We are cooking on a chimney starter with a grill pan to nicely char our head of Cauliflower for this recipe!

We are cooking on a chimney starter with a grill pan to nicely char our head of Cauliflower for this recipe!

COAL FIRE CAULIFLOWER BY COOKING ON A CHIMNEY STARTER

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A cousin to broccoli, #cauliflower is one of those vegetables that can be eaten raw or cooked and converted to so many different textures.  Best yet, cauliflower is one of those super cancer-fighting foods as it contains sulforaphane known to kill cancer stem cells.

I’ll be taking my head of cauliflower and introducing it to hot coals, first, direct heat using a #chimneystarter for the actual cooking and then directly on the hot coals to give it the perfect “meat” char.  No matter what color you enjoy – white, yellow, purple – grab a head and get your chimney starter ready, as I show you how to use a chimney starter as an actual grill.

Why a Chimney Starter

All our hot embers accumulated in the Chimney starter provides an excellent heat source for cooking

There are times when you really don’t need to fire up a full charcoal area of coals on the charcoal grill.  I have the perfect solution when you’re doing just a small quantity of a food, like our head of cauliflower.  Use your chimney starter

To start, I place a mesh screen on the charcoal grill grate to help retain the small, hot coals for cooking.  I have a collection of micro charcoal pieces that work perfectly for this type of cooking.

After lighting a Firestarter, I place the charcoal filled chimney starter on top of the Firestarter and allow the coals to burn down to hot embers.  Hot embers are what I will be using to cook my fresh cauliflower, first, directly on the chimney starter, then on the mesh screen once I dump the hot embers from the chimney starter.

Chef Bert stresses the importance of not using lighter fluid

#chefbertandtom

Prep and Cook

Pouring the butter over the cauliflower resting on our grill plan

Cauliflower is so simple to prepare for chimney starter coal cooking.  Just remove the thick stem and the green leaves, then cut in half.  I’ll be placing a griddle pan directly over the chimney starter for the start of the cooking.  I first drizzle a couple of tablespoons of a high heat tolerant oil over the cauliflower (I’m using avocado oil).  Allow that to cook while you melt butter which will be poured over the cauliflower.   I melt the butter directly on the grill while the cauliflower is cooking.  Allow this to char the cauliflower on the griddle for about 12 minutes.  We just want enough tenderness to allow the direct coal cooking to provide the flavor.

Embers Give Char Flavor

nicely charred Cauliflower ready for our recipe!

After the cauliflower has produced some tenderness while direct cooking over the chimney starter, it’s time to remove the griddle pan and dump the hot coals onto the mesh.  You’ll see I’ve placed a large wood chunk just off the hot coals to produce some additional wood-fired flavor.  Now in goes the cauliflower steaks.  I position them right on the hot coals.  Don’t turn or disturb these pieces for a least 8 minutes at which time, flip the cauliflower to char the other side.  This is what produces the fabulous “meaty” char taste and why cauliflower is done on the grill is often referred to as a cauliflower steak.

If you will use the cauliflower in a recipe, then cooking about 12 minutes on the coals will be enough.  If enjoying as is, then cook slightly longer and enjoy.  This truly is the easiest method of cooking a single head of cauliflower for a true char flavor.  Which I will be taking to a cauliflower rice recipe that’s coming up!

Have you ever cooked directly on a chimney starter?  Leave us a comment to share.  Bringing innovation to wood-fired cooking with recipes, techniques and the science behind the fire, smoke, and flavor. That’s SmokinLicious®.

What does a chimney starter do?

A chimney starter, also called a charcoal chimney, is an environmentally friendly way to ignite either lump charcoal, briquettes or cooking wood without the use of petro-chemicals.  Concentrated, intense heat from flames rises in the chamber and ignites charcoal or wood.  Chimney starters can be used to conveniently ember cook smaller quantities of food.  It is an ideal means to coal fire or ember cook cauliflower.

SmokinLicious® products used in this blog:

Our hand split double filet smoker wood chunks

#woodchunks

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on Grilling ideas beyond cooking on a #chimneystarter !

Related reading:

-Cauliflower roasted on LP/Gas Grill over wood chunks

-EMBER COOKED SWEET PEPPERS

-Grilling/Roasting Broccoli on the Grill

-EMBER COOKING/ROASTING GARLIC IN AN IRON SKILLET

Dr. Smoke- Only need to char up a head of Cauliflower, do your cooking on a chimney starter instead of lighting the grill!

Dr. Smoke- Only need to char up a head of Cauliflower, do your cooking on a chimney starter instead of lighting the grill!

