Thursday, January 2, 2020

WHY MICROBIAL BACTERIA RISK IN YOUR SMOKEHOUSE IS WINNING

We need to keep out Microbial Bacteria from the food chain!
We need to keep out Microbial Bacteria from the food chain!

With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting some 48,000 cases of food borne illness events each year, resulting in some 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths, food borne illness outbreaks are serious concerns.  This is an added stress to manufacturing facilities that produce smoked food products as they must adhere to multiple regulations regarding the raw food product, smoke process and final smoked food product.  The last thing a facility needs is to worry about the wood material used in the smoking process but that should be a priority for these facilities.   
Why?

Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella enteritidis, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Lactobacillus plantarum, Pseudomonas fluorescens, and Aspergillus flavus have all been shown to survive on plastic material meaning that if a supplier utilizes the standard GMA pallet commonly found in the grocery industry, these microbial bacteria or viruses survive and can flourish increasing the risk that they can be introduced to new food product placed on these recycled plastic  pallets.

 

Hosts of Contamination

With the recent outbreaks affecting romaine lettuce (from E. coli) and beef (from salmonella), attention is being drawn to other potential hosts for the transfer of the bacteria.  We know the common hosts: unsanitary conditions at a farm or packaging facility, food handlers failing to employ personal hygiene standards prior to working with food, food exposed to climate conditions that stimulate the bacteria development.  One potential host that has not been fully publicized is the packaging materials used to transport.   Unfortunately, it is the lack of enforcement in this area that puts the smokehouse industry at further risk.

 

Raw Material Transport

Many smokehouse operations purchase wood product for the smoke infusion from companies that supply the wood chip in paper bags that are then stacked on wooden or plastic GMA pallets. 

Although some of these suppliers may be able to attest that the wood chips have been kiln dried or heat treated to a certain temperature, none confirm to a heat level that would kill all the bacteria previously listed.  Specifically, listeria, which requires a temperature of 74 °C/165.2 °F to be killed, is a key concern in smokehouse operations that include meat, poultry and fish products.

The risk is elevated by the potential for these bags to be penetrated by a stray nail from a wood pallet or sharp edge of a plastic pallet.  If the pallet contains the bacteria, it is a host that can transmit to anything it has contact with.

 

Decreasing Your Risk

In previous testing of wood pallets, one or more of salmonella, E. coli, and listeria were found to be present in as much as 6.8 million spores/gram which is classified as an extremely high count.  Given that domestically, there is no requirement for wood pallets to be heat treated for movement between states, the contamination can be passed to multiple locations with food when the pallet remains in the transportation system.

Although there have been efforts to change the transport of food by road and rail through the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), to date nothing has been regulated on the packaging materials that the food is placed on.

One encouraging finding is that cardboard materials, if correctly stored, reduce the potential for cross-contamination of food due to a quicker viability loss by spoilage and pathogenic microorganisms compared to the plastic packaging.  For this reason, SmokinLicious® only packages our smokehouse wood chip products in cardboard packaging that is then placed on a pallet that has been heat treated to an internal core temperature of 75°C/167°F and holds this minimum temperature for 75 minutes.  We adhere to a higher heat treatment standard as the health and safety of everyone using our culinary products is of highest importance.  We believe that hardwood used for cooking should be regulated independently and adhere to stricter standards than those currently in place for the general wood industry.  Until that regulation is written and enforced, SmokinLicious® will self-regulate our product to this level.

At SmokinLicious®, we believe in Quality and Safety over profit!  Isn’t it time your smokehouse joins us and takes a proactive stand against microbial bacteria like listeria, salmonella, and E. coli and help in the fight to rid our foods of life-threatening bacteria.

What is your biggest concern in your smokehouse food operation?  Leave us a comment to share your views.  Bringing you informative recipes, techniques, and the science beyond the fire, smoke, and flavor.  That’s SmokinLicious®!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

SMOKY WHISKEY COCKTAIL FOR THE HEARTY DRINKER

We did a smoky whiskey cocktail with a sparkling twist!
We did a smoky whiskey cocktail with a sparkling twist!

I’m bringing you another smoked cocktail that is deep in flavor and suited for those who like hearty cocktails.  For this cocktail, I’ll be adding even a deeper flavor to the whiskey by cold smoking it with a handheld food smoker.  A rich syrup is made first and then added to our cocktail that can be served hot or cold.  Perfect, either way, to warm you up on cold winter days!

