Savory Smoky-Grilled Potatoes

Savory Smoky-Grilled Potato (es)

SMOKY-GRILLED POTATO: OUR #1 CROP GETS A NEW FLAVOR TAKE

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As the #1 crop in the world, available all year, potatoes are a favorite for a variety of reasons.  Get the nutritional benefit of this abundant vegetable by adding flavor in a different way – cooking it over charcoal and hardwood!

Ingredients:

Simple Preparation For a Simple Vegetable

I’m using small red and white potatoes.  You’ll need a knife and cutting board, as I like to cut these small potatoes in half to allow for maximum wood fire flavoring.  I’m going to use a vegetable grill pan but you can use any heat safe pan whether foil, glass, heat-safe ceramic, or cast iron.  Cut each potato in half, and place in the grill pan.

Seasoning and Oil Bring Out the Best

Just 3 simple ingredients are needed before the pan is placed on the grill.  Drizzle three tablespoons of oil over the halved potatoes, then add coarse salt and fresh pepper.  The oil can be grapeseed, walnut, almond, vegetable, or canola, anything you have and prefer.  Mix well to ensure each potato is coated, then let rest to allow the seasonings to penetrate before adding to the hot grill.

Charcoal Grill Set Up

Time to get the grill ready.  I’ll be using a combination of charcoal and wood – charcoal as the fuel for heat and wood chunks and chips for flavor.  Keeping my intake vents open on the kettle grill, I start a chimney full of charcoal.  Just one chimney will be needed for the actual cooking.  I lay a small line of unlit coals down both the right and left side of the charcoal grate to keep my temperature stable through the cook.  I pour the hot coals in the middle then add two Sugar Maple wood chunks and a handful of Wild Cherry Grande Sapore® wood chips on top of the hot coals.  On goes the food grate and then my vegetable pan of halved seasoned potatoes.

The depth of Flavor Through Smoke

Once the wood is set up and the food grate is on, the pan of potatoes is added.  Put the grill cover on and adjust the lid outtake vent to 1/3 open position.  Now, adjust the lower intake vent to the ½ open position.    Let the potatoes cook for about 25 minutes prior to stirring.  You’ll see the golden hue from the maple and cherry smoke vapor.  Be sure to rotate the potatoes on the bottom to the top so that there is even color and flavor to each piece.  The total cook time will be close to an hour but each grill and charcoal will perform differently so be sure to watch closely after the first 35 minutes.  Remove when the potatoes can be pierced easily with a toothpick or knife tip.

Full Flavor With All the Nutrition Intact

With all the nutritional value still intake, these golden, smoky potatoes are ready to eat as is or you can include them in your favorite potato recipes.  I’ll be giving a smoky edge to my interpretation of a potato curry in our next recipe feature.  Take advantage of this popular comfort vegetable and the ease of using a charcoal/wood grill for cooking and give your meals a memorable flavor enhancement.

The Culinary Crew wants you to know

that potatoes are one of the easiest veggies to grill or smoke!  A minimum amount of effort will yield maximum deliciousness.  Go ahead and experiment with a variety of your favorite spices or ingredients when grilling or smoking your spuds.  Cilantro, curry, garlic or onion powder and even a touch of cayenne pepper can add a taste zip to these great and hardy tubers.  There are many varieties of potatoes and they all do well on a grill or in a smoker but, just remember- the fresher the better!

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on our feature so start the conversation with a comment!

Dr. Smoke try this smoky-grilled potato technique!

Dr. Smoke try this smoky-grilled potato technique!

Related Reading

-HOW TO USE CHARCOAL WITH WOOD IN COOKING

-HOW TO TURN YOUR CHARCOAL GRILL INTO A SMOKER

Smoked cheesy potatoes- what a wonderful twist!

SMOKED CHEESY POTATOES- WHAT A WONDERFUL TWIST

SmokinLicious® Products in this blog:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Smoker Box Available at Retail Locations

Smoker Box Available at Retail Locations

BOOST UP THE FLAVOR OF YOUR SMOKER BOX!