Marinating our Riblets

Marinating our Riblets in Zip Lock bag

Marinating- the Truths to guide you Click To Tweet

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Marinating-At one time or another, I’m sure you’ve either purchased a prepared marinade or constructed your own to use with some type of animal protein.  Likely, your goal was to either add flavor or to tenderize or both.  But, let me ask you: do you really know what marinades do for specific foods and do you know how to use them?

My intention is to debunk the myths, get at the truth of what marinades can do and provide a guide on marinade amounts and ideal marinating times for specific foods.

Let’s get started!

PART I: Myth to Truth

How Deep Do Marinades Go?

One of my favorite myths is that of the depth that marinades penetrate in meat.  The tale is that once a meat is exposed to a marinade, it will get completely thru but this is far from the truth.

Marinades are a surface to few millimeters below surface benefit no matter what the content of the soaking liquid.  The oil, herbs, seasonings and spices only add flavor to the exterior of the food with no ingredient ever penetrating to the center of the meat.

Are Bottled Dressings a Marinade?

We all look for ways to cut corners and one of the myths out there is that bottled dressings work just fine as a substitute marinade.  The truth, however, is bottled dressings have high levels of acidity which when exposed to meat protein tend to break down the meat molecules too far resulting in a mushy texture.  Additionally, bottled dressings are loaded with unwanted ingredients like sweeteners (sugar), gums, and stabilizers and lack ingredients that give any real flavor.

How Long Should You Marinate Meat?

As mentioned above, since marinades don’t penetrate deeply into meat, a longer marinating time doesn’t mean more tender or flavorful meat.  In fact, the opposite becomes true.  Marinating too long will allow the protein bonds in the meat to weaken resulting in a mushy exterior which can prevent the meat from holding on to moisture.  That means you end up with a dry piece of meat.

Doesn’t the Acid in a Marinade Tenderize Meat?

When you’re looking to tenderize meat what you are really doing is breaking down connective tissue in the meat which is what produces tough cuts. Connective tissue is made up of collagen and fiber which can be weakened by an acidic ingredient like vinegar, wine, citrus juice, etc.  The problem again is this affect is surface only and cannot penetrate to the core of the meat.  Best advise is to use these ingredients sparingly and for shorter marinating times.

Can You Use a Marinade on Any Meat?

Since you’ve learned that marinades benefit the surface of the meat only, it is best for them to be used with thinner cuts of meat, like chicken breasts, cutlets, chunked meats, steak, and chops.  Larger cuts of meat do best with a wet rub or spice paste.

PART II: Marinating Tips for High Flavor and Juiciness

Tip #1 Flavorings and Seasonings: Use a lot of these ingredients in marinades and be sure to watch the salt or it will inhibit the absorption of other herbs, spices, and seasonings.

Tip #2 Score the Meat: To achieve as much penetration as possible, score the meat’s surface with a knife or prick the surface with a fork.

Tip #3 Reactivating the Marinade: I personally like to marinate in a storage bag but you can use chaffing dishes or other similar large baking dishes covered with plastic wrap.  When using a storage bag, ensure that all the air is out of the bag before sealing.  Halfway through the marinating time, flip the storage bag or stir the meat in a dish to ensure everything is getting even soaking time.

Tip #4 Refrigeration: One risk with marinating is the development of microorganisms since you are dealing with raw meat.  You can reduce this risk but getting your marinated meat in the refrigerator as quickly as possible to avoid the temperature danger zone of 40-140°F when bacteria can spread rapidly.

Tip #5 Wipe Off Excess and Discard Leftover: Remember, you’ve just marinated raw meat so never keep used marinade.  It needs to be discarded immediately.  If you feel you want to offer some of the marinade to go on the cooked food, simply keep a small amount separate from the marinating meat.  Also, so you don’t get excessive flare-up on the grill, wipe off excess marinade from the meat before grilling.

PART III: Can you Marinate too long?

Guide to Marinating Foods

This guide is intended to provide a starting point for specific foods on the quantity of marinade needed and the timing of the marinating process.

Smokinlicious marinating table, providing marinating time by food tryupe
Smokinlicious marinating table

By following these tips and guidelines, you’ll be sure to keep your foods moist, flavorful and promote a great mouth-food experience texture-wise.

Do you have favorite marinade ingredients?  Leave us a comment to opine.  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- Grande Sapore®, Minuto® & Piccolo®

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 Marinating- our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

Other topics you may enjoy:

HOW TO MAKE THE NEW PLANT-BASED BURGER TASTE EVEN MEATIER!

GRILLING & SMOKING QUESTIONS/ANSWERS THAT MAY SURPRISE YOU!

-THE 3 PRIMARY HEAT SOURCES FOR GRILLING MEAT

Dr. Smoke-
Dr. Smoke- Marinating adds great flavor to your food

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Showing how to infuse cherry wood smoke into brussels sprouts using an iron skillet on the gas grill is simple and easy and adds a smoky touch

Infusing cherry wood smoke into Brussels sprouts using the gas grill is simple and easy and adds a very flavorful touch to this hearty vegetable.

