The simple campfire has many uses!
The simple campfire provides more uses beyond just fire cooking!


fire cooking and beyond! Click To Tweet

Listen to the audio of this blog

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

Use #1: Heat

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

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

Use #2: Signaling

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

Use #3: Water Sterilization

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

Use #4: Preserving Foods

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

Use #5: Protection

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

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

SmokinLicious® products recommended:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

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

Charwood

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

Other blogs like this one:

THE HISTORY OF FIRE COOKING PART I

-OPEN PIT COOKING FIRE BUILDING: PART I

-HOW TO TURN YOUR CHARCOAL GRILL INTO A SMOKER


Dr. Smoke-fire is for more than just cooking!
Dr. Smoke- fire cooking and beyond!
Our Fresh Okra ready and on the stove top smoker pan to become our Smoked Okra
Our Fresh Okra ready and on the stove top smoker pan to become our Smoked Okra

Smoked Okra- Veggies like a Smoky flavor Too!

Listen to the audio of this blog

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

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

Smoker Set Up

The nordic ware stove top smoker we used
#smokedokra

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

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

Trim and Smoke

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

our prepared fresh okra on the smoker pan
#okra

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

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

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

our finished bowl of smoked okra soup
#okrasoup

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

Do you have a favorite method of cooking okra?  Leave us a comment to opine and subscribe to get all our postings on tips, techniques and recipes.  Bringing innovation to wood fired cooking with recipes, techniques and the science behind the fire, smoke, and flavor. That’s SmokinLicious®.

SmokinLicious® products used for this technique:

Wood Chips- Wood Chips

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

More blogs you may enjoy:

-A DIY STOVE TOP SMOKER MAKES PERFECT SMOKED RICOTTA CHEESE

-PERFECTION OF THE SMOKED PEAR!

-CHARRED BROCCOLI SOUP!

Dr. Smoke- Wood Fired Smoke Okra is fun and easy to prepare on the stove top with a smoker unit or a stock pot!
Dr. Smoke- Wood Fired Smoke Okra is fun and easy to prepare on the stove top with a smoker unit or a stock pot!
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

Listen to the audio of this blog


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

Making the Stove Top Smoker

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

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

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

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

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

Smoky, Creamy Goodness

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

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

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

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

SmokinLicious® products used in this blog:

Wood Chips- Minuto®

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

Additional reading:

-THE EASY METHOD TO COLD SMOKED CHEESE

-THE KITCHEN FIND!

-TO THE SMOKE THE CHESTNUT GOES!

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

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

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

THE NOT-SO-SMOKEY SMOKED TURKEY

Listen to the audio of this blog

Listen to our blog #smokinlicious- smoked turkey

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

Turkey 101 Prep

Preparing the Turkey

#freshturkey

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

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

Herb and Spice Rub

Gently placing the rub on the outside of the Turkey

#turkeyrub

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

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

Smoking on the Gas Grill

Placing the Turkey on the grill

#twozonecooking

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

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

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

Time to Serve!

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

#turkey

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

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

What’s your favorite preparation for turkey?   Bringing innovation to wood fired cooking with recipes, techniques and the science behind the fire, smoke, and flavor. That’s SmokinLicious®.

SmokinLicious® products used in this blog:

Wood Chunks- Double Filet

More Related reading

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

Additional reading:

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

-SMOKE A TURKEY- LEARN HOW

-SMOKED HAM ON THE GAS GRILL

-CORNISH GAME HEN MEETS SMOKE IN THE ORION COOKER

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

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

 

Don't ruin your Smoking & Grilling Experience by making simple mistakes!

Don’t ruin your Smoking & Grilling Experience by making simple mistakes!

10 THINGS YOU DO THAT RUIN YOUR SMOKING & GRILLING EXPERIENCE

Listen to the audio of this blog

#smokinlicious

We’ve all had those moments when the food comes off the smoker or  grill  and we wonder, What went wrong??

Sometimes the event is so bad you want to swear off  outdoor cooking  for good.  I’m here to ask you to step away from the ledge and think about whether you do any of the following things.  The more items on the list you engage in, the more likely you can benefit from my suggestions.

#1 Resting Meat

This tends to be the common practice for roasts and steaks/chops.  You’ve managed to get a nice crisp skin to the roast or steak and then you let it sit or rest, thinking it will make the outcome juicier.  You end up with a soft skin, a wet outside, and waxy fat.  These are meat cuts that don’t require resting.  In fact, they will rest enough on your dinner plate so they are best served hot of the grill or smoker, without a rest period.

#2 Using Too Much Wood

You know that charcoal and gas are the fuels used to reach and maintain temperature while you’re cooking, and that hardwood is what flavors your food.  You want to ensure there is adequate smoke flavor so you add 10 pieces of  wood chunks  to the hot coals when you start cooking.  Then after the first hour, you add another 6 pieces of wood.  STOP!  That is way too much and simply put, a waste of a tree. On average it takes just 6 ounces of wood to start flavoring meat.  My rule of thumb is to add 3-4 wood pieces for a full chimney of charcoal plus a couple of pounds of unlit.  Only when those pieces are fully combusted (black and ashy) do I add a couple more pieces.  Depending on what and how long I’m cooking, I may only use 6 pieces total.

#3 You Soaked Your Smoking/Grilling Wood

I know this is one of the biggest controversies out there when it comes to smoking with wood.  To soak or not.  I take the stand that you should never soak the wood as adding water will only fluctuate your cooking temperature and take more energy away from the fire to steam the water from the wood.  Remember, the wood cannot start to combust until the excess water has been vaporized.  Work with a wood that has at least 20% moisture for the best flavor.

#4 Room Temperature Meat

It is well documented that when you want to attract smoke vapor from burning wood, colder temperatures are like a magnet.  Don’t take the meat out of the refrigerator until right before you’re ready to place it on the grill.  In addition to attracting smoke vapor, colder temperature meats will warm up faster in your equipment than if you left them out on the kitchen counter.

