When you smoke meat you dehydrate it and produce a protective coating on the outside that prevents bacteria and condensation from penetrating.  This is a means of ensuring you have a food supply that can keep you alive for quite a long time.

Use #5: Protection

If you’ve ever been camping or glamping in a forest area, then you know that you are never alone.  Wildlife dominates in these areas.  Fire can be a protector when it comes to keeping these visitors at bay.  Always be sure to have a portable fire set up such as a rag tied to the end of stick or similar tool to use as a portable weapon should a forest resident elect to come close to you.

Do you have another survival use for fire?  Leave us a comment to share your views.  Bringing you informative recipes, techniques, and the science beyond the fire, smoke, and flavor.  That’s SmokinLicious®!

SmokinLicious® products recommended:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

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

Charwood

More related reading on how Smokinlicious® reduces the risks of Microbial bacteria in our wood products
More related reading on fire cooking, smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

Other blogs like this one:

THE HISTORY OF FIRE COOKING PART I

-OPEN PIT COOKING FIRE BUILDING: PART I

-HOW TO TURN YOUR CHARCOAL GRILL INTO A SMOKER


Dr. Smoke-fire is for more than just cooking!
Dr. Smoke- fire cooking and beyond!
Wood Lignin is what produces the great flavor in Barbecue
Wood Lignin is what produces the great flavor in Barbecue

Choosing wood species for their lignin can help your BBQ! Click To Tweet

Listen to the audio of this blog

Let me start this article by first reminding you that wood contains hundreds of compounds that honestly, we don’t know everything about.  For this reason, I am only speaking today regarding those known compounds and what they contribute to foods cooked by wood fire.  Specifically, I’ll be looking at lignin which is the only large-scale biomass source that has aromatic functionality.  In English, this is what gives wood-fired foods the distinct flavor and aroma.

Often, you read about specific flavors and aromas as they apply to meats but today, I want to delve into the compounds that are most prevalent by wood species and what they offer to food.

Refresher on Lignin

Lignin is one of the primary compounds responsible for cell construction in a tree and makes up 15-30% of wood cells.  It has a primary role in conducting water to feed the tree’s cells and when burned, yields a tremendous amount of energy.   Plus, lignin produces rigidity in cell walls which prevents rot.

As a polymer or large molecule composed of many repeated subunits that bond together, it is the only one that is not composed of carbohydrate (sugar) monomers.  Because lignin is a polymer, there are many possible bonding patterns between the individual units, thus, we don’t have full knowledge of all the possibilities.

What we do know is lignin contains phenols or hydroxyl groups which are alcohols.  As these compounds work together, they produce a preservative action on the food which is antibacterial in nature.  The surface of the smoked food is modified with resulting flavors and aromas which are associated with barbecued foods.   Let’s take a closer look at these smoke vapor flavors.

Profiles of Smoke Compounds Click To Tweet

If you recall our publication on wood-tar creosote we tapped into the science of wood-tar creosote and its purpose as a preservative as well as producer of flavor, color, and aroma to barbecued foods.  In that article, we just barely mentioned the compounds responsible for the flavors.  Let’s provide you with the main compound list and what the odor and flavor descriptors are.

Phenol: this compound provides the sharp, robust aromas and the astringent, sharp aftertaste to wood fired foods.

Dimethylphenol: another compound that has a sharp, robust odor that also has a sweet aromatic undertone.  Flavors are sweet, charred, and astringent.

Isoeugenol: this is the compound associated with vanilla aromatics in addition to sweet and fruity.  Flavor descriptors include sweet, smoked-ham notes, hydrolyzed vegetable protein-like, with clove-like undertones.

4-Methylguaiacol: another compound that includes vanilla-like, fruity, cinnamon-ish, and smoky odors, with flavors of caramel, vanilla, sweet, and pleasant notes.

o-Cresol: odors are smoked sausage like with robust, sharp undertones.  This one on its own can produce more unpleasant smoky flavors.

Guaiacol: Smoky, sharp, aromatic aromas with flavors that are spicy, sharp, sweet and dry.  This is the yellowish aromatic oil that forms from creosote.

Syringol: Sausage-like aromatic that is sharp and sweet, with a spicy note.  These flavors include whiskey notes with smoky-char taste.

Lignin Levels in North American Hardwoods

I’m going to report the lignin levels of common North American hardwoods derived from the Klason lignin method, which values the residue remaining after solubilizing the carbohydrate with strong mineral acid.  What follows are percentages of oven-dried woods with temperatures ranging from 68°F/20°C to 248°F/120°C.

Acer saccharum Marsh./Sugar Maple = 22%

Alnus rubra Bong./Red Alder = 24%

Betula alleghanienstis Britton/Yellow Birch = 21%

Carya glaubra (Mill.)/Sweet Pignut Hickory = 24%

Carya ovata (Mill.) K. Koch/Shagbark Hickory = 21%

Fagus grandifolia Ehrh./American Beech = 22%

Fraxinus Americana L./White Ash = 26%

Populus tremoides Michx./ Quaking Aspen = 19%

Prunus serotine Ehrh./Black Cherry = 21%

Quercus alba L./White Oak = 27%

Quercus prinus L./Chestnut Oak = 24%

Quercus rubra L./Northern Red Oak = 24%

Quercus stellate Wangenh./ Post Oak = 24%

What do all these percentages mean when it comes to your barbecue?  You can assume that the higher numbers mean there are larger numbers of compounds at work to flavor your foods.  It’s obvious that woods like hickory and oak have great percentages of phenol, guaiacol, and dimethylphenol, since these woods tend to produce the boldest flavors.  Those hardwoods like cherry, alder, and maple have the compounds of methylguaiacol and isoeugenol coming forward in the flavors which results in sweeter and more toned coloring to meats. Another factor that must be kept in mind when examining lignin is the heat level the wood is exposed to.  Cook at a higher temperature and these compounds can become muddier as combustion occurs more rapidly producing ash accumulation that can change flavors and aromas quickly.   All factor in to the resulting flavor, color and aroma of barbecued foods, whether animal protein, vegetable, fruit, or other.  This just further supports that wood-fired cooking is an art that requires a balanced hand that understands the importance of controlling as many factors as possible, primary of which is cooking temperature and airflow to bring out the highest percentage of beneficial compounds the wood can offer.

