Chef Burt and Tom visit the butcher for weekend large cuts of meat to grill & smoke!

Chef Burt and Tom visit the butcher for weekend large cuts of meat to grill & smoke!

Wow cuts of meat that Grill & Smoke well! Click To Tweet

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For many who have been spending additional time with family, new levels of communication and closeness have resulted, that simply put, want to be continued.  Given that nicer weather also contributes to family time scheduling, I thought I would cover how you can maximize time to spend with family rather than be cooking inside.  Or, worse yet, forfeiting money on takeout food purchases.

Time to cover the cuts of meats that are not only ideal for grilling and smoking but will produce enough meat to provide for more than one meal.  I will also make my recommendations on hardwoods to use for optimal flavor balance.

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Smokinlicious® Cooking Wood in the chimney starter!

Smokinlicious® Cooking Wood in the chimney starter!

COOKING WOOD WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW Click To Tweet

 

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I’m going, to be frank.   When having an opportunity to search through social media photos of various foods cooked by fire and smoke and seeing a reference to the wood, I get uncomfortable.  There doesn’t appear to be the same concern for the choice of wood as there is for the rub, cut of meat, quality of meat, choice of equipment, and sauce.

Why is it that the wood used to flavor the foods grilled and smoked is an afterthought?

Rating Scale for Cooking Wood

Recently, I ran across an article in Reader’s Digest that focused on the dangers of wildfire smoke, especially for those living in areas of the United States that are hit repeatedly by these events.  What struck me the most was the Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index: good, moderate, unhealthy for sensitive groups, unhealthy, very unhealthy, and hazardous.  This guide is used to recommend evacuations of locations, use of HEPA filtration to allow people to remain in an affected area, and as a method of gaining valuable data post-fire on the effects, smoke has on plant life.  There is considerable data available from tree bark which has long been known to absorb pollutants.

This got me thinking about hardwoods used for smoking, grilling, and overall cooking of foods.  There is no regulatory agency that oversees wood used for cooking.  Despite efforts to get the Food Safety and Inspection Services division to recognize the risks associated with cooking with wood, no governmental agency has stepped up to offer regulations in this area such as established inspections of equipment and wood.

Why Kosher is important for Cooking wood!

As the manufacturer of all the products sold under the brand SmokinLicious®, we struggled with what steps to take that would demonstrate our commitment to only offer hardwoods that are considered safe for cooking.  Although we stressed that we are bark-free (an important step to reduce the exposure to toxins locked in the bark layers), that we only manufacture from the heartwood (an area of the tree that is known to be resistant to insects and decay), and that we manufacture each cut to the wood for the end cooking product, we simply desired some validation of these steps.

Since we’ve always considered the wood another ingredient to cooking, we decided to explore the options from the food perspective.  What certification could we apply for that would demonstrate that we are a food-related item?  Kosher certification was the perfect place to start!

Certification Means?

For us, the steps we’ve taken to obtain Kosher certification via VA’AD HAKASHRUS OF BUFFALO verified our commitment to keep our manufacturing facility at the highest standard possible.  People are drawn to kosher food for various reasons including quality, a healthy lifestyle, food safety, and allergy security.  By securing this certification, we can demonstrate to the public that our products satisfy the food quality and safety requirements they should strive for daily.  As such, our customers don’t have to settle for an unregulated product that frankly, could contain pretty much anything in the package because, as pointed out, there is no system of check on wood cooking and smoking products.

The SmokinLicious® Cooking Wood Index

Taking a page from the Environmental Protection Agency, I thought it would be helpful to develop an index to use for hardwood intended for cooking.  Our grading system is based on toxicity factors of a wood, ease of lighting, sustained burn, coal formation, smoke production, and heat level.  Our index is: Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor, Unhealthy.

