Thursday, August 22, 2019

BEST GINGERBREAD MEETS THE GRILL

We served our Best Gingerbread from the Grill as a dessert! The grilled smoky flavor was too good for a Gingerbread house!
We served our Best Gingerbread from the Grill as a dessert! The grilled smoky flavor was too Tasty for a Gingerbread house!

Gingerbread is one of those terms that are generic in the definition for a broad category, in this case, something made from ginger, cinnamon, clove, and a sweetener like molasses and sugar.  Although “bread” is in the name it can produce great cakes, cookies, bars, and of course, bread.

One of the reasons gingerbread is ideal for cooking on the grill is because it contains bold flavors of spices and molasses.  I’ll be taking a traditional recipe for gingerbread and introducing the cooking to the grill that I’m equipping with wood chunks for a unique wood flavoring.

You’re going to love the dense, flavorful result that is the perfect recipe to keep on hand for those unexpected and expected guests.

#Two-Zone Cooking

 

Smoke coming from our wood chunks! Using a two zone cooking methodIf you follow my gas grill recipes, then you know I am a fan of the two-zone cooking method.  By lighting the burners on only half the grill and placing the food on the unlit side, I can guarantee controlled temperature that allows me to walk away as I do with my indoor oven.

I start by preheating my grill by lighting the burners on just one side.  I want a cooking temperature of 325°F so I’ll set the dials to low.  On the lit side, I also add a metal smoker box that contains 3 wood chunks.  By the time my batter is mixed, the wood chunks will be smoking for the cooking of the gingerbread.

Quick Batter

 

First, I butter and flour an 8-inch square cake pan and set aside (you can use the non-stick cooking spray if you prefer).  There is only one mixing bowl needed for this recipe to combine the following ingredients and beat until combined well, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed:

    Our Batter ready for the baking pan
  • 2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup molasses
  • ¾ cup hot water
  • 1 tablespoon crème Fraiche
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
Once mixed, pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and get ready to put it on the grill.

Tasting Notes: My non-traditional ingredient is the addition of the crème Fraiche.  I use this only when making a cake or loaf as if used for cookie batter, this would be too thin.  Remember, there are many variations to a gingerbread recipe.  Bolder flavors can be produced through the addition of ground clove and nutmeg.  For sweeter versions, adding honey or condensed milk.  Remember, molasses was used in baking centuries ago as a means of saving money due to the high cost of sugar.

Gingerbread Grilling


Our Batter on the grill cooking and absorbing smoke
With the batter poured, we are ready to wood grill the cake.  Place the prepared pan on the unlit side of the grill, making sure that the grill’s temperature is close to 325°F.  Now you can walk away for about 35 minutes.   Return at that point to simply rotate the cake pan and ensure the cake is cooking evenly.  If the wood chunks are completely black, you may want to add a couple of more.  Total grill-baking time will be 50-55 minutes.  Remove from the grill and cool the cake on a wire rack.  Cut into squares and serve warm or cold.

Tasting Notes:  I prefer to serve this version of gingerbread with butterscotch sauce and whipped topping but other choices include melted semi-sweet chocolate, orange sauce, and even a cream cheese frosting.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

“MATCH YOUR COOKER” – SMOKERS LIST-OUR WOOD MASTERS GUIDE

Our drawing of the typical offset smoker, which come in a variety of sizes! Study our Smokers list
Our drawing of the typical offset smokers, which come in a variety of sizes! Study our Smokers list

For those that have followed us for years, you know we are proud that almost from the start of our Company, we were committed to providing a guide for equipment to cooking wood product match.  We refer to our guide affectionately as Match Your Cooker.

In this article, we are covering our recommendations for smoker equipment; these are cookers that are dedicated for use as a smoker, usually hot smoking at that.  As there are always new equipment lines and models released, our plan is to provide regular updates.  We also encourage you to send us a message when you don’t see a manufacturer or model listed so we can add this to our listing.

For now, we introduce you to our wood master’s guide to SmokinLicious® cooking woods for specific smokers.