INFUSING WOOD SMOKE INTO BRUSSELS SPROUTS

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A favorite of the cabbage family, Brussels sprouts came to the United States via French immigration in the 18th century.    They are dominantly grown in California and available June thru January making them a Fall and holiday menu favorite.  SmokinLicious® will take the flavors up a notch and add wood smoke into Brussels sprouts for two upcoming recipes.  We’ll do this on the gas grill fit with wild cherry wood chunks to bring subtle smokiness to the finish sprouts.  First purchase 3 lbs. of Brussels sprouts and get two cherry single filet chunks, and you’re ready to fire up the grill and get smoking.

The Easy Grill Method for Infusing Wood Smoke into Brussels Sprouts

Bringing the flavor of wood smoke into Brussels sprouts is so easy.  To start, gather about 3 lbs. of Brussels sprouts, some cooking oil, butter, and a heavy-duty skillet. I prefer a nut oil like walnut or almond. For a skillet I’ll be using cast iron.  I’ve trimmed the ends on about half the sprouts and for the other half, I’ve trimmed the ends and cut them in half.  That’s it!  Fire up the grill and get ready for a quick method of adding great wood-fired flavor.

It only takes a couple of pieces of wood chunk to bring fabulous flavor to the grill.  I set up a cast iron pan on one side and place two cherry wood chunks on the heat shields of the far burner.  Let the pan heat up for about 5 minutes then pour in a couple of tablespoons of oil and heat.  Right before I add the Brussels sprouts, I add a couple of tablespoons of butter.  In go the whole Brussels sprouts and the lid comes down.  Leave untouched for about 5 minutes before turning.

Flavor Finish

As I have two recipes in mind I’m cooking two batches of Brussels sprouts: one batch whole and one batch halved.  After leaving for 5 minutes, I stir them to ensure that all surfaces are infused with wood flavor.  I maintain a temperature of 350-375° F which will make this a quick cooking method.  The first 5 minutes, the lid is down but once stirred, you can finish the cooking with lid up.  Remember, cast iron will retain heat, so you can turn the heat off and let sit for about 5 minutes.

The cooking time for this recipe is approximately 20 minutesAfter stirring a couple of times, both the whole and halved Brussels sprouts are ready in about 20 minutes time.  I simply remove them from the heat and bring them in to be added to my favorite recipes.

I have two recipes I’ll be working on: Smoky Brussels Sprout Gratin and Tortellini with Lemon and Smoked Brussels Sprouts.  These truly are the most flavorful Brussels sprouts! For those of you thinking about a holiday meal with them, well, the grill will give you that extra oven room you need.  Take advantage of the long harvest season and try these mini cabbages on your grill.  Check in for our recipes soon so we can get you started on how to use your prized sprouts.

Bringing you new methods of infusing wood fired flavor into seasonal items.  Be sure to subscribe and follow us to gain great tips, techniques, recipes and the science behind the fire.

The Culinary Crew wants you to know…

 Chef Bert and Tom discuss how to infuse wood smoke into brussels sprouts.

#chefbertandtom

… that the direct infusion of hardwood-fired smoke to foods, like Brussels Sprouts, is considered a flavor ingredient, much in the same way that spices, minerals and sauces enhance taste.  When fired, the components of smoke vapor carry the hardwood’s distinctive flavor profile directly into meats, seafood, fruits or vegetables with pleasing results to the palate.

SmokinLicious Products used in this recipe- wood smoke into brussels sprouts:

Our Single Filet is hand split to the proper size for larger equipment infusing wonderful wood smoke into brussels sprouts.

#singlefilet #woodchunks

Wood Chunks- Single Filet

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Additional reading:

-WOOD GRILLING AVOCADO

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

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

 

 

Dr Smoke- "Soften the taste of your Brussels sprouts by adding smoke flavoring from your gas grill using Smokinlicious® cherry wood chunks."

Dr Smoke- “Soften the taste of your Brussels sprouts by adding smoke flavoring from your gas grill using Smokinlicious® cherry wood chunks.”

The foil pan is the handiest and, we believe, the indispensable part in all the stages necessary for cooking, functionality and sanitary purposes.

The foil pan is the handiest and, we believe, the indispensable part in all the stages necessary for cooking, functionality and sanitary purposes.

THE INDISPENSABLE FOIL PAN

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Many people have their favorite tool when it comes to outdoor cooking.  It might be a wireless thermometer, specific grill grate, awesome fire safe gloves, or the go-to chimney starter.   For me, it’s likely the least expensive item you can think of – the disposable foil pan.  I’m going to list for you my top 6 uses for a simple and inexpensive foil pan.