Excellent: Alder, American Beech, Ash, Cherry, Hickory, Pecan, Maple, Apple

Good: Persimmon, Red Oak, White Oak, Mesquite

Fair: Birchwood, Chestnut, Walnut, Peach

Poor: Aspen, Basswood, Poplar, Sycamore, Butternut, Cottonwood, Elm, Willow, Dogwood

Unhealthy: Buckeye, Hackberry, Gum (Sweetgum)

We hope you will find this guide useful. Use it as a means of sorting through all the types of wood offerings to make an educated decision, to look for key information on the packaging that will confirm you are making a safe decision.  After all, why take any additional risks when it comes to the health and safety of your family.

Making you an informed consumer through valuable articles like this one.  Hope you enjoyed this blog about cooking with wood!  Leave us a comment and subscribe for more great recipes, techniques, tips, and the science behind the flavor, that’s SmokinLicious®.

Products discussed in this Blog:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

More related reading on Cooking wood, how to use and alter its great flavoring capabilities!

More related reading on Cooking wood, how to use and alter its great flavoring capabilities!

 Additional reading:

-WHAT WOOD TO USE FOR SMOKING: A PRIMER

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

-Is It Fresh? Here’s Why You Need to Know

-10 THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE PURCHASING WOOD FOR COOKING, GRILLING & SMOKING

Dr. Smoke- Cooking wood provides great flavor in our BBQ, Smoked Bacon, Ribs and even on Vegetables!

Dr. Smoke- Cooking wood provides great flavor in our BBQ, Smoked Bacon, Ribs and even on Vegetables!

Learn why moldy hardwood is unfit for cooking and smoking food. Do not GRILL WITH MOLDY WOODS!

Learn why moldy hardwood is unfit for cooking and smoking food. Do not GRILL WITH MOLDY WOODS!

SHOULD YOU GRILL WITH MOLDY WOODS? Click To Tweet

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listen to Grill with Moldy Woods

There are many opinions out there in the BBQ world when it comes to the wood used for smoking and grilling.  Some people preach it doesn’t matter where the wood comes from as long as it isn’t a treated lumber.  Comments include, “don’t worry if there are bugs or bug holes – if they’re in there, they’ll just burn up”, or “fires are hot so anything on the wood just burns”.

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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

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Our photo from Rack Slabbath BBQ shows the results of the science of meat color when BBQ properly with wood!

This result from Rack Slabbath BBQ shows the results of the science of meat color when BBQ properly with wood!

Learn the science behind meat color and the smoke ring Click To Tweet

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Barbecue is one of those methods of cooking that is loved by many but not truly understood by those who love it!  I’m always entranced by the fact that barbecue gets mingled with the word grilling when the reality is, these two methods of cooking mean very different things.  One common denominator though is the meat used for these cooking methods that simply becomes a variant of color so completely different from traditional cooking methods like the frying pan, slow cooker, and oven.

Let’s take a closer look first, at what meat is and then how color develops when cooked.

Meat Defined

You likely define meat as an animal protein that is derived from an animal like cattle, pig, chicken, lamb, goat, etc., and you would be correct in a very abbreviated definition.  But there is so much more to meat that most don’t understand.

Meat is mostly the muscle tissue of an animal which is made up of 75% water, 20% protein, and 5% fat, carbohydrates, and various other protein.  The muscles themselves are made of bundles of cells called fibers.  Each cell is comprised of thread-like fibers made of two proteins: actin and myosin.

The purpose of these protein fibers is to make muscles contract and relax, which requires an immense amount of energy, which the fibers derive from the energy-carrying molecule ATP -adenosine triphosphate.  To produce ATP there must be oxygen which muscles get from circulating blood.  When an animal is killed, blood circulation stops resulting in all muscles exhausting their supply of oxygen.  When oxygen is halted it halts the production of ATP, resulting in the sugar stored in muscles known as glycogen, to be broken down without oxygen support.  The result is the production of lactic acid that builds up in the muscle tissue.  If this acid level is too high, the meat loses its water-binding ability and becomes pale and watery.  Too low, and the meat will be tough and dry.  Add to this the calcium release that occurs when the lactic acid builds up, and the myosin and actin proteins become fixed.  It’s important not to freeze animal meat too soon after slaughter or the meat will become tough.  The meat needs to age to allow the enzymes in the muscle cells to break down these overlapping proteins and produce tender meat.

