Our top tips to prevent shrinkage to your grilled hot dogs!

Our top tips to prevent shrinkage to your grilled hot dogs!

top tips to prevent hot dog shrinkage Click To Tweet

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Prevent Shrinkage to Grilled Hot Dogs–There is nothing more frustrating than getting your family and friends all excited for a good hot dog barbecue only to have great disappointment when the dogs come off the grill. There they are. All shrunk and shriveled that it would take a least two hot dogs to fill a standard hot dog bun.

That’s why I’m going to share with you my top tips to prevent shrinkage and shriveling of your grilled hot dogs. All these tips are done before adding the hot dogs to the grill of your choice, making them very simple.

Let’s get started!

Three Techniques to Keep Size of Grilled Hot Dogs

Before I start with the first preparation tip, let me just clarify some information about the standard hot dog or frankfurter or wiener, additional terms you may be familiar with.

Hot dogs now come in a variety of options including all beef, beef and pork, chicken, turkey and even a vegetarian or vegan style. One thing that is common with hot dogs is that they contain a lot of water, fat and generally, sodium. Know that the water can be in the form of ice mixed with the meat trimmings and flavor ingredients. To adjust for all the wetness, dry starches or powdered milk are used to absorb the extra moisture, as starches do not allow moisture to enter the hot dog until heated. Once heated, the starch granules breakdown and allow the moisture to enter which makes the starch swell. This is the plumping commonly seen when grilled hot dogs are cooked on charcoal or gas fired equipment.

Know that all hot dogs are fully cooked before being packaged and some brands may also include smoking the hot dogs which gives them extra flavor and color.

Now, for our first tip on preventing grilled hot dogs from shrinking while being reheated or “cooked” on the grill.

Tip #1: The “X” End Slice to prevent Shrinkage of Grilled Hot Dogs

cutting the end of each hot dog with an X allows the juices for run out
#xendslice

This is the easiest method of preparing the hot dog without an obvious change to its overall shape. Simply take the blade of a knife and cut an “X” shape on each end. This cut should go only about ½-inch deep into the meat. The ends will curl slightly and get additional crispness that make them extra tasty. Essentially, these dogs maintain most of their original shape.

Tip #2: The Length Cut to prevent Shrinkage to Grilled Hot Dogs

The hot dog is cut to length with one slice of the knife and placed open on the grill surface
#cuttolength

One of the reasons I prefer the length cut preparation to hot dogs is that if you are planning a large variety of toppings, this is an ideal preparation. Additionally, it allows the toppings to nestle comfortably in the middle of the grilled hot dogs and gives every bite full flavor. Simply take the blade of a knife and run it down the center of the hot dog from end to end about halfway down the meat’s thickness. You can know cook these in the flat form.

Tip #3: The Spiral Cut to prevent Shrinkage to Grilled Hot Dogs

slices are randomly made over the length of the hot dog about 3-4 depending on the length of the dog
#spiralcut

The spiral cut is another easy method of keeping your grilled hot dogs true to size. For this technique, simply pass the blade of a knife thru the skin of the hot dog about 1/2 -inch deep every inch or so down the length of the hot dog. Be sure to do both sides of the hot dog.

Load Up Those Grilled Hot Dogs!

the dogs with the different slicing are placed on the charcoal grill with double filet wood pieces added for flavor.
#onthegrill

I’ve done all three preparation tips so you can see that the size of the grilled hot dogs remains essentially intact no matter which technique you elect to do. I also used both a charcoal and gas grill equipped with wood chunks for added smoky flavor to the grilled hot dogs.

I did set up an indirect cooking method on the gas grill to allow for a holding spot if I had some hot dogs cook faster than others, which tends to happen more on a gas grill than a charcoal unit.

I’ve got four topping options each that contains three ingredients. Now, let’s look at each option in more detail.