What is your favorite hardwood or mixture of hardwoods to cook with?  Leave us a comment to share your views.  Bringing you informative recipes, techniques, and the science beyond the fire, smoke, and flavor.  That’s SmokinLicious®!

SmokinLicious® products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

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

More related reading on how Smokinlicious® reduces the risks of Microbial bacteria in our wood products
More related reading on smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More information on the composition of wood:

-6 REASONS WHY CEDAR WOOD SHOULD NOT BE YOUR TOP CHOICE FOR COOKING

-TO BARK OR NOT

-Lab Report on Moisture and storage of wood

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

Dr. Smoke-
Dr. Smoke- the amount of wood lignin and taste is the “art” of Barbecue

Our Fresh Okra ready and on the stove top smoker pan to become our Smoked Okra
Our Fresh Okra ready and on the stove top smoker pan to become our Smoked Okra

Smoked Okra- Veggies like a Smoky flavor Too!

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It’s time to bring a smoky flavor to one of my favorite though limited in availability, vegetables – smoked okra!  Known as a super healthy food but one that sometimes confuses people on how to cook and eat it, I’m going to bring you an easy method of tenderizing and infusing okra with a pleasant smoky flavor that doesn’t stimulate the sticky juice known to lurk inside. 

Though I’m going to use a stove top smoker for my infusion, you can easily adapt this method to the gas grill, charcoal grill or electric smoker using a vegetable basket or tray.  Seek out some vibrant green, firm okra and let’s get started on a new way to cook and flavor this healthy vegetable.

Smoker Set Up

The nordic ware stove top smoker we used
#smokedokra

I’m using my Nordic Ware Stove Top Kettle Smoker for this hot smoking method.  To start, I place the smoker base on the unlit burner and add about ¼ cup of Minuto® Wood Chips – I’m using a #6 in Sugar Maple – from SmokinLicious®.  I place the drip pan on top of the wood chips and then ensure the food insert pan is clean and dry.  For vegetables, I usually use a medium heat setting on my stove – I have a gas stove top.  This will register between 200-250°F on the kettle smoker’s temperature gauge.  Next, I’ll do a simple preparation to the okra and we’ll be ready to turn on the heat to the stove top unit.

Tasting Notes: For the charcoal grill set up, use a two-zone cooking method – charcoal and wood lit on one half of the grill while the vegetable tray or basket containing the okra will go on the unlit side of the grill.  Do the same set up on the gas grill.  For the electric smoker, be sure to use a lower heat setting – around 180°F.

Trim and Smoke

Nothing could be simpler than the preparation for okra.  You’ll want to ensure that the outside is clean and dry so a simple water wash is good with a pat dry.  I like to remove the stem top to allow penetration of the smoke vapor into the center of the pod.

our prepared fresh okra on the smoker pan
#okra

Place about one pound of fresh okra with the stem tops trimmed into the smoker’s food tray.  Try making an even layer of pods so the smoke vapor can flavor the pods evenly.  Cover the kettle smoker with the lid and turn the burner on to a medium setting.  I use my stove’s vent on high to keep the aroma down somewhat. 

Allow the okra pods to tenderize and smoke for about 20 minutes before checking.  You just want them to be tender (not falling apart), to where a knife can still cut them into pieces.  Once done, remove the pods to a bowl and use these in recipes calling for okra or you can serve as is with a favorite sauce. 

I plan to make a soup with this batch of smoked okra that will compliment my diced tomatoes.  You’ll find that recipe publishing soon under the title “Wood Fired Okra Soup,” which is a great way to enjoy the healthy benefits of this less used vegetable.

our finished bowl of smoked okra soup
#okrasoup

Tasting Notes: By smoking the okra you’ll find the mucilaginous juice reduces significantly.  There will still be enough of this juice left within the pods to gently thicken the soup.  I prefer to start cooking this soup, then refrigerator overnight, and reheat for serving the next day.  This produces the perfect, slightly thickened consistency to be ladled over cooked rice.

Do you have a favorite method of cooking okra?  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 for this technique:

Wood Chips- Wood Chips

More related reading on smoking & Grilling tips and technique besides smoked okra
More related reading on smoking & Grilling tips and technique besides smoked okra

More blogs you may enjoy:

-A DIY STOVE TOP SMOKER MAKES PERFECT SMOKED RICOTTA CHEESE

-PERFECTION OF THE SMOKED PEAR!

-CHARRED BROCCOLI SOUP!

Dr. Smoke- Wood Fired Smoke Okra is fun and easy to prepare on the stove top with a smoker unit or a stock pot!
Dr. Smoke- Wood Fired Smoke Okra is fun and easy to prepare on the stove top with a smoker unit or a stock pot!
Your BBQ shoes for safety is as important as comfort!
Your BBQ shoes for safety is as important as comfort!

“Wear your shoes!” how to protect  your feet around  hot embers!

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I remember a particular year, I believe it was 2007, when my Culinary Events Crew traveled to 29 of the 50 states in the US and 4 provinces of Canada.  I felt like I never slept in my own bed and constantly was repacking the suitcase with clothing suitable for the area we would be traveling to.