Why We Cook Meat

Denaturing is the process of breaking, unwinding, and coagulating the protein molecules when meat is heated.  When heated, muscle fibers release water.  Remember, meat is roughly 75% water when raw.  You can retain moisture or water content of meat by using some specific techniques including brining, steaming, braising or poaching, and tenderizing using acid.

Here’s a summary of what happens at specific cooking temperatures to meat:

105°F/40°C – 122°F/50°C:

blanch or sear meat first kills surface microbes then allow the proteins to denature at these temperatures giving an aging effect to the meat

120°F/50°C:

meat has a white opacity as the myosin protein denatures.  Red meat begins to turn pink.  This is known as the “rare” stage of meat cooking and when sliced, the juices will break through the weak spots in the connective tissue.

140°F/60°C:

Red myoglobin begins to denature and turns tan colored.  Myoglobin is another protein store in muscle that is water soluble.  You would know this protein as the red juice in meat packaging when you purchase store bought product.  It’s not blood but it does receive oxygen and iron from hemoglobin in blood.  At this temperature, meat releases a lot of juice, shrinks in size, and becomes chewy.  It is known as “medium” in doneness.

160°F/70°C:

Connective tissue is what binds muscles to bone.  Throughout the muscle is a softer connective tissue called collagen.  When cooked, collagen dissolves or melts and becomes gelatin.  This melting is what gives meat a silky texture and moisture.  Collagen starts to accelerate the melting stage at 160°F and continues rapidly until 180°F.  Despite the meat drying out at this temperature, melted collagen is what makes meat seem more tender.  Just remember, lean meats as well as chicken and turkey don’t have much collagen so don’t over-cook them.

The Smoke Ring

Before we discuss the smoke ring, I need to mention the Maillard reaction.  This is the reaction that occurs between amino acids and reducing sugars in meat that is exposed to dry heat such as a frying pan.  What results is that beautiful, brown exterior that gives meat a rich, deep flavor.  This only occurs with a temperature above 300°F and with dry heat.

Now to the pink ring that commonly occurs just under the surface of a smoked meat. The smoke ring is caused by gases in the smoke that preserve the myoglobin and interact with the nitric oxide (NO) and carbon monoxide (CO) in combustible material like charcoal and wood.  The gases react with the iron in myoglobin and result in the telltale ring of pink just under the surface, while the rest of the meat will turn gray due to the NO and CO only having limited penetration ability in the meat.  This chemical reaction is similar to what happens to meats exposed to curing salts which also produce a pink coloring.  The ring stops growing when the meat hits about 170°F and myoglobin loses its oxygen retaining ability.

If you want a smoke ring then you must incorporate cold meat into a low-temperature equipment.  This will allow the meat to remain below 140°F for a longer time which is the temperature at which myoglobin begins turning brown.

As a final note, keep in mind that any meat that goes to black in color is never good.  That means the meat’s surface has essentially turned to carbon and the ingestion of carbon laced foods has been proven to be a carcinogen.  If you take your meat to this stage, do everyone a favor and throw it away.   No one needs to know you took the meat too far!

What is your preferred finished cooked meat method and color?  Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to follow us on all platforms.  Providing tips, techniques, recipes, and the science behind the flame and fire to improve your skills with live-fire cooking! That’s SmokinLicious®!

SmokinLicious® Products:

Charwood

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

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

More related reading on how the science of meat color affects our appetite for great meat our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More related reading on how the science of meat color affects our appetite for great meat our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

Related readings:

-3 METHODS OF SMOKING BOSTON BUTT FOR AUTHENTIC BARBECUE FLAVOR

-TEMPERATURE, MATERIAL AND TIME DETERMINE WHEN ITS CALLED BARBECUE

-WHY IS MY BARBECUE MEAT DRY??

Dr. Smoke-The fun of BBQ is the science of meat color and how it affects the appearance!

Dr. Smoke-The fun of BBQ is the science of meat color and how it affects the appearance!

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.

