During stay at home or Quarantine doesn't mean you should place your taste buds on hold!

During stay at home or Quarantine doesn’t mean you should place your taste buds on hold!

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Stay at Home

You’ve committed to a stay-cation.  Lists of games to play, tasks to complete, books to read, and movies and shows to see have been compiled.  Now its time to give some thought to the food that will sustain you during this time.

Don’t compromise taste because your afraid to make too much work out of cooking.  Using the grill is a super easy way to keep your foods and meals highly flavorful.  Let’s give you some ideas that will provide options for everyone to feel satisfied and pleasantly full.

The Breakdown

I think the easiest way to view meal preparation when you focus on the grill as your primary method of cooking is to breakdown foods by categories.

Fruits:

This group of food can make some of the best grilled items.  Already sweet in flavor, grilling them produces more vibrant flavor as the heat caramelizes the natural sugars and produces a char to the outside of the fruit.  When selecting fruits for the grill, be sure they are ripe but not over-ripened to where they present as soft, or they will have tendency to break apart on the grill.  Keep the pieces of fruit large when placing on the grill to maintain as much cell structure as possible.  Brush the fruit pieces lightly with a high heat oil like coconut, avocado, or grape seed.  The key is to leave the pieces untouched for at least 3 minutes before flipping to get great char and flavor infusion.  Perfect fruits for the grill: banana, avocado, apple, mango, peach, papaya, pineapple, peach, pear, plum, grapes, cranberry, eggplant, kiwi, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, tomato.

Vegetables:

You likely are already aware of popular vegetables to grill like corn on the cob, peppers, and onions, but there are so many more that pair perfectly with the grill.  In fact, I would go as far as saying ANY vegetable is appropriate for the grill, you just need to control those that should be exposed to direct heat versus indirect.  The easy method of determining heat level is the thicker the skin on the veggie, the more tolerant to direct heat.  All vegetables can cook on the grill in less than 10 minutes so time really isn’t a factor.  Always remember to avoid moving the vegetables on the grill until they have cooked for at least 3-4 minutes.  For preparation to the vegetables, most require just quartering or slicing in half, with some going on whole like tomatoes and smaller mushrooms.  Basting with high heat tolerant oils is also recommended.

Nuts and Seeds:

These are foods that react with a super boost in flavor when exposed to the heat of a grill and flavor of wood on the grill.  Any seed or nut can be grilled by using a disposable foil pan or griddle pan designed for grilling.  These items take about 15-20 minutes and should be stirred every 5-8 minutes to prevent scorching.

Baked Items:

Anything you normally would bake in an oven can be done on the grill.   This includes cookies, cakes, breads, pies, tarts, and pastry.  Just remember, like vegetables, these items can be a bit more fragile.  Using a two-zone cooking set up on the grill – baked item placed on the unlit side of the grill while the heat is on the opposite side – produces a radiant heat that will cook the item evenly and without any direct hot spots.  I will say that baked items tend to do best on a LP/Gas grill versus charcoal unit.

Animal Proteins:

Of course, animal proteins are well known as a grilled food item.  My recommendation here is to marinate items with either wet or dry rubs for 8 hours to ensure great moisture in the finished product.

As a final note, grilled foods store very well and don’t lose any of their flavor when refrigerated.  Plus, it’s easy to grill a variety of items at the same time.  Any meal – breakfast, lunch, dinner – can be done exclusively on a grill.  For those that love even more char flavoring, think about adding wood chunks either in a smoking box or directly on grates or heat shields.  You can learn more about this technique for the gas grill here.

Do you plan to take a stay-cation?  Leave us a comment and subscribe to get our latest tips, techniques, recipes and the science behind the fire and smoke, for all live fire cooking methods.  That’s SmokinLicious!

Purchase products:

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

Wood Chunks- Single & Double Filet

More related reading on more to do during this staycation year see our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More related reading on more to do during stay at home time see our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More blogs you might enjoy!

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

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

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

-HOW TO TURN YOUR CHARCOAL GRILL INTO A SMOKER

Dr. Smoke-

Dr. Smoke-Don’t put your taste buds on hold during this stay at home or Quarantine year!

Bagged boxed or canned foods can be cooked on any grill

Any grill, yes gas grill,bagged boxed or canned foods can be cooked!

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Bagged Boxed or Canned

If you have one or more grills at your home then likely, without even knowing it, you have prepped for emergency situations.  I’ve been encouraged to see while social distancing is in place, people are reaching out to their grills to cook family meals.  It is simply fabulous!

Don’t limit the use of this cooking equipment to the traditional items like animal proteins and thick-skinned vegetables like peppers, onions, and corn.  Embrace the concept that nearly anything can be cooked on the grill.

Bagged Food Items

Common bagged food items that are considered perfect for storing as emergency food rations include: rice, dried pasta, dried beans, oats, quinoa, trail mix, dried fruits, candy, snack foods like chips and cookies, cornmeal, granola, and more.

Any of these items can be used in food preparation on the grill as long as you have cookware that can tolerate the heat of the grill or even use disposable foil pans or aluminum foil that you can mold into your own cookware.