#1 Best Drip/Water Pan

This is likely the primary way I use a standard rectangular, ¼ sheet size disposable pan.  I let this pan act as both a drip pan to collect juices from say pork shoulder, brisket, or lamb as well as to act as a water pan to produce a convection environment.  First, I love to load my pan with vegetables like rough cut onion, whole garlic, celery, carrot, fresh herbs, etc.  I also like to use different liquids based on what I’m cooking.  For fish and seafood, I like juices and wines.  For meats beer, ciders or full-bodied wines.  I rarely ever do simple water in my water pan.

We used a foil pan to smoke beef shanks

We used a foil pan to smoke beef shanks

#2 Charcoal Keeper

There are times when you need to ensure that your charcoal is positioned ideally for specific foods to keep the heat distribution ideal and the cooker’s walls from radiating too much heat in a certain direction.  One of the easiest ways to ensure that the heat radiates in the correct direction is to use a disposal foil pan.  Once your charcoal is ready to be dumped from a chimney starter, dump it directly into a foil pan.  This allows you to set an indirect method of cooking on a charcoal unit with greater ease.  It also will keep the walls of the kettle grill from radiating too much heat to the center of the grill for the grilling of more fragile items like pizza, breads, and cakes.  No more burnt centers, just even cooking.

#3 Warmer

Anything made with aluminum will be a great radiator and retainer of heat.  That’s why I love to use disposable foil pans as warming units.  When paired with a foil insulated blanket, you can maintain all types of proteins for up to 2 hours perfectly.  Plus, if any liquids should leak, they will be capture in that pan.

#4 Gift Giving Essential

Using a foil pan allows you to easily smoke chopped vegetables

Using a foil pan allows you to easily smoke chopped vegetables

Whenever I make a substantial amount of something say pulled pork or smoked potato, I love to be able to pass along some of my efforts to family and friends.  I love how these disposable pans can go from my hands, to someone’s refrigerator then to their oven or grill without needing to do a thing.  These pans will not change the flavor of the food and can easily have liquid added to them without concern.

#5 Eliminate Cleaning Creosote

If you’ve ever used any glass, silicone, or enamel items on your smoker, you’ve probably had to deal with 2 issues: baked on creosote which is usually a brown-black tar like substance and embedded smoke flavor in your silicone, something you cannot remove.  Aluminum does not absorb flavors and any visible discolorations are simply thrown away with the pan.  You don’t have to worry about clean up in any way.

#6 A Beach Grill

By purchasing a good quality stainless steel grill grate, just a small one, you can turn a foil pan into a beach grill.  I call this a beach grill as the easiest set up is with sand already present on a beach but you can certainly purchase and bring to another location, a small bag of sand.  Bring along or collect some rocks to act as a containment or barrier for the hot coals and fire.  Mark an area around the pan using the rocks.  Add charcoal to the pan and lite or pour hot coals directly into the pan from a chimney starter.  Once the embers are hot, place a grill grate over the pan and you’re ready to grill with this disposable unit.  The best part – all the ash will collect in the foil pan for easy disposal.  Oh, and don’t forget to use the hot coals after for something great for the next day.  Lay some peppers, hot or sweet, onions, even baked potatoes and your setting up for another meal.

These are just some of the great ways disposable aluminum foil pans can be used for outdoor wood fired cooking to keep things organized, simple, and still flavorful.

Providing you with great tips like this one, as well recipes, techniques, and the science behind the fire for all things wood fired.  Be sure to subscribe and follow us so you don’t miss a thing.

The Culinary Crew wants you to know …

… that you don’t have to “mortgage the farm” to enjoy all the great benefits of grilling and smoking food.  As our blog demonstrates, quite a lot of the fun. satisfaction and enjoyment from grilling and smoking food can be derived from being your very own ‘culinary inventor.’ Just as Thomas Edison, one of America’s greatest dabblers, showed us- a great deal can be achieved from tinkering, testing and experimenting.  Go ahead, develop your very own signature items and approaches to outdoor cooking methods but always be careful and safe!

SmokinLicious products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Additional reading:

-OPEN PIT COOKING FIRE BUILDING: PART I

-GRILL-BUILDING THE PERFECT COOKING FIRE- PART II

-SMOKING FOODS IN FOIL: PROS & CONS

 

 

Dr Smoke- "I wouldn't cook without having foil pans available in the prep, cooking, and serving stages."

Dr Smoke- “I wouldn’t cook without having foil pans available in the prep, cooking, and serving stages.”

Guest Blog- Kylee Harris on Coffee Smoked Foods!
Guest Blog- Kylee Harris on Coffee Smoked Foods!