 

Barrel Smoker Logs


The following Smokers list equipment/models would be suitable for the SmokinLicious® Barrel Smoker Log/ Full Cut Log:

BBQ Pits By Klose model: Commercial Indoor & Outdoor Pits; Mobile Cookers and Catering Rigs

Bubba Grills models: T3 Steam, 250 Gallon R, 250 Gallon Ribbox, 500 Gallon R, Hog/Shoulder Box, Custom Grills
Smokinlicious Full cut log 
Cookers and Grills.com model: Mobile Units, Hog Cookers, Pig Roasters

Horizon Smokers model: Trailer Smokers

Jambo Pits model: J-3 and J-5 Models

Kingfisher Kooker’s model: Commercial Rotisserie Cookers, Commercial Grill

Lang BBQ Smokers model: Competitive and Commercial Smokers

M Grills model: M1, M36, M48

Meadow Creek® BBQ model: Barbecue Smoker and Barbecue Smoker Trailer

Myron Mixon Smokers models: H2O Water Smoker, Gravity Feeds, H2O Rotisserie Water Smoker, Trailers

Ole Hickory Pits model: Convecture™ Tri Ovens

Peoria Cookers model: Mobile Units

Southern Pride BBQ Pits & Smokers model: Gas and Mobile Smokers

 

¼ Cut Wood Logs


The following Smokers list equipment/models would be suitable for the SmokinLicious® ¼ Cut Wood Log:

American Barbecue Systems model: “The Judge”, “The Smokehouse 6042”

Image of our quarter cut logBackwoods Smoker: “The Gladiator”

BBQ Pits By Klose: Combination Smokers and Grills

Karubecue model KBQ C-60 BBQ Smoker Pit

Lang BBQ Smokers model: Competitive and Commercial Smokers

Ole Hickory Pits model: Convecture™ Tri Ovens

Pitmaker model: BBQ Edge Smoker

The Good-One Smokers model: The Pitboss

Tucker Cooker Co.

 

Unfileted Wood Blocks


The following Smoker list equipment/models would be suitable for the SmokinLicious® Unfileted Wood Block:


BBQ Pits By Klose: Combination Smokers and Grills

Big Poppa® Smokers models: cabinet smokers

image of the SmokinLicious® Block!Bubba Grills models: Super Cooker, Deck Grills, Custom Grills

Cookers and Grills.com model: Mobile Units, Hog Cookers, Pig Roasters, Backyard Chef & Patio Smoker Grills

Meadow Creek® BBQ

Pitmaker model: Hitman 48, Short Sniper, Long Rifle Sniper, Magnum Sniper Smoker

The Good-One Smokers model: The Open Range, The Heritage, The Marshall, The Pitboss

Tucker Cooker Co.

Yoder Smokers

 

Single Filet Wood Chunks


The following Smokers list equipment/models would be suitable for the SmokinLicious® Single Filet Wood Chunks:
SmokinLicious® Single Filet wood chunk 

American Barbecue Systems model: “All Star”, “The Pit-Boss”, “The Bar-Be-Cube”

Backwoods Smoker model: “Party”, “G2 Party”, “The Fatboy”, “G2 Fatboy”, “The Pro Junior”, “The Piglet”, “Piglet Plus”, “The Competition Hog”, “The Pro-Competition Hog”, “The Whole Hog”

Big Poppa® Smokers models: all drum smokers

Bubba Grills models: Deck Grills


Char-Broil model: Highland Offset Smoker, Longhorn Offset Smoker, Longhorn Reverse Flow
Offset Smoker

Cookers and Grills.com model: Charcoal/Wood Smoker Grills

Pitmaker models: Hitman 20×32, Custom Smokers

Smoke Hollow Charcoal/Gas Grill

Stump’s Smoker models: The Baby, The XL Baby, The Junior, The Classic, The Stretch, The Monster, Platinum 4, Platinum 6, Reverse Flow models

The Good-One Smokers model: The Patio Jr.