Starting with common items like rice, dried pasta and beans, and quinoa, these items can be cooked in water or broth using cookware placed directly on the grill grate.  Generally, direct heat works for these items, since you need to reach a boil and then simmer these items for a relatively long period before they are tender.  Trail mix, oats and dried fruits work great as breakfast items to cook with milk or milk substitutes, again using a saucepan directly on the grill.  Snack foods, candy, trail mix and more work well for making desserts on the grill.  Cookie crumbs work for making tart and pie shells, crushed chips for crusting animal proteins, and candy for those special treats that may just include some type of chocolate candy and prepared phyllo dough sheets, which I always keep available in my freezer for spur of the moment needs.

Boxed Food Items

Although some of the items listed above such as dried pasta, rice, and beans also come in box packaging, I want to address some of the other boxed foods that you may not think of cooking on the grill.  As life has become busier, many food manufacturing companies maximized the need for ready meals by providing meal prep in a box that just may need the addition of a protein or liquid to bring the meal alive.  Don’ forget to use the grill for these items.  For example, macaroni and cheese often comes in a box with the packaged ingredients that only require the addition of milk.  Here’s where you can take these items and step the up.  Cook the boxed item in a saucepan on the grill while also grilling some meat or poultry that can be added to the boxed item for more nutritional value.  Knorr® is another company that makes many main entrées in a packet or box that can easily be cooked and modified on the grill.   Other options to cook on the grill: Stove Top Stuffing, Chef Boyardee Pizza Maker, Near East rice blends, Hamburger Helper, Miracle Noodle packets, and more.

Canned Food Items

Without question, this is a large concentration of foods that are packaged in cans.  When you can cook these items on the grill with a bit of wood for added flavor, you’ll bring this from an ordinary food to something with greater flavor depth.  Dinty Moore stews, Chef Boyardee pasta and meat items, Hormel items like tamales and hash, Campbell’s soups, and even some upscale items like Duck Confit are available in cans and ready for the pot located on the grill.

Final Tips

We often have considered the grill as a “summer” or “good weather” item only to be used when we feel like it.  Turn your thinking around and start to view the grill as a true extension of the kitchen that should be used frequently.  If you’ve never considered owning a charcoal grill, bring one in as the ultimate prepper item.  You will no longer be dependent on propane or gas to operate it, just charcoal or other plant based combustible material.  That type of grill could truly save you in a pinch.  Or, consider doing a safe set up of an outdoor self-made grill, which just requires some fire-safe material like stone, brick, sand, or metal.  Use a grill grate you already have or high heat cookware to do the cooking by hot coals and fire.

I always recommend you keep an inventory of disposable foil pans around for outdoor cooking as well.  This is an easy method of cooking foods without breaking out a ton of pots and pans that will require cleaning.  Although I still like to clean some of my foil pans for re-use, know you always have the option to use and discard.  This is particularly helpful when utilities may be down.

If you’re quarantined, what type of foods are you cooking and how?  Leave us a comment and subscribe to get our latest tips, techniques, recipes and the science behind the fire and smoke, for all live fire cooking methods.  That’s SmokinLicious!

SmokinLicious® Products:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

More related reading cooking Canned, boxed or bagged foods on a grill along with other tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More related reading cooking  bagged boxed or canned foods on a grill along with other tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

Additional reading

-CUTS OF MEAT THAT GRILL & SMOKE WELL & PROVIDE MORE THAN ONE MEAL

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

-Thermal Heating Process is Why You Shouldn’t Be Concerned About Receiving a SmokinLicious® Package

-THE SMOKER WATER PAN EXPLAINED!

 

Dr. Smoke-

Dr. Smoke-Bagged boxed or canned foods can be made interestingly flavorful on any grill

Our collage for makeing Spatchcock Smoked Turkey showing the breast bone removal

Spatchcock Smoked Turkey is perfect for even cooking! Moist and smokey what a delectable combination

Try this Spatchock Smoked Turkey Click To Tweet

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Smoked Spatchcock Turkey

Often when faced with cooking a whole turkey, you find the challenge of ensuring every part of the bird is cooked to temperature.  This can result in some extra work in ensuring that certain parts that cook faster don’t dry out or burn on the exterior.  Think the wings and drumsticks.  It’s a lot of work!

I’m going to introduce you to a method of cooking a turkey that will ensure every part cooks at the same rate and to the same doneness level without having to cover specific parts with foil.  Spatchcocking a whole turkey meets that goal and by doing the cooking process on the gas grill with hardwood, you get the added benefit of a smoke flavor and oven room for preparing other dishes.

Order up a whole turkey, preferably under 24 lbs., and let’s meet in the kitchen to prepare the bird for smoking.

Does Fresh Make a Difference?

Our Fresh Turkey out of the box ready for us to do Spatchcock Smoked Turkey

#freshturkey

 There is no question that I prefer a fresh turkey over frozen as the flavor is simply cleaner and the bird produces super moist meat compared to a frozen turkey.  We are fortunate to have within 10 miles of our location, a fresh turkey farm that harvests turkeys once a year, just a couple of days ahead of Thanksgiving.  My bird weighed in just under 22lbs. The organs and neck are removed from the cavity and the bird flipped breast side down to expose the backbone.  This is where we start our spatchcock process. Get sharp cutting shears ready as we prepare to remove the backbone of our turkey.