The Italiano Dog

Featuring: fresh mozzarella, fresh basil leaves, and marina sauce

our Italiano Dog has fresh moxxarella, fresh basil and marina sauces.
#italianodog

I am a lover of fresh ingredients and summer harvest season makes it easy to get those fresh flavors. I start by spooning on a flavorful marina sauce followed by cubes of fresh mozzarella and finally topped with fresh whole basil leaves.

The Allie Dog

Featuring: Gruyère cheese, caramelized onions, fresh thyme

The alliedog has gruyere cheese, caramelized onions and fresh thyme
#alliedog

I call this one the Allie Dog in honor of the onions used as a bold flavor, which onion is part of the allium family, thus, the “allie” name. Load on the buttery, caramelized onions, then top with Gruyére cheese and fresh thyme sprigs.

The Jalo-Bean Dog

Featuring re-fried beans, white cheddar, jalapeño

The Jalo-bean dog has re-fried beans, white cheddar and Jalapenos for a little heat!
#jalobeandog

If you have a taste for tacos, then this is the dog for you. Start by loading on a good quality refried beans. Then top with chopped jalapeño and cheddar cheese – I prefer the white version.

The Dog From Mexico

Featuring fresh guacamole, corn, fresh cilantro

The dog from Mexico has fresh guacamole, corn, and fresh cilantro
#mexicodog

I love this hot dog combination! For me, spice is great so I tend to use a spicy corn but you can use just plain corn or buttered corn kernels if desired. Start with fresh guacamole on the grilled hot dogs. After that add the corn, and top with fresh cilantro.

There are no rules when it comes to toppings for your grilled hot dogs so experiment and find what combinations you enjoy. That includes experimenting with the bread as well so know that though I did not change the rolls on my combinations, that is another flavor level that can vary right along with the toppings.

What is your favorite method for grilled hot dogs and what makes your topping list? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to follow us on all platforms. Providing tips, techniques, recipes, and the science behind the flame and fire to improve your skills with wood-fired cooking! That’s SmokinLicious®!

SmokinLicious® Products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

More related reading on our smoking & tips to prevent shrinkage of grilled hot dogs and other techniques, see our directory for previous blogs!

More related reading on our smoking & tips to prevent shrinkage of grilled hot dogs and other techniques, see our directory for previous blogs!

More blogs you might enjoy:

WELCOME TO OUR BRAT PARTY-BRATWURST IN THE ORION SMOKER COOKER

3 METHODS OF SMOKING BOSTON BUTT FOR AUTHENTIC BARBECUE FLAVOR

-GIVE ME THAT BEEF BRISKET!

Dr. Smoke- follow our top tips to prevent shrinkage of grilled hot dogs and you will enjoy them more and more!

Dr. Smoke- follow our top tips to prevent shrinkage of grilled hot dogs and you will enjoy them more and more!

Maria's top 10 foods to bulk grill!

Maria’s top 10 foods to bulk grill!

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

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

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

#1 Peppers

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

Favorite SmokinLicious® Recipe: Charred Pepper Dip

#2 Potatoes

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

Favorite SmokinLicious® Recipe: Smoked Curry Potatoes

#3 Mushrooms

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

Favorite SmokinLicious® Recipe: Smoked Mushroom with Ricotta

#4 Tomatoes

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

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

Favorite SmokinLicious® Recipe: Wood Fire Tomato with Rice

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Our three ways of smoking Boston Butt offer great wood smoke flavor!

Our three ways of smoking Boston Butt offers great wood smoke flavor!

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.

3 Methods of Smoking 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 for Smoking Boston Butt

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 for smoking Boston Butt! All turned out fabulous & tasty!

Dr. Smoke- We used three different methods for smoking Boston Butt! All turned out fabulous & tasty!

Sugar Maple for smoking is an excellent choice to bring out sweetness!

Sugar Maple for smoking is an excellent choice to bring out sweetness!

Sugar maple for smoking, sweetness not sour! Click To Tweet

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There is no question, North Americans love maple trees! Although we don’t have as many as the continent of Asia, we sure have a good share with some 12 varieties available. Plus, the Sugar Maple tree is the official tree of New York State!