 

Double Filet Wood Chunks


The following Smokers list equipment/models would be suitable for the SmokinLicious® Double Filet Wood Chunks:


American Barbecue Systems model: “All Star”, “The Pit-Boss”, “The Bar-Be-Cube”

Backwoods Smoker model: “Chubby 3400”, “Chubby”, “G2 Chubby”

Best Choice Products model: 43” Outdoor Vertical Smoker

Brinkman models: Trailmaster 57” Vertical Smoker, Roadmaster, All-In-One Gas & Charcoal
Smoker, Grill & Fryer, Smoke ‘N Pit

Broil King model: Smoke Offset, Smoke Grill, Smoke Vertical


SmokinLicious® Double Filet Wood Chunk
Cabela’s 7 in 1 Cooker/Smoker

Char-Broil model: Vertical Charcoal, American Gourmet Offset Smokers, Offset Smokers, Bullet
Smokers, Silver Smoker

Char-Griller Grills & Smokers models: Smokin’ Champ™ 1624 Charcoal Grill, Smokin’ Outlaw
3724 Charcoal Grill, Smokin’ Pro™ E1224, Competition Pro™ 8125 Charcoal Grill, Texas Trio

Cookshack model: SmartSmoker Commercial Smoker & Smoker Oven, Smokette Electric Smokers,
SuperSmoker Electric Smoker, AmeriQue Electric Smoker

Cuisinart model: COS-244 Vertical 36” Propane Smoker, COS-118 Vertical 18” Charcoal Smoker

Dyna-Glo models: DG01176BDC-D Off-Set Smoker, DGX7080BDC-D 36” Vertical Smoker, Signature Series Vertical Smoker, DGX376BCS-D Compact Charcoal Bullet Smoker

Masterbuilt models:  7 in 1 Smoker and Grill, Dual Fuel Smoker

Master Forge Charcoal Smoker/Griller

Meco (Americana) Charcoal Combo Water Smoker

Pitmaker model: BBQ Safe Smoker

Red Box Smoker

Smokin-It®

Southern Country Models: 2 in 1 Water Smoker and Charcoal Grill, 5025 Stainless Steel Charcoal Water Smoker

Stump’s Smoker models: The Mini Stumpster, The Stumpster

Texas Pit Crafters models: PM 500S BI, PM 500U BI, PM 500 U S/S BI, PM 535U BI Smoker, PM 550S BI, PM 550 Smoker with Enclosed Front Load Firebox, PM 550 Upright Smoker/Pit with Enclosed Firebox

 

Grande Sapore® Wood Chips


SmokinLicious® Grande Sapore® wood chipsThe following Smokers list equipment/models would be suitable for the SmokinLicious® Grande Sapore® Wood Chips:


Alto-Shaam model: Smoker Ovens

Broil King model: Smoke Offset, Smoke Grill, Smoke Vertical

Camp Chef model: Smoke Vault Smoker

Char-Broil model: Vertical Electric & Propane

Dyna-Glo model: DGU732BDE-D 30″ Digital Electric Smoker

Napoleon model: Apollo AS200K, Apollo AS300K

Pit Barrel®: any model

 

Minuto® Wood Chips


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


Alto-Shaam model: Smoker Ovens

Bastra

Camp Chef model: Smoke Vault Smoker
Char-Broil model: Vertical Electric Smokers, Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker, Analog Electric

Smoker, Simple Smoker

Dyna-Glo model: DGU732BDE-D 30″ Digital Electric Smoker

Fessmann
SmokinLicious® Minuto® wood chips 
Hakka Electric Stainless Steel BBQ Smoker

Kerres

Koch Smokehouse

Landmann model: 26” Smoky Mountain Electric Smoker

Smoke Hollow model: 44” Two Door Propane Gas Smoker, 38” Propane Gas Smoker

Smokehouse Products model: Little Chief Front Load Smoker

SmokinTex model: 1100 Pro Series Electric Smoker

 

Piccolo® Wood Chips


The following Smoker list equipment/models would be suitable for the SmokinLicious® Piccolo® Wood Chips:


AFOS    

Alto-Shaam model: Smoker Ovens
SmokinLicious® Piccolo® wood chips 
Arcos

Camp Chef model: Smoke Vault Smoker

Jugema

Koch Smokehouse

Lambda

Maurer-Atmos

Ness

Schroter

Spomasz Wroclaw

Vemag

Voss

 

Smokin’ Dust®


Our smokin Dust products The following Smokers list equipment/models would be suitable for the SmokinLicious® Smokin’ Dust®

Alto-Shaam model: Smoker Ovens

Thursday, August 1, 2019

RICH PUMPKIN BUTTER YOU’LL CRAVE!

Our Rich Pumpkin Butter has a slight hint of smokiness!
Our Rich Pumpkin Butter has a slight hint of smokiness!