Tasting Notes: If fresh whole turkey is not available, you may substitute frozen whole turkey.  Just be sure it is completely defrosted and pat dried before starting this recipe.

Flatten and Rub for a Perfect Spatchcock Smoked Turkey

I won’t lie to you.  Removing the backbone of a fresh turkey can be a bit of work, but it is so worth it.  Start on one side of the backbone, insert sharp kitchen shears, and start to snip away.  You’ll draw the shears along the edge of the backbone, releasing the bone from the meat.  Done correctly, the spine will come out in one piece.

We have cut and completely removed the breast bone, which will allow us to press down and flatten the turkey

#spatchock

With the backbone removed it’s time for the final preparation to the turkey.  Flip the turkey back so the breast is facing up.  Time to break the breastbone so the turkey will lay flat on the cooking sheet pan.  This will take both hands and a lot of force.  Position your hands across the breast and push down with all your force until you hear the breast plate break.  Now the turkey should be able to lay flat on a sheet pan equipped with a rack for rendering all the juice and allowing even heat distribution around the entire bird.  The rack is key to use so heat distributes evenly.  The turkey is now ready for a rub with your favorite seasonings, herbs, and spices.

Using your hands to push down and flatten the Turkey on the cooking sheet allows for an even cook!

#spatchocking

I’m using a simple herb rub that includes fresh sage, oregano, thyme, crushed red pepper, black pepper, marjoram, basil and cumin.  I place my ground rub all over the skin of the bird and on the exposed meat side, reaching under the breast skin as well.  Now cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  All this work can be done the night prior to grilling ensuring all that is left to do, is the simple two-zone cooking.  Remember, two-zone cooking  involves turning only half the burners on and placing a metal smoker box of wood chunks on the hot grate or directly on the heat shield of the hot burners.   Be sure you have the box and hardwood at the ready for this step.

With our prepared spatchcock turkey readied, the sheet pan is added to the grill on the no heat side and the lid is closed.  I leave this to cook on its own for about two hours before returning to rotate the pan, checking the smoker box of wood chunks I’m using on the lit side of the grill for the great smoke flavor.  Remember, the heat from the burners that are lit will radiate throughout the entire grill, grill-roasting the turkey while the heat stimulates the release of the smoke vapor from the wood.

We use our smoker box with Double Filet Wood chunks to add the smoke while doing a two zone cooking method!

#twozonecooking #woodchunks#smokerbox

Tasting Notes: If you prefer, you can cook the turkey directly on the grill grate.  Just be sure to place a water pan under the grate to collect all the juices.

Ready in No Time

My nearly 22 lb. fresh turkey takes about 3-3/4 hours to reach a 165°F internal temperature.  In total, I use about 8 double filet wood chunks for the entire process.  The best part, I can do other things while the turkey cooks, then rest it for about 20 minutes before carving.  Don’t forget about all the beautiful juice it produces in the pan as well.  Make gravy, use it as au jus, or save it for producing stock.  Spatchcock fresh turkey – the easiest method of no-fuss grilling and smoking of a turkey!

What’s your favorite spatchcock turkey recipe?  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®.

Nice golden brown color to the bird, just cut into it for the best moist meat!

#spatchcocksmokedturkey

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SmokinLicious® Products used in this technique:

Our hand split double filet smoker wood chunks

#woodchunks

Wood Chunks- Double Filet

More related reading on Spatchcock Smoked Turkey and other Sptachcocking itmes see our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More related reading on Spatchcock Smoked Turkey and other Sptachcocking itmes see our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More blog topics you might enjoy:

-SPATCHCOCK CHICKEN IS THE WAY TO MOISTURE & HARDWOOD FOR FLAVOR

-SMOKE A TURKEY- LEARN HOW

-THE NOT-SO-SMOKEY SMOKED TURKEY

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

Dr. Smoke- Great moist smokey meat from our Spatchcock Smoked Turkey- awesome way to cook the "bird"

Dr. Smoke- Great moist smokey meat from our Spatchcock Smoked Turkey- awesome way to cook the “bird”

We discuss how long do wood chips last in an electric smoker!

We discuss how long do wood chips last in an electric smoker!

How long do wood chips last in an electric smoker Click To Tweet

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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.

(more…)

Let's stop the Dry Smoker effect-BBQ meats with our 9 easy steps!

Let’s stop the Dry Smoker effect-BBQ meats with our 9 easy steps!

WHY IS MY BARBECUE MEAT DRY?? Click To Tweet

Summary:

The best way to keep meat moist while smoking is to follow the recommended cooking temperatures for meats! Wood fired cooking, wood smoker, electric smoker, charcoal grill, or gas grill a meat thermometer is a MUST! Meat cooking temperature is important for outdoor cooking to prevent why is my barbecue meat dry!