Maple is a very popular hardwood for wood-fired cooking, especially hot smoking. We are blessed at SmokinLicious® to have in our harvest Sweet Sugar Maple hardwood. This extremely versatile wood can be used to smoke everything from eggs to brisket. It is a very even tempered wood so it works with spicy rubs as well as fruity sauces.

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Our tips can help with your spring season for grilling plans!

Our tips can help with your spring season for grilling plans!

SPRING SEASON FOR GRILLING!

Spring is finally here and that means it’s time to prep the grill for your Spring Season for Grilling! Yup, the winter blahs are gone and it’s time to fire up the grill, BBQ, the Barbie, the Brac, or whatever suitable name you use to call your equipment on your specific continent.

No, there is no way around it! First, comes the dreaded cleaning of your unit. Whether it’s less than $30 or over $3,000, all equipment needs some cleaning attention once in a while. What better time than Spring to roll up your sleeves and get everything ready.

Remember, a grill or smoker is an oven that has been seasoned over time with all that cooking so a little soap and water is generally all that is needed to do a nice cleanup. You simply want to clean the unit of dirt and dust, so gently clean being careful not to rub out the “seasoning” of the unit!

Of course, there are those times when you failed to provide suitable attention to your equipment and a bunch of soot, grease, and all kinds of other nasty things developed on the equipment. When you’re faced with that situation, then consideration has to be made to a good degreaser or oven cleaner! Once the unit has been put back into good clean order, get ready to season it again. That’s right, all the harder cleaning agent to the seasoning right out of the unit. Actually, this the perfect time to use all the leftover charcoal, wood chunks/chips from last year! Start a fire and let burn/smoke in the unit to “season”. You’re not cooking now so there is no need to worry about moisture levels, water pans, etc. – just generate the smoke and heat, and re-season your unit. Don’t forget to add a little oil (vegetable, coconut, whatever handles higher heat levels) to the grilling grates to get them all ready.

Own an LP/gas grill? You can do the same process by taking a chunk and lighting it on the grill, or take a disposable foil pan or tin foil and put some wood chips in. Then lite with a match or lighter (not with the unit’s burners), close the lid and capture the smoke/heat!

Now you’re ready for new SmokinLicious® culinary quality wood products and what will promise to be a great Spring Season for Grilling!

Bon-Bar-B-Q!

 

 

Dr. Smoke has tips for your Spring Season for Grilling plans.

Dr. Smoke has tips for your Spring Season for Grilling plans.

Tom and Bert discuss their planning for the best Staycation ever!

Tom and Bert discuss their planning for the best Staycation ever!

Plan your staycation! Click To Tweet

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Our guest blog is from Porch.com

Our guest blog is from Porch.com

Every summer, many people put aside their work, daily stresses and responsibilities and escape on a vacation somewhere far away from reality. It may be a secluded retreat in the mountains, a camping trip with the kids, an arranged tour in another country, an Alaskan cruise, or days relaxing at an exotic beach or resort.

However, with the current pandemic including social distancing and travel restrictions, along with financial constraints for many, those plans may have to be temporarily shelved. But the desire to escape reality – for just a bit – is very much alive. So, with many people remaining in their homes, how can that off-work journey happen? We have some tips for making the best of the situation and creating cherished vacation memories without ever leaving home. It’s called a staycation.

What’s a Staycation?

Tom and Bert mmit to your plans!

A staycation is, quite simply, a vacation at home. How realistic, how exciting, or how relaxing you make it is up to you. Theme it up for a more authentic “away-from-home” experience.

What makes a great staycation? Well, that depends on what you consider a vacation. Some people want adventure, while others like relaxing with a drink in their hand. Still others use vacation time to unwind by tackling DIY projects such as renovations. So, what would you enjoy doing if you could craft your own staycation? (Which, by the way, you can.)

Commit To the Best Staycation Ever!

Once you’ve decided to schedule a staycation – whatever it ends up being – commit to it. Mark it on your calendar. Plan for it. Make concrete plans. If you’re working, ask for those days off of work. Don’t just say you’re going to have a vacation and spend the weekend lounging on the sofa, noshing on Cheetos and surfing the internet, unless a week of rest is the staycation you’ve planned.