That was the year I lost my favorite lace up/zipper ankle boots to the fire.

Not literally burning in a fire but from repeated exposure to hot, stray coals that are common when you engage in wood fired cooking.  I was constantly stepping on these stray embers and this consistency lead to me putting more than one hole in my favorite boots.

It was a lesson well learned and one I want to pass on to you.

Don’t Be Surprised

Just as your educated that the standard oven mitt won’t cut it when your dealing with excessive heat levels in metal equipment commonly used for wood fired cooking, the same holds true for your footwear.  When working around chimney starters that spit and shoot hot sparks of scalding coals and water pans that hold 212°F water, flip flops are not the ideal choice in footwear.  Unlike the professional kitchen where Chef’s clogs are the ideal to prevent slips and falls on the constantly wet floors as well as to keep your tootsies comfortable when on your feet 15 hours a day, cooking with fire takes some thought for footwear practicality.

That led me to look at options in footwear designed for safety, specifically fire safety.

We are testing the indestructible shoe for hot ember resistance on the soles
indestructible shoes

Indestructible® Shoes

We run a factory operation at SmokinLicious®, which means we have strict policy when it comes to personal protective equipment or PPE.  That includes policy on footwear that specifies the need for steel toed footwear.

Over the course of a decade, safety footwear has seen a metamorphosis in style, comfort level, and level of protection.  Gone are the days of limited color options and welcome the new days of vibrant patterns and even height options on the boot cuff.  I was particularly intrigued with a relatively new shoe on the market called the Indestructible® Shoes. 

Not only are the shoes stylish, but they offer features many other work shoes can’t match.  Like the steel toed cap that cannot be penetrated by nails, saw blades, and weight (see the very impressive videos on these tests). With a shockproof midsole, these are also a work shoe that can be worn for hours.

But given that we work around a lot of extremely hot fires that emit stray coals, we wanted to ensure that the anti-slip rubber soles would not only protect you from slips but also from the penetrating heat of hot coals and embers.  That led us to conduct our own tolerance testing.

The Test

After firing up the charwood production oven and running a full day of production, we removed hot embers from the oven that had a heat temperature of nearly 1000°F.  Our controlled testing included establishing a coal bed within an aluminum foil pan since aluminum is a great medium for radiating heat.  We also elected to test the shoe without weight bearing so note that we cannot speak on this parameter, merely the shoes’ outer sole tested on high heat without weighted pressure from a wearer.

There were three levels of testing: 30 seconds, 60 seconds, and 90 seconds which in our opinion, simulated the length of time a person would stand stationary at a high fire or cooker.  Following each test, the shoe was placed in snow with an ambient temperature of 30°F.  We also alternated shoes between tests to ensure no carryover temperature of significance factored in to the stability of each test level.

Temperature of the hot embers is 963 F
963 degrees F of heat
shoe on the hot embers
Shoe on the hot embers
measuring the time resting on the hot embers
Time for resting on the hot embers- 30, 60, 90 seconds
Sole inspection post resting on hot embers
Sole inspection post resting on hot embers
shoe sole resting in the snow to provide the cool down for our experiment
Shoe sole resting in the snow to provide the cool down for our experiment
Temperature of sole post cool down
Temperature of sole post cool down

Results

At all three test levels, the Indestructible® Shoes performed brilliantly.  Although there is an obvious odor of the heated rubber, it is not considered excessively dangerous.  Keep in mind, the thermodynamics of heating rubber results in the rubber shrinking not expanding with heat like other materials.  This is due to the molecules of the rubber becoming disordered unlike when they are at a normal temperature which results in the molecules becoming less disordered (i.e. entropy/isothermal).

There was minimal discoloration to the lightest coloring of the rubber sole which is a reaction of the rubber’s cells and the carbon in the combusted material.

Overall the Indestructible® Shoes proved to be a great option for those who work with live fire and hot coals for cooking.  Between the steel-toe and the thick rubber outer sole, as well the shock-proof inner sole, these are an option in footwear for the barbecue and live-fire cooking enthusiast, whether amateur or professional, in protective footwear that is comfortable, long-wearing and fashionable.

You can find the Indestructible® Shoes at: https://indestructibleshoes.com/

What is your favorite footwear when you barbecue?  Leave us a comment to share your views.  Bringing you informative recipes, techniques, and the science beyond the fire, smoke, and flavor.  That’s SmokinLicious®!

More related reading on how Smokinlicious® reduces the risks of Microbial bacteria in our wood products
More related reading on smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

Related reading:

-Outdoor kitchen location tips

-Does Outdoor Kitchen Stainless Steel Rust

-10 TIPS FOR GRILLING SAFETY

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

Dr. Smoke- testing BBQ shoes for your safety!
Dr. Smoke- testing BBQ shoes for your safety!
Smoked Ricotta Cheese- with wood chips on the Stove top
Making Smoked Ricotta Cheese on the stove top


How to Do Smoked Ricotta Cheese on the Stove Top Click To Tweet

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Smoked Ricotta Cheese – I know not everyone has a dedicated stove top smoker but I do know that we all have a large stock pot handy.  I’m going to show you an easy way to convert that pot to a stove top smoker by using micro wood chips, aluminum foil, and a roasting rack.  I’ll explain to you a combination hot/cold smoking method to bring a smoke flavor to whole milk ricotta, that will allow you to use this product in any recipe calling for traditional ricotta.   Find your stock pot and roasting rack, and let’s get smoking!