#5 Searing to Lock in Juices

This is the one item even well-known restaurants can get wrong.  Searing meats before finish cooking does not lock in the juices.  What it does do is brown the outside of the meat and firm up the outer surface, giving a distinct pleasant flavor.  The meat fibers do not get sealed by this method or produce any additional juiciness to the meat.

#6 Marinating Overnight or Longer

As marinades tend to contain oil and meat is made up mostly of water, the two tend to compete against each other.  Here’s the thing with marinades.  Marinating for long periods of time do not allow the marinade to penetrate any deeper than if you marinate for just one hour.  In fact, you have an increased risk of breaking down the meat fibers too far with a marinade, producing a soggy outer layer.  Stick to short marinade times and understand most of that flavor will penetrate only to the outside layer.

#7 Don’t Trim the Fat Cap

Just like meat being made up of mostly water, fat is made up of oil.  Again, water and oil don’t mix.  Leaving a fat cap on meat only allows it to melt and drip into the equipment you’re using.  This can produce some additional flavors to the meat but allow too many drippings into the fire area, and you’ll cause flare ups that will deposit soot onto your meat.  Don’t forget, most of us have a habit of trimming fat off meat before we consume it.

#8 It’s Done When There’s No Pink Meat

I’m not sure how many ways I can say this so I’ll be blunt.  YOU NEED AN EASY READ DIGITAL THERMOMETER WHEN YOU COOK!!  That is the only way to know when various meats and poultry are fully cooked.  Follow safe temperature guidelines and don’t go by the color of the meat.  Remember, bone marrow reveals itself differently in animal proteins which causes variation in pink, red and even purple coloring near bone.

#9 Steak Should Always Have Grill Marks

Grill marks are not the mark of a great  steak !  A uniform brown coloring on the meat’s surface is what your goal should be.  That means a deep sear was achieved and great flavor is hidden underneath.  The only way to achieve that is to learn how to direct cook the steak with a higher cooking temperature and frequent turning.  This allows for maximum radiant heat and even coloring and cooking.

#10 You Use Something Other Than Water in the Water Pan

There are all kinds of justifications for why liquids like beer, juice, wine, etc. should be used in a water pan while cooking.  It produces better flavor, it penetrates deeper, it produces more moisture.  Let me be clear.   It’s called a water pan for a reason.   It is designed to hold water and hot water at that.  By starting with hot water, you allow the energy of the fire to go directly to cooking the meat not heating up the water.  Water evaporates which produces a moisture rich environment keeping meats from drying out.  Other liquids will not evaporate and could even burn in the pan due to sugar alcohol levels.

Even if you’ve checked off a lot of these items as practices your guilty of engaging in, it’s easy to turn around your outdoor grilling and smoking skills.  In the end, it will be safer for your guests, better for your meat investments, and an overall more pleasurable experience doing the cooking.

Do you have a bad habit you turned around when you grill and smoke?  Leave us a comment to let us know.  We welcome all types of questions and encourage you to follow and subscribe to our social channels so you don’t miss anything.  We look forward to providing you with tips, techniques, recipes, and the science for all things wood-fired cooked.

SmokinLicious® products used in this blog:

Wood Chunks-  Double & Single Filet

 

 

 

 

More Related reading

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

 

Additional reading:

-WHY IS MY BARBECUE MEAT DRY??

-WHY WON’T MY WOOD CHIPS SMOKE??

-WHAT WOOD TO USE FOR SMOKING: A PRIMER

-HOW MUCH WOOD TO ADD WHEN SMOKING

 

Dr. Smoke bringing you Smoking & Grilling tips, tricks and technique to make you the "King of the neighborhood Q"

Dr. Smoke bringing you Smoking & Grilling tips, tricks and technique to make you the “King of the neighborhood Q”

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

Listen to the audio of this blog

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

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.

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!

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

Listen to the audio of this blog

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.

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®.

SmokinLicious® products used in this blog:

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!

The SmokinLicious® culinary crew's two-zone cooking method set up to smoke Fava Beans on the Gas grill with Wood chunks!

The SmokinLicious® culinary crew’s two-zone cooking method set up to smoke Fava Beans on the Gas grill with Wood chunks!

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

Listen to the audio of this blog

We all know that the key to easy and successful outdoor cooking is to control the temperature.  I also believe that outdoor cooking should not hold you hostage at the grill.  That’s why everyone should learn the two-zone cooking method for grilling.

Let’s cover what type of cooking you can do by this method, why it’s so successful, and how to set up the zones.

Why Two-Zone is Best

 smoker box and single filet wood chunks

 

Two-zone cooking can be done on any type of grill no matter the fuel source.  What is two-zone cooking?  Using the fuel source on only half the grill while the other half holds the food.  Although you may use the unlit side of the grill for most of the cooking, you have the benefit of finishing crispy skins of items or quick cooking thinner cuts of meats on the direct heat side.

Two-zone cooking is also called direct and indirect cooking.  The indirect side uses indirect convection heat to cook the food which means the heat generated by the lit side radiates into the material of the equipment and produces heat (convection heat) on the unlit side.  The direct side produces the heat within the unit and can be used when quick cooking is needed or when a food that has been cooked on the indirect side needs crisping, additional coloring, or some char.

Set Up a Two-Zone

setting up the smoker box on the grill

The primary reason you want to set up two-zone cooking is most of the grill cooking does not require direct heat.  When you consistently cook foods, especially meats, over direct heat, you easily can have dried, stiff, flavorless results.  This is due to the components of meat reacting at different temperatures that with direct cooking occur too fast to react.