BOOST UP THE FLAVOR OF YOUR SMOKER BOX!- People are always in search of that great flavor to food that only comes from hardwood.  In fact, it is common for discussions around outdoor cooking to use the terms grilling and barbecuing interchangeably as if they mean exactly the same thing.  Let’s be clear – cooking with just LP/Gas is grilling.  Barbecue is outdoor cooking over hot coals or wood, whether in lump charcoal form or straight hardwood pieces.

Barbecue vs. Grilling

In an effort for grilling equipment manufacturers to compete with charcoal grills and smokers, many began integrating a wood chip drawer in their units to imply that “barbecue” was possible on a gas grill.  If you ever tried these, you likely were disappointed in finding that the intensity of flavor just didn’t compare to charcoal equipment.  Then the smoker box was developed with a wide variety of design options from rectangular in shape, V-shaped at the base to fit between grill grates, and venting hole configurations that made claim to more intense smoke penetration.  Here’s the thing – no one ever discussed what should go in the smoker box.  The assumption was to always use wood chips but I am going to take you on a flavor journey using that box that will open your eyes to understanding cooking with hardwood.

One of the key complaints I hear is that when using wood chips in a smoking box or drawer, the chips don’t seem to give off enough smoke and have a very short burn life.  In fact, refilling the box or drawer is often needed to finish a simple food item like chicken pieces or ½ slabs of pork ribs.  Wood chunks or uniformed sized pieces of hardwood lend to a much longer burn/smolder rate and give off great flavor infusion.

Using a Smoker Box

Smokinlicious® Double Filet Wood Chunks

Smokinlicious® Double Filet Wood Chunks

So how can you still work with your smoker box?  Simply remove the lid or, if hinged in place, open the lid and place 3-4 SmokinLicious® Double Filet Wood Chunks in the box.  Be sure the box is placed on the hot area of the grill and let it go.

The increased volume of the wood allows for things to smolder longer which means the combustion stages are extended, thus, the flavor infusion is extended.

No cover is needed on the box.  What I like the best about this application is the box acts as an ash collection tray so removal for cleaning is quick and easy.  Keep in mind, LP/Gas units have heat diffusers – although they may go by other names like heat distributors, flame tamers, heat plates, burner shields, and flavorizer bars to name a few – so you already have a built-in method of using wood chunks for maximum flavor infusion to the foods on the grate (see our previous postings on this).

So are wood chips obsolete for the LP/Gas unit?  Absolutely not!  It is just another option for you especially those of you who pine for more smoke flavor to your cooking.

Go on the hunt and locate what you did with the smoker box.  Then visit SmokinLicious® .com in the USA or SmokinLicious® .ca in Canada and order up some Double Filet Wood Chunks and test out this easy method for yourself.

3 Double Filet wood chunks in a smoker box on the gas grill

Double Filet wood chunks in a smoker box

The Culinary Team wants you to know …

… that the right internal moisture in smoking wood is a key factor for the release of smoky vapors when flavoring food using any kind of grill, cooker, smoker or accessories like smoker boxes or smoking drawers.  Wood too dry will combust quickly and flame char food, missing wood flavor.  Too wet and you’ll never get smoke or flavor.  When taken by a moisture meter, the ideal internal moisture percentage for smoking wood should register 20%. So, remember- moisture = vapor = great wood smoke flavor!

Dr. Smoke, you need a smoker box for your gas/lp grilling flavoring

Dr. Smoke: You need a smoker box for your gas/lp grilling flavoring

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading about smoker boxes

Additional blog topics:

-CRUSHED AND DICED: A REFERENCE FOR WOOD AS WELL

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

HOW MUCH WOOD TO ADD WHEN SMOKING

-GRILLING & SMOKING QUESTIONS/ANSWERS THAT MAY SURPRISE YOU!

Our top tips to prevent hot dog shrinkage!
Our top tips to prevent hot dog shrinkage!

top tips to prevent hot dog shrinkage Click To Tweet

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Prevent Hot Dog Shrinkage–There is nothing more frustrating than getting your family and friends all excited for a 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 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

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 hot dogs are cooked on a grill.

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 the hot dog from shrinking while being reheated or “cooked” on the grill.

Tip #1: The “X” End Slice to prevent hot dog Shrinkage

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, this hot dog maintains most of its original shape.