Kylee Harris on Coffee Smoked Foods– At one point, all foods had an element of smoke; everything was cooked over an open fire before gas and electric stoves came about. It’s thought that the smell and imparted taste of smoke is programmed into mankind as a result, which is why smoked foods are popular all over the globe. Meat, seafood, and even smoky desserts like fruit pies, are still flavored with a variety of wood smoke. Recently, professional and home cooks alike have begun to wonder about the hidden potential of another thing close to their hearts: coffee. Smoking food with a combination of wood and coffee beans could be the next big taste revolution.

Coffee Varieties for Smoking Foods

Just as there is a variety of options when it comes to smoking food with wood, there are a few choices in coffee as well. For flavor profile, darker and richer bean varieties pair best with red meat, while more mild varieties are better sampled with poultry and seafood. There’s also the question of regular or decaffeinated types of coffee. No, smoking with coffee won’t caffeinate your food (though wouldn’t that be interesting), but there can be a difference in flavor here as well. Regular has a higher level of acidity and thus bitterness, while decaf is less so. Rule of thumb: if you like the bitter tang of a certain coffee, then you will probably like the flavors it lends to smoked food.

Beans, Grounds, and Pellets

Of course, flavor is one thing- this is open to individual tastes- but what about what works best for the actual smoking process? Ground coffee is great as a marinade or rub for meat, but it burns up too quickly to be very useful for smoking. Coffee beans are better for the process, as they can burn more slowly. A combination of wood chips with coffee beans (a 3:1 ratio) is a good balance, allowing the coffee beans to add their subtle flavors without becoming too smoky and overpowering. There’s also the option of coffee pellets, which are coffee grounds and saw dust pressed into compact pellets used as a fuel for both cooking and heating. These are said to have a much more subtle flavor when used for cooking and work particularly well, according to fans, for flavoring smoked corned beef.

Pre-Roasted Versus Green Coffee Beans

While both grounds and pellets have their place, most people prefer smoking food with whole coffee beans, which then poses the question: raw and green, or already roasted? The answer really depends on personal preference, once again. Green coffee beans will give off much more smoke, which can be a good thing if that’s the flavor you’d like to try. Pre roasted, on the other hand, will smoke less, but may need to be soaked in water first in order to be able to smolder for a longer time to produce a sustained smoking processes. 

As you can see, there are quite a few choices you can make to customize your coffee-smoked food experience. Experimenting with flavors and methods is what really makes cooking the art form that it so clearly is. The options are plentiful, and the vision (or taste, as it is) is all up to you.

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

Other blogs you might enjoy:

Great Sustainable Wines To Pair With Your Smoked Meat

How To Maintain A Safe Kitchen Environment

Himalayan Salt Blocks: Benefits, Uses, and Tips

Dr. Smoke-
Dr. Smoke- Kylee Harrris discusses Coffee Smoked Foods

Our preparation of smoked herbs, from picking, smoking and grinding to make smoked herb dust. Adding great flavor to dishes.

Our preparation of smoked herbs, from picking, smoking and grinding to make smoked herb dust. Adding great flavor to dishes.

SMOKED HERBS FLAVORS WITH SMOKED HERB DUST

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Don’t make the mistake of thinking fresh herbs are to be used in dishes as, well, fresh only.  Although you may have dried your fresh herb harvest before, we are bringing another alternative to you, smoked herbs.

We hot smoke the fresh herbs on the grill then turn them into a dust for use in all types of dishes.  The smoking process will bring a depth of flavor that you’ve likely never experienced before.  Go to the herb garden and pick your favorite varieties and let’s get making smoked herb dust!

 Smoke Vapor Infusion

Fresh herbs on the grill using a grilling cage

One thing about this smoked herb technique is you can do the smoke infusion by a variety of equipment methods.

For those with a gas grill, add wood chunks either directly to the heat shields on one side of the grill or add wood chunks to a metal smoker box that can be placed on the heat shields or the grill grate.  For charcoal grill owners, light your charcoal and allow to reduce to hot coals only.  Add a piece or two of hardwood chunks or a handful of hardwood chips to the hot coals.  If possible, push the hot coals to one side of the grill.  For both grill types, you want to use a two-zone cooking method so the herbs don’t catch fire.

For those that don’t own grilling equipment or who simply don’t want to bother lighting up the grill, you can use a handheld food smoker.  Simply place micro wood chips in the bowl of the unit, place the herbs in a storage bag with the tubing of the smoker unit, cinch the end of the bag around the tubing, and light the chips.  I like to leave the smoke in the bag for maximum smoke vapor infusion.

I used both my gas grill and charcoal grill for the smoke process by placing my herbs in a vegetable basket and grilling with the herbs on the unlit side of the grill.    Within the first 5 minutes, you’ll see how the herbs lose moisture and begin the drying stage.