I will tell you that you need a grilling area that is large enough to establish two zones.  I judge the space needed with a rectangular, disposable foil pan.  If the pan can fit on half the grill area without issue, then you have plenty of room for a two-zone setup.   When using a gas grill, this means lighting the burners on one half of the grill.  If you don’t have an even number of burners, then decide how many are to be turned on and how many left off.   With a charcoal grill, placing the hot coals on only half the charcoal area.  On an electric unit, if you can manipulate the heating element, isolate the element to one side of the unit.  The temperature that works ideally for two-zone cooking is 225°F.  Of course, I always add wood chunks to give a smoky flavor to the foods.  Remember, the hardwood goes on the direct side of the grill or lit burner or hot coals.

Note that you can also use a water pan using two zones.  This can be placed on either side of the grill depending on when you need the direct heat side.  Keep in mind, when doing meats, it’s great to place a pan under the meat with vegetables (onions, potatoes, celery, peppers, etc.) and a small amount of liquid that can collect the meat renderings.  You can also place pans of beans to catch those drippings.  Anything is fair game.

For those times when you don’t want to add any additional foods, you can simply lay a thin foil pan under the grill grate of the indirect side or a sheet of foil.  That will collect any fat drippings.

Cook Anything!

Smoking Tomatoes on the gas grill with the two-zone cooking method

 

Since radiant heat is what you are cooking with when foods are placed on the indirect side, you can cook anything.  I love doing tarts and cakes via this method, especially during the hot months when you don’t want to lite your indoor oven.  In fact, those are the times that I cook an entire meal using a two-zone setup.

You can also cook multiple items using both direct and indirect heat.  A long cooking meat goes on the indirect side, is cooked to temperature and held there, while a side dish is cooked on direct heat.  Don’t forget, if the cookware you use is high heat tolerant, you can use cookware as well.  This is how I can make cakes, tarts, and bread on the grill.  You need to view this equipment like an oven as that is essentially what it is!

Use Like an Oven & Walk Away

 I’m going, to be honest.  Although it’s true that you can produce more moist foods using a two-zone method the real reason I love this method of cooking is I can walk away from the grill.  This is particularly true when using a gas grill which holds the temperature steady, which for me, is 250°F for long cook meats and regular baking temperatures for all my cookies, cakes, tarts, bread.  Remember, charcoal grills will still require you to refuel so the temperature can fluctuate more if you’re not careful.  Keeping an extra chimney starter of charcoal going will solve that issue.

As a final note, even though two-zone cooking allows you more time away from the grill, you still need a good digital thermometer to monitor the temperature of the food.  Invest in an easy read one and you’ll really enjoy this new way of grilling and smoking.

SmokinLicious products used in this blog:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on #twozonecooking method and other food items to prepare

Additional reading:

-EASY GRILL ROASTED TOMATOES

-ODE TO THE GRILLED FAVA BEAN

-WOOD ROASTED ONIONS TO DIE FOR!

 

 

Dr. Smoke- The two-zone cooking method on the gas grill is a great time saver for the busy Chef trying to prepare other parts of the meal menu!

Dr. Smoke- The two-zone cooking method on the gas grill is a great time saver for the busy Chef trying to prepare other parts of the meal menu!

Our finished wood roasted onions!

Our finished wood roasted onions!

WOOD ROASTED ONIONS TO DIE FOR!

Listen to the audio of this blog

One vegetable that is available throughout the year is the onion.  Although you’re likely accustomed to using this in recipes as an added natural flavor when you wood-fire the onion, something magical happens to its cell structure that turns these into the buttery, melt-in-your-mouth gems that you’ll want to use in even more recipes.

Onions are high in vitamin C, can aid in weight loss, and have reduced certain cancer risks, especially those associated with the digestive tract.

Our onion assortment, White, Sweet and Shallots

 

 

 

 

Whether you elect to do the standard yellow onion, the sweet red onion, or shallots, you will love how smoke vapor works to bring out the best in any variety.

Preparing for the Grill

Before preparing the onions for the grill, let’s get the grill started by lighting the burners on only half the grill.  This is referred to as two zone cooking.  On the lit burner side, I place 2 wood chunks – I’m using the Single Filet size from SmokinLicious® – directly on the heat shields of my hot burners.  This will provide the wood flavoring to the onions.  My burners are set to medium-low which usually produces a cooking temperature of about 300°F.  Simply adjust your burner setting to reach this temperature.

For the onions, I simply cut the tops of, slice in half and remove the skins.  I place the halves cut side down in a roasting pan and add about ¼ cup of oil to the pan.   With my pan ready, I place it on the unlit side of the grill and close the lid.  In about 75 minutes, these will slightly charred, tender, and juicy.

Tasting Notes:  Although I used avocado oil since you are not grilling over direct heat, you can use other oils such as olive, almond, walnut, grapeseed, coconut, sesame, canola, etc.  Remember, some varieties of onion are considered herbs so doing an assortment of types will give you an abundance of flavors.

The Longer the Wood Roast the More Flavor

Onions on the grill with wood chunk over the flavor bar

You’ll find as these onions cook and absorb both the smoke vapor and oil, the scales of the onions will separate and caramelize.  The results are tender, juicy and flavorful with a hint of woodsy from the charred edges.

I decided to make a simple sauce of butter, cheese, parsley, and pepper for my onion mix and served these alongside a pork steak, also cooked on the grill with a two-zone method.

The best part is onions are available year-round so I can do this method even in the dead of winter, as remember, the gas grill still functions even in the cold!  For those who like to freeze produce, this freezes very well so grill a lot keep them so they’re ready for the winter days you don’t feel like lighting the grill.   Just think what an onion soup will taste like when you wood-fire the onions first!

Finished wood roasted onions ready for serving

Tasting Notes:  If using a charcoal grill, still use a two-zone cooking set up meaning charcoal on only one side of the grill.  Be sure you only cook with hot coals, no flames.  This type of grilling can have more challenges to steady temperature so make sure you check the onion pan more frequently.

 

 

 

Smokinlicious® products used in this blog:

Wood Chunks- Single Filet

 

 

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on wood smoking, grilling or ember cooking!