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You thought you timed the meat perfectly on your smoker or grill.  When it came time to cut it, all you found was a gray, dry former piece of meat staring back at you.

What went wrong?

Don’t fall into your old habits when it comes to outdoor cooking, whether you’re using a traditional wood or electric smoker, charcoal grill or gas grill.  Learn some easy tips to keep your foods juicy and enticing this outdoor cooking season.

(more…)

Our Grill drawing for breaking out on your staycation

The Grill is the focal point of your Staycation this year!

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The Grill

The reports are in and all point to one common theory: people are likely to cancel previous plans to vacation away, especially those considering foreign travel, and instead opt for a staycation.

What does this mean for the economy?  Of course, there will be negatives with this decision not to travel but one potential positive is the soar in potential grill sales as people begin to ponder ways to keep home cooking interesting.

The Many Grilling Options

Likely the first assessment for most considering a staycation is what do we do for food.  People often have dining out plans built into their weekly schedule but due to concerns with visiting populated locations like a restaurant, food truck, or even street vendor, these locales will likely be one of the first voluntary bans.  That means, cooking at home just moved to the front of the line.  Cooking on the stove top or in the oven are certainly options, but given you want to keep your body from getting bored you’ll likely want to branch out to the outdoors and start grilling, especially if the weather makes that enticing.

Here’s where the lesson needs to be learned.  Don’t just settle for cooking direct heat method like you do with hamburgers, hot dogs and sausages.  Learn how to grill with indirect heat and you’ll be in great position to put a variety of foods including vegetables, animal proteins, and even fruits and nuts on the grill.

The starting point, however, is to assess your current outdoor cooking equipment and decide the following:

► Is the equipment in good working order to be used frequently?

► Are there any components of the grill that need replacing?  For example, the grill grates, heat shields, ignitors, wheels on a portable unit, charcoal pan, water pan, etc.

► Is the current equipment of adequate size to feed your family all at once?

► Is the equipment easy to operate meaning it won’t burdened you with constant supervision?

► Does the equipment have an option for a dedicated fuel set up like LP gas conversion to natural gas which will allow you full use without having to worry about filling LP tanks?

► If you want to up the flavor of your grill foods, can you easily add wood to the unit?

If you’re in the market for a new grilling unit, assess the frequency of its use and what you want to be able to cook on it before making the purchase.  The more frequent use the higher quality the materials that make up the grill need to be, to keep the grill functional for a very long time.

In the end, you not only will have piece of mind in knowing you can feed your family great tasting foods, but you’ll likely have a great opportunity to bond in a great outdoor environment.

Do you plan to take a staycation?  Leave us a comment and subscribe to get our latest tips, techniques, recipes and the science behind the fire and smoke, for all live fire cooking methods. That’s SmokinLicious!

SmokinLicious® Products:

Charwood

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

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

 

More related reading on breaking out the grill on this years staycation and  for more smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More related reading on breaking out the grill on this years staycation and  for more smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

Related reading:

 

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

-Thermal Heating Process is Why You Shouldn’t Be Concerned About Receiving a SmokinLicious® Package

-OUR AIR HANDLING PROCESSES PAY OFF IN THE BATTLE WITH COVID-19

Dr. Smoke-

Dr. Smoke- don’t let your staycation this year affect your meals.  Break out the Grill for great tasting meals

The Smoker <strong><span style="color: #3366ff;">Water Pan</span></strong> explained for grilling and smoking techniques!

The Smoker Water Pan explained for grilling and smoking techniques!

THE SMOKER WATER PAN EXPLAINED FOR GRILLING & SMOKING Click To Tweet

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If you’ve purchased a smoker, you’re likely familiar with the term “water pan”.  If, however, you’re more of an LP/Gas Grill person, than this term is likely one that escapes your knowledge.

Water pans are a means of introducing valuable moisture into the cooking environment which has immense value when grilling and smoking.  Let me explain each of the pros of learning and using a water pan for your outdoor cooking, no matter the type of equipment you’re cooking on.

Water Pan Pro #1

Temperature control.  This is the ultimate need when you grill or smoker, especially when you smoke.  Maintaining a stable temperature that you’ve predetermined.  When the day is scorching hot and the equipment is made of metal, you will experience a challenge with temperature control.  Introduce a water pan, and your battle can be won.

A water pan goes above the heat source.  If using a charcoal grill or charcoal/wood smoker, this pan would be placed above the coal area.  Have an electric unit and you’ll find the pan over the electric heating element.  If you want to introduce a water pan on an LP/Gas Grill, this would be placed over the lit burners.  Many vertical smokers come with a water pan.

Water Pan Pro #2

Water cannot go above the boiling point which is 212°F.  Additionally, evaporative cooling also takes place as the water is exposed to heat.

Water Pan Pro #3

A water pan can become the number one tool when doing direct heat cooking over an open flame.  Why?  It acts as a repellent for the flame giving your foods a chance to survive without becoming a blackened, dried out, former piece of food.

Water Pan Pro #4

Are you having trouble with hot spots in your equipment?  Well, a water pan will even them out.   Now, the temperature you desire can essentially be locked in just by using a water pan.