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

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

The foil pan for smoking is indispensible and why! Click To Tweet

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

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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!

Our 75-75 rule for our Thermal Heating process

Our 75-75 rule for our Thermal Heating process

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You’re limiting your time in stores and other public places.  You’ve taken to online shopping as well as searching for ways to keep your meals interesting and flavorful.  You’re ready to do more grilling in order to keep the family in the household yard, getting some fresh air and UV light when available.  The only concern you have is, how safe is it to receive all these packages at home?  Won’t they be hosts to the virus as well?

Your concern is certainly a valid one and most definitely has basis.  Let’s examine this concern further and explain how the SmokinLicious® procedures protect you.

Why our Thermal Heating Process Makes a Difference

Since 2005, every product manufactured by SmokinLicious® undergoes our Thermal heating process that is a 4-probe computerized system to ensure optimum function of our chamber.  Because we know some fungi spores are only killed at 60°C/140°F, mold spores at 56°C/133°F, and listeria at 74°C/165.2°F, we exceed any regulation for heat level and duration in order to protect the food chain system.  Currently, we use a temperature of 75°C/167°F for a sustained duration of 75 minutes.  We also developed a re-hydration process within our chamber to ensure the hardwood is not depleted of all moisture enabling it to be used for a variety of live fire cooking methods.

The SmokinLicious® Packaging Process

Except for a few micro wood chip products, all the SmokinLicious® online products are packaged in cardboard boxes.  Our Packaging Team adheres to strict disinfectant procedures and utilizes gloves during the packaging process.  We also have automated package loading systems in place for specific products that result in a product no-touch scenario.  Additionally, science believes COVID-19 has a survival capability of 24 hours on cardboard if it is not immediately disinfected.  We recommend upon receiving your carton, you either spray or wipe down the carton with an approved anti-bacterial, anti-viral disinfectant to ensure no risk of host transfer if the carton should become contaminated during the delivery process.  Note, the chances of a viral host surviving on shipped cardboard packages is low due to the variant temperature and humidity the package encounters while in transit.  This makes the package you receive from SmokinLicious® even less of a risk.  For ultimate in safety, disinfect the carton upon arrival, place the product in another container that allows for airflow, and discard the packaging carton.

Thermal Evolution Is the Question

At this stage, we simply don’t have the science about every bacterium and virus that can enter our world.  We do suspect that temperature and more specifically humidity, will play a factor in slowing the infectious rate. The exact temperatures that kill germs/viruses depends on the microbe and how long it stays in the heat. This is the unknown.  This is the waiting game to determine if eradication is possible before the anti-viral becomes available.

While we wait, enjoy the pure, clean flavors of SmokinLicious® and get outside and cook for peace and comfort.

Are you making more online purchases?  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!  Keeping you safe and informed.

More related reading on thermal heating process and other safety precautions we take in our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More related reading on thermal heating process and other safety precautions we take in our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

Additional blog topics to read:

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

-WOOD SAFETY AND OUR EFFORTS TO PROTECT YOU!

-10 Thinks To Consider Before Purchasing Wood For Cooking, Grilling & Smoking

-COOKING WITH WOOD YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE TO THINK ABOUT YOUR SAFETY

SmokinLicious® products:

SmokinLicious Minuto® wood chips

Wood Chips- Minuto®, Piccolo

Dr. Smoke-

Dr. Smoke- We have been using our customized Thermal heating process on our products since 2005

air collection for our products assure safety

Our investment in good air handling systems provide peace of mind for our customers during this COVID-19 outbreak that our products are packaged safely!

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You’re likely at the point where you’re starting to ask a few more questions about the handling of some items you purchase that previously may never have been given a second thought.  You also may be receiving frequent updates from suppliers apprising you of the steps they are taking to ensure no viral agents are being transferred with products they are handling.

This is the point where SmokinLicious® is different.  Handling and cleanliness of our products has been a priority from the start.  We worked to establish our procedures and improve on them as our business grew.

