Thursday, July 9, 2020

TAKE TART TO THE SMOKEY SIDE WITH FRESH RHUBARB (SMOKED)!

Our finished Smoked Rhubarb
Our Finished Rhubarb (Smoked)

Rhubarb (Smoked) – I will make a confession: I don’t like rhubarb, a spring to early summer perennial vegetable, on its own, likely due to the very tart flavor.  I do, however, enjoy this vegetable smoked and then blended with a sweet fruit.

This is likely why you may not have realized that rhubarb is a perennial vegetable since this is so widely used for dessert items. The rhubarb stalks are suitable to eat but the leaves are poisonous meaning they should never be eaten or added to a smoothie.  Since this is a tart vegetable, I am going to first smoke it to change the balance of that tartness.  Later, I plan to use these smoked stalks in combination with some smoked strawberry to make a strawberry-rhubarb fool, a delicious treat or dessert.

For now, let’s get about a pound of fresh rhubarb, hopefully from a garden or a fresh market, and meet at the smoker for an easy method of infusing wood flavoring to this tart stalk vegetable.

Selecting and Preparing

Our fresh Rhubarb picked from the garden- or buy at the Farmers Market
Rhubarb is a perennial vegetable that prefers cold conditions to thrive.  When first planted, you won’t be able to harvest any of the stalks until the second year, similar to growing asparagus.  When ready to harvest, you’re looking for stalks 12 to 18-inches in length with good girth to them.  If the stalks are too thin, that means the plant does not have enough nutrients.

Once harvested, clean well under water and pat dry.  Trim all the leave ends from the stalks as these are poisonous, and discard. Note you can compost the leaves as the poisonous oxalic acid breaks down quickly when decomposition begins.

I prefer to cut my stalks into 3-4-inch lengths.  That’s it!  Likely one of the easiest vegetables to prepare for the smoker.  Speaking of the smoker, time to prepare ours.  I’ll be using an electric smoker today since smoking rhubarb takes very little time.

Tasting Notes: Whether to cut the stalks is dependent on what you plan to do with the rhubarb so adjust this step according to your planned recipe.

Fire Up the Smoker!


I’ll be using a standard vertical electric smoker that uses lava rocks as the radiator of the heat as well as an electric element as the fuel/heat source.  My electric smoker allows me to use wood chunks so I have an assortment of small sizes that total about 6 ounces of hardwood.  The double filet wood chunk size is ideal and as a tip, if you note to SmokinLicious® the need for thin chunks, these can be provided.
The Electric Smoker for our Rhubarb (smoked) technique
My set up is simple: I wrap one of my grill grates in aluminum foil, place my element on the lava rocks and insert wood chunks between the element’s spaces.  I’m using a combination of maple and cherry hardwood.  I add my water pan with about 2-inches of hot water so energy from the unit isn’t wasted heating up the water.  On goes my tray of pre-cut rhubarb that are spaced to allow the smoke to penetrate all around.  Leave these untouched on the smoker for about 20-25 minutes or until the thickest stalks are fork tender.

The best part about rhubarb on the smoker is it takes very little effort.  Trim, clean, and cut to size then place on the grate and smoke.  In about 15 minutes time, you’ll see a golden hue come out of the rhubarb pieces.  That means the smoke has penetrated its great flavor.  Using a fork or the tip of a paring knife, I check the thickest stalk to be sure I can easily pass the metal tip thru.  If so, then the rhubarb is tender and ready to come off the smoker.
Cut up Rhubarb pieces in the smoker
If your plans are to prepare this for rhubarb pie, then just continue with your favorite recipe.  This step is simply to provide another flavor level and begin the cooking process. Check in with us soon as we release our version of the strawberry-rhubarb fool featuring this smoked rhubarb and smoked strawberry.

What’s your favorite method of cooking rhubarb?  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®.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

APPLEWOOD – WHY WE DON’T USE IT! – HERE’S WHY

We don't use or sell Applewood! Too many potential health risks
We don’t use or sell Applewood! Too many potential health risks

Why we Don’t Use or Sell Applewood– Those of you living outside of New York State may be surprised to learn that we are the number two state for apple production behind Washington state.