Whenever you’re going for vacation in your home – especially in these times when so many of us are working from home – try to unplug so your mind’s not on work and responsibilities. Set your work email to the “out of office” setting and write an auto-reply message. Then, don’t check your work emails unless absolutely necessary. Consider NOT telling your boss that you’re vacationing at home. Turn your cell phone off or on silent and set a small window of time each day to check for messages.

Skip the news. The idea is to get away from stress, away from reality. Just concentrate on your vacation experience. The news cycle can wait for a week. Really, it can. This is the time to be good to yourself.

Prepare

Prepare for your staycation much like you’d prep for any other vacation. Create your itinerary. Decide what kind of activities you would like to do each day of your vacation. What kind of staycation would you like? Cultural learning, straight-up fun, pampering, relaxing? Write your vacation goals down, and then make a game plan. Don’t want to cook while on vacation? Gather menus from local restaurants that deliver and have them on hand. You could even incorporate different restaurants into the theme of your vacation.

Before your official vacation start time, do all the necessary prep work. Complete all chores in advance. Wash the dishes, dust, pay the bills, scrub the toilets, empty the trash. Do the laundry BEFORE your staycation begins. You don’t really want to be sorting and folding while on vacation, do you?

Set the Mood for Your Staycation

Many people have saved money in anticipation of an annual vacation to pay for things like hotel rooms, meals, plane tickets and a rental car. Why not channel some of those funds into your at-home vacation paradise?

Create your staycation space – really, truly, set up a space that exudes the theme of your vacation. Move the furniture, change the lighting, order pillows, fairy lights or scented candles – whatever your theme is, run with it. Look at magazines or online trip websites for inspiration. Think about the destination you want. Paradise under the palms? Set up a piña colada or margarita station at home. Roll up the rugs and go barefoot like you’re on the beach. Set up a hammock between backyard trees or on your back porch.

Dreaming of a mountain retreat? Set out pine-scented candles and decorate the room with cottage home decor. Plan for any purchases you’ll need for your staycation. Does your week require some relaxing pillows, aromatherapy candles, a tent or hammock? Dreaming of an overseas vacation? Hit the international foods section of your grocery and stock up on items from that region to set the mood. Planning a spa retreat week? Buy a set of high-thread-count sheets, a couple of luxurious pillows, scented bath salts, essential oils, and a super-soft robe.

To make your staycation ambiance even more realistic, you can make a vacation soundtrack with music that reminds you of that particular place, or perhaps a past favorite vacation that you’d like to recreate. Going to the beach in your mind? Ramp up some Jimmy Buffet music. Missing that trip to Brazil this summer? Make your own compilation of Brazilian favorites including the likes of Roberto Carlos or Anitta. Or queue up some internet music mixes.

Think about your favorite luxury hotel amenities and try to replicate some of those special touches at your own staycation. Love peppermints or chocolates on your pillows? Do it. How about a fruit basket, or a water pitcher of cold spring water infused with the subtle flavor and inviting look of cut fruit? Make it happen. This is all about helping you feel like you’re somewhere else.

Self-Care Weekend

How about a pampering week, helping you release all the stress that’s built up this year? Consider a self-care “getaway” with a spa day, a YouTube yoga session, or a self-manicure. Start a journal of self-discovery. Draw a warm bubble bath, adding some calming essential oils like lavender or chamomile. Slip into the welcoming suds as you relax your mind and body. Soft music and candles invite you to soak away the stress. Then, wrap yourself up in the soft hug of a luxurious robe. This vacation is all about being good to yourself.

Retail Therapy Weekend

If you have money saved up that you won’t spend on a vacation this summer and miss shopping, you may want to arrange a retail therapy staycation. Curl up on the sofa with a glass of wine and start online shopping. You could budget what you had already set aside for your anticipated actual vacation, and spend some of that money, or just “window-shop” and dream from the comfort of your favorite recliner.

