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.
I’m using my Nordic Ware Stove Top Kettle Smokerfor 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.
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.
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.
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.
you have a favorite method of cooking okra?
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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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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®.
An easy way to give your guests or yourself for that matter, a change from the old cocktail is to smoke the entire drink or a component of the cocktail. I’m going to provide you with some examples of how to take any cocktail recipe and advance its flavor to something spectacular. Once you see how simple it is to build a balanced cocktail with smoke infusion as one component, you’ll be ready to upgrade your cocktail recipes to include smoke as your hidden umami.
What to Smoke
The easiest method of smoking a cocktail is to smoke the finished drink. However, depending on what cocktail ingredients your using, this may result in a drink that is too strong. Generally, speaking, a sweeter drink can tolerate more smoke vapor.
Here are some options for you to consider when contemplating a smoked cocktail: you can smoke the entire drink, you can smoke one ingredient of the drink, or you can smoke the water to make the ice for the drink. One of my rules is the more ingredients in the cocktail, the more likely you can smoke the entire drink.
For ingredients, any one or a combination of ingredients can be smoked. Simple syrup, cream, citrus, etc. are all good options. Keep in mind that smoke is attracted the most to cold items so if you want an intense smoked cocktail, chill the ingredient first prior to smoking.
Tasting Notes: Keep in mind, when you cold smoke using a handheld food smoker, the intensity of the smoke can be high. Due to the immediate ignition of the micro chips, the smoke production is great. You can control the level of smoke by only trapping a small quantity of smoke for a lighter infusion versus allowing the container to fill completely with smoke vapor.
Balancing Smoke with Other Flavors
Whether the cocktail contains fruit, hard liquor, or cream, you can make a flavorful and desired cocktail. For a drink like the Jack Frost which contains lots of sweet juice and cream of coconut, smoking the entire drink provides great balance. For a drink like the Harvest Sparkle, smoking the simple syrup works well. Our Cranberry Bourbon cocktail goes hardy whether served hot or cold when we cold smoke the whiskey. And the Winter Wonderland enjoys a smoky layer to the cream of coconut for a luscious take on this four-ingredient cocktail. Never forget, when in a pinch, consider simply smoking the water to make the ice cubes for a no-fail option on the smoked cocktail, that will remain subtle for most any guest who is served.
Do you have a favorite smoked cocktail? Leave us a comment to let us know and subscribe to our channel to get all the tips, techniques, and recipes we bring your way. Always eager to share our expertise on all things wood fired, that’s SmokinLicious®!
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
Our drawing of the typical offset smokers, which come in a variety of sizes! Study our Smokers list
“MATCH YOUR COOKER” – SMOKERS LIST-OUR WOOD MASTERS GUIDE
For those that have followed us for years, you know we are proud that almost from the start of our Company, we were committed to providing a guide for equipment to cooking wood product match. We refer to our guide affectionately as “Match Your Cooker”.
In this article, we are covering our recommendations for smoker equipment; these are cookers that are dedicated for use as a smoker, usually hot smoking at that. As there are always new equipment lines and models released, our plan is to provide regular updates. We also encourage you to send us a message when you don’t see a manufacturer or model listed so we can add this to our listing.
For now, we introduce you to our wood master’s guide to SmokinLicious®cooking woods for specific smokers.
Caution- When selecting wood chips for smoking know the wood source!
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN $3.99 WOOD CHIPS FOR SMOKING AND THE SMOKINLICIOUS® BRAND
listen to our blog regarding wood chips for smoking
If you’ve ever looked at the wood chips for smoking products available at most discount retail stores, you’ll notice that they seem to have consistent pricing in the $3.99 or less bracket. Yet, you look at the SmokinLicious® brand and come up with a price that’s close to twice the cost. What’s the deal with the price difference?
There are many factors involved in determining the retail price of wood chips many of which I’m sure the average consumer hasn’t considered. What exactly are you paying for when you select a specific wood chip brand?
Let me give you some insight.
Let’s Start with the Raw Material
The raw material is by far the largest cost factor with selling wood chips for grilling, smoking, and cooking in general. I’ll make the comparison to cotton purchased by a t-shirt manufacturer. There are grades of cotton. Higher grades of cotton go into more expensive cotton clothing. Purchase a $5 t-shirt and you’re guaranteed a lower grade cotton was used. This means you likely won’t get more than a year of consistent wearing and washing out of that $5 t-shirt!