 

The Syrup

ingredients in the pot warming up To get our Harvest Smoke & Sparkle cocktail started, we need to make the sweet syrup to balance the boldness of the smoked whiskey.  In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together ½ cup of honey, ¼ teaspoon ground ginger, ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon ground clove and 1 cup of orange juice until it starts to bubble.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

If making individual cocktails, it is important to still make the full batch of cider-honey syrup and take the 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of cider-honey syrup from the batch per cocktail.

Tasting Notes: This is referred to as a harvest sparkle due to the traditional spices associated with the Fall.  Feel free to experiment and adjust these flavors as cardamom and allspice also work well.

 

The Construction

With the cider-honey syrup made and cooling, it’s time to take your favorite brand of whiskey and cold smoke flavor into it.  I’m using The Smoking Gun® by Breville which is self-standing to make the actual smoking process easy.
smoking the whiskey with the handheld smoker

After placing the whiskey in a measuring cup, I place the measuring cup in a plastic bag and insert the hose of the smoking appliance into the bag.  I then add a pinch of Piccolo® wood chips to the bowl and turn on the unit while lighting the chips.  Once the smoke fills the bag, I shut off the unit, remove the hose, and cinch the bag closed to allow the smoke to penetrate the whiskey.  It helps to move the whiskey around in the cup to help the smoke molecules to cling to the alcohol.  That’s it!

What is so great about this whiskey cocktail is that is can be served hot or cold.  Today, I’m making the cold version in a large batch to serve many guests.  I start by adding my smoked whiskey and cider-honey syrup to a large pitcher with lots of ice.  Next, I whisk these two ingredients together well.  If making a single cocktail, add an ounce of the smoked whiskey and 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of the cider-honey syrup to a shaker filled with ice.  I strain into a serving glass and add Prosecco and a garnish of rosemary.  I prefer a bit of ice in the glass for the cold version.
Our whiskey and herbs together heating up on the stoveNow, for those that like it hot, simply whisk together the smoked whiskey and cider honey syrup in a saucepan or heat in the microwave for 45 seconds in a mug.  This is one smoked cocktail that will take away any chill in the air!

Do you have a favorite smoked cocktail?  Leave us a comment to let us know and subscribe to our channel to get all the tips, techniques, and recipes we bring your way.  Always eager to share our expertise on all things wood fired, that’s SmokinLicious®!

Thursday, December 19, 2019

SWORDFISH AL A PLANCHA


Discover a great taste with wood chips by cooking Swordfish Al A Plancha
Discover a great taste with wood chips by cooking Swordfish Al A Plancha!
Colder weather can often end your outdoor cooking but it doesn’t have to take away your desire for wood fired foods.  I’m going to show you an easy method of keeping wood fired flavors going even in the coldest, snowiest weather by taking the indoor plancha to my stove top.  I’ll prepare a tasty swordfish using wood chips for flavoring to the fish and finishing with a ginger-garlic butter sauce.  Purchase some fresh swordfish and let’s bring authentic wood flavoring to this great cut of fish.

 

Preparing the Plancha


Adding wood chips to the plancha I love my stove top plancha pan but you can easily use a standard griddle with a heat safe pot lid.

To start, get a supply of Minuto® wood chips and prepare your plancha or griddle by first placing a ¼ cup of chips in the center of the griddle, then placing the grilling racks on the surface.  Turn a medium-high heat on and place the cover on the unit to allow it to reach temperature.  We want a high temperature of about 375-400°F.   Once the plancha is hot, you will smell the wood chips combusting and releasing aromatic flavor.  That tells you it’s time to add the fish.

 

Cooking & Sauce Making


Place the fish fillets on the grill racks of your plancha griddle.  Cover and allow to cook and infuse with wood flavor for 4-5 minutes on one side.

With the fish on the plancha, you can start to prepare the butter sauce that will go on the finished fish.  You’ll need:
    making the sauce in the pan
  • 3 tablespoons butter at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cloves garlic minced
  • ¾ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • lemon peel- ¾ teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon citrus balsamic vinegar
Place all these ingredients in a small saucepan and bring together over low heat.

After 4-5 minutes of cooking, turn the swordfish fillets and cooked for another 4 minutes. Then remove the fillets to a plate and clean out the combusted chips to a heat safe container.  Place the hot plancha back on the heat but reduce it the heat to low and leave the grill racks off.