 

Additional reading:

-EASY GRILL ROASTED TOMATOES

-Roasted/Toasted Onions over Embers

-GRILLED PEACHES FOR THE PERFECT SALAD

 

Dr. Smoke- Wood roasted onions will add a superb flavor to these vegatebles

Dr. Smoke- Wood roasted onions will add a superb flavor to these vegetables

Our Forest Fresh Hardwood is a perfect fit for any Ceramic and Kamado Grill

Our Forest Fresh Hardwood is a perfect fit for any Ceramic and Kamado Grill

CERAMIC AND KAMADO GRILL: THE WOOD MASTER’S GUIDE

Listen to the audio of this blog

Listen to all the products available for the Ceramic & Kamado Grill!

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 culinary wood product match.  We refer to our guide affectionately as Match Your Cooker.

In this article, we are covering our recommendations for ceramic and komado style grilling equipment; these are grills that are made from ceramic, clay, terracotta or crushed lava rock that allow the grill to reach extremely high temperatures – usually at or above 750°F!  They are also capable of using charcoal and wood either independently or in combination.

As there are always new equipment lines and models released, our plan is to provide regular updates on this listing.  We also encourage you to send us a message when you don’t see a manufacturer or model listed to ensure it is added to the list (email drsmoke@smokinlicious.com).

For now, we introduce you to our wood master’s guide to SmokinLicious® culinary woods for ceramic and komado grills.

Single Filet Wood Chunks

The following equipment/models would be suitable for the SmokinLicious® Single Filet Wood Chunks as the charcoal area allows for larger wood pieces:

Big Green Egg models: 2XL, XLarge

Char-Griller Akorn model: ceramic kamado

Grill Dome® models: XL

Kamado Joe Big Joe™ 24”

Komodo Kamado® 32” Big Bad

Louisiana Grills K24

Primo Ceramic Grills models: Jack Daniel’s Edition Oval XL 400, Primo Oval XL 400

Double Filet Wood Chunks

The following equipment/models would be suitable for the SmokinLicious® Double Filet Wood Chunks to maximize oxygen flow:

Bayou Classic Ceramic Charcoal Grill

Big Green Egg models: Large, Medium, Small

Blaze 20-inch Cast Aluminum Kamado Grill*

Broil King® Keg models: Keg™ 5000, Keg™ 2000

Cal Flame® Kamado Smoker Grill

Caliber Pro Stainless Steel Kamado Grill*

Char-Griller Akorn: models: Kamado and Kamado Jr.

Char-Broil Kamander® Charcoal Grill

Coyote Asado Ceramic Grill

Gourmet Guru Grill Ceramic Kamado

Grill Dome® models: XL, Large, Small

Hanover® 19-in. Ceramic Kamado Grill

Kamado Joe models: Classic II™ 18”, Big Joe™ 24”, Stand-Alone™, Joe Jr.™

Komodo Kamado® models: 32” Big Bad, 23” Ultimate, 21” Supreme, 19” Hi-Cap Tall, 19” Hi-Cap Table Top, 16” Hi-Cap Table Top

Louisiana Grills models: K13, K18, K22, K24

Monolith Grills BBQ Guru Edition models: Classic, Le Chef

Pit Boss Grills models: K22 Ceramic Charcoal Grill, K24 Ceramic Charcoal Grill

Primo Ceramic Grills models: Primo Oval LG 300, Primo Oval JR 200, Primo Kamado All-In-One

Vision™ Grills models: XL

Grande Sapore® Wood Chips

The following equipment/models would be suitable for the SmokinLicious® Grande Sapore® Wood Chips for those who prefer a wood chip product rather than chunks:

Bayou Classic Ceramic Charcoal Grill

Big Green Egg models: MiniMax, Mini

Blaze 20-inch Cast Aluminum Kamado Grill*

Broil King® Keg models: Keg™ 5000, Keg™ 2000

Cal Flame® Kamado Smoker Grill

Caliber Pro Stainless Steel Kamado Grill*

Char-Griller Akorn: models: Kamado and Kamado Jr.

Char-Broil Kamander® Charcoal Grill

Coyote Asado Ceramic Grill

Gourmet Guru Grill Ceramic Kamado

Grill Dome® models: XL, Large, Small

Hanover® 19-in. Ceramic Kamado Grill

Kamado Joe models: Classic II™ 18”, Big Joe™ 24”, Stand-Alone™, Joe Jr.™

Komodo Kamado® models: 32” Big Bad, 23” Ultimate, 21” Supreme, 19” Hi-Cap Tall, 19” Hi-Cap Table Top, 16” Hi-Cap Table Top

Louisiana Grills models: K13, K18, K22, K24

Monolith Grills BBQ Guru Edition models: Classic, Le Chef

Pit Boss Grills models: K22 Ceramic Charcoal Grill, K24 Ceramic Charcoal Grill

Primo Ceramic Grills models: Primo Oval LG 300, Primo Oval JR 200, Primo Kamado All-In-One

Saffire Grill and Smoker**

Vision™ Grills models: XL

Minuto® Wood Chips

The following equipment/models would be suitable for the SmokinLicious® Minuto® Wood Chips:

Saffire Grill and Smoker

We hope you view this guide as a helpful resource for selecting the perfect culinary wood for your equipment.  As always, our Wood Guide Team is ready to answer your additional questions and further assist you with the perfect grilling and smoking experience!

* Although considered a komado grill, this brand is not made with any ceramic, clay, terracotta, or crushed stone.

** This brand is only designed for use with wood chips and includes a patented smokin’ chip feeder.

SmokinLicioius® products used in this blog:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore® & Minuto®

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Related reading:

-WOOD BURNING PIZZA OVENS: THE WOOD MASTER’S GUIDE

-TOP TOOLS TO OWN FOR CHARCOAL GRILLING

-THE WATER PAN EXPLAINED FOR GRILLING & SMOKING

Dr. Smoke produces great products for all Ceramic & Kamado Grill units!