The same is true for wood chips. There are 8 different grades of wood or lumber for purposes such as cabinet making, flooring, construction, and pallets. Only one culinary wood company specifically purchases raw lumber material for cooking wood manufacture only. That would be SmokinLicious®.
Other companies will do one of three things; have a primary business in one of the areas listed above and use the waste product for producing the wood chips, or, purchase another company’s waste product to market as a wood chip grilling and smoking wood, or, have the company with waste product package a private label brand of grilling and smoking chips and deliver to a centralized distribution warehouse for the brand, something commonly done by equipment manufacturers who feel a need to offer a wood chip to go with the equipment.
Cleanliness of the Manufacturing Process
Another key factor in cost is the handling of the material during the manufacturing process. Now I understand that we are talking about wood and not a food item. However, if you are using a wood to add flavoring to food through smoke vapor from burning wood, then I see the wood as an ingredient. As with any ingredient, I would prefer to use something that is clean and pure since I will be eating this.
Since I’ve already pointed out that many companies use materials that are labeled as waste wood, you have no idea how the waste material was collected, stored, moved, and processed. You also don’t know what’s in that waste wood (treated lumber pieces, a mix of woods, some softwoods) or how old that material is which directly affects the moisture level. Remember, moisture is needed to smolder the wood and produce smoke vapor.
SmokinLicious® is the only culinary wood manufacturer that is Kosher certified, attesting to the steps taken to ensure the culinary products are clean, clean stored, and preserved.
Varieties and Availability
One means of keeping cost down is to offer chips that have not been debarked, have not had any mold spores removed, or for that matter dirt and debris. The entire log piece may be placed in a grinding unit which will generate an assortment of chip sizes as well as the dust that comes with this single equipment use. Honestly, you can’t be sure you are getting 100% of the wood listed on the package when these locations are generating extreme volumes of rough grind chip product. The company may simply call it a hardwood chip and not state what hardwood is in the mix. Remember, only specific hardwoods should be used in grilling and smoking.
Of course, the variety of wood also can increase the cost. Remember, there are many uses for a wood including the export demand to other countries outside of North America. As with any commodity, higher demands translate to higher cost. Hickory is one of those hardwoods that has become very expensive in the market as the wood is used for railroad ties, utility company pavers to get into mountain ranges, and heavily purchased by the Asian market for a purpose that is not clear.
Cost of Manufacturing
Both the labor involved making the chip product and the location that the chips are manufactured in play a role in determining the cost of the final product. Again, if the chip product is the result of another manufacturing level of the wood like making cabinets, then by using the scrap wood for the “chip” product, the overall cost of the chip product will be lower as labor and manufacturing costs can be covered by the initial cabinet making.
If, however, there is no other manufacturing purpose for the wood other than a wood chip production, all manufacturing costs are directed to that chip product. Then there is the question of where the chips are manufactured. Here are some minimum wage costs by the state that will certainly play a role in the final product cost: New York State $10.40, New Jersey $8.60, Texas $7.25, Florida $8.25, Wisconsin $7.25, Michigan $9.25.
Other costs that factor in include: how the chips are packaged, the moisture level of the product which directly determines the weight, how the wood is treated for both drying and for pest control, and if there is a screening of the chips to remove wood dust and make the chips more uniform.
SmokinLicious® developed over a 3-year period a specialized screen process which allows us to offer 7 different grind levels of wood chips, all bark-free, all from the heartwood of the hardwood only, and all dust free.
Perhaps it’s time you take a closer look at that package of $3.99 wood chips and see where it is manufactured, who manufactures it, what the contents of the bag include, and what weight there is to the product. Now that you’re educated on how to assess the value of your next wood chip purchase, the choice will be up to you.
Our gorgeous filet of salmon is awaiting Chef Calle to turn it into Charwood Grilled Salmon on a kettle grill using a two-zone method along with Smokinlicious® wood chips!
Charwood Grilled Salmon Fillets for a Hint of Smoky Flavor
By: Chef Calle, Resident Executive Chef
Chef Calle here and thanks to SmokinLicious® Gourmet Wood Products, I’m going to offer an easy and palate-pleasing method to cook and lightly smoke fresh salmon fillets over a Charwood fire that features a small number of smoking chips. With this approach, the smoking chips infuse a delicate smoky flavor to the salmon without overpowering its delicious fresh taste.