Making the Stove Top Smoker

Once you’ve selected a stock pot to use for the smoking, the preparation of the pot is quite simple.  Start by placing 2 sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil in the bottom of the pot, allowing it to go up the sides slightly.  Then select the micro wood chips of your choice – I’m using a Sugar Maple Minuto® wood chip in size #6 – and spread into a thin layer on the foiled bottom.  Add a roasting rack.  Mine is round to fit easily in my pot.  I also like to line the lid of the pot in foil as all hardwood contains creosote which can cause some discoloration to the pot.  The foil will protect this from happening and makes clean up a breeze. 

Then place the prepared pot with the lid in place over a medium-high heat and allow the chips to heat until they are consistently producing smoke.  This will take less than 15 minutes.

Once the chips have started to combust and produce smoke vapor, it will be time to add the ricotta.  I am doing 3 pounds of whole milk ricotta as I plan to make a dessert pastry horn and then keep some spare smoked ricotta cheese for pasta recipes. 

After 12-15 minutes of heating, lift the lid and place a heat safe container of the ricotta on the rack inside your smoking pot.  Secure the lid in place and allow this to stay on the heat for about 5 minutes.  Then shut the heat off and leave the pot with the ricotta inside untouched for about an hour.  Let the smoke infusion occur with this cold smoke technique.

Tasting Notes: Any hardwood can be used for the smoke infusion but note that by retaining the pot lid in place, you are limiting the oxygen that can enter the pot.  This produces a much bolder smoke infusion than is common with the same wood used on a traditional smoker or grill.

Smoky, Creamy Goodness

Here’s something to keep in mind with this stove top DIY smoking technique.  I have a very tight seal on my pot which means it doesn’t take a lot of wood chip product to infuse a smoky flavor in the ricotta.  Plus, the fat level of this dairy product attracts smoke vapor well as this is high in water content which smoke vapor is naturally attracted to. 

If after about an hour, and after you’ve sampled the smoked ricotta, you still desire more smoke, simply turn the heat back on for about 10 minutes to stimulate the chips for additional combustion.  Then repeat turning off the heat and allowing the ricotta to sit absorbing the smoke for the set amount of additional time you want.  Once done, refrigerate the smoked ricotta until you are ready to use it, keeping this covered well.  If any liquid accumulates while refrigerated, simply pour off before using the smoked ricotta in a recipe. 

To get your recipe ideas stimulated, I’ll offer up my Smoked Ricotta Pastry Horn recipe which is super easy, fabulous looking, and can be made with an assortment of filling options.  Keep watching our website for the announcement on this recipe release.

What’s your favorite food to stove top smoke?  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 blog:

Wood Chips- Minuto®

More related reading on Smoked Ricotta cheese in a horn, plus other smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!
More related reading on Smoked Ricotta cheese in a horn, plus other smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs

Additional reading:

-THE EASY METHOD TO COLD SMOKED CHEESE

-THE KITCHEN FIND!

-TO THE SMOKE THE CHESTNUT GOES!

Dr. Smoke- Try our Stove top approach for Smoked Ricotta Cheese very easy
Dr. Smoke- Try our Stove top approach for Smoked Ricotta Cheese very easy
This 18th century smokehouse reminds us that the art of smoking food with wood is part of our heritage.
This 18th Century Smokehouse reminds us that the art of preserving food with wood is part of our heritage.

Exploring this Smokehouse in New Jersey

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I had an opportunity to visit an original smokehouse in Hopewell, NJ that is beyond impressive.  Knowing that this structure likely dates to the late 1700’s, I was most impressed with how the structure maintained itself over the years and how functional it remained.

Let me provide a brief history on these fascinating structures as well as share some images of the Hopewell, NJ structure.

A Necessity to Farm Life

If you were a farm in New Jersey like many New England states, a smokehouse was a necessity.  Pigs were commonly raised during the 17th century and butchered in the month of December in order to be able to slaughter and preserve the meat through use of a smokehouse also called smoak house or meat house.

From earliest times, a smokehouse was a small enclosed shelter, where a fire could be kept smoldering for weeks, which slowly released its smoke to the hanging meat that was hung to keep it safe from vermin and thieves.

Smoke has long been known to contain compounds that act as preservatives. Phenol and other phenolic compounds in wood smoke are both antioxidants which slow rancidification of animal fats, and antimicrobials, which slow bacterial growth. Antimicrobials in wood smoke include formaldehyde, acetic acid, and other organic acids, which give wood smoke a low pH.  

Although the process of smoking the meat could take days of preparation, generally the fresh cuts of meat were packed in tubs of coarse salt for about six weeks while the salt drew most of the water from the flesh. Then the salted meats were hung in the smokehouse that contained a small fire which smoldered for one to two weeks. The result was dried, long-lasting, smoke-flavored meat that would age in the same smokehouse for up to two years before being consumed.

The Hopewell Smokehouse

With its original mortar and stone, this Hopewell, NJ smokehouse is a real gem! 

The only door into the smokehouse, made wide for loading and unloading

Estimated to date in the late 1700’s, this was used for both storing and smoking meats, as evidence by the original steel hanging system.  You can clearly see the venting chamber which acts as the outtake while circular holes present air intake.  These were so well made that despite minor ground shifting, they are still as strong as ever.

The chimney stack for venting
look at the amount of light from the window built into this smokehouse

This structure contains stacks of original bricks which were found in the house and subsequently moved to this location.  The house still contains the original, super large stone fireplace that served as the wood fire cooking area and heat generator for the home.

the side view with window providing work light

Without question, these early smokehouses are an opportunity to view just what living was like before refrigeration and other luxuries of our current society.  I’m constantly keeping me eyes toward the fields and yards of historic areas in search of these hidden gems that started us on our hunger for smoked foods.