However, we do rank number one for the greatest number of varieties of apples.  Annually, our state produces nearly 30 million bushels of apples.

With an abundance of apple trees, the assumption would be that our number one hardwood offering must be apple.  However, you would be wrong.

Applewood Abundance Comes at a Cost


Just because apple wood is abundant in our state doesn’t mean it should automatically be sold as a cooking wood.  This is without question, a favorite fruit.  When something is at high demand it is protected in order to assure the supply for that demand.  For this reason, growers of apples put their priority into preserving the fruit production.

Keep in mind, an apple tree may not start producing fruit for the first 8-10 years but it can produce for 50 or more years.  In fact, with careful and frequent pruning, these trees do remain in the orchard bearing fruit if they don’t become infested with a disease or pest.

Good Agricultural Practices


Around the year 2001, the New York apple industry began working on a strategic plan in conjunction with Cornell University to develop what they referred to as an integrated fruit production program. 
The purpose of the program was to ensure apples were produced using environmentally friendly processes to include eco-friendly insect, mite, disease, vertebrate and weed pest management.  In other words, this was meant to use more “friendly” pesticide applications and methods.  What didn’t change is the that chemicals were still being used.

The USDA has done extensive study on pesticides and their life on agricultural products (USDA Pesticide Data Program). As a result of the studies, here is a list of the common pesticides found to be present on apples in what is termed residual form.

USDA Findings:

Diphenylamine (DPA) 82.8%
Thiabendazole 81.0%
Pyrimethanil 75.2%
Chlorantraniliprole 41.2%
Acetamiprid 28.7%
Imidacloprid 20.2%
Carbendazim (MBC) 17.3%
Tetrahydrophthalimide                16.7%
Methoxyfenozide 15.9%
Fludioxonil 13.4%
Thiacloprid 12.7%
Boscalid 12.7%
Pyraclostrobin 11.8%
Phosmet 9.6%
Azinphos methyl 9.2%
Fenpyroximate 8.5%
Endosulfan II 8.1%
Myclobutanil 8.1%
Diazinon 6.5%
Trifloxystrobin 5.8%
Spinetoram 5.0%
Endosulfan I 4.3%
Etoxazole 3.3%
Pendimethalin 3.3%
Fenpropathrin 2.8%
Fenbuconazole 2.7%
Carbaryl 2.4%
Endosulfan sulfate 1.9%
Flonicamid 1.6%
Chlorpyrifos 1.6%
Cyhalothrin, Total 1.1%
Spinosad 0.9%
o-Phenylphenol 0.9%
Imazalil 0.5%
Chlorpropham 0.4%
Difenoconazole 0.3%
Permethrin cis 0.3%
Esfenvalerate+Fenvalerate Total 0.1%
Buprofezin 0.1%
Thiamethoxam 0.1%
Pyriproxyfen 0.1%
Tebuconazole 0.1%
Pronamide 0.1%
Methoxychlor olefin 0.1%
Dicofol p,p’ 0.1%
Permethrin trans 0.1%
DCPA 0.1%

The premise for using all these pesticides is the common belief that apples cannot be grown without chemical pesticides. Despite efforts to institute ecofriendly practices, we remain dependent on chemicals.  But here’s the kicker: apples are ranked number 4 out of 12 as a fruit most contaminated by pesticides.  Washing with water doesn’t do enough either. The chemical pesticides can penetrate the skin into the flesh of the apple making every bite a risk.