Today, I’m using a Stok® Tourist™ grill, clearly one of the best Charwood grilling and smoking units on the market. If you don’t have a Stok®, just about any Charwood grill will work, if its heat chamber has room enough for both the Charwood and wood chips.
Preparation is key with salmon and setting up the cooking equipment. So, first prepare the fresh salmon fillets by lightly seasoning with EVOO, salt, pepper and if you have it- fresh dill or fennel. Let them sit and soak up all those great flavorful ingredients for about half an hour or until the salmon reaches room temperature. Chef’s Tip: Do not use salmon that is past its prime, thinking that the smoke will disguise the slightly off flavor of the fish. Only use the best salmon available.
While the fish is marinating, begin preparations for the actual grilling by first firing up SmokinLicious® all natural Charwood using a hollowed chimney starter. Never use charcoal lighter fluid! Or Charwood, charcoal briquettes, pretreated with petroleum-based starting fluid. In addition to ruining your salmon with a foul aftertaste, it’s safer not to consume the residue or remnants from petrochemical fire starter liquids.
After your embers have taken on a medium to high heat condition (grayish color), place them directly in the center of the grill’s heating chamber. Put the grill grate on over the fired embers and clean it by using either a halved onion or lemon like you would use a sponge but, do it quickly and in short strokes to avoid getting fingers or hands burned.
Smoking the Salmon
Next, position small amounts of the smoking chips (a few large handfuls, I’m using SmokinLicious® Grande Sapore) around the outer fringes of the main concentration of burning Charwood. This allows the wood chips to take on two roles- 1) indirectly contributing to the cooking process, and; 2) producing a burst of smoky vapor that flavors the fillets.
A minute or two after you’ve positioned the smoking wood chips and reattached the grate, place the salmon fillets, skin side down on the grate, directly over the medium embers and cover. Grill and smoke the salmon for about 4 to 6 minutes, uncover and gently turn the fillets over, cover and grill and smoke the skinless side for no longer than 2 to 4 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets.
Chef’s Tip: Be careful not to overcook. You can gauge the finish of the fillets be being able to flake them with a fork.
When done, remove the skin by gently peeling away with a fork or just serve skin side down. For a nice finishing touch, brush with a bit more, high-quality EVOO, season with freshly ground salt and pepper to taste. Feel free to garnish with fresh dill, fennel edible flowers or lemon. Hope you enjoyed Chef Calle’s recipe Charwood Grilled Salmon Fillets for a Hint of Smoky Flavor!
Package labeling. It is the key to drawing attention to a product, to reduce interest in other similar products, and to make someone buy a specific product. Let’s be honest. Not everything printed on a label necessarily provides ALL the information. Use certain words and an “implied” thought will occur.
When it comes to packaging wood for smoking and grilling purposes, there are a lot of terms floating out there that certainly can be deceiving. Let’s see if I can provide clarity on what specific terms and wording mean when it comes to purchasing wood for cooking, smoking, and grilling. SMOKING-GRILLING WOOD SELLING TERMS
The intended meaning of 100% natural implies that it has not been touched by human hands. As such, with wood, this would refer to the fact that a tree is a plant designed by nature and other than cutting the tree down, it is not modified in any way.
However, we do know that trees, like flowers, can be manipulated when it comes to their genetics. Genetically modified trees are quite common in the growth of orchard woods, especially those seeking to develop dwarf varieties or specific blossom colors or hybrids. Keep in mind, genetically modified trees will have a reduction in the lignin compound which is responsible for the flavor the wood gives when it burns and gives off smoke vapor.
Currently, it is not legal to genetically modify forest trees but there is a lot of allowances when it comes to plantation and orchard/nursery trees, which often have chemicals applied to make up for the weak lignin which makes the wood susceptible to decay and pest infestation.
Wood that is dried in a closed chamber in which the temperature and relative humidity of the circulated air can be controlled is called “kiln drying”. There are three types of Kiln Drying methods: low-temperature drying which is below 130° F, conventional electric dehumidification drying, and conventional steam-heated drying which have temperatures up to 180° F.
For the most part, when a smoking or grilling wood product lists “kiln-dried” on the packaging, it does not state the type of method being employed. Also, many that use this term do so without providing any information on what compliance record keeping is in place to attest that they are doing what they say.
There is one company who states that they adhere to the protocol designed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) but quote a core temperature and length in minutes of the heating process that is not the standard written by the USDA. Their compliance agreement is provided by the state in which the business is located, which may have a different standard in place than the USDA.