Water Pan Pro #5

Humidity that develops from the use of a water pan keeps the surface of the meat moist, which in turn, attracts smoke vapor, which in turn, produces great flavor.  The water vapor mixes with the combustible gases which are emitted from the burning material and add to the overall flavor.  Yes, water is a passageway to all things flavorful!

What Goes in the Water Pan

It’s called a water pan for a reason.  It is designed to hold water, specifically hot water to keep the cooker from wasting energy on heating cold water put in the pan.  Here’s a tip when you fill the water pan: use a teapot to fill the pan while it’s in place so you don’t take the chance of spilling hot water on surfaces or you.  Remember, water evaporates while other liquids don’t evaporate.

Don’t Make the Water Pan a Drip Pan

Here’s the thing with a drip pan.  Due to its location directly over the heat source, when used on vertical units it often serves double duty as a drip pan.  Don’t do that!  Here’s why.  The rendered fat drippings can produce an oil slick on the surface of the water which will prevent water evaporation.

Make Cleaning a Snap

Here’s a couple of tips when using a water pan.  If your unit comes with a water pan, line it in aluminum foil which will allow you to simply pull the foil off and preserve the condition of the original pan.

If you’re using a unit that has no water pan but want to introduce one, simply purchase a disposable foil pan.  You will want to purchase one that is compatible in size to the unit your using, that will fit comfortably over the heat source, and that can hold enough water to prevent you from having to make refill trips every 15 minutes.

Purchase products:

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

Wood Chunks- Single & Double Filet

More Related reading on smoker water pan, see our links for related readings

More Related reading on smoker water pan, see our links for related readings

Additional reading

-PREVENTING DRY BBQ IN YOUR SMOKER

-CAN HARDWOOD BE TOO DRY FOR COOKING?

-TURNING YOUR CHARCOAL GRILL INTO A SMOKER

-TURN YOUR LP/GAS GRILL INTO A SMOKER

www.barbecue-smoker-recipes.com

Dr. Smoke- The smoker water pan explained is essential for moist results in grilling and smoking.

Dr. Smoke- The smoker water pan explained is essential for moist results in grilling and smoking.

Our Readers Are Asking…

What does water pan do in a smoker?

A water pan induces moisture directly into your smoker as an ally for the indirect dispersion of heat.  Never use your water pan as a drip pan.  Remember- drip pans = a collection unit for residual or run off grease from the cooking process; a water pan = water for moisturizing foods.

Our take on the Top charcoal grilling tools - some may surprise you!

Our take on the Top charcoal grilling tools – some may surprise you!

TOP Top charcoal grilling tools Click To Tweet

(more…)

Your Smoker air flow is your Temperature control in smoking and grilling equipment!

Your Smoker air flow is your Temperature control in smoking and grilling equipment!

smoker air flow is your temperature control Click To Tweet

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SMOKER AIR FLOW IS YOUR TEMPERATURE CONTROL

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 of smoker air flow

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.

Chef Bert and Tom using a chimney starter for their grilling needs.

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!

Our Readers Are Asking..

When should I add more wood to my smoker to prevent a bitter flavor?

There are a few possible causes for bitter smoked food outcome and easy to fix:

#1 Outtake vent is to tight – open it a bit more;

#2 Wood chunks are too wet. Don’t pre-soak the chunks. Put them on the charcoal dry;

#3 Using too much wood at a time. It only takes 3–4 chunks to infuse smoke flavor;

#4 Not using an ideal hardwood. Stick to common hardwoods like cherry, maple, oak hickory, pecan, ash, alder, beech. Never use softwoods like pine, spruce, cedar, etc;

#5 Use a water pan to keep a good balance of heat, vapor, and moisture.

SmokinLicious® Products Used in this Blog:

Charwood

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

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

More Related reading about smoker air flow is your temperature control an other cooking subjects.

More Related reading about smoker air flow is your temperature control an other cooking subjects.

 

 

Related readings

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE WATER PAN IN GRILLING & SMOKING

-HOW TO PREVENT BARBECUE MEAT FROM BEING TOO DRY??

-WHAT TO DO IF  MY WOOD CHIPS WON’T SMOKE??

-WHY CHAR-WOOD IS THE BETTER OPTION OVER CHARCOAL

Dr. Smoke for best results in your grilling and smoking enjoyment follow smoker air flow is your temperature control guide.

Dr. Smoke for best results in your grilling and smoking enjoyment follow smoker air flow is your temperature control guide.

How to keep food interesting

How to keep food interesting during the quarantine

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You may be one of the unlucky families faced with the task of social distancing or voluntary/involuntary quarantine.  Without question, this will test the limits of each family member’s patience, flexibility, and cooperation.

Not only are you responsible for ensuring everyone’s safety, you’re tasked with keeping them entertained and fed.  Right now, with internet and utilities intact, you have the option to stream programs, movies, videos, etc., as well as use electrical and gas appliances.  This helps to keep our sanity.  But have you paused to plan for when those items become interrupted or permanently halted?