Tip #2: The Length Cut to prevent hot dog Shrinkage

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 meat and gives every bite you take full flavors.  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 hot dog Shrinkage

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 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 ‘Em Up!

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 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 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 hot dog meat. After that add the corn, and top with fresh cilantro.

There are no rules when it comes to toppings for your 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 of grilling 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 & Grilling tips to prevent hot dog shrinkage and other technique see our directory for previous blogs!
More related reading on our smoking & Grilling tips to prevent hot dog shrinkage and other technique 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 hot dog shrinkage and you will enjoy these more and more!
Dr. Smoke- follow our top tips to prevent hot dog shrinkage and you will enjoy these more and more!

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CRUSHED OR DICED WOOD CHIPS? Click To Tweet

You see the options all the time.  Crushed or diced tomatoes?  Every chef knows when and why you choose one over the other. Did you know the same concept is true for wood chips?

At SmokinLicious®, the only true cooking wood Company, we produce our wood chips in the same manner as tomato processors! We crush the wood for our Grande Sapore® chips – these pieces produce a unique flavor because of their shape just like crushed tomatoes give a deeper flavor to recipes!  These chips are meant to last and work with other ingredients for full flavor balance. We also offer our “diced” option of predetermined wood slices to produce our Minuto® and Piccolo® chips for smoldering on heat plates, cast iron, and flavor bars.  Just as diced tomatoes give a fresh-from-the-garden taste, diced wood chips likewise produce a different, often more intense fresh wood flavoring.

SmokinLicious® only manufacturers cooking woods.  That is our primary and only business.  We know hardwoods for cooking, all types of wood-fired methods.  And we know wood flavoring – how to get the best clean flavors from the select hardwoods ideal for cooking!

See for yourself why we are a superior product with a superior outcome.  Enjoy the benefits of the knowledge of our flavorists and get the options you are looking for.  Made the SmokinLicious® way!

Dr. Smoke- there is a smoking difference between crushed or diced wood chips

Dr. Smoke- there is a smoking difference between crushed or diced wood chips

Our Culinary Team wants you know

… that the crushing and dicing method of our making of culinary wood chips is strikingly similar in concept to how grapes are processed in the phases of wine making?  For example, the Ripasso method of Italian wine production starts out with crushed, partially dried grapes and proceeds on to fermentation with the leftover skins.  Both Ripasso produced wine and our crushed or diced wood chips offer distinctive flavor, body and personality in a class of their own!Our process is very similar to making wine from grapes

We have selected some of our Quora Grilling & Smoking Questions/Answers for you!
We have selected some of our Quora Grilling & Smoking Questions/Answers for you!

Gilling & Smoking Questions/Answers Click To Tweet

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Grilling & Smoking Questions— We’ve all heard the saying, “There are no stupid questions”.  I answer a lot of questions about cooking, grilling, smoking, and wood-fired cooking over the course of a week.  I am always surprised that when writing on these topics, I don’t often think of the truly novice cook and offer very basic tips.  So, today, that’s what my goal is. 

Grilling & Smoking Questions: When cooking a rack of ribs, do you cut them into individual pieces and then grill or leave them on the rack?

I honestly understand where this question comes from.  You often see ribs served pre-cut into single bone servings at restaurants so why wouldn’t you start to think they must be cooked that way.

Unfortunately, the best way to cook ribs is as a rack when purchasing baby back or St. Louis cut spare rib for pork or beef ribs.  This allows a crust to form on the outside when cooked, and for the rub to penetrate the entire rack so the flavors are more even.

Grilling & Smoking Questions : What is the white stuff on the bottom of the pork ribs?

That is a membrane we call silver skin that generally is left on the rack when the butcher cuts the meat.  You always want to remove that membrane as it can prevent the meat from tenderizing and is rubbery if eaten.  Simply take a butter knife and insert between the membrane and the meat at one end.  Loosen it and then gripping the membrane with a paper towel, peel it off, trying to get it in one piece.

Grilling & Smoking Questions: How do I cook chicken on the grill so it doesn’t dry out?