The process of drying green wood by exposure to prevailing natural atmospheric conditions outdoors or in an unheated shed is known as air drying. There are three dominate Air Drying methods: open yard, shed, and forced-air shed. The first is not held in high regard as the wood is exposed to all the elements making it the longest method of depleting moisture content from the wood. The second has the addition of a roof covering to maintain a precipitation-free environment, while the third option is mostly used by traditional lumber companies as it produces quicker results meaning products can be sold quicker.
Here’s the issue when you see “Air-Dried” on package labeling of grilling and smoking woods: you don’t know what method is used and no one is saying how long the wood was air-dried for. You don’t know how old the wood is, what method of air drying was employed, how long it took to “dry” it, and you likely won’t know what moisture content is left in the wood. Remember, dry out a piece of wood too far, and it is simply firewood designed for heat output only.
This is another term that floats out on the packaging that implies it is different from air drying techniques. It is not different.
Naturally curing wood means the wood is stacked in a manner that allows air to flow around the wood pieces usually in an outdoor setting. It may be left exposed, covered with a tarp or have a roof structure overhead. Naturally curing wood for fireplace use is recommend for 365 days but there is no benchmark for the timing used to dry the wood for the use of smoking or grilling. Some suppliers will use moisture levels of 20-30% as their benchmark but 10% is a large variable in moisture when it comes to wood.
Here is the biggest challenge with a natural curing method: dry the wood too quickly and you will find cracks, splitting, honeycombing, and/or warping. Dry too slowly and the wood will stain and suffer decay. Remember, decay attracts pests as that is what they feed on. SMOKING-GRILLING WOOD SELLING TERMS
I won’t lie to you – there are a lot of choices out there for wood. How do you go about selecting from the limited information on the packaging?
Some decisions you’ll have to make on your own: do you want to cook with bark or do you find that bark indeed fluctuates the temperature of your equipment too much? Do you want to use a kiln-dried product even if you don’t know what temperature and for how long that product was heated? Would you want to use a product that hasn’t had any heat application applied to it meaning there may be pests, larvae, mold, and spores that haven’t been eliminated by a heat process? Do you want to use a product from a supplier that provides no information on the moisture of the wood? Do you want to go with a “natural”, “air dried” product that may have been exposed to anything that could access the wood: animal feces and urine, insects, chemical contaminants from the ground or another source?
In the end, I think the selection can be easy by simply looking at the wood for purity and cleanliness, looking at the packaging for evidence of air exchange meaning its likely not completely dried out and looking at the packaging information for claims that don’t seem to match the product that is packaged inside.
Most of all, you should be able to gain valuable information from any supplier’s website on the wood they are selling to you. If not, be cautious that they may not know anything about the manufacturing process of the wood and/or what is needed in wood to qualify it as cooking ingredient. We hope that our discussion of smoking & Grilling Wood Selling Terms adds clarity to your selection process.
Bratwurst in the Orion Smoker Cooker nicely cooked plump and juicy!
WELCOME TO OUR BRAT PARTY-BRATWURST IN THE ORION
I believe that wood fired foods can be enjoyed 365 days of the year regardless of the temperature/conditions outside. To ease the challenges of wood cooking outdoors when the conditions may not be optimal, I look to my equipment options and make a selection that ensures the cooking is quick and as easy as possible.
I want to have bratwurst party! Unfortunately, I’ve chosen a -2° day to do just that. No problem! I simply rely on my Orion Cooker to provide a fast, high heat method of cooking with my SmokinLicious® Minuto® Wood Chips.
There’s Nothing To It!
Preparing your bratwurst for the Orion Cooker couldn’t get any simpler than making a few cross cuts in the skins to ensure they don’t burst while cooking.
The reason bratwurst is so popular for entertaining and for summer days is just how quick it is to prepare. When you smoke a casing containing product, you want to ensure that the juices don’t cause a pressure build up and result in your brats exploding all over the smoker. I make 3 shallow knife cuts in each brat to ensure they can plump up without exploding out of their casing. These German brats are made with a combination of pork and veal and have an all-natural casing meaning the casing is made from the intestine of an animal. I specifically purchased brats that were on an uninterrupted casing line so I could hang my brats on the Orion Cooker rib hooks to ensure smoke vapor envelopes each link completely, just like commercial smokehouses do.