In the Fruit, In the Tree


So what does this mean for the actual tree growing the apples?  Spray the tree with chemical pesticides to protect the fruit production and consequently, you compromise the tree for any other purpose including cooking.  Pesticide applications embed into the soil base of the tree, which then enters the root system, and is on the way to the other parts of the tree.  Pesticides can also become air born as they turn into a vapor and travel by airflow (think wind).  The bark of any tree is a great absorber of these air particles.  Once pesticides enter the human body, they are stored in the colon.   Symptoms then progress to stomach pains, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Certainly, toxicity can advance and produce colorectal cancer.  Know that once the chemicals are absorbed into the tree’s roots and nutritional supply center, they are there for life.
Avoid Applewood and orchard woods only use Forest Fresh wood for Smoking.
As a company, SmokinLicious® just can’t participate in risk to the public’s health.  If we can offer products that are as natural as possible, bark-free to prevent absorption of pollutants captured by the bark, we will do it.
Given there are so many other choices for safe hardwoods free of potential chemical contamination. We opt to dismiss apple wood even though we are a state in apple abundance.

In conclusion SmokinLicious® makes you an informed consumer through valuable articles like this one.   So leave us a comment and follow us or subscribe for more great recipes, techniques, tips, and the science behind the flavor and fire.  Most importantly, that is SmokinLicious®.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

DURING STAY AT HOME, DON’T QUARANTINE YOUR TASTE BUDS

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

Stay at Home


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

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

The Breakdown


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

Fruits: 

 

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

Vegetables: 

 

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

Nuts and Seeds:

 

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

Baked Items:

 

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

Animal Proteins:

 

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

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

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

Thursday, June 4, 2020

THE BRIGHTEST BEET HUMMUS BOTH IN FLAVOR AND COLOR

A must try is this smoked Beet Hummus!
A must try is this smoked Beet Hummus!

I’ve got another great recipe for wood fired beets that will provide a quick way to prepare a fabulous beet hummus for guests, bring-a-dish parties, or just as a great snack for your own family.  Wood fired flavor will come from the gas grill equipped with wood chunks using a two-zone cooking method.  The outcome is a full flavor, beautiful beet hummus color to delight all who have the pleasure of partaking in this treat.  Just one good size beet will do the trick but I always do an extra to keep around.

Join me at the grill as we make ricotta and smoked beet hummus.

Beet Preparation

our beets have been washed and clean, wrapped in foil and ready for the grill  
It’s so simple to prepare beets for the grill to roast and smoke.  Simply trim the leaf stalks off and wash the beets well under water.  Pat dry and then wrap in aluminum foil leaving the upper portion of the foil open to allow the smoke vapor in.  That’s it!  I like to put my foil wrapped beets on a ¼ sheet pan to make it easy to add and remove from the grill.  This will be a two-zone grill set up so while

I’ve been preparing the beets, I’ve preheated my grill to medium-high using only ½ the burners and added a smoker box with wood chunks to the side that will be hot.  Wait for full temperature and the wood chunks to smoke, and you’re ready to add the beets.

Tasting Notes: It is not necessary to foil wrap the beets but you will need something to put the beets on otherwise you’ll have purple beet juice all over your grill.

Two-Zone Grill Smoking


With the washed fresh beets wrapped in foil, it’s time to let them grill roast as well as smoke.  I’ve placed three hardwood chunks in a metal smoker box to add smoke vapor to the beets.  My beets are placed on the unlit side of the grill while the smoker box is on the hot side.  After about 75 minutes, these are tender and smoky.  Remove them from the grill and allow to cool until they can be handled. 

our foil wrapped beets on the grill with a smoker box added a smoke flavorUsing a paper towel, begin peeling the skin from the cooked beets.  Using a paper towel will protect your hands from becoming purple from the beet juice, a common problem when working with beets.

Tasting Notes: I’ve elected to use wood chunks as I find the provide for greater smoke vapor and don’t require any additional wood to be added to the smoker box.  You certainly can use wood chips but note, you may need to replenish these during cooking.