I’m going to list for you some ways of ensuring you can remain comfortably fed while also enjoying some foods that you consume when you’re not quarantined.

#1 Wood Fired Treats:

Part of the reason we go out to eat is we order items that wouldn’t be commonly prepared at home.  Often, this includes foods that are live fired such as grilling over charcoal and/or wood or smoked with hardwood.  This is where those larger cuts of meat come in handy.  You can fire up the grill with a two-zone set up and some hardwood for added flavor, cooking enormous quantities of meat that can be used for many meals.  Think pork shoulder, full racks of pork ribs, whole chicken and turkey, beef roasts and brisket.  There are so many options including whole fish.  Obviously, if we lose gas and electric services, you’ll need an alternative grill like a charcoal unit, fire pit, wood burning fireplace, or butane-using equipment.  Or, you can make your own using bricks or rocks and a grate from another unit or simply place cast iron right in the coal bed.  Even a charcoal chimney starter can be used in a pinch as a grill.

#2 Foods That Never Expire:

Powdered milk, dried beans, Spam, whole grains, honey, dried pasta.  These are the items you’ll want to have on hand for the “when it happens” scenario as they last forever.  Powdered milk can easily be mixed with other ingredients to make sauces, milk, and treats.  Spam is one of those canned meats that can be a go to for emergency needs but what likely isn’t know is just how versatile it can be in recipes.  This is a perfect item to grill or even smoke as substitute for fresh meats like sausage, bacon, ground meats.  It can be sliced for making sandwiches and sliders, cubed and diced to be used with eggs, rice, quinoa, and pasta.  Dried beans and pasta are also perfect for cooking on a grill even though they need a longer time in water to cook tender.  Use grill-safe cookware on your grill, fire pit, or wood burning fireplace and you’re on your way to a great meal.

#3 Hot Smoking:

Preserving meat can be a challenge if you don’t have refrigeration for storing.  That’s where hot smoking becomes a skill set that could possibly save you from going without animal protein.  You need to make a hot coal bed that produces a lot of smoke not flames.  That means you’ll need green hardwood to produce the smoke, which is wood containing about 20% moisture.  Collect hardwoods like maple, oak, hickory, cherry, etc., and make a racking or hook system that will allow the meat to hang in an enclosure (a wood clothes drying rack works great for this purpose).  A modified smokehouse made from a tarp that is anchored to the ground works just fine, if the enclosure can hold the smoke around the meat and maintain a temperature of 150°F. The better your enclosure the better it will retain heat and will require far less wood. Meat smoked for 12 hours will be preserved for about 1 week, while meat smoked for two days can last 14-28 days depending on the type and cut.

#4 Outdoors:

One benefit of getting to be home is the option to engage in outdoor cooking.  Take advantage of doing as much as you can in the outdoors, whether on a standard LP/Gas grill, charcoal grill, fire pit, outdoor fireplace, or other outdoor equipment.  It provides an opportunity to enjoy the air and feel less like a prisoner.  Also, keep in mind that the more options you give yourself for cooking, the more food you can produce.  For instance, you might have a pork shoulder smoking with wood on one grill, while doing a sheet pan of vegetables on another unit, while making a sauce or flavored butter in a saucepan on the side burner or a butane cooker.  Just remember, if you are using wood and/or charcoal, once the heat is reduced to hot embers, use that to do additional foods like potatoes, peppers, onions, or even  put a covered Dutch oven in the hot bed to cook another day’s meal.  You can cook any meal on outdoor equipment so begin to experiment and get a comfort zone, and you will be a survivor in any situation.

If you’re quarantined, what type of cooking are you doing?  Leave us a comment and subscribe to get our latest tips, techniques, recipes and the science behind the fire and smoke, for all live fire cooking methods.  That’s SmokinLicious!

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

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

Other blogs you might enjoy:

-THE EASY METHOD TO COLD SMOKED CHEESE

-A DIY STOVE TOP SMOKER MAKES PERFECT SMOKED RICOTTA CHEESE

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

-SPAM® ON A CHIMNEY STARTER FOR QUICK GRILLED ASIAN SLIDERS

SmokinLicious® products:

Our hand split double filet smoker wood chunks

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Charwood

Dr. Smoke-

Dr. Smoke-During the quarantine read our how to keep food interesting ideas!

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

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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.

Chef Bert & Tom explaining the two zone cooking method

#chefbertandtom

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.

What is a two zone fire?   You may ask…

 A two zone fire is also called two-zone cooking method can be used to grill or smoke any type of food on any grill (smoker, gas, charcoal, wood-fired or electric)!  Setting up a two-zone cooking method is very easy- have a hotter side on one half of the grill and a lower or no setting on the other half. A two zone fire gives the cook or chef “a stylized or finessed” way to grill without ruining great food flavors by over cooking.  It is especially the best way to cook meats and vegetables. Keep in mind that grills radiate and transfer heat, so it’s really not necessary to crank up every burner or heat source to a temp equivalent to the Sun!  It’s as simple as that!

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 FiletVisit our store to buy products

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!

Try our technique on Smokey Sweet Potatoes for a great addition to your BBQ!