Before smoking my German bratwurst, I’ve prepared the Orion Cooker by adding SmokinLicious® Minuto® Wood Chips in Wild Cherry to inside of the cooker. The wood chips are placed in the space between the cooker’s wall and the drip pan. I’ve lite a chimney starter full of briquettes which when grayed over will be poured into the fuel pan. 12 briquettes are also lit in the smaller fuel pan at that top of the unit. I’ve loaded my strings of bratwurst to the rib hooks of the unit. Next, place the lid on and let these cook and smoke for 45 minutes untouched.
Done Before You Know It-BRATWURST IN THE ORION SMOKER COOKER
Here’s why I love cooking with the Orion Cooker. On a -2° winter day, I can still use the convection heat from the Orion Cooker to finish the German bratwurst in just 45 minutes. In fact, I don’t use a full fuel tray of briquettes for this smoke. Just one chimney starter full of coals plus about 15 unlit briquettes placed on top of the lit coals. Great smoke flavor is added using Minuto® Wood Chips in wild cherry from SmokinLicious®. I’ve hung over 24 brat links on the three rib hooks of this unit so I can feed plenty of hungry people.
Fix It Your Way
Now comes the best part! Fixing your bratwurst the way you love it. Put out a variety of toppings to stimulate creativity at the brat table. I’ve included raw chopped onion, sweet pickle relish, sauerkraut, hot Hungarian pepper rings, BBQ sauce, beer brat mustard, kimchi, horseradish sauce, just to name a few choices. Whether you slice your brat down the middle or leave it whole, anything goes. German bratwurst done over SmokinLicious® wild cherry wood chips and hung on the hooks of the Orion Cooker, for that old school, smokehouse flavor. Bratwurst in the Orion Smoker Cooker!
Smoked foods can lend an inspired touch to the menu of almost any restaurant, regardless of the type of cuisine it serves. Today, it’s easier than ever to smoke food quickly and efficiently whether in a restaurant setting or at home. The first step is to choose a hot or cold smoker. Both types of smoking devices come with their own benefits, and each is ideally suited for different types of food. Both hot and cold smoking can be used to infuse foods with different flavors; and both can be used to preserve otherwise perishable foods. The infographic below can help you decide whether hot smoking, cold smoking, or a combination of the two is right for you
Originally posted this on January 11, 2017 on their web site. The Alto-Shaam® Social Marketing Team made a request to have us post this to our Blog. We felt the content was a great value to our readers/followers! Please note that the wood chips outlined in this article are limited to only those that Alto-Shaam® has available. SmokinLicious® produces 8 species of smoker wood chips compatible to the Alto-Shaam® equipment. (Note: we do not produce Mesquite or Apple).
Is it fresh, is always a question that comes from new customers only! Our old customers know that at Smokinlicious® we are cutting products daily and measuring moisture to produce the best smoking wood in the world!
Is It Fresh? Here’s Why You Need to Know
I always find it interesting when we receive a new inquiry about providing specialty products for commercial-grade smokehouses. I’m speaking specifically to the large commercial-grade smokehouse. The type that utilize walk-in, wall smokehouse units that can turn out hundreds of pounds of product each cycle.
First, there’s always the question if we can duplicate the current wood chip product. That’s where the education begins.
The Truth Is in The Sample
Sending the current wood supply sample is key to determining what should be used in product. Once we provide the video review of what is in the sample in terms of sizing, we’re on the way to getting an understanding of why the current product may not be ideal. Our concern is not just the overall flavor and color to the finished product, but also to reducing equipment failures that may occur from clogging of the wood material due to dust particulants.
Is It Fresh- Is Best
Following our discussion on product sizing, it’s time to explain why ordering fresh product is key. We don’t operate on the concept that you need tons of extra product inventory sitting in your location, making the potential for color changes to the wood, moisture depletion, and susceptibility to mold spores a reality. Instead, fresh product is produced when you need it, allowing for consistency in your smokehouse products’ flavor and color. I know this is a stretch when there are many suppliers out there who encourage you to order pallet after pallet of product with the incentive of saving 10% if full truck loads go out. Good luck getting the premium flavor and color your looking for with that old, dehydrated product!
We’ve Got Your Back
We know every customer we have the privilege of doing business with needs assurance that we can cover their needs. That’s why our entire Team is involved to ensure that we can ship earlier if needed. We take the time to monitor your Company’s usage and predict your next order. Or, we can set up a shipping schedule you’re comfortable with that is easy for everyone involved and won’t require extra, valuable storage space be used.