For those that don’t feel like a master of the grill, just doing meats on the grill can pose a challenge.  Chicken is no exception.  In fact, it can be a difficult protein to grill since white and dark meat cook at different rates.  The easiest method of ensuring moist and flavorful chicken, is to cook it on a two-zone grill set up.  That means only half the burners are turned on while the chicken is placed on the grate that has no burners on.  This allows the heat to radiate to the chicken and cook without burning the skin or cooking beyond 165°F.

Grilling & Smoking Questions : Do I soak my wood chips or chunks to make smoke?

Great question and one to ask before you start.  No, do not soak the chips or chunks or any wood product for that matter unless a manufacturer of specific equipment requests it to be soaked.  When you soak the wood, only the outer layer, about 1/8-inch thick gets wet.  Once a wet wood is applied to a hot fire, the fire’s energy works to remove the excess water in the form of steam.  This take energy from the fire which means you can alter the cooking temperature of the equipment.  Apply wood product dry to get the best flavor from the wood even if using a smoker box or aluminum foil.

Grilling & Smoking Questions : What differentiates charred food from burnt food?

Let’s first define what charred foods are.  When you char a food which usually is an animal protein or thick-skinned vegetable but can be just about anything, a dark colored outer crust forms either around the edges of the food item or completely across the food’s surface.  The inside of the food will retain moisture and tender texture. If the food item is dry, tough, and an ugly color, it’s burnt.

Grilling & Smoking Questions: Does soaking your steak in marinade overnight make it juicier?

Marinades are ideal when you want to add a flavor level to meats, poultry and fish.  The thing with marinades is you need to be careful not over-marinate.  Since meat is 75% water, adding another liquid i.e. marinade, will not penetrate beyond the outside.  Oh, you can cut some slits into the meat, fish, or poultry to get is a bit deeper but marinating something overnight will not get any more flavor into the food item.  Plus, you take the risk of producing a mushy result if the protein of the meat is broken down too far.

Grilling & Smoking Questions : I assume when you smoke with wood it takes quite a bit of wood to make the smoke.  Exactly how much do I need?

This is one misunderstanding that drives me crazy!  It is not about the quantity of wood for hot smoking.  Quality and moisture are the keys.  First, find a hardwood and only hardwood, that has some moisture to it.  About 25% is ideal.  Whether you’re using a gas grill, charcoal grill, or electric unit, you’ll only need about 6-8 ounces of hardwood to start.  Know up front, you won’t and shouldn’t see a ton of smoke and that smoke should be light in color. 

Grilling & Smoking Questions : How do a get “fall off the bone” ribs when I grill?

I’m going to be completely honest – you don’t want fall off the bone ribs!  If you prepare the ribs correctly – trimming the excess fat, removing the silver skin, and marinating with your favorite rub, brine or marinade – grill and/or smoke them at a lower temperature (I prefer 225°F) for roughly 3 hours, and then check for doneness with the “bend test”.  Taking a pair of tongs, lift the ribs in the center of the rack from the grate.  If they bend and have slight cracking to the meat, they are done.  You’ll still find the meat will come right off the bone when you bite into it.

Grilling & Smoking Questions : What should you do first before using a new grill or smoker?

Clean it then test burn it without food.  You need to clean the surfaces – inside lid, grates, side walls – to remove any remaining chemicals from the grill’s construction.  To extend the life of the grill grates, season them with a high heat oil such as avocado, peanut, or canola oil. Simply brush or wipe on the oil with a small, clean paint brush or with a paper towel. Wipe off the excess and then follow with a test burn.

By running a test burn, you can remove any further impurities left from the manufacturing of the unit so you have no tainted flavors to your foods. If you’ve purchased an LP/Gas unit, test for leaks before lighting the grill.  Oh, and always read the manual first thing so you know full operation and warnings on your unit.

I’ll be sure to provide follow up posting on questions that come my way in the future to ensure that I’m always assisting everyone – from novice to pro cook.