Try our technique on Smokey Sweet Potatoes for a great addition to your BBQ!

Try Smokey Sweet Potatoes for your BBQ Click To Tweet

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We introduced you to smoked potatoes some time ago giving you an easy method of smoking cubed potatoes .  Now, we look at sweet potato, a very popular root vegetable that does particularly well on the grill.  This time, we’ll smoke the potatoes whole to allow for versatility for recipes.

Get 5 or 6 sweet potatoes selected, preferably of equal size, and let’s get to the grill!

Choose Your Equipment

I’m going to use two pieces of equipment today to demonstrate how easily it is to work with what you own to add a smoke component

For my gas grill, I’ll be using a smoker box equipped with 3-4 wood chunks in double filet size.  For the charcoal grill, I’m incorporating both lump charcoal and briquet for the fuel and adding double filet wood chunks for flavor.  My charcoal grill is a traditional kettle grill.  Both these units are set up for two-zone cooking which means the fuel is on one side – in the case of the gas grill, burners are lit on one side only, for the charcoal grill, charcoal is banked to one side of the grill, using both lit and unlit coals to sustain the heat level.  All cooking will be done on the side that does not have any direct heat.

Our Smokinlicious wood chunks on the coals providing great smokey flavor for these smokey Sweet Potatoes

#woodchunks

With a target cooking temperature of 325-350°F, these sweet potatoes will cook up and get smoky in no time!

Tasting Notes: Preparation of the sweet potatoes prior to smoking is simple.  Wash the potatoes well, pat dry, and then trim off the two ends.  Using a knife, pierce the ends one time and the sides several times to provide injection areas for the smoke vapor.  This will ensure an even smoke flavor.

No Work Grilling & Smoking Smokey Sweet Potatoes

Once the grill of your choice is set up, it’s just a matter of placing the whole potatoes on the grill grate, indirect side, and allowing them to tenderize.  This will take about 75 minutes total.  There is no need to do any rotation of the potatoes; just allow to infuse with flavor. 

Our double filet wood chunks in the smoker box on the gas grill providing the flavor for our smokey sweet potatoes

#twozonecooking

If you’ve followed our recommendation for the charcoal grill – placing unlit charcoal/briquets on the direct side of the grill, lighting a chimney starter of charcoal, and pouring over the unlit coals when glowing hot, then adding the wood chunks – you’ll have plenty of fuel for the entire cook time.

Once tender, remove from the grill and set aside to use in your favorite sweet potato recipe.  I’ll be making a smoked sweet potato and chipotle soup with mine, which we will post the recipe soon.

One important point is to know that the boldness of the smoke will be much greater from a charcoal grill than a gas/LP unit.  You can see the difference on the skin of the potatoes that I’ve grilled today.  Nevertheless, grilled and smoked sweet potatoes are full of sweet, smoky flavor you’ll want to enjoy all year long.

What’s your favorite sweet potato recipe?  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 recipe:

Foto de nuestros trozos de madera especial usó en filete flanco enrollado

#woodchunks

Wood Chunks- Double Filet

More related reading on smokey sweet potatoes- see our smoking &amp; Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

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

Other blog topics like this one:

-INFUSING WOOD SMOKE INTO BRUSSELS SPROUTS

-HOW TO TURN YOUR CHARCOAL GRILL INTO A SMOKER.

-SMOKED CHEESY POTATOES- WHAT A WONDERFUL TWIST

Dr. Smoke- Smokey Sweet Potatoes are just Yummy!

Dr. Smoke- Smokey Sweet Potatoes are just Yummy!

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

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

COAL FIRE CAULIFLOWER BY COOKING ON A CHIMNEY STARTER

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

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

Why a Chimney Starter

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

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

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

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

Chef Bert stresses the importance of not using lighter fluid

#chefbertandtom

Prep and Cook

Pouring the butter over the cauliflower resting on our grill plan

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

Embers Give Char Flavor

nicely charred Cauliflower ready for our recipe!

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

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

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

What does a chimney starter do?

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

SmokinLicious® products used in this blog:

Our hand split double filet smoker wood chunks

#woodchunks

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

More Related reading on this subject

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

Related reading:

-Cauliflower roasted on LP/Gas Grill over wood chunks

-EMBER COOKED SWEET PEPPERS

-Grilling/Roasting Broccoli on the Grill

-EMBER COOKING/ROASTING GARLIC IN AN IRON SKILLET

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

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

Our Char-wood is produced by Direct firing our North American hardwood blocks until the right amount of Carbonization is achieved!

Our Char-wood is produced by Direct firing our North American hardwood blocks until the right amount of Carbonization is achieved!

WHY CHAR-WOOD IS THE BETTER OPTION OVER CHARCOAL

SUMMARY:

Binchotan charcoal is made from the Japanese direct fire method of making charcoal with Kiln! Japanese charcoal making has been around for centuries and burns longer than lump hardwood charcoal! We have replicated their process and make our Char-wood from our North American hardwood blocks! Carbonization is key to Char!