A Bright and Flavorful Hummus


With the beet grilled and smoked, it’s time to add the ingredients for our hummus.  Start by adding one 15-1/2 ounce can of chickpeas that have been rinsed and drained to a food processor bowl.  Then add 1/3 cup of well mixed tahini, ¼ cup fresh lemon juice, ¼ cup ricotta, 1 garlic clove finely grated, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper, and ¼ teaspoon ground coriander to a food processor and process until smooth.  Remember, the smoked beet will add a sweet flavor so adjust seasonings after that step.
putting the smoked beets in the blender and adding ingredients brings out the flavor along with the color
With the other ingredients processed for the beet hummus it’s time to bring in the wood fired beet flavor.  Cut one smoked beet into 8 pieces and add to the processor bowl and process until well combined and smooth.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.  Transfer the hummus to a serving dish, sprinkle with fresh mint and a drizzle of olive oil.  Serve with your choice of sides – vegetables, pita wedges, won-ton chips, crostini, crackers – whatever fits your need.  This is easy to keep on hand for when you need a quick cocktail accompaniment or just want a great, healthy snack.  You’ll love the festiveness of the bright purple-pink hue which makes this a stand out dish.

What’s your favorite recipe for beets?  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®.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

3 METHODS OF SMOKING BOSTON BUTT FOR AUTHENTIC BARBECUE FLAVOR

The Three ways we smoked-wood flavored our Boston Butts!
The Three ways we smoked-wood flavored our Boston Butts!


It should come as no surprise that majority of grill owners invest in a gas grill for their outdoor cooking with over 80% of these owners investing in multiple accessories for that grill.  Often, many of these grill owners will venture to make an additional purchase of a second type of grill like a charcoal or pellet grill/smoker, in order to be able to cook more barbecue or smoked food options.

My intent is to demonstrate to you that you can produce authentic flavors, colors, textures, and aromas of favorite barbecue proteins with a variety of equipment, all outfitted with hardwood for the authentic wood flavoring.

I’ll be taking Boston butt to a traditional gas grill, a kettle charcoal grill, and a convection-style grill to demonstrate just how easy it is to cook this popular animal protein while giving you a bit of education on how these units are different when hardwood is incorporated.

Set Up Similarities and Differences


When it comes to setting up the grills for smoking, there are some obvious differences.  First, let me name the equipment brands I’ve included and the intended set up of each for cooking and smoking the Boston Butt cuts, all of which approximate 8 lbs.

Our Boston Butt (s) on the Stok Gas Grill with accompanying Smoker boxes
Boston Butt on the Stok Gas Grill with Smoker boxes

The Stôk Quattro 4-Burner Grill:

If you are not familiar with this grill, it is equipped with an insert system to allow you to use a standard grilling grate, a griddle, grill basket, vegetable tray, pizza stone, Dutch oven, Wok, and other inserts that easily pop in and out of the cast iron grates.  Despite this feature, you can do traditional smoking using wood chunks without the need for the smoker/infuser insert.

Whenever I smoke on a traditional gas grill, I always set up a two-zone cooking method.  This means, on my 4-burner Stôk, I will ignite just two of the burners on one side.  You can either place wood chunks directly on the heat shields of the unit or use a metal smoker box.  My Boston butt will cook on the unlit side of the grill with a metal smoker box containing 3 wood chunks on the hot side.  I’ve also included a second smoker box to make it easier to swap out the first when the wood becomes completed charred.  My temperature is 225°F for the actual cooking.
Our Boston Butt on the Orion Cooker with Minuto® wood chips in the inner ring
Boston Butt on the Orion Cooker with Minuto® wood chips in the inner ring

Orion Cooker:

This is an outdoor convection unit that uses briquets for the heat and Minuto® Wood Chips placed around the drip/water pan for the wood flavoring.  This unit will be the fastest to cook the Boston Butt, with an anticipated timing of 4-1/2 hours total.  This is a direct cooking method that uses the radiated heat of the stainless-steel body to trap and circulate the heat for faster cooking time.

There is no ability to replenish the wood chips with this unit due to the high heat level.  About 15 lbs. of briquet and 4 ounces of Orion Custom Wood Chips is all that is needed to smoke, plus some water in the water/drip pan for a moist outcome.