Put the fillets back on the hot surface of the plancha to sear the outside.  It will only take a minute per each side.  Once seared, remove to a serving plate and pour the hot butter sauce over the top.  That’s it!  Great wood-fired flavor done on the stove top with a hot plancha or griddle.

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

Thursday, December 5, 2019

WINTER COCKTAIL GETS A BIT SMOKY

We love this Winter cocktail, because of its smoky twist!
We love this Winter cocktail, because of its smoky twist! Simple ingredients and easy to mix.

As we wait for warmer days, I have a perfect winter cocktail that will make you content as you bear the cold.  Featuring just 4 ingredients, I’m taking a single ingredient and cold smoking it to give a smoky flavor.  We’ll use a handheld food smoker for a quick, easy means of infusing the smoke flavor.

 

Ingredients and Smoke

Our Smoked Winter cocktail has just 4 ingredients:
    an image of our ingredients
  • cream of coconut
  • vanilla vodka
  • crème de cocoa
  • ice
By using a handheld food smoker, you can make quick time of smoking the cream of coconut needed for our Winter Wonderland cocktail.  I’m making a full batch of drinks to serve about 6 so I’ve placed 6 ounces of cream of coconut, (I like the CocoLopez brand), into a container.  That container is placed inside a plastic bag.  I’m using The Smoking Gun® by Breville which is a stand-alone, easy to control cold smoke appliance.  I simply place the smoking hose into my container, cinch the bag around the hose, lite my Piccolo® wood chips while the food smoker is turned on, and allow the smoke to fill the container.  I then turn off the unit, remove the hose, cinch the bag tight, and allow the smoke to sit for a few minutes to infuse the coconut cream.  That’s it!  Now time to assemble our Winter Wonderland cocktail.

Tasting Notes: Although I elected to smoke the cream of coconut, you can smoke one of the alcohols or even the water to make the ice cubes.  For those looking for a bolder smokiness, feel free to smoke the entire cocktail mixture before serving over ice.

 

Quick Shake to Yum

After smoking the cream of coconut, it’s time to mix the cocktail.  This is best done in a shaker.  For a single cocktail, fill the shaker with ice, add 1 ounce of the smoked cream of coconut, 1-1/2 ounces of vanilla vodka, and 1-1/2 ounces of crème de Cocoa.  Shake until well chilled and the flavors marry.  Strain into an ice filled glass and serve.
This is one winter cocktail you’ll enjoy sipping as you wait on those warmer days.

The Culinary Crew wants you to know …
… that the hand-held smoker can do “smoky wonders” to just about any of your favorite cocktails or drinks.  Just make sure that you have the right size of smoking wood chips in the unit and don’t overpack the vessel!  Remember, if you choose to enjoy any alcoholic beverage, drink responsibly!

Do you have a favorite smoked cocktail?  Leave us a comment to let us know and subscribe to our channel to get all the tips, techniques, and recipes we bring your way.  Always eager to share our expertise on all things wood fired, that’s SmokinLicious®!

Thursday, November 21, 2019

JACK FROST GOES SMOKEY-THE COCKTAIL

Our Art rendition of the steps in making the Smokey Jack Frost Cocktail
Our Art rendition of the steps in making the Smokey Jack Frost Cocktail

Also known as the  winter  piña colada, the Jack Frost cocktail is perfect for introducing a little smoke flavor to.  If you like sweet, smooth cocktails, then the Jack Frost is for you.  I’ll give you the recipe and the easy technique for  smoking  the entire drink that you’ll enjoy sipping all winter long.  Pick your favorite  festive cocktail  glass and let’s take Jack Frost to the smoky side.

 

A Sweet Rimmed Glass


coating the rim of the glassBefore we can make the actual cocktail, the serving glass must be prepared.  Collect your favorite glasses, some finely shredded coconut, and light corn syrup.  With a paper towel, apply a thin coating of corn syrup to the rim of each glass. 

Place a small amount of shredded coconut on a plate and dip the coated glass into the coconut.  Be sure to lift and press the glass into the coconut a couple of times to ensure an even coating of the rim.  Set aside until the cocktail is ready to be poured.