Yes, you could say we are not the norm and we’d be just fine with that. In fact, we encourage it. To us, there’s nothing like cooking with fresh product that has been designed with your Company’s needs in mind. That’s why our superior product will give you a superior outcome. Fresh hardwood product for unmatched smoke infused food products. That’s the SmokinLicious® way!
As we highlight another hardwood from our offerings, we need to start by pointing out that we are referring to Eastern Alder not the better known Western Alder or Red Alder of the west coast. Eastern Alder is part of the Birch family, with the scientific name of Alnus but the common names for the varieties found in the Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania regions of Eastern Alder (Smooth Alder), White Alder, Red Alder.
Alder is a relatively soft hardwood of medium density. It is most commonly used with fish but I think I need to stress here that really any cooking hardwood can be used with any food item at the discretion of the cook. Many factors play in to how a hardwood reveals itself during the cooking event: rub ingredients, brine ingredients, quality of the meat/poultry/fish, freshness of the food item, style of cooking (over the coals, in the coals, indirect heat, etc.) and most importantly, oxygen flow which feeds the combustion of the wood. Alder provides a neutral coloring to the outer skin of foods which is why it is a favorite for fish. Would this be a first choice for say a steak or other beef item? No, but I certainly like to use it for lots of other things like fruit, vegetables, cheese dishes, and of course, fish.
For cooking, you can expect Alder to perform as follows:
We discuss the Electric smoker and what the before chips and after chips!- When is a wood chip dead? The chips should have full combustion for the proper smoke flavor.
ELECTRIC SMOKERS: WHEN IS A WOOD CHIP DEAD?
Without question, electric smokers are by far the easiest smokers to manage as they require no charcoal lighting, no constant checking of the fuel supply, and usually no messy ash pan. These are units that are designed to run on very little wood product, usually between 2-5 ounces because the actual ‘fuel’ is an electric coil. No gas, charcoal, or pellet.
Are There Flavor Differences?
To answer the question of whether flavor differences exist between an electric unit and those that use combustible fuel sources, you need to weigh who the response is coming from. For me, someone who has an electric unit (we need to have a good assortment of equipment to produce our recipes), I do indeed feel there are flavor differences. Without the volatile gases that are produced with combustible items meaning wood and lump hardwood charcoal, there is less of a smoke flavor. The trademark smoke ring on meats can also go missing with electric units. Take this into consideration when deciding whether to purchase an electric unit.
The Small Wood Appetite
Electric smokers are very specific when it comes to the quantity of wood to use. Most manufacturers will provide a measurement level in ounces that you need to adhere to. If you should have an electric unit that does not include the reference to wood quantity but does have a wood tray, be sure not to overfill that tray. Most units use between 2-5 ounces of wood product to start. You may have to replenish the wood 1-2 more times depending on what your smoking. Larger cuts of meat, plan on enough wood to fill the wood tray three times.
Solid Black Wood Chips
You followed the directions and placed the referenced amount of wood chip product in the unit but when the cooking time was finished, you looked at the chip tray and found most of the wood chips still in solid form. Nothing was reduced to ash and all the chips were black in color. Did something go wrong?
Black color to the wood chips means that the wood processed through most of the stages of combustion and turned to carbon on the outside, giving the distinct black coloring. If the wood chips are still in sold form, then combustion was not complete. Complete combustion would have reduced the chips to a pile of carbon ash.
Combustion Has Needs
To ensure complete combustion of a wood product specific factors need to be in place: air-fuel ratio, quality of the fuel, reduced moisture or water level, etc. The 3 ingredients that must be present to sustain combustion are oxygen, heat, and fuel. If you can achieve a balance of these 3 ingredients, you will achieve complete combustion and have great success with wood product used in an electric smoker.
Can Black Chips Be Re-Used?
The most important thing to remember about combustion is when wood is reduced to carbon, it produces very little if any smoke and has no flavor release. To answer the question of whether wood chips that are black but still in solid form can be re-used, the answer is no.
Those chips will not give out any flavor, they simply will finish the final stage of combustion and turn to ash. when is a wood chip dead
Remove those black chips and add fresh, keeping the chips in the dry state when smoking with them. You’ll find better results and less waste in the wood product you purchase.
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Let’s break this down by equipment and method of smoking so you have a good place to start in answering the above questions.
Get A Food Scale
As a reminder, wood should not be sold or referenced by weight so I always recommend you keep a food scale handy to weigh pieces of wood or handfuls of wood chips until you get comfortable with eyeballing your needs. After working with wood on your specific equipment, you’ll develop a sense of how much will produce a smoke infusion level you and your food guests like.