Is there a historic smokehouse near you?  Leave us a comment to share your views.  Bringing you informative recipes, techniques, and the science beyond the fire, smoke, and flavor.  That’s SmokinLicious®!

SmokinLicious® products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

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

More related reading on how Smokinlicious® reduces the risks of Microbial bacteria in our wood products
More related reading on smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

Additional reading:

-WHY MICROBIAL BACTERIA RISK IN YOUR SMOKEHOUSE IS WINNING

-Food & Smokehouse Processing Double Standard?

-WOOD SUPPLIER- ARE YOU GETTING WHAT YOU PAID FOR?

Dr. Smoke- Great day exploring the history of smoking when there were actual structures!
Dr. Smoke- Great day exploring the history of smoking when there were actual structures!
We need to keep out Microbial Bacteria from the food chain!
We need to keep out Microbial Bacteria from the food chain!

Prevent microbial bacteria in the food system. Click To Tweet

Listen to the audio of this blog

With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting some 48,000 cases of food borne illness events each year, resulting in some 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths, food borne illness outbreaks are serious concerns.  This is an added stress to manufacturing facilities that produce smoked food products as they must adhere to multiple regulations regarding the raw food product, smoke process and final smoked food product.  The last thing a facility needs is to worry about the wood material used in the smoking process but that should be a priority for these facilities.  Why?

Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella enteritidis, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Lactobacillus plantarum, Pseudomonas fluorescens, and Aspergillus flavus have all been shown to survive on plastic material meaning that if a supplier utilizes the standard GMA pallet commonly found in the grocery industry, these microbial bacteria or viruses survive and can flourish increasing the risk that they can be introduced to new food product placed on these recycled plastic  pallets.

Hosts of Contamination

With the recent outbreaks affecting romaine lettuce (from E. coli) and beef (from salmonella), attention is being drawn to other potential hosts for the transfer of the bacteria.  We know the common hosts: unsanitary conditions at a farm or packaging facility, food handlers failing to employ personal hygiene standards prior to working with food, food exposed to climate conditions that stimulate the bacteria development.  One potential host that has not been fully publicized is the packaging materials used to transport.   Unfortunately, it is the lack of enforcement in this area that puts the smokehouse industry at further risk.

Raw Material Transport

Many smokehouse operations purchase wood product for the smoke infusion from companies that supply the wood chip in paper bags that are then stacked on wooden or plastic GMA pallets.  Although some of these suppliers may be able to attest that the wood chips have been kiln dried or heat treated to a certain temperature, none confirm to a heat level that would kill all the bacteria previously listed.  Specifically, listeria, which requires a temperature of 74 °C/165.2 °F to be killed, is a key concern in smokehouse operations that include meat, poultry and fish products.

The risk is elevated by the potential for these bags to be penetrated by a stray nail from a wood pallet or sharp edge of a plastic pallet.  If the pallet contains the bacteria, it is a host that can transmit to anything it has contact with.

Decreasing Your Risk

In previous testing of wood pallets, one or more of salmonella, E. coli, and listeria were found to be present in as much as 6.8 million spores/gram which is classified as an extremely high count.  Given that domestically, there is no requirement for wood pallets to be heat treated for movement between states, the contamination can be passed to multiple locations with food when the pallet remains in the transportation system.

Although there have been efforts to change the transport of food by road and rail through the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), to date nothing has been regulated on the packaging materials that the food is placed on.

One encouraging finding is that cardboard materials, if correctly stored, reduce the potential for cross-contamination of food due to a quicker viability loss by spoilage and pathogenic microorganisms compared to the plastic packaging.  For this reason, SmokinLicious® only packages our smokehouse wood chip products in cardboard packaging that is then placed on a pallet that has been heat treated to an internal core temperature of 75°C/167°F and holds this minimum temperature for 75 minutes.  We adhere to a higher heat treatment standard as the health and safety of everyone using our culinary products is of highest importance.  We believe that hardwood used for cooking should be regulated independently and adhere to stricter standards than those currently in place for the general wood industry.  Until that regulation is written and enforced, SmokinLicious® will self-regulate our product to this level.

At SmokinLicious®, we believe in Quality and Safety over profit!  Isn’t it time your smokehouse joins us and takes a proactive stand against microbial bacteria like listeria, salmonella, and E. coli and help in the fight to rid our foods of life-threatening bacteria.

What is your biggest concern in your smokehouse food operation?  Leave us a comment to share your views.  Bringing you informative recipes, techniques, and the science beyond the fire, smoke, and flavor.  That’s SmokinLicious®!

SmokinLicious products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

More related reading on how Smokinlicious® reduces the risks of Microbial bacteria in our wood products

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

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

Additional reading:

-6 REASONS WHY CEDAR WOOD SHOULD NOT BE YOUR TOP CHOICE FOR COOKING

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

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

Dr. Smoke- we do our part thru heat treatment to reduce microbial bacteria risks!
Dr. Smoke- we do our part thru heat treatment to reduce microbial bacteria risks!

Smoky Cocktails are the best way to bring in the smoky flavors during the cold wintry nights! Or to just add a pre-taste to your upcoming BBQ!

Smoky Cocktails are the best way to bring in the smoky flavors during the cold wintry nights! Or to just add a pre-taste to your upcoming BBQ! Learn the easy steps

HOW TO MAKE THE BEST SMOKY COCKTAILS Click To Tweet

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An easy way to give your guests or yourself for that matter, a change from the old cocktail is to smoke the entire drink or a component of the cocktail.  I’m going to provide you with some examples of how to take any cocktail recipe and advance its flavor to something spectacular.  Once you see how simple it is to build a balanced cocktail with smoke infusion as one component, you’ll be ready to upgrade your cocktail recipes to include smoke as your hidden umami.