Tasting Notes: I find the handheld food smoker will produce the boldest smoke flavor to the herbs.  The intensity of flavor rated from lightest to boldest based on equipment would be a gas grill, electric smoker, pellet smoker, charcoal grill, handheld food smoker. 

Grinding Process

smoked herbs in the food processor for reduction into smoked herbs dust

Once the herbs have charred and dried, it’s time to remove them from the grill and bring them to the food processor.  I have a mini processor that only has two settings: chop and grind.  I prefer to use this appliance to bring the smoked herbs to dust level but a spice grinder works just as well.

First, remove all the herb leaves from the stems and place a small quantity in the food processor bowl. You can remove the leaves by placing the entire herb sprig in a colander and pressing the leaves through to parchment paper.  Secure the lid and grind until you get as fine a dust as the appliance will allow.  Both the appliance and the herb will determine how fine the herb dust will get.  As you will see, basil dust becomes finer than oregano.  This technique will work for just about any herb you can grow or locate at the market.  Store the herb dust in glass or metal jars for up to a year.

Tasting Notes: Smoked herbs are much stronger in flavor than the standard dried herb.  Adjust the amount used in recipes as needed.  It is often best to start with less, taste, and then add more as needed.

So Many Uses

finished herb bottles of smoked Basil and Smoked oregano

Experimentation is key when it comes to #herbdust.  Most often, herbs will be applied to meats and poultry, perhaps rice and pasta dishes, but there are so many more foods that are good pairings for herb dust.  Let’s take parsley as an example.  Commonly used with fish and beef, parsley is a great pairing for sweet items as well.  This includes banana and cream.  It’s important that you look beyond the traditional side dishes and entrees and explore the sweet side of what herbs can offer.  By doing so, you’re sure to find endless combinations that will tickle your palate and give you more pleasing menu experiences.

The Culinary Crew wants you to know …

… that the two-zone method is certainly a practice that you will want to master and prioritize in your wood cooking toolkit, especially when grilling and smoking delicate fresh consumables like herbs.  Not only will two-zone cooking avoid those acrid tastes associated with flare ups, it will infuse your food items with a nice balance of wood smoke flavoring.

SmokinLicious® products used in this blog:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Minuto & Piccolo

More Related reading on smoked herbs and other great grillable flavoring ideas

More Related reading on smoked #herbs and other great grillable flavoring idea

Additional reading:

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

-STOVE TOP SMOKED CHIVES

-PAN COOK ZUCCHINI ON THE GRILL WITH WOOD FLAVOR

Dr. Smoke- Our process to prepare the smoked herbs is easily done on our gas grill with our double or single filet wood chunks!

Dr. Smoke- Our process to prepare the smoked herbs is easily done on our gas grill with our double or single filet wood chunks!

Smoked Ricotta Cheese- with wood chips on the Stove top
Making Smoked Ricotta Cheese on the stove top


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

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

Making the Stove Top Smoker

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

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

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

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

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

Smoky, Creamy Goodness

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

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

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

What’s your favorite food to stove top smoke?  Leave us a comment to opine and subscribe to get all our postings on tips, techniques and recipes.  Bringing innovation to wood fired cooking with recipes, techniques and the science behind the fire, smoke, and flavor. That’s SmokinLicious®.

The Culinary Crew wants you to know

… that experimenting with “Do It Yourself” techniques can certainly apply to using your outside charcoal or LP gas grill as a quasi-smoker too!  We’ve heard from many of our followers about deep dished aluminum food serving trays and even pie tins being used to offer a quick and easy try to food smoking.  

Step-by-step instructions on our YouTube channel
Click here to visit our narrated video with more pictures and step-by-step instructions.

SmokinLicious® products used in this blog:

Wood Chips- Minuto®

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

Additional reading:

-THE EASY METHOD TO COLD SMOKED CHEESE

-THE KITCHEN FIND!

-TO THE SMOKE THE CHESTNUT GOES!

Dr. Smoke- Try our Stove top approach for Smoked Ricotta Cheese very easy
Dr. Smoke- Try our Stove top approach for Smoked Ricotta Cheese very easy

Our Hickory double filet is great for most smoking or grilling equipment - So YES-HICKORY THE WOOD TO SMOKE!

Our Hickory double filet is great for most smoking or grilling equipment – So YES-HICKORY THE WOOD TO SMOKE!

listen to this pod cast

to IS HICKORY THE WOOD TO SMOKE & Grill WITH

 

IS HICKORY THE WOOD TO SMOKE & GRILL WITH? Click To Tweet

The question is one of the most common we hear.  What is the most popular wood you sell? 

Initially, our response was that there wasn’t one hardwood that was dominating the order system.  That certainly has changed over the course of the past few years.

Without question, Hickory has become the most requested hardwood.

Why Hickory The Wood To Smoke?