Weber® Kettle 22” Charcoal Grill:

Our Boston Butt on the Weber® kettle Grill with double filet wood chunks
Boston Butt on the Weber® kettle Grill with double filet wood chunks
 Likely one of the most popular charcoal grills, the Weber® kettle provides for the opportunity to cook with charcoal and hardwood.  I’ll be setting up my grill using a two-zone method; charcoal/wood on half the fire area and the meat placed on the indirect side.

Due to the length of time Boston butt takes to cook, you likely will need to replenish the charcoal for maintenance of heat level.  I prefer to maintain a temperature around 250° F.


For similarities: both the Weber® and the Stôk grill were set up with a two-zone cooking method. 
Both included use of the SmokinLicious® double filet wood chunk.  The length of cooking time between the charcoal unit and the gas unit are very similar, taking close to 10 hours.

For differences: temperature maintenance is easier with the gas and convection units.  The charcoal unit requires much more supervision to ensure that the fuel (charcoal) is replenished prior to the temperature of the grill decreasing significantly.  You are also able to check on the meat’s coloring and evenness of cooking with the charcoal and gas units while the convection unit is generally left alone until closer to the recommended cooking times.  Though you can check on the doneness of the meat at any point with the convection unit, generally there is no need to do anything but wait.

Regarding cooking variations, let’s discuss color, bark formation, moisture of the meat.

Barbecue By All Methods


With all four of the Boston Butt (s) prepared in the same manner – excess fat trimmed to ¼-inch or less, a dry rub applied on all sides, and marinated for 24 hours – this is a fair comparison of how each grilling and smoking method produces the barbecue results commonly looked for.

Bark:

Without question, bark or the outer crust that develops from exposure to a lower temperature, long cook time, and smoke vapor infusion was greatest on the Boston butt cooked on the Weber® Kettle 22” Charcoal Grill.  The gas grill produces the least amount of bark which is dominate on the outer edges and top surface.

Color:

The darkest coloring to the bark and the most obvious smoke ring was on the meat cooked on the charcoal grill.  The Orion Cooker produced a brown hue to the meat’s exterior while the meat cooked on the gas grill retained a red hue that was indicative of the dry rub color.  Charcoal grills will produce a black hued coloring due to two combustible materials: charcoal or charred wood and hardwood.

Moisture: 

The meat that produced the greatest amount of rendered juice was from the charcoal cooking method.  Second, the convection grill method followed by the gas grill.  However, the greatest internal moisture level was obtained from the indirect cooking method on the gas grill, followed by the charcoal method and lastly the convection method.

Final Notes:

What we’ve set out to accomplish with this multi cook segment is to prove that no matter what equipment you have, you can produce authentic flavor, aroma and texture to Boston butt.  This can be invaluable for those times when you may not have a lot of time to supervise the smoker or grill but still want authentic barbecue.  Or, when you must make a lot of meat meaning you must use all the equipment options you have available.
All four Boston Butt (s) one done on charcoal with the Weber, another in the Orion with wood chips and two on the gas grill with wood chunks- the coloring is not much different!
All four Boston Butt (s) one done on charcoal with the Weber, another in the Orion with wood chips and two on the gas grill with wood chunks- the coloring is not much different!
From a taste perspective, our sampling group indicated that the strongest smoked flavor was from the charcoal unit, followed by the convection grill and lastly, the gas grill.  Keep this information in mind when you’re cooking for others, as boldness of the smoke flavor can be controlled not only by the amount of time exposed to the smoke vapor, but also with the equipment used for the cooking and the amount and type of hardwood used in the process.

This certainly is a clear example of how anyone can produce authentic barbecue on the equipment they have even if it’s not a traditional smoker.

Making you an informed consumer through valuable articles like this one.   Leave us a comment and follow us or subscribe for more great recipes, techniques, tips, and the science behind the flavor. That’s SmokinLicious®.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

A GRILLING TECHNIQUE THAT MAKES GRILLED PARSNIPS TASTE LIKE FRENCH FRIES

Our Grilled Parsnips with added wood smoky flavor taste almost like French Fries!
Our Grilled Parsnips with added wood smoky flavor taste almost like French Fries!