Currently, we have in place an air collection system that allows us to capture our sawdust and wood chip products utilizing clean air piping that provides for a dust-free product outcome, cleaner air for our employees to work in, and ease of moving the products from the collection bins to the finished packaging areas.  An added benefit, the product is not exposed to human handling.  Our employees handle the bins of finished product initially, then stage these for packaging as needed.

Our products are not stored as raw material on the ground or floors.  There are dedicated storage bins for each level of product that can easily be disinfected with natural, food-grade disinfectant methods as needed.

For SmokinLicious®, steps were already in place to maintain a healthy safe environment for our employees and products that make this recent pandemic concern easily managed by us.

It’s further piece of mind that we can continue to supply our pure, clean cooking woods for those that value the benefits of live fire cooking, whether on the grill, fire pit, smoker or fireplace.  Embrace the safety and ease of grilling at home once again with the incomparable flavor of wood.

Do you plan to grill and/or smoke more at home with the recent COVID-19 scare?  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 your SmokinLicious®!  Ensuring your safety and knowledge.

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

More related reading on air collection and other grilling safety tips see our smoking & Grilling tips and technique see our directory on previous blogs!

More blogs you might enjoy:

 

-WOOD SAFETY AND OUR EFFORTS TO PROTECT YOU!

-10 Thinks To Consider Before Purchasing Wood For Cooking, Grilling & Smoking

-COOKING WITH WOOD YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE TO THINK ABOUT YOUR SAFETY

 

SmokinLicious® products:

SmokinLicious Minuto® wood chips

Wood Chips- Minuto®, Piccolo

Smokin’ Dust

Dr. Smoke-

Dr. Smoke- We are sure glad we made the investment in our air handling systems to collect our dust and chip products without many human hands involved.

discussion of the 8 common mistakes to avoid in cooking & grilling with wood

Discussion of the 8 common mistakes to avoid in cooking & grilling with wood

THE TOP 8 MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN COOKING-GRILLING WITH WOOD Click To Tweet

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We are approaching that exciting time of the year when just about all of North America can start to enjoy cooking outdoors again!  Make it the best outdoor cooking season yet by learning the steps to using wood for cooking and grilling successfully, avoiding the trademark pitfalls that sink those outdoor meals.

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image of wood safety and our 75-75 rule

Our 75 degree c for 75 minutes is for wood safety product to protect your health and the environment.

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Wood Safety

You’re likely giving thought to many more potential hosts for the COVID-19 in an effort to keep everyone important to you safe and healthy.  Without question, everything you touch has the potential to be a host for the virus that is spreading so rapidly around the world.  It is without question, a scary time.  What you likely don’t realize is SmokinLicious® has always been committed to protecting our customers from the transfer of potential contaminants.

Not Just Any Wood Supplier

In our previously published article titled, DEMYSTIFYING TERMS USED FOR SELLING SMOKING & GRILLING WOOD we attempted to explain what the varying words used to describe preparation to wood sold for grilling and smoking actually meant.  The important point to take from this article is that these various “labels” don’t relate to what can assure bacterium and viral agents don’t survive if they grab onto the wood to ride as a viral or bacteria host.  In the end, we are the only current supplier who not only sells hardwood only for the purpose of cooking, but utilizes a heat treatment process that is at a level to ensure no microbial or viral agent can latch on to the wood and infect the user.

Even though we use an intense heat level of 75°C/167°F, we developed a method to ensure the hardwood is not dried out to to where it would be classified as firewood, something we never want to be compared with.

Remember, we know some fungi spores are only killed at 60 °C/140 °F, mold spores at 56 °C/133 °F, and listeria at 74 °C/165.2 °F. Although there is no confirmed data on the heat level that COVID-19 dies, we do know that sunlight results in the viral agent only surviving a few hours, given the intensity of the ultraviolet rays.  This suggests that heat does play an important role in reducing the virus surviving.

The current regulations in place for wood just don’t make assurances to safety.  Our efforts reinforce that potentially fatal bacterium cannot enter our food chain.  You can handle our packaging and cook with our products knowing we’ve done our part to ensure no transfer of bacterium or infectious agent.