Dr. Smoke produces great products for all Ceramic & Kamado Grill units!

 

Smokinlicious teams top tools needed for gas grilling

Smokinlicious® teams top tools needed for gas grilling

 

TOP TOOLS NEEDED FOR GAS GRILLING

Listen to the audio of this blog

 

 

There is no question that LP/Gas grills have changed tremendously over the past 10 years and now include some features standard that for many years, were options.  Then there is the development of dual or multi-fuel options on a grill so you can have one unit that performs as a gas grill, charcoal grill, wood grill, and even electric or pellet grill, all in one unit.

Today, I’m focusing on the standard LP/Gas grill, independent of any other fuel source.  This guide will focus on the basic tools that will provide for a better grilling experience and make you more efficient at the grill.

Tool #1

I’m starting with a grill brush since most of us have the habit of thinking about cleaning off the grill grates when we start the grill for cooking, not when we finish.  This tool is to ensure clean up the residual food bits and grease left from your previous grilled foods.

Now I’m aware of the controversy over the use of metal bristles but most of these brushes are made well.  Simple inspection of the brush bristles each time you use it will allow you to identify if the bristles have come loose and have the potential to be transported to your foods.  I prefer a brush with metal bristles, with a long handle to keep my arm away from the heat, as often you want to clean the grill when it’s hot.  Remember, most of these brushes are under $10 so think about purchasing one a couple times per season to ensure the bristles stay put.

Tool #2

There are times when the grill grates and lid will become super coated in grease and pieces of food.  You’ll need to break out the cleaning agents to ensure these surfaces are ready to go for the next grilling event.  Two of my favorites are CLR BBQ Grill Cleaner and Mr. Clean MagicEraser.  As a non-toxic, non-flammable, biodegradable product, CLR BBQ Grill Cleaner is not something you have to leave on for hours at a time.  It quickly breaks through the issues and allows you to wipe clean to an almost new state.  Keep in mind, the CLR brand also makes a stainless steel cleaner for the outside as well.

Tool #3

Long-handled tongs.  Your standard tong length for the traditional kitchen just won’t work at the grill, as you need to keep some arm distance from the hot grill surfaces.  I like the 20-inch length with silicone grips as well as silicone tips, as silicone can tolerate extremely high heat.  If you grill multiple food items at the same time, think about purchasing tongs with different colored tips and/or handles as that will ensure use of one color for a specific food so there’s no transfer of flavors.

Tool #4

Like the tongs, a must have is long-handled spatula for those food items that need to be flipped.  I prefer one that is made of solid steel and has a bit of a beveling to the edge.  Again, the longer the handle the better for keeping away from high heat.

Tool #5

An easy to read, digital thermometer.  It is a must when you grill or smoke.  Look for one that has a longer probe for when your grilling larger roasts and thicker cuts of meats and poultry.  Be sure the readout is easy to see and if you grill a lot at night, get one that has a back-lite to see more clearly.  If you cook a lot of different animal proteins at the same time, try to have a thermometer dedicated to each food so you don’t cross-contaminate while bacteria may still be an issue.  There are assorted colors available making it easy to dedicate one to red meat, pork, poultry, and fish.   Most of the digital thermometers on the market today are under $18 with even more under $10.

Tool #6

 If you’ve always been a person that cooks directly on the grill grates and only does the standard fare – hamburgers, sausage, chicken, perhaps ribs – you need to get out of that rut and learn to do more with your grill.  Start by investing in one piece of quality cast iron.  Able to withstand intense heat, cast iron can take you from the average griller to someone with skill.  Now, you can enjoy recipes normally done on the indoor stove outside in the fresh air, with your cast iron skillet.  Remember, there’s a whole line of cast iron cookware so as you expand your skills, you can add to your outdoor cookware.

Tool #7

Although I am a fan of the standard steam table disposable foil pan, any size, shape foil pan will do.  These are perfect for use as a drip pan to prevent render juices from spiking flames and as water pans for a two-zone cooking set up.  I won’t deny, that I also use these to cook in especially fragile items like fruit and specific vegetables.  You certainly can invest in a grill pan but clean up becomes a snap with the disposable pan.

Tool #8

Although the smoker box was originally intended for use with wood chips on the grill, I always use small wood chunks in mine.  I prefer a box made from high-grade stainless steel and one that has a hinged lid.  My smoker box holds three Double Filet Wood Chunks from SmokinLicious® perfectly and provides for extended smoke vapor as compared with wood chips.  Used directly on the grill grate or set under the grill grate on the heat shield, it produces smoke for hours.  Although you can place wood chunks directly on the heat shields, as I’m known to do myself sometimes, they will become permanently marked from the wood ash and eventually need replacing.  The smoker box allows you to avoid this.

There you have it!  My TOP TOOLS NEEDED FOR GAS GRILLING for better results and help in extending the life of your investment!

SmokinLicious® products used in this blog:

Wood Chunks- Double Filet

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Additional reading:

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

-TOP TOOLS TO OWN FOR CHARCOAL GRILLING

-TOP 10 TIPS FOR GRILLING SAFETY

-WHY IS MY BARBECUE MEAT DRY??

Dr. Smoke loves Maple trees for cooking! The sweetness of this wood is terrific for Chicken!

Dr. Smoke- tools make the chef learn the top tools needed for gas grilling

GRILLED PEACHES

Our Grilled Peaches for the perfect salad addition with sweet onion, Tomatoes, and fresh herbs!

Our Grilled Peaches for the perfect salad addition with sweet onion, Tomatoes, and fresh herbs!

 FOR THE PERFECT SALAD ADDITION

Listen to the audio of this blog

If you’ve been a follower of our recipes and techniques for a while, then you’re aware of our preference to grill, smoke, coal cook, and ember fire in-season produce.  Peaches are no exception!