Plan Future Vacations

You can’t travel much right now, but the future is wide open. You’ve been staring at your walls for quite a while now, longing to escape. Why not start that escape, at least in your mind? Begin planning your post-pandemic road trip (or plane trip). There’s no time like the present to ponder where you’d like to visit – start with the continent or country, and narrow it down from there. Search online for destinations, hotels and fun activities. Jot them down and start planning for next year.

Look online for interesting destinations and then start searching for places you can stay, like at hotels or bed and breakfast inns. What kind of activities can you participate in while there? Take notes, plan your budget, and work out the details so when it’s time to fly the pandemic coop, you’ll have all your ducks in a row for your next adventure.

Cook a Fancy Dinner

Tom thinks about all the food he can cook on the grill!

The internet is filled with how-to-cook videos. Zero in on one and cook that meal and impress your spouse or family. See if you can find fanciful foods that fit into the theme of your staycation. Or, ask your family to pamper you and cook (including doing the dishes.). You can also sign up for delivered meal preparation kits. These kits arrive at your doorstep with all of the ingredients, already prepped, along with step-by-step directions. You’ll feel like a professional chef in no time.

 

Chill

You may be someone who just needs to chill for a vacation. Vacations don’t always have to be about excitement and activity. Sometimes, you just need peace and quiet to de-stress from life.

Create your zen vacation in a quiet place of your home – make it off limits to the children (perhaps you have someone who can take care of them). Then, unplug your clocks or put them in the closet so you can’t see them. Turn off your phone, put on earphones (if there’s house noise you can’t block out) and just…chill.

Fun for the Whole Family on the Best Staycation ever

 

If you’re quarantining with your family and yearning for a vacation, build a staycation with a family-friendly theme or activities. Although you have been in each other’s space for months, there are ways you can spend quality, vacation-esque time as a family and build beautiful bonds.

Camping Out

Go camping for your staycation – for a night, a week, or somewhere in between – you choose. Set up a tent in the backyard, complete with sleeping bags and camp lights. Don’t forget the mosquito repellent or citronella candles. Pack up snacks in bags for a more authentic experience, and string lights in the trees or at the top of the tent for some extra ambiance.

Snag a couple of bags of ice from the store and fill a cooler with food and drinks to keep with the campout theme. Cook your meals on a grill or have a fire pit if regulations allow. Roast marshmallows or craft s’mores. Tell stories around the fire. Stay up too late and laugh too much.

If your idea of camping is closer to glamping, or you don’t have a backyard, then move things indoors. Set up a tent or have your kids create a tent by hanging sheets and other fabrics in clever ways. Unleash your children’s creativity with tent-making – they know how to make the best tents and forts. Set up your indoor camping ambiance with flashlights and flameless candles for light sources. Eat from paper plates and make s’mores in the microwave. Search for a campfire video to play on your TV.

Have a family costume night or a themed party during your staycation. Challenge your kids to dress up as their favorite movie character, singer, or superhero, using clothes, props and supplies already in your home.

Love watching movies? Build a staycation around that. Have a themed movie marathon. Each family member picks a movie that you all watch, or you could categorize movies, like comedies, animation, action or another genre. Don’t forget the popcorn. Plan ahead and surprise your “movie audience” with their favorite movie theater candy and sodas.

Break out the camping gear on your staycation like Tom and Bert

Music or Karaoke Party

Use some of the money you would have spent on lodging, meals, attraction fees and more – and buy a karaoke machine. You may find your family singing until they’re all hoarse and falling down in laughter. Learn a new song on an instrument you play, and hold a “recital” in your living room. If more than one member of your family plays an instrument, work on a performance together.

Virtual Travel and Games

You could also spend the summer vacation money on virtual reality headsets. This marvelous technology is a fantastic way to virtually leave your house and go on vacations together, using 3D travel apps. Want to walk the streets of Paris? Climb mountains in the Himalayas? You’re only a VR headset away.