I’ve been pumpkin picking!  I found a sweet pumpkin that will be perfect for making a pumpkin butter that will have a wood flavoring due to my grill roasting method on the gas grill.  When you make pumpkin butter, it’s crucial that you select a variety of pumpkin that is designed to be cooked.  My choice was a variety of “cow” pumpkin, known for its super sweet flesh and great creaminess for cooking.

Our two pumpkins for the grill
Pumpkin is packed with nutritional value including a high level of Vitamin A and C, antioxidants, folate, and has a low caloric level.   And, yes, they are rich in fiber.

Get to the pumpkin patch and find one or two sweet gems to bring to the grill for a wood fired sensation that makes for great pumpkin butter.

Quick Preparation

I’ll be using my gas grill for this recipe which means two-zone cooking which is really the only way I grill.  I need to start by lighting only half the burners on my grill which I’ve added a smoker box to that has three double filet hardwood chunks from SmokinLicious®.  This will provide for the great smoke flavor to the pumpkin flesh.

Our two pumpkins on the grill with the smoker box on the heated burners
While the grill heats up to about 300°F, I prepare the pumpkins.  First, wash and pat dry the pumpkins.  With a small, sharp knife, cut into the pumpkin about 1-inch from the stem making a circle.  Remove the stem top and scoop out the seeds.  You can reserve the seeds to bake or grill, including placing the seeds in a pan on the upper rack while the pumpkins wood roast.  Once the pumpkins are clean, drizzle about 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil on the pumpkin flesh and the stem top.  Place the pumpkins in a heat tolerant pan.  You can grill roast with the stem tops in place or laid in the pan as separate pieces.  I’ll be putting my stem tops back on the pumpkins.  Now the grill should be pre-heated for wood roasting.

Tasting Notes: Other varieties of sweet pumpkin to consider include will usually be labeled sugar pumpkins or pie pumpkins.  However, other names to be on the lookout for include: Baby Pam, Baby Bear, Autumn Gold, Ghost Rider, Lumina, Cinderella, Winter Luxury, and Fairytale.

Dark and Sweet


nicely roasted pumpkin for our butter Once the pumpkins have been cleaned and seeded, it’s time to get them roasting on the grill with hardwood for added flavor.  I simply place my pan with the pumpkins on the unlit side of the grill, while my smoker box of wood chunks is placed directly on the heat shields of my lit burners. 

Next, I let the pumpkins roast at 300°F for 50 minutes without disturbing them.  I do a check of the wood chunk pieces after 35 minutes and replenish if they have carbonized or turned black completely, as that means they are no longer producing flavonoids.

Once I can insert a knife point into the pumpkin flesh without resistance, I know the pumpkins are ready.  You’ll see that they become a deep bronzy-brown coloring on the outside while the flesh becomes deep orange.  I remove the pumpkins from the grill and allow to cool until I can handle them.  Then I scrap all the flesh from the skins into a blender.

Creamy Pumpkin Butter

Our finished pumpkin butter ready for rolls!Although this is called a “butter” it technically is a fruit spread that is used like a butter on breads, pancakes, and crackers.  To make the butter, add ¼ cup of apple cider to the pumpkin flesh in the blender and blend until a thick paste is formed.  To that, add 1/3 cup brown sugar, 3 tablespoons honey, 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, ¾ teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ginger, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg and a pinch of ground cloves.  Process until smooth.  Since I’ve wood roasted two pumpkins, I’m doubling the recipe ingredients.

Transfer the blended pumpkin mixture to a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Reduce the heat to low and allow the mixture to reduce by 1/3 and turn dark in color.  Total time should be 25 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.


I usually refrigerate my pumpkin butter at this point or even divide into individual jars for gifting or just to simplify the quantity put out on the table.  Today, I’m serving this pumpkin butter with some hot yeast rolls but there are plenty of other uses.  Think about folding it into whipped cream for a mousse-like dessert, use it as an additive to a sauce or soup, or even make your own yogurt flavor by adding to plain yogurt.  The best part, you can use different varieties of pumpkin to produce different flavors.