I’ve got my two quarts of fresh peaches and a plan to grill these on the charcoal grill using charwood coals.  Then I’ll use my luscious smoked peaches in a salad that features two additional seasonal ingredients – tomato and shallots.

Get your chimney starter of charwood or charcoal and meet me at the grill for this quick technique and recipe featuring peaches.

Fire Up the Grill!

Fire up the charwood with a good quality chimney starter!

Firing up the STOK kettle grill!

Whenever you use the charcoal grill, it’s always best to get it lit about 30 minutes ahead of cooking.  I’m using a kettle-style grill made by Stôk that has a removable center grate for an assortment of inserts.  I won’t be using any inserts for this cook as my peaches will stay in a disposable foil pan for easy cooking and removal.

Start by placing charcoal or charwood in a chimney starter.  Place a Firestarter in the charcoal area of the grill and place the filled chimney starter over the starter.  Lite the Firestarter and allow to remain in place until all the charwood has ignited and started to reduce to hot coals.  While that’s burning, let’s prepare the peaches.  Be sure you have a couple of wood chunks available to add to the coals when we are ready to grill.  I like to use the single filet wood chunk size from SmokinLicious®.

Tasting Notes: there are differences in charcoal so be sure to use a natural charcoal or charwood product rather than briquets as briquets will produce more heat than you need.

Perfect Peach Bites

With our charcoal grill going, it’s time to start on the peaches.  There are a few ways to remove the skin from peaches including placing them in hot water for a few minutes then removing and placing in a bowl of ice water.  The skins will just peel off.  I’m an old school so I use a sharp paring knife and just remove the skin.

Once the skin is removed, it’s time to cut the peach into bite-size pieces.  You can easily cut around the pit and cut those slices into pieces.  Place all the pieces in a foil pan in an even layer.

Tasting Notes: Try to purchase peaches that have some firmness to them if you don’t plan to grill them right away.  The peaches should have no bruising and have a slight give when touched.  Too soft and those peaches won’t hold their shape when exposed to the grill’s heat.

 

Single Filet wood chunks under the grilling grate

Smoking Process

With the peaches prepared, time to take them to the grill.  Pour the chimney of hot coals into the grill’s charcoal area and add the wood chunks.  Add the pan of prepared peaches and placed the lid on the grill.  Be sure the outtake vent on the lid is ½ way open.  The intake vent at the charcoal area should be ¼ way open.  Now allow smoking for 15 minutes prior to checking.  Remember, we want to add smoke without reducing the peaches to a puree.

Tasting Notes:  Since peaches contain 89% water, they take in the smoke vapor extremely well.  Keep that in mind when you select both the charcoal and wood.  Remember, oak based charcoal tends to burn hot and has a stronger undertone to fruit.

Final Salad Prep- Grilled Peaches for the perfect salad addition!

While the peaches are absorbing all that great smoke flavor, return to the kitchen and prepare the remaining ingredients for our salad.  You’ll need:

  • 1 lb. tomatoes cut into 1/2’” pieces; or if using cherry or grape tomato, halved
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for final drizzle
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 shallot, sliced thin
  • fresh mint leaves torn
  • salt and pepper

the ingredients in the serving bowl and ready to add the dressing

I start by slicing my tomatoes in half, then add a teaspoon of salt to them while sitting in a colander so I can render some of the water.  While the tomatoes sit, I start slicing the shallot into thin strips.   At this point, you’ll want to check the peaches.  They should be close to or ready to remove from the grill.  I like to place them in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to cool them down for the salad.  While that’s happening, let’s prepare the vinaigrette.

I prefer to mix all the vinaigrette ingredients in a measuring cup so I can easily pour it to the salad right before serving, to keep the tomato and peach from getting too soggy.  Start with the extra virgin olive oil and add the rice vinegar.   Next, the lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and fresh pepper.  Whisk it all together and set aside while you combine the salad ingredients.

Tasting Notes: you can substitute cider vinegar for the rice vinegar and any color of tomato will do though I lean toward the reds and purples to give a color contrast from the orange peach.

Smoked peaches go into the serving bowl first, following by the tomatoes, and shallots.  Pour the vinaigrette over the salad within an hour of serving and top with the torn mint leaves.  A perfect balance of sweet, tart, smoky, and refreshing.  An easy method and recipe you can have in 60 minutes.  I love peaches so try our grilled peaches for the perfect salad addition for your next dish to pass!  You will tantalize the guest taste buds!

SmokinLicious® products used in this blog:

Wood Chunks- Single Filet

Charwood

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Additional reading:

-PEACHES WOOD FIRED FOR A SMOKY FLAVORFUL GAZPACHO

-WOOD FIRED GRILLED WATERMELON BECOMES A STAR

-WOOD-FIRED APPLES MAKE THE BEST CAKE

Dr. Smoke add some mint, onions and tomatoes to Grilled Peaches for a perfect salad addition!

Dr. Smoke add some mint, onions, and tomatoes to Grilled Peaches for the perfect salad addition!

Our take on the Top Tools to Own for Charcoal Grilling

Our take on the Top Tools to Own for Charcoal Grilling – some may surprise you!

TOP TOOLS TO OWN FOR CHARCOAL GRILLING

Listen to the audio of this blog

When I get the chance to visit a brick-and-mortar barbecue specialty store, I am always amazed at the number of accessory items currently offered for grilling and smoking.  The options are staggering!  I certainly can see why an individual might end up purchasing too many items, thinking that it’s a necessity when it comes to the grill or smoker.

My intent is to guide you on the bare basics tools that are needed when you own a charcoal grill.  Of course, I may slip in there a couple of “next in line” purchases that may not be necessities but sure come in handy.  Let’s get started!