Backyard Water Game Day for best Staycation ever

Beat the summer heat on your staycation with a day of water games in your backyard. Ask your kids to plan games and gather the necessary accessories like water hoses, kiddie pools, sprinklers, soaking guns, water slides, water balloons (be sure to pick up the broken balloon pieces) and plenty of sunblock. You can go all out renting an inflatable water play set, or you can keep it budget-friendly. Bring on the popsicles and laughter.

Night in for the Parents

Parents may just need a vacation from their kids. Try to set up a cozy, romantic room or patio area for your loved one. Group candles around your backyard. Flameless candles4 are great and there’s no fire hazard. Set up a hammock or pillows or some other way to relax. Chill a bottle of wine, soda or whatever happens to be your favorite beverage. Make up a cheese tray. It can be fancy, or it can be laid-back. Pour a bag of chips into a bowl if that’s your style. Set some mood music, relax and kick back.

Learning Vacation

Many people love to travel to new locations and learn about culture, architecture, art, languages, food, and more. The opportunity to learn something new during your staycation is limited only by your imagination.

Because of the pandemic, many museums now offer free virtual tours. Spend days in the Louvre, or take an interactive tour of Mark Twain’s house. Visit zoos virtually, or set up Zoom meetings with friends or relatives in different countries so you can practice conversing in a foreign language.

Travel the world for free using your local library card. Libraries have a wealth of e-books available to download from the library’s website onto your own device. Just pick them out and download, prop your feet up and escape into a mystery, thriller, romance, fantasy, or whatever genre you enjoy. Have your favorite beverage and snacks near your reading haven.

Take an online class on cooking, digital art, sewing, or something that intrigues you. This is your staycation. If your goal is to spend more time outdoors, consider starting a new flower or vegetable garden or a compost pile. Set up a rain barrel water collection system, making use of the rainwater rolling off your roof.

You can even make it a learning vacation for your pet. Learn how to teach your pet tricks or a new skill, like sniffing out smells. Or, just chill with your cuddly cat on your lap. For some, that’s a heavenly vacation.

For those who would rather “do” than chill, spend your staycation time learning a new craft. Clear out your schedule and spend that time really digging into whatever it is you want to learn. Use budgeted summer vacation money to order acrylic or oil paints, modeling clay, mosaics or stained glass supplies, whatever strikes your fancy, and learn a new skill you’ll maintain long after your staycation is over.

Renovate a Space in Your Home

For those who need to be active during vacations, think about a renovation vacation. Since you’ve been home so much the last two months, no doubt you’ve zeroed in on a corner or a room of your house that’s begging for an update or a redo. Repaint the kitchen and add a backsplash or replace the flooring. Update your bedroom, adding new curtains or blinds. Turn that depressing basement into a new game room, guest room or home office. Browse among the DIY articles from professionals for inspiration and guidance.

Whatever your stay-at-home vacation fantasy is, try to make it happen. This pandemic won’t last forever, and the vacation you take this summer, at your own home, may just spark some of the best memories ever. Don’t forget to take photos!

Products discussed in this Blog:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

More Related reading on how to make the best grilled or smoked food on your staycation!

More Related reading on how to make the best grilled or smoked food on your staycation!

Related reading:

-HERE’S WHY THE GRILL SHOULD BECOME PART OF YOUR ‘STAYCATION’ PLANS

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

-DURING STAY AT HOME, DON’T QUARANTINE YOUR TASTE BUDS

Chef Bert brings Water Pan for Smoker to neighbor Tom!

Chef Bert brings Water Pan for Smoker to neighbor Tom!

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

Listen to the audio of this blog

Neighbor Tom has his Chicken too dry almost a rock

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

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The Tasty Charms of Smoked Pears- Dr. Smoke

The Tasty Charms of Smoked Pears- Dr. Smoke

 

SMOKED PEARS PERFECTION!Listen to the audio of this blog

 

Pears, pears, everywhere! Why not try your hand with this easy method for smoked pears Depending on where you’re located, you’ll have at least a few varieties of pears to select from. Rather than just enjoy these as a raw fruit, try something truly unique that will give them a kiss of wood flavoring?