 

Processing the Cocktail

I prefer to make a slightly frozen style cocktail so I start by adding ice to the food processor, followed by 1 cup of pineapple juice, ½ cup of vodka, ½ cup of Blue Curacao, and ½ cup of cream of coconut.  Pulse this mixture until smooth or the ice is reduced to the consistency you prefer.
Adding the coconut mixture to the drink 
Tasting Notes: Although I’ve elected to use plain vodka in my Jack Frost, you’ll find peppermint vodka another great alternative that gives a particularly festive flavor to the drink.

 

Jack Gets Smoked

By using a  handheld food smoker , introducing controlled smoke to a cocktail couldn’t be easier.  I’m using  The Smoking Gun™ by Breville  to do just that.

Since I’ve produced a full batch of the Jack Frost cocktail, I place the cocktail pitcher into a plastic bag, insert the hose of the smoker, and add a pinch of   Piccolo® wood chips  to the device.  The unit is turned on and the chips lit which begins the cold smoke production.  Once the bag and pitcher are full of smoke, the device is turned off, the hose removed and the bag cinched to allow for full smoke infusion.  I like to shake the liquid a bit in the pitcher to be sure the smoke vapor clings to the drink molecules.

You can decide how long to leave the smoke in the bag or wait until it has completely dissipated before removing the pitcher.  Now pour the smoked cocktail into your rimmed glasses and let the party begin!

The finished Jack FrostDo you have a favorite  smoked cocktail ?  Leave us a comment to let us know and subscribe to our channel to get all the tips, techniques, and recipes we bring your way.  Always eager to share our expertise on all things wood fired, that’s SmokinLicious®!

Thursday, November 14, 2019

HERBS SMOKED AND ICED MAKE THE PERFECT WINTER FLAVOR CUBE

Our Fresh Herbs smoked and Iced ready to bring great flavors to our winter soups!
Our Fresh Herbs smoked and Iced ready to bring great flavors to our winter soups!

Here’s the perfect way to keep great flavors on hand for when you need them.  I’m going to show you how to make smoked herb flavor cubes which consist of our previously smoked fresh herbs and, in my case, bone broth.  Whether you smoke all the components of these flavorful cubes or not is up to you.  I happen to like the combination of smoked bone broth and smoked herbs for some of my soups, sauces, and glazes.   These are the perfect little flavor gems for all your recipes and the pre-frozen cubes make adding so simple.

 

Tools

Here is all you need to make these  flavorful cubes .  Silicone ice cube trays, your choice of herbs and spices, as well as broth or stock.  It will take about one quart of broth to make 40 flavor cubes.

To make portioning the cubes a snap, I use a measuring cup for the liquid.  As I previously smoked my herbs and placed them in spice jars, I can portion out the herbs directly from the jars. Today, I’m using smoked parsley and oregano dust for infused broth cubes.  These are two of my more popular blends for sauces, soups, and extra flavor to vegetables.  Be sure your broth or stock is well strained before adding to the cube trays.

Tasting Notes: Don’t forget about fruits as well.  These make perfect flavor cubes and can be cold smoked using a  handheld food smoker .    

 

1-2-3 And Done!

The best part of making flavor cubes is the freezer does most of the work.  I simply place previously  smoked  herbs of my choice into the bottom of the silicone tray compartments and pour in the broth.  I like to put my cube trays on mini sheet pans for easy placement and removal from the freezer.  Just be sure to label the trays so when you go to un-mold, everything will be easy to identify.  That’s it!  How easy is that??

Tasting Notes: You do not have to use silicone cube trays but I prefer these to metal or plastic.  I find they don’t taint the flavor of the cubes and they are extremely easy to release.

 

A New Umami

After adding smoked herbs to silicone ice trays and pouring in smoked bone broth, these flavor cubes just take hours of freezer time to set and then they are ready for use.  I like to un-mold mine and place in storage bags that allow me to reach in, grab what I need, and reseal the rest.  The depth of flavor these little cubes add to  soup  and sauces, whether for meats and poultry or vegetables, is fabulous.
pouring bone broth into the trays
Don’t forget to experiment with a variety of tastes and don’t feel you are restricted to just one herb or spice per cube.  Make flavor blends like Indian flavor cubes with curry, ginger, allspice, and cumin. 

Or an Italian blend with oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme and rosemary. Or, combine fruit and spices for cocktail-like blends. There are no rules to the combinations you can use so find the flavors you love and flavor cube away!