Your diet likely doesn’t consistent of many root vegetables and I can guarantee that if you have kids, they may not have tried more than a carrot for a root vegetable.  I’m going to introduce you to parsnips which is one root vegetable that when grilled, takes on a flavor very similar to French fries.

That’s why I’m calling this recipe my Smoked Parsnip Fries with Spicy Honey Glaze.  As easy to prepare as it’s cousin the carrot, parsnips take no time at all to prepare and smoke on the grill.  Go to the market and get yourself about 2 pounds of this lesser used vegetable and let’s convert you from the potato to the parsnip!

What do parsnips taste like?

 Parsnips are a sweet root vegetable with a flavor profile between a carrot and potato. While related to the carrot and parsley family, parsnips have a deeper taste and stronger texture, which lends itself to cooking, grilling, and smoking. We recommend smoking this vegetable to improve its woodsy sweetness taste.

Got 5 Minutes?

The parsnips have been clean of the outer skin, washed and sliced to size
Just like carrots, likely the more popular root vegetable, parsnips grow as a tuberous root and can be eaten raw, though most people prefer to cook them.  Once mature, they are harvested and sold in the grocery stores.  I do a simple end trim and peel them with a vegetable peeler.  Next, I cut them into 3-inch lengths and the width of an average potato French fry.  I then toss them with ¼ cup of oil – I’m using avocado oil but you can also use olive, almond, walnut, grape-seed or similar high heat oil – and kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.  Now they’re ready for the grill.

Tasting Notes: When selecting parsnips, it’s important to look for ones that have a smooth surface with no cuts or indentations.  Because they are a root vegetable, it’s important to rinse them well under water before preparing.

 Two-Zone Grill Smoking



Our smoker box is all set on the lite side of the grill and the parsnips on the unlite! The best method of cooking our pre-cut parsnips is on a sheet pan.  This will ensure that the cuts of parsnip get equal browning and tenderization.

Just like roasting in your oven, I’ll be using a higher grill temperature of 400-425° F on my gas grill.  Total cooking time should be roughly 45 minutes to tenderize the parsnips.  For added flavor, I’ve included three double filet wood chunks to a metal smoker box.  These usually have wood chips added to them but I’ve found wood chunks much easier with less mess and no need to refill with more wood.

I’m using a traditional two-zone setup that involves using  ½ the burners of my unit set to a medium-high setting and ½ the burners are left off.  The smoker box will go on the hot side of the grill while our sheet pan of pre-cut parsnips will go on the cold side.  Half way through cooking time I rotate the sheet pan to ensure even browning.  That’s it!


Chef Bert and Tom go over the set up for two zone cookingGrilled Parsnips Glaze ‘Em for Added Flavor


While the parsnips are turning golden and tender on the grill, it’s time to start on the glaze.  Begin by melting 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a small saucepan.  Add two chiles or ¾ teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes, one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, and 1 tablespoon honey.  Stir the parsnips occasionally until the glaze holds together well.  Set aside and go to the grill and check on the grilled parsnips.  When tender and golden brown, remove from the grill.  The wood chunks will be 100% carbonized.  I’ll like to save these to use in my charcoal grill as a charwood fuel product for a natural charcoal.


pouring the honey sauce over the finished grilled pasnips and ready to serveWith simple trimming and peeling, these grilled parsnips become even more flavorful when wood flavored on the grill.  Two zone cooking makes it easy to step away while the parsnips cook giving you plenty of time to make the great spicy honey glaze to finish off perfectly grilled parsnips.

Remove the parsnips from the grill, place on a serving platter, and drizzle the spicy honey glaze over the parsnips when ready to serve.   Today’s Smoky Grilled Parsnip Fries are going beside a ground chuck burger for more of a traditional taste of burger and fries.