Stovetop smoking is so easy and a great way to still enjoy wood-fired flavorings during the winter months, when you may not want to venture out to the grill or smoker. I’ll be highlighting Bosc pears in today’s technique. To do this technique you will need:

 

Pears cut in half

Pears cut in half

PREPARING THE SMOKED PEARS

When I purchased my Bosc pears, I made sure that they were firm to the touch so that I would have some longevity to their use in recipes for a while. Carefully, wash each pear and then pat dry with a paper towel. I then slice each pear in half, removing the stem tip. This will give me a flat surface to smoke and cook my pears since I am using a stovetop grill pan with my process. That will allow me to form some great grill marks on the pears while they cook. The benefit to using halves of pear is I can feature larger pear cuts in a salad or dessert, highlighting the golden smoked color.

Once the pears are halved and the stems removed, I will core out the seeds and hard seed membrane with a small paring knife. Once that step is complete, I start the heat under my stovetop smoking pan.

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Grilling meals while home working provides hands free cooking and healthy choices!

Grilling meals while home working provides hands free cooking and healthy choices!

Home Working? Break out the Grill with Smokinlicious! Click To Tweet

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It has been months since the new normal occurred. You thought working from home would be brief but it is now clear this situation has no end. Reality has set in that you are working, educating, entertaining, eating and sleeping from home.

One benefit is you no longer are commuting. For those that use mass transit like a subway, bus line or rail line to get to work now find they have more time to devote to family and meals. For those that have had to drive to work now have freedom to cruise online recipes and those old cookbooks. This is your opportunity to make the most of those meals while not making cooking a chore.

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

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

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

Story time on Smoking Ribs:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Collage of Smoked Chestnuts go on a Stovetop Smoker

Collage of Smoked Chestnuts go on a Stovetop Smoker

SMOKED CHESTNUTS ON A STOVETOP SMOKER!

Depending on where your located, chestnuts may only be available for a short period each year, usually around the holidays. Mostly pan roasted in the oven, why not do something unique with this prized fruit and smoke them! In addition to the chestnuts, you’ll need a stovetop smoker, purchased or you can make your own with tools likely in your kitchen. You can see our writing on the “The Kitchen Find” which will guide you on what is needed.

You will also need:

  • Minuto® Chips Size #6 from SmokinLicious®
  • a cutting board and knife
  • about 2 hours of time. Be sure you also have a hood vent where you will be using the stovetop smoker in order to maintain a smoke-free kitchen.

You will find chestnuts available prepackaged or in bulk when in season. Although the packaged product will include a directive to cut an X in the flat surface of each nut, I grew up in a household where we always cut off the stem side. This is the small, dark cap side to the chestnut. The chestnut has a cap and a pointed end giving it a bloated teardrop look. I have found that when smoking, I get better control of the smoke infusion with a fresh cut to one end. Keep in mind, not all the chestnuts purchased will likely be viable as often mold will take hold of some of the chestnuts which you won’t see until you cut into them. As the chestnuts age, they can develop a fuzzy mold on the outside which will tell you not to waste your time cutting that one open! Simply discard!

Generally, chestnuts have a flat side and a rounded side.

To prepare them:

  • lay the chestnut on the cutting board with the flat side down. Place your knife blade over the small dark cap, and slice off in one motion. This will reveal the chestnut meat inside which will have a yellow-white hue. Once the cap is off, you’ll be able to tell if any mold has set in as it will have a marked gray/black appearance. If any mold is noted, discard the chestnut as it won’t cook tender. If the majority is free of mold, go ahead and keep it for the smoking/cooking process.Triming the chestnuts

 

To do stovetop smoking, there are 4 parts needed:

  • a pan to hold the heat and wood chips
  • a drip pan to prevent rendered fat and juices from entering the wood. Generally, you only need the drip pan when you actually have a food item that will produce juices or fat drippings.
  • a grill pan
  • a lid.