What to Smoke

The easiest method of smoking a cocktail is to smoke the finished drink.  However, depending on what cocktail ingredients your using, this may result in a drink that is too strong.  Generally, speaking, a sweeter drink can tolerate more smoke vapor.

Here are some options for you to consider when contemplating a smoked cocktail: you can smoke the entire drink, you can smoke one ingredient of the drink, or you can smoke the water to make the ice for the drink. One of my rules is the more ingredients in the cocktail, the more likely you can smoke the entire drink.

For ingredients, any one or a combination of ingredients can be smoked.  Simple syrup, cream, citrus, etc. are all good options.  Keep in mind that smoke is attracted the most to cold items so if you want an intense smoked cocktail, chill the ingredient first prior to smoking.

Tasting Notes: Keep in mind, when you cold smoke using a handheld food smoker, the intensity of the smoke can be high.  Due to the immediate ignition of the micro chips, the smoke production is great.  You can control the level of smoke by only trapping a small quantity of smoke for a lighter infusion versus allowing the container to fill completely with smoke vapor.

The breville handheld smoker

#handheldsmoker

Balancing Smoke with Other Flavors

Whether the cocktail contains fruit, hard liquor, or cream, you can make a flavorful and desired cocktail.  For a drink like the Jack Frost which contains lots of sweet juice and cream of coconut, smoking the entire drink provides great balance.  For a drink like the Harvest Sparkle, smoking the simple syrup works well.  Our Cranberry Bourbon cocktail goes hardy whether served hot or cold when we cold smoke the whiskey.  And the Winter Wonderland enjoys a smoky layer to the cream of coconut for a luscious take on this four-ingredient cocktail.  Never forget, when in a pinch, consider simply smoking the water to make the ice cubes for a no-fail option on the smoked cocktail, that will remain subtle for most any guest who is served.

Do you have a favorite smoked cocktail?  Leave us a comment to let us know and subscribe to our channel to get all the tips, techniques, and recipes we bring your way.  Always eager to share our expertise on all things wood fired, that’s SmokinLicious®!

SmokinLicious products used in this blog:

Wood Chips- Piccolo®

More Related reading

More related reading on smoky cocktails and specific drink recipes in our recipe blog!

Additional reading:

-SMOKY BOURBON CRANBERRY COCKTAIL

-ELEVATE YOUR KIWI CAIPIROSKA

-THE SMOKED PEAR BELLINI COCKTAIL

-STRAWBERRIES GET SMOKY FOR AN AQUA FRESCA COCKTAIL

Dr. Smoke-

Dr. Smoke it is easy to make smoky cocktails with a handheld food smoker!

SO YOU WANT TO MAKE YOUR OWN DRY RUB

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I love the idea of making your own dry rub for a variety of reasons, but primarily to allow the cook to control the amount of salt and sugar, two ingredients that are in high ratios for many jarred rubs.

This guide is intended to provide tips to achieve a balance of flavors in the ingredients selected.  I’m also going to provide listings of ideal ingredients for specific proteins to help stimulate your creative juices.

Percentage of Water

Before we begin with the actual ingredients for dry rubs , let’s discuss the composition of meat and poultry and why you need to be aware of water content.

Although you may not think of water this way, water is a chemical and it is the dominate one in meat, followed by protein and then fat.  For a less active, mature, “fat” animal, water can be 45% of the composition but for a younger, leaner animal it can be as much as 72% moisture.  Remember, fat cannot hold water.   Texture, color and flavor are affected by the amount of water in the muscle tissue.  Water that is retained during forces of pressure and temperature is referred to as “bound water” while water that is lost is called “free water”.  You can change the capacity of the muscle to hold the water by disrupting the muscle structure.  Examples would be grinding, freezing, chopping, thawing, and salting meat.

Salt and Sugar

Hopefully, you are aware of the ingredient rule that states the first few ingredients listed on a nutritional label are the highest percentages of that item.  That means, when you see salt and sugar listed in the top three ingredients, note that those dominate the rub .

Research has shown that higher salt content works very well with cuts of beef, fish, and wild game.  Pork tends to do well with rubs that contain higher sugar levels.  However, I tend to avoid putting salt into my rubs, preferring to add by hand when the food is ready.

Let’s breakdown the types of salt and sugar so you know how to incorporate them.

Table or Refined Salt: a fine grade salt that is made by dissolving in water which removes everything but sodium chloride.  These usually have an additive to prevent them from caking in dispensers and may also contain an iodine additive.

Kosher Salt: a coarse grain that may have an anticaking additive, it is slower to dissolve on food surfaces.

Sea Salt: most are refined producing just over 99% sodium chloride but the grain size can vary from brand to brand.

Pickling Salt: contains no iodine or anticaking additive and dissolves well in water making it ideal for brine recipes

Seasoned Salts: a refined salt that contains a flavor ingredient such as garlic, onion, celery

Curing Salts: these should never be used as an ingredient in a rub as they are designed to preserve meats, which means they include nitrite and possibly nitrate.

White Sugar: this is a highly refined cane or beet sugar that can scorch at higher temperatures

Brown Sugar: this is white sugar combined with molasses so it tends to add more flavor

Pepper

It’s important to have some level of heat in your rub to balance the sweet and savory ingredients but you need to have a tempered hand to ensure that you don’t add to much.  Let’s look at the pepper options:

White Pepper:  considered the gentle pepper, it’s light in color and flavor with just a warm heat undertone.

Black Pepper: this can be fine or coarse and has much higher heat level than white and some cayenne peppers.