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:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

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

More related reading on our Grilling & Smoking Questions and technique see our directory on previous blogs!
More related reading on our Grilling & Smoking Questions and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

Other common questions

-HOW MUCH WOOD TO ADD WHEN SMOKING

-3 METHODS OF SMOKING BOSTON BUTT FOR AUTHENTIC BARBECUE FLAVOR

-WHAT WOOD TO USE FOR SMOKING: A PRIMER

Dr. Smoke-
Dr. Smoke- We have selected some of our Quora Grilling & Smoking Questions/Answers for you!
Our finished Smoked Rhubarb
Our Finished Rhubarb (Smoked)

Try Rhubarb (smoked) for a less tart taste! Click To Tweet

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Rhubarb (Smoked) – I will make a confession: I don’t like rhubarb, a spring to early summer perennial vegetable, on its own, likely due to the very tart flavor.  I do, however, enjoy this vegetable smoked and then blended with a sweet fruit.

This is likely why you may not have realized that rhubarb is a perennial vegetable since this is so widely used for dessert items. The rhubarb stalks are suitable to eat but the leaves are poisonous meaning they should never be eaten or added to a smoothie.  Since this is a tart vegetable, I am going to first smoke it to change the balance of that tartness.  Later, I plan to use these smoked stalks in combination with some smoked strawberry to make a strawberry-rhubarb fool, a delicious treat or dessert. 

For now, let’s get about a pound of fresh rhubarb, hopefully from a garden or a fresh market, and meet at the smoker for an easy method of infusing wood flavoring to this tart stalk vegetable.

Selecting and Preparing

Our fresh Rhubarb picked from the garden- or buy at the Farmers Market
#rhubarb

Rhubarb is a perennial vegetable that prefers cold conditions to thrive.  When first planted, you won’t be able to harvest any of the stalks until the second year, similar to growing asparagus.  When ready to harvest, you’re looking for stalks 12 to 18-inches in length with good girth to them.  If the stalks are too thin, that means the plant does not have enough nutrients. 

Once harvested, clean well under water and pat dry.  Trim all the leave ends from the stalks as these are poisonous, and discard. Note you can compost the leaves as the poisonous oxalic acid breaks down quickly when decomposition begins.

I prefer to cut my stalks into 3-4-inch lengths.  That’s it!  Likely one of the easiest vegetables to prepare for the smoker.  Speaking of the smoker, time to prepare ours.  I’ll be using an electric smoker today since smoking rhubarb takes very little time.

Tasting Notes: Whether to cut the stalks is dependent on what you plan to do with the rhubarb so adjust this step according to your planned recipe.

Fire Up the Smoker!

The Electric Smoker for our Rhubarb (smoked) technique
The Electric Smoker for our Rhubarb (smoked) technique

I’ll be using a standard vertical electric smoker that uses lava rocks as the radiator of the heat as well as an electric element as the fuel/heat source.  My electric smoker allows me to use wood chunks so I have an assortment of small sizes that total about 6 ounces of hardwood.  The double filet wood chunk size is ideal and as a tip, if you note to SmokinLicious® the need for thin chunks, these can be provided. 

My set up is simple: I wrap one of my grill grates in aluminum foil, place my element on the lava rocks and insert wood chunks between the element’s spaces.  I’m using a combination of maple and cherry hardwood.  I add my water pan with about 2-inches of hot water so energy from the unit isn’t wasted heating up the water.  On goes my tray of pre-cut rhubarb that are spaced to allow the smoke to penetrate all around.  Leave these untouched on the smoker for about 20-25 minutes or until the thickest stalks are fork tender.

The best part about rhubarb on the smoker is it takes very little effort.  Trim, clean, and cut to size then place on the grate and smoke.  In about 15 minutes time, you’ll see a golden hue come out of the rhubarb pieces.  That means the smoke has penetrated its great flavor.  Using a fork or the tip of a paring knife, I check the thickest stalk to be sure I can easily pass the metal tip thru.  If so, then the rhubarb is tender and ready to come off the smoker. 

Cut up Rhubarb pieces in the smoker
Cut up Rhubarb pieces in the smoker

If your plans are to prepare this for rhubarb pie, then just continue with your favorite recipe.  This step is simply to provide another flavor level and begin the cooking process. Check in with us soon as we release our version of the strawberry-rhubarb fool featuring this smoked rhubarb and smoked strawberry. 