Note: Smoked chestnuts will not produce any drippings though they do have a percentage of water that will be released as steam into the lid of the pan. Just be sure when you open the lid that you keep any collected water from dripping back into the cooking grate.

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Tom did pay attention to our tips on how to store wood chips!

Tom did pay attention to our tips on how to store wood chips!

How to store wood chips Click To Tweet

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It is one of our top questions. Wood storage. Where to store wood, how to store wood, temperature ideal for storing wood, shelf life of stored wood. If you are an avid follower of our readings, you are likely familiar with our two cartoon characters, Tom and Bert. Thru these characters, SmokinLicious® has been able to guide millions of home grilling and smoking enthusiasts on techniques and tips to make every wood-fired cooking event a success.

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Smoking color is correct when white smoke is present

Smoking color is correct when white smoke is present

In Grilling the smoke means everything! Click To Tweet

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

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

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These chips are produced to fit the Alto-Shaam® Combitherm® Combi Oven

These wood chips are produced to fit the the Alto-Shaam® Combitherm® Combi Oven

Alto-Shaam® Combitherm® Combi Oven-“Smoke”with Smokinlicious®

We love having the opportunity to work with chefs throughout the world in determining what they desire in a wood-fired flavor for various menu items.

As you can imagine, we get the opportunity to work with a variety of equipment lines that use wood for flavor and coloring. One of our favorite commercial equipment lines is produced by Alto-Shaam® who specialize in food service and retail markets by offering cooking, holding, display, and chill equipment lines.

Part of the Alto-Shaam® cooking offerings is Alto-Shaam® Combitherm® Combi Oven which not only offers convection cooking but smoke infusion as well. This highly efficient oven works with hardwood chips to bring the aroma and taste of wood infusion to all types of meat, poultry, fish, fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices. In fact, when SmokinLicious® began development of our microchip line, we targeted Alto-Shaam® Combitherm® oven for ideal sizing production to meet the needs of the commercial kitchen. In the end, we found that our smaller Minuto® Wood Chip line offered even greater flavor than traditionally-sized wood chips with little ash residue when used with the Combitherm®.

Here’s the best part: because we manufacture every product, we can offer chefs single species of our filtered specialty wood chip line or we can custom blend to give their menu items greater diversity from others. That includes blending different wood species as well as sizes. Smaller chip particles may be used for more pungent woods while larger sizes of sweet or savory chips are included for a fully balanced wood recipe flavoring based on the overall food ingredients.

Chefs who use the Alto-Shaam® Combitherm® simply love the ease of adding our dust free product to the equipment, dialing in the smoke infusion level they desire, and letting the oven do its magic. The best part is they don’t have to worry about an unclean wood source going into their expensive equipment and causing equipment failure or producing off color and taste to the foods being cooked.

We know we can offer the best flavor in wood combustion by starting with the ideal hardwoods for cooking. The rest can be left to the cook’s imagination. We know the effort it takes for those in the food and beverage industry to commit to a specific piece of equipment. We know the expense involved. What we don’t understand is why the same time and research aren’t spent assessing the wood supply to be used in the oven? Why risk this investment to an unvetted supplier?

If you own an Alto-Shaam® Combitherm® Combi Oven or you are in the market for a new piece of equipment, join those who have already experienced the benefits of our exceptional Minuto® wood chip line and get ready to be blown away with the possibilities our products can bring to your kitchen!

Bon Bar B Que!

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

OPEN PIT COOKING- BUILDING THE PERFECT FIRE

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

Get Organized- Open Pit Cooking

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

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

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

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

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

▪Smokinlicious® smoking wood chips for quick lighting

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

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

▪ rolled newspaper or fire starters

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

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

The Perfect Fire for Open Pit Cooking

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

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

Fire for Fuel, Coals for Open Pit Cooking

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

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

Bring on the Food!

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

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

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

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

Interested in reading more? Try:

-Top 10 Vegetables to Cook in Hot Embers

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

Purchase products:

Wood Chunks- Double and Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Smoker Logs

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

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

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