Cayenne: although I’m listing this separately due to its popularity, cayenne is a chile powder known as ground red pepper, the heat level is front of the line which means you need to add small quantities and taste before adding more.

Chile Pepper: these are the peppers that have a wide variety of heat levels.  Common names include: Ancho, Chipotle, Pasilla, New Mexican, Guajillo, Habanero, Jalapeno, Bhut Jolokia, Aji Amarillo.

Transition Spices and Herbs

 These are the ingredients that provide for the savory quality to a rub.  To me, they provide the depth of flavor to a rub.  Some options include: cumin, chili powder, paprika, allspice, clove, cinnamon, ginger, coriander, garlic powder, onion powder, chervil, thyme, anise, nutmeg, mint, basil, rosemary, sage, tarragon, mustard seed.

Combinations for Balance

Now that you understand the three primary components to a good rub, let’s give you some options based on protein.

Beef Option #1: ½ cup kosher salt

½ cup fresh ground black pepper

Beef Option #2:  2 tablespoons each of the following: ground ginger, garlic powder, cinnamon, cocoa powder, Sesame Oil, Worcestershire sauce, Hoisin sauce, Honey.  Plus 30 whole allspice.  Combine everything with a mortar and pestle.

Pork Option #1:

1/3 cup paprika

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons black pepper

2 tablespoons salt

2 teaspoons dry mustard

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Pork Option #2:

1 cup light brown sugar

3 tablespoons paprika

2 teaspoons Lawry’s seasoning salt

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons garlic powder

2 teaspoons black pepper

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons oregano

2 teaspoons thyme

½ teaspoon onion powder

1 tablespoon chili powder

½ teaspoon dried mustard

Chicken Option #1:

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

1 tablespoon granulated onion

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon chipotle pepper

1 tablespoon black pepper

Chicken Option #2:

12 whole allspice

2 tablespoons Ancho chile pepper

2 tablespoons cinnamon

2 tablespoon curry powder

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper

 

There you have it!  A basic guide to get you on the way to making your own, customized dry rubs that will be perfectly balanced.

What is your favorite dry rub recipe?  Leave us a comment to share your views.  Bringing you informative recipes, techniques, and the science beyond the fire, smoke, and flavor.  That’s SmokinLicious®!

SmokinLicious products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

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

More related reading on making Dry Rub, smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More related reading on making Dry Rub, smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

Additional reading:

-SALT FREE SPICE RUBS- HEALTHY CHOICES

-BARBECUE SAUCE BROKEN DOWN

-SMOKED STRAWBERRY MARINADE

-SALT-FREE DRY RUBBED CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS

Dr. Smoke: It is always fun, flavorful and fancy to make your own dry rub!

Dr. Smoke: It is always fun, flavorful and fancy to make your own dry rub!

Our Fresh Herbs smoked and Iced ready to bring great flavors to our winter soups!

Our Fresh Herbs smoked and Iced ready to bring great flavors to our winter soups!

HERBS SMOKED AND ICED MAKE THE PERFECT WINTER FLAVOR CUBE

Listen to the audio of this blog

#smokinlicious

Here’s the perfect way to keep great flavors on hand for when you need them.  I’m going to show you how to make smoked herb flavor cubes which consist of our previously smoked fresh herbs and, in my case, bone broth.  Whether you smoke all the components of these flavorful cubes or not is up to you.  I happen to like the combination of smoked bone broth and smoked herbs for some of my soups, sauces, and glazes.   These are the perfect little flavor gems for all your recipes and the prefrozen cubes make adding so simple.

Tools

#flavorcubes

Here is all you need to make these flavorful cubes .  Silicone ice cube trays, your choice of herbs and spices, as well as broth or stock.  It will take about one quart of broth to make 40 flavor cubes.

To make portioning the cubes a snap, I use a measuring cup for the liquid.  As I previously smoked my herbs and placed them in spice jars, I can portion out the herbs directly from the jars. Today, I’m using smoked parsley and oregano dust for infused broth cubes.  These are two of my more popular blends for sauces, soups, and extra flavor to vegetables.  Be sure your broth or stock is well strained before adding to the cube trays.

Tasting Notes: Don’t forget about fruits as well.  These make perfect flavor cubes and can be cold smoked using a handheld food smoker

1-2-3 And Done!

The best part of making flavor cubes is the freezer does most of the work.  I simply place previously smoked  herbs of my choice into the bottom of the silicone tray compartments and pour in the broth.  I like to put my cube trays on mini sheet pans for easy placement and removal from the freezer.  Just be sure to label the trays so when you go to un-mold, everything will be easy to identify.  That’s it!  How easy is that??

Tasting Notes: You do not have to use silicone cube trays but I prefer these to metal or plastic.  I find they don’t taint the flavor of the cubes and they are extremely easy to release.

A New Umami

pouring bone broth into the trays

#smokedherbs

After adding smoked herbs to silicone ice trays and pouring in smoked bone broth, these flavor cubes just take hours of freezer time to set and then they are ready for use.  I like to un-mold mine and place in storage bags that allow me to reach in, grab what I need, and reseal the rest.  The depth of flavor these little cubes add to soup and sauces, whether for meats and poultry or vegetables, is fabulous.

Don’t forget to experiment with a variety of tastes and don’t feel you are restricted to just one herb or spice per cube.  Make flavor blends like Indian flavor cubes with curry, ginger, allspice, and cumin.  Or an Italian blend with oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme and rosemary. Or, combine fruit and spices for cocktail-like blends. There are no rules to the combinations you can use so find the flavors you love and flavor cube away!