What’s your favorite method of cooking rhubarb?  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 Chunks- Double Filet

More related reading on Applewood and other orchard woods see our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!
More related reading on Rhubarb (Smoked) recipes in our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

Additional reading:

-ELECTRIC SMOKERS: WHEN IS A WOOD CHIP DEAD?

-EASY GRILL ROASTED TOMATOES

-ODE TO THE GRILLED FAVA BEAN

Dr. Smoke-
Dr. Smoke- Take Tart to the Smokey side with Fresh Rhubarb (Smoked) on the Smoker!

JUST BECAUSE YOUR SMOKING FOOD (THAT IS!) DOESN’T MAKE IT ALL BAD!

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listen to JUST BECAUSE YOUR SMOKING FOOD

Recently, I received a very interesting question regarding the safety of ingesting foods and beverages that have been exposed to smoke vapor using hand-held food smokers.  Specifically, the question consisted of whether you need to be 18 years of age for items that have been infused with smoke using these gadgets.

The breville handheld smoker

#handheldsmoker

This got me thinking:

  • does the word “smoke” automatically give off the bad vibe response?
  • why do people only inquire about the smoke without needing to know more about the plant source that produces that smoke?

There is a lot of data out there on carcinogenic effect to high heat grilled foods like burgers, chicken, and steaks, even data on hot smoking foods at lower temperatures.  Really, what it all boils down to is, if you grill meats to the point where you blacken them, that increases the risk for the carcinogens.  Even if you cook to the blacken state, eating these foods in moderation will halt any real risk over an average person’s lifetime.

So why the question on legality to consume smoked foods and beverages?

 If you understand that the tobacco industry had to start putting warning labels on tobacco packaging back in 1966, and smokeless tobacco products in 2010, then you comprehend that smoke vapor does contain toxins.  Everything regarding the level of toxicity with cooking is related to the type of food, method of cooking, cooking temperature, and length of cooking time.

Let’s examine those parameters from the handheld food smoking perspective.

You are not cooking the food by this method, merely infusing it with the smoke flavonoids, so there is no temperature (cold smoking technique).  You are not exposing the food to smoke vapor for hours – it really comes down to minutes.  Most importantly, you are not directly attempting to inhale the smoke vapor into your lungs.  Yes, if your standing near the container that is holding the cold smoke when you open it, you will have some exposure but not like the person that takes a drag directly from a tobacco product or is chewing on a tobacco product!

Like anything else in our world, there are risks to everything we do, experience, sense, taste, explore, desire.  Hot smoking is another name for roasting just at a lower temperature and usually with cheaper cuts of meat.

SmokinLicious® Double Filet wood chunks are clean and bark free wood pieces that will provide a tasty tinge of smoke to all of your favorite ingredients.

SmokinLicious® Double Filet wood chunks

What should never be compromised is the plant material – the wood – that is used to extract these flavors.

I believe it is time to start asking more questions about the hardwood products being used for the smoking process rather than focusing on the process itself. Click To Tweet  Perhaps the risks associated with dirty, moldy, contaminated wood are too high to ignore anymore.

SmokinLicious® products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

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

More related reading on the art of smoking food and cooking wood

More related reading on the art of smoking food and cooking wood

More blog topics like this one:

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

-SHOULD YOU GRILL WITH MOLDY WOODS?

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

-SMOKING-GRILLING WOOD SELLING TERMS DEMYSTIFIED

Dr. Smoke hopes you enjoyed-JUST BECAUSE YOUR SMOKING FOOD (THAT IS!) DOESN’T MAKE IT ALL BAD!

Dr. Smoke hopes you enjoyed-JUST BECAUSE YOUR SMOKING FOOD (THAT IS!) DOESN’T MAKE IT ALL BAD!

THE KITCHEN FIND!

Stove top smoking techniques do not require fancy equipment, there are plenty of pots in your kitchen.

Stove top smoking techniques do not require fancy equipment, there are plenty of pots in your kitchen.

STOVE TOP SMOKING….

If you’re like me, over the years you’ve become a collector of various cooking gadgets and equipment to the point where you simply don’t have room for one more thing!  Yet, you are enamored with the thought of doing stove top smoking & cooking when the weather isn’t cooperating or you simply prefer to be in the house rather than take food and gadgets outside.

Well, I have got just the solution for you!