Tool #1

Chimney Starter: Honestly, I don’t know a safer, easier method of lighting the fuel for your grill than with a chimney starter.  Are they pretty much the same?  Pretty much but here’s my recommendations on what to look for: one that is made of plain steel meaning no paint; one that has a heat-safe handle that is placed far enough away from the chimney body to prevent you from receiving burns and includes a heat shield;  large enough to hold enough charcoal for the size of your grill; well vented at the base to get things hot within 15 minutes.

We demonstrate a lite chimney starter!

Chimney Starters are a must to have a Charcoal grill!

Tool #2

We just talked about the chimney starter which emits very high-heat so this next item is going to keep you fire safe.  High-temperature resistant gloves.  Personally, I use welding gloves as I appreciate that I can purchase a longer length glove, plus, these gloves tend to have great flexibility to them since most are made from cow leather.   Best of all, they last forever!

insulated long sleved gloves protect from heat and burns

Tool #3

Long-handled tongs.  Your standard tong length for the traditional kitchen just won’t work at the grill, as you need to keep some arm distance from those hot coals.  I like the 20-inch length with silicone grips as well as silicone tips as silicone can tolerate extremely high heat.

The long handle tonges are great for putting and turning food on the grill

Tool #4

Like the tongs, a must have is long-handled spatula for those food items that need to be flipped.  I prefer one that is made of solid steel and has a bit of a beveling to the edge.  Again, the longer the handle to better for keeping away from intense heat.  Of course, you’ll be wearing your high-temperature resistant gloves as well!

Spatula with long handle to turn the food on the grill

Tool #5

Even if you don’t grill every day you’re still going to need a good brush to clean up the residual food bits and grease.  There’s been a lot of controversy over the use of metal bristles but most of these brushes are made well.  You simply forget that like your toothbrush, they need to be replaced periodically before the bristles start to come loose and have the potential to be transported to your foods.  I prefer a brush with metal bristles, with a long handle to keep my arm away from the heat, as often you want to clean the grill when it’s still hot.  Remember, most of these brushes are under $10 so think about purchasing one a couple times per season to ensure the bristles stay put.

Wire brush to clean the grates of residual food.

Tool #6

An easy to read, digital thermometer.  It is a must when you grill or smoke.  Look for one that has a longer probe for when your grilling larger roasts and thicker cuts of meats and poultry.  Be sure the readout is easy to see and if you grill a lot at night, get one that has a backlight to see more clearly.  If you cook a lot of different animal proteins at the same time, try to have a thermometer dedicated to each food so you don’t cross-contaminate while bacteria may still be an issue.  Most of the digital thermometers on the market today are under $18 with even more under $10.

Probe thermometer

Other Recommended Tools:

These are additional items I love to have on hand to use with my charcoal grilling and smoking.

Aluminum disposible pans are grillers best friendThe Disposable Foil Pan: Perfect to use as a water pan, cooking pan with a roasting rack insert, grease collection pan, and warming pan.

 

 

 

Wire mesh to hold the coals from falling thru the larger grates. especially for ember cooking.

Fine Wire Mesh: Cut to size to fit my charcoal area, I prefer to use fine wire mesh when I want to ensure I can retain every small hot coal for my cooking.  This works particularly well when you plan to ember cook foods like peppers, onions, eggplant, and garlic.

 

 

Brick for ember cooking- heat retention and separation for delicate foods such as fish!

Fire Brick:  I use one or two fire bricks to set up my two-zone cooking area.  The bricks also work great for positioning a pan on to allow for elevation in the cooking area.

 

There you have it!  My top choices for the tools that will bring ease to your charcoal grilling and smoking.  Just remember to include some clean, bark-free hardwood on the charcoal for an even better flavor to your foods.

There you have it our take on the Top Tools to own for Charcoal Grilling!

SmokinLicious® Products Used in this Blog:

Charwood

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

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

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Additional reading:

-THE WATER PAN EXPLAINED FOR GRILLING & SMOKING

-HOW TO TURN YOUR CHARCOAL GRILL INTO A SMOKER

-TEMPERATURE CONTROL IS ALL IN THE AIR FLOW

Dr. Smoke the tools make the Chef- hope you enjoyed our Top tools to own for Charcoal Grilling!

Dr. Smoke the tools make the Chef- hope you enjoyed our Top tools to own for Charcoal Grilling!

Temperature control is all in the air flow with our offset smoker showing the flow of air and where the air is controlled

Your Temperature control is all in the air flow for smoking and grilling with equipment!

TEMPERATURE CONTROL IS ALL IN THE AIR FLOW

Listen to the audio of this blog

How do you keep a charcoal grill at 200°F? How do you cool down a charcoal grill?  Do you keep the vents open all the time?

These are some of the common questions posed when it comes to learning how to control the temperature of a grill or smoker.  This can be a challenge specifically for charcoal/wood units as they rely on the human hand to determine when to add fuel as opposed to a gas/LP unit that has continual, regulated flow.

You might assume that the only combustible material used in these units is charcoal or wood but there is another one.  Oxygen.

I’m going to provide my top tips on gaining control of temperature by instructing you on airflow or oxygen regulation in specific styles of charcoal/wood burning equipment.

Intake and Outtake

For many of the charcoal/wood using units, they are built with an intake and an outtake vent.  Let’s make sure you understand what these vents are and what the purpose of each is.

Intake Vent: It has one job – bring in oxygen to control the heat of the fire.  If you need to raise the temperature of your unit, open the intake vent.  Too much heat, close the intake vent which starves the fire for oxygen.  Note: if you close the intake vent entirely while keeping the outtake open, you will still starve the fire and put it out.

Here’s the trick – each unit will have a “sweet spot” for the perfect balance of oxygen flow.  Find that spot, and you can maintain a temperature easily in your equipment.  But, I’m getting a little ahead of myself.  Let’s discuss the opposing vent.

Outtake Vent:  This goes by different names (chimney, flue, outtake, vent) but has the same purpose regardless of what you call it; vent out the gases from the combustible material and pull in oxygen from the intake vent which is commonly know as draft.  Remember a charcoal/wood fire produces gases which need to be vented.  If they aren’t properly vented, they will smother the fire.