Tasting Notes:  One benefit of winter squashes is that there are many flavors that you can add.   Although I’ve gone traditional by incorporating cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and clove, you can also consider using turmeric, cumin, chili powder, garam masala, Chinese Five Spice, sage, and even vanilla bean paste.  Experiment and you’ll find a flavor blend that is perfect.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN $3.99 WOOD CHIPS FOR SMOKING AND THE SMOKINLICIOUS® BRAND

Caution- When selecting wood chips for smoking know the wood source!
Caution- When selecting wood chips for smoking know the wood source!

If you’ve ever looked at the wood chips for smoking products available at most discount retail stores, you’ll notice that they seem to have consistent pricing in the $3.99 or less bracket.  Yet, you look at the SmokinLicious® brand and come up with a price that’s close to twice the cost.  What’s the deal with the price difference?

There are many factors involved in determining the retail price of wood chips many of which I’m sure the average consumer hasn’t considered.  What exactly are you paying for when you select a specific wood chip brand?

Let me give you some insight.

 

Let’s Start with the Raw Material

The raw material is by far the largest cost factor with selling wood chips for grilling, smoking, and cooking in general.  I’ll make the comparison to cotton purchased by a t-shirt manufacturer.  There are grades of cotton.  Higher grades of cotton go into more expensive cotton clothing.  Purchase a $5 t-shirt and you’re guaranteed a lower grade cotton was used. This means you likely won’t get more than a year of consistent wearing and washing out of that $5 t-shirt!

The same is true for wood chips.  There are 8 different grades of wood or lumber for purposes such as cabinet making, flooring, construction, and pallets.    Only one culinary wood company specifically purchases raw lumber material for cooking wood manufacture only.  That would be SmokinLicious®.

Other companies will do one of three things; have a primary business in one of the areas listed above and use the waste product for producing the wood chips, or, purchase another company’s waste product to market as a wood chip grilling and smoking wood, or, have the company with waste product package a private label brand of grilling and smoking chips and deliver to a centralized distribution warehouse for the brand, something commonly done by equipment manufacturers who feel a need to offer a wood chip to go with the equipment.

 

Cleanliness of the Manufacturing Process

Another key factor in cost is the handling of the material during the manufacturing process.  Now I understand that we are talking about wood and not a food item.  However, if you are using a wood to add flavoring to food through smoke vapor from burning wood, then I see the wood as an ingredient.  As with any ingredient, I would prefer to use something that is clean and pure since I will be eating this.

Since I’ve already pointed out that many companies use materials that are labeled as waste wood, you have no idea how the waste material was collected, stored, moved, and processed.  You also don’t know what’s in that waste wood (treated lumber pieces, a mix of woods, some softwoods) or how old that material is which directly affects the moisture level.  Remember, moisture is needed to smolder the wood and produce smoke vapor.

SmokinLicious® is the only culinary wood manufacturer that is Kosher certified, attesting to the steps taken to ensure the culinary products are clean, clean stored, and preserved.

 

Varieties and Availability

One means of keeping cost down is to offer chips that have not been debarked, have not had any mold spores removed, or for that matter dirt and debris.  The entire log piece may be placed in a grinding unit which will generate an assortment of chip sizes as well as the dust that comes with this single equipment use.  Honestly, you can’t be sure you are getting 100% of the wood listed on the package when these locations are generating extreme volumes of rough grind chip product.  The company may simply call it a hardwood chip and not state what hardwood is in the mix.  Remember, only specific hardwoods should be used in grilling and smoking.

Of course, the variety of wood also can increase the cost.  Remember, there are many uses for a wood including the export demand to other countries outside of North America.  As with any commodity, higher demands translate to higher cost.  Hickory is one of those hardwoods that has become very expensive in the market as the wood is used for railroad ties, utility company pavers to get into mountain ranges, and heavily purchased by the Asian market for a purpose that is not clear.

 

Cost of Manufacturing

Both the labor involved making the chip product and the location that the chips are manufactured in play a role in determining the cost of the final product.  Again, if the chip product is the result of another manufacturing level of the wood like making cabinets, then by using the scrap wood for the “chip” product, the overall cost of the chip product will be lower as labor and manufacturing costs can be covered by the initial cabinet making.

If, however, there is no other manufacturing purpose for the wood other than a wood chip production, all manufacturing costs are directed to that chip product.  Then there is the question of where the chips are manufactured.  Here are some minimum wage costs by the state that will certainly play a role in the final product cost: New York State $10.40, New Jersey $8.60, Texas $7.25, Florida $8.25, Wisconsin $7.25, Michigan $9.25.