SmokinLicious® products used in this blog:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Minuto & Piccolo

More Related reading

More of our blog writings other than -Herbs smoked and iced #flavorcubes . follow us weekly as we update our blogs

Related reading:

-SMOKED HERBS FLAVORS WITH SMOKED HERB DUST

-STOVE TOP SMOKED CHIVES

-SMOKED BONE BROTH FOR HEALTH & FLAVOR

 

 

Dr. Smoke don't waste the flavor of fresh herbs this winter. Herbs smoked and iced for winter use brings great flavors all winter long!

Dr. Smoke don’t waste the flavor of fresh herbs this winter. Herbs smoked and iced for winter use brings great flavors all winter long! #smokedherbs

Our not so smokey Smoked Turkey is from cooking this on the gas grill, not on a smoker. We selected this photo because of the great color- not dark like a traditional smoker can impart!

Our not so smokey Smoked Turkey is from cooking this on the gas grill, not on a smoker. We selected this photo because of the great color- not dark like a traditional smoker can impart!

THE NOT-SO-SMOKEY SMOKED TURKEY

Listen to the audio of this blog

Listen to our blog #smokinlicious- smoked turkey

Turkey is one of those items that is generally made for a special event – Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year – and not associated with everyday cooking.  I’m here to tell you that it’s easy to enjoy turkey any time of year when you use a gas grill for the cooking and smoke infusion.  All you need is a turkey (preferably one under 15 lbs.), 6 wood chunks, a water pan with hot water, and your favorite gas grill.

Turkey 101 Prep

Preparing the Turkey

#freshturkey

I’m fortunate to have a local fresh turkey farm, Sprague’s Turkey Farm in Portville, NY, close by so I’ve ordered one that is under 14 lbs.  Before preparing the turkey for marinating overnight, I first need to remove the parts that are commonly found inside the turkey.  This includes the neck, heart, liver, and gizzard which is part of the turkey’s digestive tract.  These parts do make for great stock so if you can, save them to add to a stockpot down the road.

Once the organs and neck are removed, it’s important to wash the entire turkey under running water.  After a thorough wash, pat dry with some paper towels and place in a shallow pan for the rub application.

Herb and Spice Rub

Gently placing the rub on the outside of the Turkey

#turkeyrub

After washing and patting dry the turkey, I trim the excess skin from the neck area and then begin applying the rub.  I’ve combined an assortment of herbs and spices for my rub as I tend to like a potent mix of ingredients to balance the fresh meat and smoke.  My rub includes: allspice, clove, basil, cumin, cardamom, coriander, cinnamon, celery salt, garlic and onion powder, oregano, orange and lemon peel, paprika, and ancho chili powder.  I make sure to cover the entire surface of the bird.  I add a few drops of avocado oil and then apply additional rub.  This will be refrigerated overnight to allow the flavors to marry and penetrate to the meat.

Tasting Notes: Feel free to incorporate different herbs and spices in your rub as there are no rules when it comes to combinations. 

Smoking on the Gas Grill

Placing the Turkey on the grill

#twozonecooking

As you can see in some of the photos, this was a cold day at the grill, with a temperature below 25°F.  I prepare my LP/Gas grill by first removing one of the grill grates, exposing two of my burner shields.  To one of the shields I place 3 double filet wood chunks from SmokinLicious®. Now I lite only two burners; the one with the wood chunks and the one directly next to that.  I set these burners to medium heat to start.    Just before I’m ready to grill, I check the temperature readout and adjust my heat setting until I hit my target temperature of 325°F.

Time to add the rubbed turkey to the unlit side of the grill and my water pan right next to the bird.  I insert a thermometer and close the lid.  Basically, for the next couple of hours, I just need to monitor that the water pan has enough hot water in it and the bird gets spritz with water to keep the skin moist.

Tasting Notes: Although I’ve placed my water pan to the side of my turkey, between the lit and unlit sides of the grill, you can use this as a drip pan and place this directly under the turkey.  I elected not to do this today due to my low outdoor temperature.

Time to Serve!

Our not so smokey smoked turkey on the table for all the guests to enjoy

#turkey

If you’ve maintained the steady temperature of 325°F and hot water in the drip pan, you won’t need to stay with the grill during most of the turkey’s cooking time.  My skin has crisped up thanks to maintaining moisture both on the bird’s skin and in the cooker with my water pan.  I remove the turkey and take it to the kitchen where I cover it for about 30 minutes prior to carving.  It’s super tender, moist, with a crunch to the skin.  The best part is that the smoke is subtle and does not over power the fresh meat.

That’s why the two-zone method of smoking is perfect when your feeding a variety of tastes.  Those that tend to avoid smoked foods will find this full of flavor that is well balanced due to our rub and consistent cooking temperature.  My turkey of 13-1/2 pounds took just about 4 hours to finish with very little effort on my part, even with a 22°F outdoor temperature and wind chill.  The best part is my oven was free to cook a bunch of side dishes so everything was timed perfectly for the table.

What’s your favorite preparation for turkey?   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 blog:

Wood Chunks- Double Filet

More Related reading

More related reading on Smoked Turkey and the different methods of preparation1

Additional reading:

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

-SMOKE A TURKEY- LEARN HOW

-SMOKED HAM ON THE GAS GRILL

-CORNISH GAME HEN MEETS SMOKE IN THE ORION COOKER

Dr. Smoke- everyone forgets about the extra oven almost everyone has- the lp/gas grill! So this year we prepared our turkey on the gas grill with wood chunks providing the smoke!

Dr. Smoke- everyone forgets about the extra oven almost everyone has- the lp/gas grill! So this year we prepared our turkey on the gas grill with wood chunks providing the smoke!

 

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