To make easier understanding of the amount of wood needed, I will be referencing by ounces in my breakdown lists.
How Much Wood to Add to The Traditional Smoker
If you adhere to the basic rule of low temperature cooking on a smoker, then you’ll likely be cooking between 225° and 250°F. You will also likely be using lump hardwood charcoal or traditional charcoal known as briquets, for the fuel or heat. That is the material that keeps the smoker at a steady temperature.
Regardless of whether you use the snake method, minion method, or simply dump the charcoal in the smoker’s charcoal area, wood will be needed in some form to provide the actual flavor to the foods being smoked. Why? Because wood is what gives foods that smoky flavor and distinct texture and appearance.
For the smoker, here is a guide on wood quantity based on food being smoked and for using wood chunks. Note, you can smoke different foods at the same time with small adjustments to these amounts.
10 ounces with additional needed during cooking
For placement of the wood chunks, these can go directly on the hot coals with some wood banked to the side to catch as the hot coals spread.
How Much Wood to Add to The Charcoal Grill
Essentially, you will be doing the same steps as above for the traditional smoker. The main difference between these two units is that smokers are for hot smoking and generally don’t do well when used for grilling. In fact, I would highly recommend you never try grilling on a smoker. Charcoal grills, on the other hand, can do both but you will have to make some airflow adjustments with the unit’s venting to ensure that you can maintain a low temperature consistently for smoking. You also may find adding a heat insulator like bricks or stones works well to attract and use radiant heat.
Here is the guide on wood quantity based on food being smoked as well as type of wood product. Remember, a wood chip product will combust faster so you will need more chips on hand when hot smoking.
For placement of the wood chunks, these always go on top of the charcoal. You should have a piece on the hot coals and then stage some on unlit coals that will ignite during the cooking process and keep the flavor going.
The LP/Gas Grill
I think the key misnomer is that LP/Gas Grills can only use wood chips if you want to attempt to do wood-fired cooking. That has certainly changed with the advent of dual fuel or multi-purpose grills on the market today, as well as the development and design of diffusers over the gas burners for traditional grills. The heat covers on burners are the perfect place for wood chunks.
Even if you don’t want to add chunks directly to a component of the grill, you can use a standard wood chip smoker box and simply put chunks in the box versus chips. Usually these boxes will hold 3-4 small chunks of wood. The box also aids in capturing ash.
Here are the options for wood placement:
smoker wood chips in a foil pouch placed over a hot burner or directly on a heat bar/diffuser
smoking wood chips in a smoker box placed on the grill grate with the heat under it
smoking wood chunks in a smoker box (these will be small pieces about 2×2-inches) place on a grill grate with the heat under it
smoker wood chunks directly on a heat bar/diffuser (3-4 pieces) with the heat on medium
Here is a guide on wood quantity based on food being smoked as well as type of wood product. Remember, a wood chip product will combust faster so you will need more of it on hand than wood chunks when hot smoking.
8 ounces with replenishment needed as they reduce to ash
8 ounces with replenishment needed multiple times
8 ounces – may need to add an 1-2 pieces
8 ounces with replenishment needed at least once
Also, keep in mind that if you’ve purchased a “green” wood or air-dried wood, it likely holds more moisture than a kiln dried wood. This will change the weight. Pieces of wood that fall into the “green” category, even if they are the same size, will weigh differently. Work with wood long enough and you’ll develop a feel for what is just about at the perfect weight for wood-fired cooking.
Dual Fuel or Hybrid Grills
With technologies advancing in the grill world you now have so many more options for using charcoal and wood in the convenience of a gas fired grill. For those looking to have that level of ease but the flavors of charcoal and wood at your fingertips, those equipment manufacturers are to be considered. Just get ready to make a substantial investment as these models do not come cheap.
We hope this article provided you with new information. Leave a comment and remember to follow us on social media for additional tips, techniques, recipes, and great photos. As always, your suggestions on other article topics are always welcome. Hope you can use our blog HOW MUCH WOOD TO ADD WHEN SMOKING!
Dr Smoke- “With our moisture controlled products, you need a lot less wood then you think. Please follow our guide on HOW MUCH WOOD TO ADD which is specifically directed to the use of our products. If it’s in a plastic bag, it is not moisture controlled.”