Other costs that factor in include: how the chips are packaged, the moisture level of the product which directly determines the weight, how the wood is treated for both drying and for pest control, and if there is a screening of the chips to remove wood dust and make the chips more uniform.
SmokinLicious® developed over a 3-year period a specialized screen process which allows us to offer 7 different grind levels of wood chips, all bark-free, all from the heartwood of the hardwood only, and all dust free.

Perhaps it’s time you take a closer look at that package of $3.99 wood chips and see where it is manufactured, who manufactures it, what the contents of the bag include, and what weight there is to the product.  Now that you’re educated on how to assess the value of your next wood chip purchase, the choice will be up to you.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

WINTER SQUASH WITH CUMIN WOOD GRILLED

Our winter squash sliced and seasoned with Cumin and ready for the grill!
Our winter squash sliced and seasoned with Cumin and ready for the grill!

Full of color, flavor and packed with nutrients, winter squash makes for exceptional seasonal dishes, whether soups, casseroles, or desserts.  Harvested in the approaching Fall, they are available all winter long due to their firm shells.  With varieties such as sugar pumpkins, acorn squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, buttercup, and red kuri, sweetness level is always present.

Naturally low in fat and calories, yet rich in vitamins A, B6, C, and E, you can’t go wrong with any variety you select.

Today, I’ve elected to make cumin squash on the grill using confetti squash, so called due to the beautiful multi-skin coloring.  Note, you may substitute any rounded winter squash available near you for this recipe.

 

Two-Zone Cooking


Smoke coming from our wood chunks! Using a two zone cooking methodTo allow for slow roasting on the grill, I recommend a two-zone cooking set up.  Lite half the burners on your gas grill – if an odd number of burners, decide how many you need for the cooking temperature. The lit burners should be set to medium to obtain a cooking temperature of about 375°F.  Add wood chunks to the lit burner side either directly on the heat shields or in a smoker box.  My smoker box accommodates three double filet wood chunks easily.  The prepared squash will go on the unlit side of the grill.

Tasting Notes: Your choice of hardwood will determine the boldness of the smoke infusion.  I find that the skin of the squash will take most of the smoke vapor so really any hardwood or combination of hardwoods will do.  Be sure to keep extra pieces in case you need to replace halfway through the roasting process.

 

Seasoning the Squash


Our mixture of seasoning and spices.To start our recipe, first wash and dry off your squash.  Then cut in half and remove the seeds.  Slice the squash into 1-inch slices and place in a high heat tolerant pan.  Once sliced, prepare to toast 3 tablespoons of sesame seeds in a skillet over medium-high heat until golden brown.  If you’re able to locate cumin seeds, toast 1-1/2 teaspoons of cumin seeds with the browned sesame seeds.  Transfer the seeds to a bowl and allow to cool.

Now prepare the squash seasoning by combining 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1-1/2 teaspoons coarse salt, and ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper.  If you didn’t have cumin seeds, then include 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin.  Drizzle 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil on the squash slices and sprinkle with squash seasoning.  Toss to coat all the way around the slices.

 

Grill-Roasting with Wood

With the grill preheated, the wood chunks smoking, and the temperature gauge reading close to 375°F, I place the trays of prepared squash on the grill grates and close the lid.  I allow this to roast for 30 minutes, then I return to the grill, check the wood chunks and add more wood if needed. Briefly toss the squash to ensure even cooking and close the lid again.
Our pan of squash roasting on the gas grill
Once tender and bronze in color, I remove the squash from the grill and plate to a serving platter.  Total cooking time is about one hour though this is dependent on the thickness of your slices and quantity of squash you’ve added to the pan. Remember, the rind of squash is loaded with nutritional value as well and will be very tender so there is no need to discard it. Consume the entire slice.

Roasting winter squash on the grill with wood is the perfect way to usher in the cooler weather and enjoy all this great flavor.

Tasting Notes:  You can serve this as is or feel free to process the slices into a puree for use in soups or as a filler to pasta or even desserts.  There are many options with grill roasted winter squash.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

WOOD ROASTED ONIONS TO DIE FOR!

Our finished wood roasted onions!
Our finished wood roasted onions!