When learning how to regulate your equipment for the desired temperature setting, always start with the outtake vent fully open.  This allows you to manipulate only the intake vent until you reach the desired temperature.  That will help you learn where the sweet spot is on your equipment.

When You Never Find the Sweet Spot

There are times when no matter how you play with the intake vent, you never seem to get the temperature to hold.  What now?

Time to look for leaks in your equipment.  If an access door or lid are bleeding smoke, then you know where the extra oxygen is coming from.  That will affect the draft between the intake and outtake vent and result in fluctuating temperature that cannot be controlled.  Best course of action is to try to seal the leaks with food grade silicone or other materials suitable for high heat appliances.

The Shape of the Equipment

In my opinion, the vertical-style equipment models tend to be much easier to get airflow/temperature control.  Horizontal units also referred to as off-set smokers and grills, specifically the inexpensive models, tend to have poor design in the vent placements as well as poor insulation that results in heavy leakage.

If you insist on purchasing a horizontal unit, read reviews and ask questions about how the unit is insulated.  Get specific with the materials used, quality of the metal parts, etc.

Other Tips

Always try to light your initial fuel product, whether briquets, lump hardwood charcoal, or charcoal in a chimney starter so you can control the quantity with every cook.  Use the chimney to add hot coals to the unit when you need to increase temperature.  Although you can have unlit charcoal in your charcoal area so it will ignite as the lit produce makes contact, this isn’t always a guarantee that you won’t produce some temperature variance.  The best chance of getting the temperature regulated is by adding hot coals as needed, even if this may be every hour or so.

 

To summarize, learn to control temperature by using the same quantity and type of material for the fuel, lit it with a chimney starter, only add hot coals to increase the temperature, and always have the exhaust vent open at least ½ way when cooking.  Remember the number one thing is Temperature control is all in the air flow and you will have tasty grilling results!

SmokinLicious® Products Used in this Blog:

Charwood

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

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

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Related reading:

-WHY IS MY BARBECUE MEAT DRY??

-THE WATER PAN EXPLAINED FOR GRILLING & SMOKING

-WHY WON’T MY WOOD CHIPS SMOKE??

-WHY CHAR-WOOD IS THE BETTER OPTION OVER CHARCOAL

Dr. Smoke for best results in your grilling and smoking enjoyment follow temperature is in the air flow principles and enjoy great results!

Dr. Smoke for best results in your grilling and smoking enjoyment follow temperature control is all in the air flow principles and enjoy great results!

 

Fresh Fava Beans with Butter ready to become Grilled Fava Bean with a smoky flare!

Fresh Fava Beans with Butter ready to become Grilled Fava Bean with a smoky flare!

ODE TO THE GRILLED FAVA BEAN

Listen to the audio of this blog

I love when the ideal weather comes around when at the same time there are so many options for fresh produce either at the Farmer’s Market or local grocery store.  I tend to lean toward my grill and smoker for most of my cooking when the weather turns hot and steamy.

Beans are one of those vegetables that are spectacular on the grill but they get even better when you add a few wood chunks.  I’ll show you how to prepare Fava Beans for the grill and give you my easy, fool-proof technique for incorporating wood chunks for flavor.

Grill Set Up

Before preparing the Fava beans, get the gas grill heated by turning on only half the grills’ burners which will be the side that radiates out the heat and holds the smoker box.  For the smoker box, I’m using a stainless-steel model that has a hinged lid.  I place 3 double filet wood chunks from SmokinLicious® in the box in a combination of woods.   I’m using hickory, white oak and sugar maple to give me a great smoke balance to the beans.  This will ensure I don’t overpower with the smoke vapor.  By placing the smoker box with chunks on the grill grate as it preheats, it will be smoking by the time you have the beans ready.

 Simple Bean Prep

There is little to do with the Fava beans before they go on the grill.  Wash them to start to make sure all the dirt and debris is removed.  Pat dry with a paper towel and then move them to the cutting board.  Remove any leaves and cut just the stem end to remove the stem.  Place in a disposable foil pan, spread out evenly, and add roughly 6 tablespoons of butter to the beans, as well as salt and fresh ground pepper.  That’s it.  Leave the bean pods intact as they are going to act like a miniature steamer to cook the beans and ensure they don’t become over smoked.

The Grill Act

With the grill heated and the wood chunks smoking in the smoker box, place the pan of beans on the unlit side of the grill and close the cover.  Check that your grill temperature steadies out at about 375°F.  If lower, simply increase the heat setting on the active burners.  Too high, decrease the heat setting.  Leave the beans untouched for about 30 minutes.  Return to the grill, stir the beans and check the wood chunks.  If the chunks are still emitting smoke, close the grill lid and leave for an additional 10 minutes or so, or until fork tender.  Remove the pan from the grill and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

Buttery, Smoky Finish

finished Fava beans with the smoky appearance to the outside podsAfter the beans have cooled enough to be handled, take each pod and push the beans out one end into a bowl.  You may keep the empty pods to use for making broth or for puree in a sauce or smoothie.  These Fava beans are now ready for you to enjoy as is or use in your favorite recipe.   Now, I’m taking my Fava beans and making a dip with goat cheese, lemon and tarragon.

 

 

Purchase products:

Wood Chunks- Double Filet

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Additional reading:

-STEPPING UP RADISH SALAD WITH A WOOD-FIRED FLARE

-WOOD GRILLING AVOCADO

-INFUSING WOOD SMOKE INTO BRUSSELS SPROUTS

You Can take your fresh Fava Beans and put them on the Grill with wood chunks to do a "Grilled Fava Beans" for your favorite dip or condiment!

You Can take your fresh Fava Beans and put them on the Grill with wood chunks to do a “Grilled Fava Bean” for your favorite dip or condiment!

Next Page »