Can your local firewood or other wood supplier make the same claim?  SmokinLicious® – the brand that’s pure, clean, and safe for cooking.

Do you plan to grill and/or smoke more at home with the recent COVID-19 scare?  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:

Our hand split double filet smoker wood chunks

#woodchunks

Wood Chunks- Double or Single Filet

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

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

Other blog topics you might like:

-TO BARK OR NOT

-10 Thinks To Consider Before Purchasing Wood For Cooking, Grilling & Smoking

-COOKING WITH WOOD YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE TO THINK ABOUT YOUR SAFETY

-WHY MICROBIAL BACTERIA RISK IN YOUR SMOKEHOUSE IS WINNING

Dr. Smoke- follow our wood safety when BBQ ng

Dr. Smoke- We practice wood safety with our Heating process!

 

Steps to make Homemade smoked Bacon

Steps to make Homemade smoked Bacon

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Just about everyone I know loves bacon, even if it’s the store-bought type.  There are so many foods that have been designed around bacon including a chocolate chip cookie recipe featuring caramelized bacon pieces and a bacon ice cream! (which we’ll offer a recipe for soon).

One thing most bacon lovers don’t know is just how easy it is to make your own bacon at home, even the smoked type.  You’ll be amazed at how different the taste and texture are with bacon you make at home.  Just know, my technique will require you to cure the pork belly for a minimum of 7 days so be sure you have refrigerator room and time to wait.  I know – when it comes to bacon it’s sooooo hard!  But it will be worth the wait!

Quality Meat a Must for Homemade Smoked Bacon

Our fresh butchered pork belly  begining our homemade smoked Belly steps

#porkbelly

When making homemade bacon, you’ll need a slab of pork belly, which is a relatively inexpensive cut of pork.   Since this process is a time investment, consider purchasing a quality cut of belly which would be labeled “organic”.  This cut normally comes from heritage breeds like Kurobuta and Berkshire.  This investment will result in richer, meatier, and cleaner flavors to the finished product.

Although a full pork belly will weigh around 12 lbs., you only need about 3 lbs. to give you a sizeable quantity of bacon.  Also, some belly will come with the skin still intact while others will already have the skin removed.  Note, you will need to remove the skin before curing so you likely will want to ask the butcher to do this for you.  If you’re doing skin removal yourself,  simply separate the skin from the fat layer at one corner by inserting a knife point.  Grab hold of the skin and begin making horizontal cuts with the knife in short sections, pulling the skin back as you go.  Leave as much fat layer as you can.  Once removed, it’s time to rub and cure.

Rub and Cure to Flavor

Curing is preserving the meat.  This is done not only by the ingredients in our rub but also by the process of hot smoking which contains antimicrobial benefits.  Remember, when we are done with the smoking process, your bacon will be ready to eat as is, though you will be able to crisp it up if you want in a pan.

For my rub, I’ll be combining the following:

  • 1 cup of maple sugar, coconut sugar or regular sugar
  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon cracked black peppercorn
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
  • ¾ teaspoon pink salt also known as Prague Powder #1
  • 1 crumbled bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
Our seasoning mixture over the pork belly moving along for homemade smoked bacon

#briningporkbelly

Now cover every area of the pork belly with your rub.  Place the rubbed pork belly in either a 13×9 baking dish covered with plastic wrap or in a storage bag.  I prefer the jumbo size bags.  Just be sure to remove all the air from the bag before sealing.

Place the belly in the refrigerator.  Now starts the curing process.  As it cures, the meat releases liquid.  You’ll need to flip the meat every other day to ensure the cure is evenly distributed.  Begin checking after 7 days if the belly is fully cured.  You’ll know the pork belly is ready to be smoked when the meat feels firm to the touch but is still pliable.  Rinse the pork belly under cold water to remove any excess cure or the outcome will be too salty.  We are ready to smoke!

Make It Smoke!