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

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

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

 

Preparing for the Grill

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

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

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

 

The Longer the Wood Roast the More Flavor


Onions on the grill with wood chunk over the flavor barYou’ll find as these onions cook and absorb both the smoke vapor and oil, the scales of the onions will separate and caramelize.  The results are tender, juicy and flavorful with a hint of woodsy from the charred edges.

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

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

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

Thursday, July 4, 2019

WOOD GRILLED VERSION OF CHEF WATERS’ GOAT CHEESE SALAD

The finished- WOOD GRILLED VERSION OF CHEF WATERS’ GOAT CHEESE SALAD
The finished- WOOD GRILLED VERSION OF CHEF WATERS’ GOAT CHEESE SALAD

Taking a page from Chef Alice Waters, we are making our version of the baked goat cheese salad by wood baking the goat cheese rounds on the grill using a two-zone cooking method and wood chunks for smoky flavor.  Then making garlic crostini for the croutons on the charcoal grill to serve alongside this fabulous salad dish.   A recipe that can be a salad course or an entrée on its own, we also give you an easy way to make this into an appetizer.  Purchase 12 ounces of quality goat cheese in log form and let’s get grilling.

 

Marinate to Start

Goat CheeseThis dish requires at least 8 hours of marinade time though I like to do mine overnight.   It’s the marinade of oil and fresh herbs that give the goat cheese great flavor.  Cut the goat cheese log into ½-inch rounds.  In the bottom of a glass dish, sprinkle chopped fresh herbs of your choice; today I’m using oregano but most any fresh herb will do.  Place the goat cheese rounds into the dish and pour over a ¼ cup of olive oil.  Turn the cheese rounds over to coat both sides.  Place fresh herb sprigs over the top of the rounds, cover with wrap and marinate in the refrigerator.
Fresh herbs


Tasting Notes: Other fresh herbs work great with this recipe but note that stronger herbs like thyme and rosemary likely don’t need the layers of chopped herbs at the bottom of the dish.  Simply lay the fresh herb springs on top of the goat cheese rounds and marinate in the refrigerator.

 

Grilling with Wood Chunks


Once the goat cheese has marinated, it’s time to coat it in a mixture of ½ cup plain breadcrumbs and two teaspoons dried herb of your choice.  I’ll be using oregano but other good options include thyme, basil, marjoram, rosemary.  Once coated on both sides, place the cheese rounds on a lightly greased shallow pan.  I’m using mini sheet pans as they work well on the grill, even for a two-zone cooking method.
Trays of goat cheese on the grill!As this is a cheese dish it is important that a two-zone cooking method is used which means the cheese will be going on the unlit side of the grill.  I’m using a smoker box with three hardwood chunks to provide the smoke flavor to the cheese, with the box placed on the hot side of the grill.  Total time to cook will be about 20 minutes.  You’ll know the cheese rounds are ready once browned and bubbly.

While the cheese is on the grill, prepare the vinaigrette by combining ¼ cup red wine vinegar, salt, and fresh ground pepper.  Whisk in ½ cup of olive oil and set aside.

 

Greens and Garlic Crostini


Crostini with garlic butter To go with the goat cheese rounds and salad vinaigrette, I’m making garlic crostini on the charcoal grill.  Using ½-inch slices of a day-old baguette, brush both sides of each slice with melted butter.  Place on a high heat tolerant sheet over hot coals only, no active flames.  Allow the slices to brown and slightly char before turning over.  Once browned on both sides, remove from the grill and brush with the cut side of a garlic clove.  I cut these crostini slices in half at the diagonal to go with the salad.

Tasting Notes:  An assortment of fresh greens can be used for the salad though I like to use a combination of bitters with more savory greens.

 

Assembling to Enjoy

With all the components made its time to assemble our salad.  Start by mixing the vinaigrette with the greens.  I like to place the garlic crostini on the outside of the salad and the wood-baked cheese rounds in the center of the greens.  This is best served while the cheese is warm.  Here’s another suggestion: this can make for the perfect appetizer if you cut each round in half so they fit on a garlic crostini.  For that recipe, prepare the same but place a few leaves of salad on the garlic crostini and top with a wood baked goat cheese half round.  There you have it!  A super easy salad or appetizer with that signature wood flavor that takes Chef Waters’ recipe to a new level.