I truly believe the catalyst for the popularity of hickory particularly for smoking foods, is television and YouTube.  Yes, all those cooking and food shows and YouTube channels have catapulted grilling/smoking with wood and charcoal leaning toward Hickory.  As if Hickory is the only choice for “real” barbecue.

Some of the roots of the popularity of Hickory is the generational secrets of barbecue.  Hickory has been, for many decades, a commonly found hardwood in the traditional barbecue states who are credited with bringing barbecue to the limelight.  North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia and then advancing west to such states as Tennessee, Missouri, and Alabama.  Gradually, those who wanted to duplicate the smoke flavors of the south continued to request hickory.  The result: hickory has become one of the highest demand hardwoods in North America.

Is There a Holy Grail for Smoking Wood?

Without question, those known in the world of barbecue as major players have stimulated the belief that their choice in smoking wood is the key to their success and notoriety.  Here’s is the conflict: many fail to admit that there are many other factors that account for their success.  Although they may have made their mark by sticking with that one wood for the entire time they cooked and gained popularity, they also committed to specific equipment, fuel product say a specific brand of charcoal, meat supplier, whether they keep the bark on the wood or remove it, and brands or recipes for rubs/sauces/marinades.  ALL these items factor into the overall success of a cooking event even in barbecue.

Life of the Tree is Key

I won’t get into the details about one brand of charcoal or briquette over another, or the influence of a wet or dry rub on the meat’s ability to absorb smoke vapor.  Those discussions will be for another day.  What I will stress is that the climate and soil of tree’s location is by far a key determinate in whether it will make a great smoking or grilling wood.  Specifically, the more balanced the pH level of the soil the tree’s roots are bound to and the amount of precipitation the tree is exposed to in a given year, directly affect how favorable the wood will be for smoking, grilling, and cooking in general.

I’m often told by new customers who had previous experience with hickory and found it to be too strong in flavor, producing too dark a coloring to the food’s exterior, and often producing a sooty appearance to both the food and equipment, that once they tried our wood, they had the exact opposite result.  Why?  The easiest answer is we simply have better-growing conditions in the Northeast than other areas that grow Hickory trees.  Plus, we have access to the better species of this hardwood family.

More Choices Don’t Always Mean Better Outcome

With over 20 species of Hickory in North America, they are not all equal when it comes to cooking with them.  Many of these 20 species are known to produce bitter undertones when foods are exposed to their smoke vapor.  That means poor results for the cook or Pitmaster who believes in hickory for their food production.

I like to compare hardwoods for cooking to extra virgin olive oil.  There are hundreds if not thousands of brands of olive oil available.  Yet, many producers marketing an extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) are using low-grade oils in the production rather than meet the requirements for EVOO labeling.  Wood is similar.  There is no obligation to label where the wood comes from, how old it is, how it was processed, what species it is from, and if it is from the raw material of the timbered tree or a by-product or waste product of another use.  Just like olive oil producers using pomace or the olive residue left over from the traditional production of olive oil, hardwood can be a leftover as well and re-purposed into something it wasn’t initially intended for.

Blaze Your Own Trail

My hope is that I’ve stimulated some thinking into what makes for a great smoking wood, grilling wood, or cooking wood in general.  Instead of duplicating a celebrity figure or following a current fad, blaze your own trail into what pleases you and the people you are serving your amazing grilled and smoked foods from the wood fire to.  With so many factors affecting a food’s taste, appearance, and aroma, it’s time to simply experiment, keep a log, and find what pleases you.  It may turn out to be one hardwood that you feel is the wood or it could simply be the food that guides you.  Hope you enjoyed our blog IS HICKORY THE WOOD TO SMOKE & GRILL WITH?

The Culinary Crew wants you to know …

… that your wood cooking and food smoking experiences can offer a good variety of great tastes and awesome flavors by using the full range of acceptable hardwood species.  Without a doubt, hickory commands a lot of media market attention and is a very popular choice but don’t look past other hardwoods like oak, maple, cherry, alder, beech and ash to deliver great results!

We hope this latest posting was informative.  Leave a comment or suggestion as we love hearing from you, especially when it comes to what you want to learn about next.  As always, subscribe and follow us so you don’t miss out on the latest information.

Additional reading the topic of wood species and other cooking ideas!

Additional reading the topic of wood species and other cooking ideas!

Additional reading:

-WHAT A NUTTY CHOICE!

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

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

-TO BARK OR NOT

SmokinLicious® products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Wood Chips- Minuto® & Piccolo®

Dr. Smoke- "While hickory is the number one choice for Southern barbecue, it should not be your only choice. When asked YES-HICKORY THE WOOD TO SMOKE!

Dr. Smoke- “While hickory is the number one choice for Southern barbecue, it should not be your only choice. When asked YES-HICKORY THE WOOD TO SMOKE!