Even if you don’t own a traditional smoker, you can still smoke the pork belly. Here’s the technique:

Charcoal Grill:

You will set up the charcoal grill using a two-zone cooking method.  Start by loading about 3 lbs. of briquets or hardwood charcoal on one side of the charcoal fuel area.   Place a water pan filled with water about 2-inches deep on the non-charcoal side. Then fill a chimney starter ½ full of briquets or hardwood charcoal.  Lite and allow to burn to hot coals, then pour the hot coals over the top of the unlit charcoal in your charcoal grill.  Add a couple of hardwood chunk pieces to the hot coals and allow to start smoking before you add the pork belly.  Once the chunks are smoking, place the cured pork belly on the unlit side of the grate fat side up.  Put the lid on and allow to smoke for about an hour without disturbing.  Keep in mind, your intake vent should be open ½ way as well as the outtake vent at ½.  A 3lb. pork belly will take about 1-1/2 to 2 hours to reach 150°F internal temperature.  By using both hot and cold charcoal, you should not need to replenish the coal bed, just may need to add another chunk or two of hardwood.

Our Pork Belly on the charcoal grill for our homemade smoked bacon

#charcoalgrilling

Gas Grill:

Place a smoker box of small wood chunks directly on your heat shield or on the grill grate.  Turn on only ½ the burners on your gas/LP grill and set to medium temperature setting.  Place a small pan of water on the warming grate to keep a moisture rich environment during the cooking process.  Allow the grill to reach 225°F and to have the wood chunks begin smoking.  Place the cured pork belly fat side up on the unlit side of the grill.  Allow the pork belly to cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 150°F.  Replenish the wood chunks in the smoker box as needed.

Traditional Smoker:

Set up your smoker as normal targeting a 225°F cooking temperature.  Be sure to include a water pan if your smoker doesn’t include one (a disposable foil pan works great).  Again, use 2-3 hardwood wood chunks for the flavor.  Place the pork belly fat side up and cook until the internal temperature reaches 150°F.

Ready to Eat!

Once the pork belly has reached 150°F internal temperature, it is ready to eat as it is fully cooked!  Remember, smoke has an antimicrobial quality which helps to make this consumable at this temperature level.  I recommend you allow the bacon to cool to room temperature on a wire rack set over a sheet pan.  Then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  This will set all those great flavors.

By slicing it paper thin, you can consume this cold and enjoy a more prominent smoke flavor.  However, you may pan fry this like traditional store-bought bacon or oven cook this on a rack over a foiled lined sheet pan for those who prefer a healthier, more rendered fat version.   This method also allows you to do a lot more bacon at one time then pan frying allows.  

Refrigerated homemade bacon will last 5-7 days while frozen will keep for several months.  Once you sample your own homemade smoked bacon, you’ll never purchase prepackaged again! 

Our finished homemade smoked bacon sliced

#smokedbacon

 

 

 

 

 

What’s your favorite method of smoking bacon?  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:

Our hand split double filet smoker wood chunks

#woodchunks

Wood Chunks- Double or Single Filet

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

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

You also might like these blogs:

-MARINATING: THE MYTHS AND TRUTHS TO GUIDE YOU

-SO YOU WANT TO MAKE YOUR OWN DRY RUB

-SALT-FREE DRY RUBBED CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS

-SMOKED CHEESE & BACON QUICHE FEATURING COLD SMOKED CHEESES

Dr. Smoke-

Dr. Smoke- Great fun to make Homemade Smoked Bacon!

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!

Cherry wood for smoking will bring out the sweetness in anything in the smoker!

Cherry wood for smoking will bring out the sweetness in anything in the smoker!

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WILL CHERRY HARDWOOD SWEETEN EVERYTHING IT TOUCHES?-Without question, Cherry is one of the most popular woods for wood-fired cooking, particularly when it comes to hot smoking using traditional smoking equipment.  Despite information SmokinLicious® has provided on this hardwood species (Put a Cherry on It blog & Cherry Wood Question blog), there are still many questions posed and many misunderstandings about this wood.  My intention here is to speak on the cherry varieties in North America and ensure that you can make an informed decision when selecting this hardwood for cooking.

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