Stove top smoking can be as easy as locating a deep pot with lid, metal steamer insert, aluminum foil and tools you likely already own.

Now when I say deep pot I’m talking about a lobster pot, large sauce pot, or even a Dutch oven.  Anything that has capacity to hold a suitable number of food items on a steamer insert will do.

Once you have your pot and food item that you want to smoke follow these steps.

STEPS FOR STOVE TOP SMOKING:

  • Put a piece of foil at the bottom of the pot so it touches both sides
  • Place a second piece of foil or disposable foil pie plate on the chips followed by your steamer insert. (This will keep drippings from falling on the chips.)
  • Place the food items (chicken, fish, pork, beef, vegetables, fruit, etc.) on the steamer. Be careful not to crowd so the smoke can circulate around the food.
  • Depending on the extra room in your pot, if there is a lot of surface above the foods, go ahead and tent the steamer insert with foil so the smoke vapor has less area it needs to travel
  • Put the lid on the pot and seal the rim with foil to ensure none of the smoke vapor can escape
  • Turn the heat under the pot to high and allow to begin the smoking for 5-8 minutes
  • Reduce the heat to medium and cook small food items like chicken, fish, vegetables, or fruit for 10-15 minutes. Large food items like pork tenderloin, beef short ribs, etc. for 30-40 minutes.
  • Shut off the heat and allow the food to rest in the residual smoke vapor for 10 minutes
  • Remove the lid and foil tent if one was used

If you have done smaller cuts of poultry, fish, or meat, these may well be cooked through (175° F for dark meat 165° F for white meat). Otherwise, if cooking is still required, transfer the food to an oven safe dish or sheet pan and finish cooking in the oven.

There you have it!

Minuto wood chipsA simple in-house, smoking technique using tools you likely already have in the kitchen!  Just think, you stayed warm, dry, and comfortable in your own house while the Grande Sapore®, Minuto®, or Piccolo® Wood Chips did their wood-fired magic.

As always, we would love to see your take on the homemade stove top smoker so send along pictures.

info@smokinlicious.com

SmokinLicious® Products used in this technique:

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

Additional reading:

-A DIY STOVE TOP SMOKER MAKES PERFECT SMOKED RICOTTA CHEESE

-THE EASY METHOD TO COLD SMOKED CHEESE

-PERFECTION OF THE SMOKED PEAR!

-TO THE SMOKE THE CHESTNUT GOES!

Dr. Smoke "It doesn't take fancy equipment to smoke foods on the stove top."

Dr. Smoke “It doesn’t take fancy equipment to smoke foods on the stove top.”

Let's explore the primary heat sources for Grilling!
Let’s explore the primary heat sources for Grilling!

Exploring the primary heat sources for Grilling Click To Tweet

Listen to the audio of this blog

PRIMARY HEAT SOURCES FOR GRILLING-

We grill outdoors frequently yet I bet not many of you know the science behind grilling.  What happens to food when we grill?  How does food cook to a safe level on a grill?

Let’s cover the types of heat sources that cook grilled meats and help you decide the ideal method for cooking your favorite animal proteins.

What Is Meat?

Before I get into the types of heat sources to do the actual grilling, let’s talk about what meat really is.  Meat is muscle from various animals.  It is made up of 75% water, 20% protein, and 5% carbohydrates and fat.  Each cell of a muscle is made of two proteins: actin and myosin.

Now breaking down the proteins of meat, these are made of amino acids which react nicely when salt ions are added.  Thus, when salt ions are added, the water-retaining capability of meat increases which results in production of a juicy piece of grilled meat.

Now these proteins in meat are coiled when the meat is raw.  Add heat, and these proteins uncoil as the protein molecule bonds are broken.

Note – heat shrinks the muscle fibers which will then squeeze out water allowing the molecules to recombine.  Brining or marinating meat will reduce this shrinkage of the fibers.

Sources of Heat

There are three heat sources for cooking foods: conduction, radiation, and convection.  Let’s get an understanding of each one.