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Frankly, the term “charwood” may be a new one for you.  Although its function is like charcoal, the benefits clearly outweigh those of charcoal.  Let’s examine the key reasons why charwood may be the better option for outdoor cooking over standard charcoal.

Carbonization

Hopefully, if you’ve been engaging in outdoor grilling and/or smoking for some time. You’ve understood the need for a fuel material that burns evenly and hot.  You’ve likely also heard the controversy that’s brewed for years about what is the best product to use for the fuel.  Products range from briquets, lump hardwood charcoal, specialty wood charcoal, and compressed woods like pellets and compressed wood blocks.  The key is to understand that some of these products could contain binding agents as well as accelerants to make for easy lighting.

Carbonization is the conversion of an organic matter into carbon.  Carbon is an element that forms when the organic matter is heated to a high level without oxygen, burning off the volatile gases, leaving the pure carbon behind.   Although commercial material production, whether briquet, hardwood charcoal, or standard charcoal have different percentages of carbonization in the outcome, most are above 90%.  That high level of carbonization is what allows for heat to be produced for outdoor cooking.

Flavor

When you use straight charcoal briquets, you are getting heat only with no flavor as that is a fully carbonized or charred product.  Many prefer to use briquets because they are uniform in size and give the same outcome every time they are used.  Fill a chimney starter with briquets, and you’ll have the same number of briquets fit in the chimney every time.

When you use lump hardwood charcoal, you will get variation in sizing from small, chip-like pieces to half-log size pieces.  Here’s information you need to know.  Although the label may read “hardwood”, there is no information on where that hardwood derived from.  Often, manufacturers of lump hardwood charcoal produce their product from recycled materials such as old pallets, lumber scraps from flooring, cabinet, and furniture makers.  They may take in scraps from lumber mills.  When this material is carbonized, it will do so at various levels due to the variation in material sizing.

That means when you cook with it or for that matter when you lite it, expect great variation from use to use due to all the inconsistency in sizing.  The inconsistency will produce a lower percentage of carbonized material than briquets.  So know you may get some minimal flavor from lump hardwood due to poorly carbonized larger pieces of product.  This is the reason there is more ash production with lump hardwood charcoals.

Specialty charcoals, generally made in other countries, are a particularly hard substance, light in weight product, that can be a challenge to lite.  Once they are ignited, however, they produce a lot of heat – often more than the standard briquet.  Very little ash is produced and there is no flavor from this product.

Benefits of SmokinLicious® Charwood

When SmokinLicious® made the decision to manufacture a charwood product, we researched extensively why the Japanese binchotan charcoal, also called white charcoal, was so popular and expensive.  We found that though it could be a challenge to lite, it burned extremely hot, clean, leaving little to no ash, produced no smoke and no flavor.  We produced a similar set up to the Japanese direct-fire method with our charwood production.  Instead of using miniature branches, we use consistently sized wood blocks.  Unlike the binchotan, we do not do a complete carbonization.  The result is you get the ease of lighting like a lump hardwood charcoal, the flavor of premium hardwood.  Plus, the reduced ash production of a briquet, and reduced smoke output than burning wood alone.  We see this as the best of all the options out there.

Now, instead of viewing your charcoal as just a heat generator, when you use SmokinLicious® charwood you have one product that can be used as fuel for temperature while the reduced carbonized center portion produces the flavor.  A premium product that gives premium results!

What is Japanese charcoal?

Binchotan charcoal is made from the Japanese direct fire method of making charcoal with a kiln that has been around for centuries. Japanese charcoal is very expensive and burns longer than lump hardwood charcoal!

Is charcoal made from wood?

Charcoal briquets and lump charcoal are made from recycled materials such as old pallets, lumber scraps from flooring, cabinet, and furniture makers. Some charcoal products may contain binding agents as well as accelerants to make for easy lighting.

Is wood better than charcoal?

Cooking wood can offer an ease of lighting and flavor to your foods while its fuel performance is more consistent than that of many carbonized charcoal products. Plus, wood produces less ash than lump charcoal or briquettes.

SmokinLicious® products:

SmokinLicious® Charwood is produced in a similar set up to the Japanese direct-fire method.Char-wood

More Related reading on this subject

More Related reading on this subject

Additional reading:

-WHY CHARCOAL IS NOT AN INGREDIENT

-WOOD-FIRED APPLES MAKE THE BEST CAKE

-6 TIPS FOR A HEALTHY OUTDOOR COOKING SEASON

 

Dr. Smoke- Your will love using our Charwood!

Dr. Smoke- Your will love using our Char-wood!

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

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

SMOKED HERBS FLAVORS WITH SMOKED HERB DUST

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

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

 Smoke Vapor Infusion

Fresh herbs on the grill using a grilling cage

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

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

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

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

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

Grinding Process

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

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

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

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

So Many Uses

finished herb bottles of smoked Basil and Smoked oregano

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

The Culinary Crew wants you to know …

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

SmokinLicious® products used in this blog:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Minuto & Piccolo

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

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

Additional reading:

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

-STOVE TOP SMOKED CHIVES

-PAN COOK ZUCCHINI ON THE GRILL WITH WOOD FLAVOR

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

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

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