Zucchini is a great vegetable to not only grill but ember cook. It has the density to hold up over the high heat. Add a distinct char taste to this abundant vegetable either as a side dish or an ingredient by making ember fired fresh zucchini.

Zucchini is a great vegetable to not only grill but ember cook. It has the density to hold up over the high heat. Add a distinct char taste to this abundant vegetable either as a side dish or an ingredient by making ember fired fresh zucchini.

EMBER FIRED ZUCCHINI

How to cook your zucchini on hot coals.

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I love thick-skinned vegetables that come in season during Summer.  They are the perfect items to light a fire and make some hot coals to ember fire flavor into them.

We’re getting ready to coal roast one of my favorite vegetables – zucchini!  This is so simple to do and produces an extraordinary flavor for zucchini to be eaten on its own or to be used in your favorite recipe.  Clean out the fire pit, charcoal grill or outdoor fireplace and prepare to roastember fired fresh zucchini” directly on the hot coals.

Building A Small Fire

Starting the fire to burn down the wood into coalsKnow this from the start – You do not need a large fire!  A small fire is best to accomplish your cooking in about an hour’s time.  For my fire, I am using ten SmokinLicious Single Filet Wood Chunks in Ash with a couple of pieces of chardwood that were left over from a previous cook.   Why Ash hardwood?  Because it is hands down, the best hardwood to produce an even bed of coals which is what you want when you coal roast.

I stack the wood so there is quite a bit of air space between the pieces.  This ensures I have good oxygen flow to produce combustion quickly. My technique is to stand the wood pieces on their end and make a circle. I try to have a couple of pieces in the center kind of tipped on to each other.  Remember, you want to produce hot embers quickly so it only requires a little wood and a lot of oxygen to burn things down.  I light my wood using a small butane torch. Leave the torch in place until I’m sure the wood has ignited.  I keep the lid off my charcoal grill so I can push the combustion process through completion and get those ash covered, hot embers.

Red Means Hot

Red Hot coals is the goal before adding the zucchiniYou will know when the coals or embers are ready for cooking when you have uniform coals and they are glowing red from the bottom and gray on top.  I keep a couple of larger coals banked to the side to maintain heat and for reserved hot coals. Just in case I need to rake more to the cooking side.  I like to nestle a high heat metal cooking rack on the hot coals and then place my whole zucchini on the rack.  This allows for little ash to accumulate on the skin.  Remember, those coals are very hot so the zucchini will take less than 20 minutes to tenderize and char.

Turn For Full Char

Zucchini on the grilling rack over the hot fire coalsWith the zucchini and coal rack in place, I give the embers about 8 minutes to char and cook the first side of the zucchini.  After that time, I gently turn the zucchini so that each side gets an even char.  Once the first 8 minutes are done, there will be less time needed for each of the other sides as the zucchini will hold heat.  I’ve added one additional wood piece to my banked fire just to be sure I have enough heat in the coal area.  I will not put the lid on the unit during the entire cooking process as this is open fire cooking.  My total coal cooking time is approximately 16 minutes.

Perfection In Smoke & Char on Ember Fired Fresh Zucchini

Dr. Smoke's clock for the cooking time requiredAfter placing my ember fired fresh zucchini on hot coals for about 16 minutes total, turning several times to get an even char, this spectacular vegetable is ready for eating.  You will see, there is very little coal bed left following this technique so remember, if you are cooking more than a couple of zucchini, you will need a larger coal bed.

For those of you thinking that the black, charred skin will be bitter and not appealing to eat, think again.  Most of the char will rub right off but the flavor will be infused throughout the ember fired fresh zucchini.  I’ve sliced mine about ¼-inch thick as I plan to make a galette of ricotta, garlic oil, and basil.

The Culinary Crew wants you to know

… that ember roasting is ideal to boost up the bland, delicately flavored zucchini and will add a rich, wood-fired taste dimension to any dish featuring this exquisite summer squash.  So, be prepared to enjoy a rich, char-smoked variation of your ratatouille, quesadillas, stuffed zucchini or soups from ember cooked zucchini!

Check in soon for our post on that recipe.  Did you love this wood-fired technique?  Leave a comment and subscribe as we continue to bring you new ideas, tips, techniques and recipes for all things wood-fired, smoked, and charred!

You may also enjoy reading:

-Top 10 Vegetables to Cook in Hot Embers

-EMBER FIRED ZUCCHINI & RICOTTA GALETTE

-SUCCULENT WOOD FIRED STUFFED TOMATO WITH HERB RICE

-Ember cooked Sweet Peppers

SmokinLicious® products:

Wood Chunks- Single Filet

Charwood

Savory Smoky-Grilled Potatoes

Savory Smoky-Grilled Potato (es)

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

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