Kiwifruit gets smoky by adding a new twist to your kiwifruit by cold smoking it to enhance its wonderful sweet flavor.
To our blog kiwifruit gets smoky
KIWIFRUIT GETS SMOKY
Kiwifruit is now in season! It’s time to use this potassium, vitamin A, C & E enriched fruit in your favorite recipes. How about doing something to up the flavor level a bit?
Packed with more vitamin C than an orange and as much potassium as a banana, Kiwifruit, more commonly called kiwi, is also a fiber powerhouse. I’m going to take this creamy fruit favorite to a new flavor level by cold smoking it.
The Ease of Hand Held Food Smoking
To do this technique, you’ll need a handheld food smoker, SmokinLicious® Minuto® Smoking Wood Chips in size 6, 8 or 10, a lighter, a sheet pan, a food bag large enough to go over your sheet pan, and a cable tie. Then gather together the number of kiwifruits you’d like to infuse with smoke vapor, and have a knife and cutting board available.
Let the Smoke In
Simply cut your kiwifruit in half to allow the smoke vapor to penetrate the fruit flesh. As kiwifruit is covered by a brown, fuzzy skin, you will need some of the fruit’s meat exposed to get real smoke flavor incorporate. Otherwise, leaving them whole won’t bring much of a smokiness to the fruit meat.
What I love the most about cold smoking with a handheld food smoker like The Smoking Gun™ Smoker, is how fast this flavoring can be done to any food, beverage, liquid, spice or herb item. After cutting me kiwifruit in half to allow for maximum penetration of the smoke vapor, I place the cut halves on a sheet pan. I then slip a food bag over the sheet pan.
A Pinch of Hardwood Is All It Takes
Time to prepare The Smoking Gun™ Smoker or other handheld food smokers you might have. I take just a pinch of Alder Minuto® Smoker Wood Chips and place in the bowl of the food smoker. I insert the tubing into the food bag, about ½ way back and gently draw at the end of the bag around the tubing. I’m now ready to turn the food smoker on and light my Alder chips.
A Cloud of Smoky Goodness
Once the smoke is dispensing at a good rate into the food bag, turn the handheld food smoker off and remove the tubing, cinching the food bag tight. I attach a cable tie to the end to keep it closed tight. Here’s a tip: have your cable tie pre-looped for easy application and less chance for any leaking smoke vapor.
Allow the smoke vapor to remain in the bag until dissipated. If you want an extremely light smoke flavor, then feel free to release the smoke vapor as you see fit. For me, I will patiently wait for it to clear before releasing the cable tie on the bag.
Containment Is Key
Not only are hand-held food smokers, like The Smoking Gun™ Smoker easy to operate and extremely fast at infusing smoke flavor, but they also generate a lot of smoke that can be easily captured. Although I’ve used a food bag over a sheet pan, feel free to place the kiwifruit on a plate fitted with a dome cover or simply use plastic wrap. Anything that can trap the smoke is ideal. You will see as the smoke is produced, it will travel throughout whatever container you’re using covering the entire food surface. Although this looks like a huge amount of smoke that would potentially produce strong or bold smoke flavor, I remind you that I am using a very mild hardwood – Alder – to infuse smoke flavor to the kiwifruit. I highly recommend whenever doing a fruit item – go with a milder hardwood for the infusion process.
15 Minutes to Smoky Goodness
This simple method of using a handheld food smoker with SmokinLicious®Minuto® Smoking Wood Chips in Alder to add a mild smoky flavor to seasonal kiwifruit takes just 15 minutes. All of the nutritional benefits remain in this healthy fruit; rich in potassium, vitamins A, C, and E, as well as fiber. Think about all the things you can do with this super fruit: add it to a smoothie, cut it up for fruit salad, pair it with a grain like quinoa, rice, or farro, or simply enjoy it as is. For me, I’m thinking of entertaining so I will start with a cocktail recipe.
Did you like this idea? If so, leave us a comment and let us know what you would love to see next. Be sure to follow and subscribe to us as we bring you innovative ideas for adding wood-fired flavoring to all types of foods. Check in next for my Smoked Kiwi Caipiroska, a flavorful cocktail featuring kiwifruit, mint, and vodka.
More Related reading on Kiwifruit gets smoky and more!
Dr. Smoke- “Smoked kiwi is a a href=”https://www.foodandwine.com>Fruits”>great dessert, snack, or it can be added to your breakfast smoothie to provide some added flavors.” try our Kiwifruit gets smoky ideas