Thursday, November 7, 2019

GRILLED PRIME RIB THE ULTIMATE WITH WOOD

Our gorgeous color on our Grilled Prime Rib with wood on the gas Grill- Yum!
Our gorgeous color on our Grilled Prime Rib with wood on the gas Grill- Yum!

Yes, prime rib is expensive and likely the reason so many are fearful to take this cut of beef to the grill.  I’m going to take away that fear and show you just how your grill will respect this cut and produce the tender, buttery, crusty outside roast you want.

Although there are different opinions on whether to make a roast with the ribs intact or removed, I am someone who prefers to cook with the ribs in.  I’ll give you tips on doing a boneless version as well if that is your preference.

For now, purchase an 8 lb. or 3 rib roast, get your favorite wood chunks, and get ready to fire up your gas grill using a two-zone cooking method for a prime rib roast you won’t soon forget.

 

Meat Preparation

For the most part, my butcher has done most of the trimming.  I will just remove any remaining fat and ensure all the silver skin is gone.  You should see meat all the way around the roast. In the end, I’ve removed about a pound of additional fat.
Trim off the excess fat and season with Salt! Let site overnight to season
At this point, I want to add salt to the meat to reduce the amount of water before cooking and tenderize the inner fibers.  For every pound of meat, I sprinkle a ½ teaspoon of kosher salt.  This is called dry brining and will require that the meat be refrigerated for 24 hours after the salt is applied.  I simply salt and wrap the meat in plastic wrap to prevent liquid from leaking, and place in the refrigerator.  Or, you can salt and place in a non-reactive container and leave uncovered.

 

Char Crust Rub

While the meat is tenderizing with the dry brine, we want to prepare a char crust to be rubbed all over the outside of the roast just before it goes on the grill.  Combine 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, 1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, 2 tablespoons fresh ground black pepper, 2 teaspoons dried oregano, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon paprika, ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder, and 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish.  I combine all my ingredients with a mortar and pestle.  If it is a bit too thick, just mix in a little water so more of a paste is formed.  Apply the char rub just before cooking and you’re ready to good.

Tasting Notes:

Feel free to incorporate different herbs and spices in the char crust rub.  Some considerations include: thyme, cinnamon, chili powder, clove, ginger, even cocoa powder.

 

Smoking on the Gas Grill

I really enjoy cooking a prime cut of beef roast on the gas grill as the two-zone set up makes this low stress.  I prepare my LP/Gas grill by first placing a disposable foil pan under the grill grate on the side I plan to cook on.  This will be my water/drip pan.  I add about ½” of hot water to the pan and place my metal smoker box containing three SmokinLicious® wood chunks on the side I plan to cook on, right under the grill grate.  Now I lite only the burners under the smoker box.  I set these burners to medium heat to start.    Just before I’m ready to grill, I check the temperature readout and adjust my heat setting until I hit my target temperature of 225°F.
two zone cooking with the smoker box on the right over the heat and rib roast on the left 
Time to add the char crusted rubbed roast to the unlit side of the grill, directly above the drip/water pan.  I insert a thermometer and close the lid.  Basically, for the next couple of hours I just need to monitor that the temperature holds to 225°F and that the water pan has enough water in it.  Only as I get closer to 110°F internal temperature of the meat, do I start to babysit the grill.  This is when I like to brush a bit of butter on the outside of the meat.  It produces great color to the crust.

At 115°F internal temperature, I remove the water/drip pan, meat string ties, and the meat thermometer.  I’m now going to finish the cooking to 130°F internal temperature by direct searing the roast on all sides.  As soon as it reaches or approaches that internal temperature, I immediately get the meat off the grill and serve.

Oue finished roast showing great color and a wood flavoring for and add delite! Tasting Notes:

We all have a guest who insists they want their meat cook further.  If that is the case, you can add a slice directly to the grill for just a minute or two, turning constantly, to give them what they want.  Yes, you will have someone who wants the meat at 145°F or possibly above.

And don’t forget to save the bones to make our smoked beef broth. If using a charcoal grill, still use a two-zone cooking set up meaning charcoal on only one side of the grill.  Be sure you only cook with hot coals, no flames.

For those looking for a boneless version of this roast, feel free to request a boneless roast from your butcher, or you can remove the bones yourself and cook separately on the grill for tasty riblets. 
Essentially, the preparation is still the same as is the overall cooking temperature and finished meat temperature.

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