Conduction primary heat sources for grilling:

The best example of conductive heat is when meats are placed directly on the grill grates over direct heat.  The transfer of the heat energy to the grill grate brands the food item with grill marks.  Heat is transferred from the source (burner, lit charcoal or wood, electric element, ceramic plate) to the food which then engages the cooking process.  The meat cooks from the outside to the inside due to heat transfer.  The surface of the meat gets hotter and transfers to the center which is why people who rely on the meat’s outside coloring will under-cook the meat inside.

Convection primary heat sources for grilling:

Convection heat is transferred with a fluid which can include water (think boiling a food item like potato), oil (think French fries), and air (think your oven or two-zone cooking on a grill).   Now, convection cooking only occurs on the exterior of the food while conduction heat cooks the interior.

Radiation primary heat sources for grilling:

My favorite example of radiation heat is cooking marshmallows on a stick held near a campfire.  Essentially, this is how charcoal/wood grills cook. You elevate the food over the heat source.

What influences grilling is the length of time and the type of heat.  Add in difference between temperature and heat as materials also play a part in the transfer of the heat energy.  Water transfers slower than metal.

Radiation produces more heat than convection.  You can easily increase the radiation heat on a charcoal grill by increasing the number of charcoal pieces.  Gas and pellet grills produce convection heat. Convection heat dissipates easily by air currents.   Infrared units known as intense infrared (IR) have marketed that they produce a better sear on meats.  What is happening is heat energy is delivered faster than convection heat units but slower than conduction units.  You also have the risks that the delivery of this energy via IR could be uneven resulting in black/burnt areas while other areas of the meat are light in color.

Types of Heat on Different Equipment

Let’s look at the heat types for specific equipment so you know how the energy used cooks your meat.

Gas Grills:

Burner produces radiant heat that in turn heats the heat shields above the burners producing radiant and convection heat (note gas grills have permanent vents built in the unit).  The grill grates then heat and produce conduction heat to the exterior of the meat which converts all this heat energy to conduction to cook the meat thru the interior.

Note gas grills can be set up with direct cooking (all burners on) and indirect cooking (only half the burners lit).  If you cook with the lid up on a gas grill, you allow radiant heat to escape which will cool the top of the meat.

Charcoal/Wood Units:

Radiant heat is produced at the bottom of these units with the grilling grates absorbing the heat energy that produces conduction heat.  Heat from below the meat is absorbed and converted to conduction heat to cook the interior. The lids on these units will produce convection heat due to the built-in vent that has a control setting.

Like gas units, charcoal/wood units can be set up direct or indirect cooking method with the foods absorbing indirect convection heat from all sides which then converts to conduction heat to cook the meat’s interior.

Flat Tops/Plancha/Griddles:

Whether gas or charcoal fed, the fuel source produces radiant heat while the solid cooking surface produces conduction heat to the meat.  Due to direct contact of the meat to the solid cooking surface, the direct contact side of the meat will brown easily while this no lid unit allows radiant heat to escape causing the top of the meat to cool and not brown.

Infrared Units:

Burners on these units produce radiant heat which then heat energize the ceramic, glass or metal plate.  Grilling grates absorb the heat and produce conduction heat where the surface of the meat contacts the grate.

Always remember, on any unit regardless of heat source, thickness of the meat and not poundage will determine cooking time as you must remember that conduction cooking progresses to the interior.  You must use a digital thermometer to ensure meat is cooked properly before consuming.  Never rely on the outer coloring of the meat or recommended time per pound in a recipe.  A digital thermometer is the only way to know.

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 and fire.  That’s SmokinLicious®

SmokinLicious® Products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Minuto®

More related reading on the primary heat sources for Grilling & Smoking tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!
More related reading on the primary heat sources for Grilling & Smoking tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

Other blogs you may like:

-3 METHODS OF SMOKING BOSTON BUTT FOR AUTHENTIC BARBECUE FLAVOR

-TEMPERATURE, MATERIAL AND TIME DETERMINE WHEN ITS CALLED BARBECUE

-PICKING YOUR IDEAL FIRE SETUP FOR COOKING

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

Dr. Smoke- Let's become better chef's and explore the primary heat sources for Grilling!
Dr. Smoke- Let’s become better chef’s and explore the primary heat sources for Grilling!
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.

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

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
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!

Listen to the audio of this blog

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!

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