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

Thursday, May 14, 2020

TEMPERATURE, MATERIAL AND TIME DETERMINE WHEN ITS CALLED BARBECUE

When its Called Barbecue?
t’s time I go there.  I’ve fielded way too many questions to ignore it.  Now is the perfect time for me to opine on this highly controversial topic: when it’s called barbecue.

How do you define “true” barbecue?

I have three parameters to cooking that I’d like to address that should help explain my justification for what qualifies as barbecue.

Temperature Comes First


People are often surprised that I don’t include equipment in my considerations but if you’ve followed our recipe blog “Cooking With Dr. Smoke”, you’re well aware that we include a wide array of equipment to demonstrate wood flavor infusion to all types of foods.  One area we do focus on, however, is temperature when cooking.

Extremely Low Temperature (below 80° F):


If the first thing that comes to mind is a temperature under 80°F is just not cooking, you’d be right. 
Basically, this is a temperature that is ideal to complete cold smoking.  Fish, cheese, and some meat products can be exposed to this low temperature process when a combustible plant material is used. 

In most cases, that is wood to smolder and produce a gas or vapor.  The smoke vapor produced from the smoldering wood invokes flavor and preservative qualities to the foods without causing fragile items such as cheese, chocolate, and similar food items to have their molecular composition destroyed by heat. When meats are exposed to this low temperature environment with smoldering wood, the smoke vapor penetrates completely through the meat since there is no high heat surface hardening that occurs like with hot smoking temperatures.

Low Temperature (180° to 300°F):

our thermometer at 350 degrees F is the beginning of high temperature cooking.
We’ve all heard the term low and slow cooking.  This is the low temperature reference to cooking tougher cuts of meat.  However, for me, even more tender cuts can be done using low temperature cooking, especially when paired with an indirect cooking set up or two-zone cooking.  Additionally, this temperature range is not just for meats and poultry, but fish, fruits, and vegetables also benefit.

High Heat Temperature (350° to 550°F or more):


Higher temperatures are generally for cooking smaller cuts of meat and poultry that don’t require a lot of cooking time.  Plus, high heat temperature can develop the char crust exterior on foods that many people crave with outdoor meals.  Know that you can use traditional grills for both direct, high heat cooking as well as indirect set up.  The indirect will allow you to cook the food through by placing on the indirect, non-heat side and then use the direct side for adding a sear to the finished foods.

Combustible Material


If you agree with me that barbecue is cooking with smoke then you’ll understand the need for a combustible material.  Some type of plant material must be used to generate the smoke.  The most popular material is wood or hardwood to be specific, since you should never cook with softwoods due to their higher sapwood content, resin, and air space in the cell walls.
Smoke is a key ingredient to Barbecue
First, understand smoke is a gas or vapor and can result from juices and fats that drip off foods into the fuel area of equipment, result from a fuel source like charcoal emitting smoke at it gains temperature to produce hot coals, and result from wood or other plant material (think herbs, teas, etc.) that is ignited.  You’ve likely experienced the first when cooking hamburgers, hot dogs or steak on direct heat of a charcoal or gas grill and watched the flames start with each drip of the fats/juices. 

Just as you’ve likely experienced lighting charcoal and having a plume of smoke sit until the charcoal begins to gray over and produce high heat.  Come Fall and Spring, if you are a leaf burner, you’ve experienced the thick sometimes choking smoke that results from burning leaves, certainly not a pleasant plant material to use for food cooking.

Once you have a source for the smoke understand that not all smoke is good.  For detailed information on this, see our published article on the types of smoke and what they mean for cooking.

Length of Time for Cooking

our Dr Smoke clock,  Always keep track of your cooking time.
Although you’ve likely read that true barbecue is done low (temperature) and slow (length of time to cook), I will tell you that you can still produce smoked foods using temperatures considered above traditional hot smoking levels and in shorter time periods.  I’ve done bone-in beef shanks on the gas grill using a two-zone cooking method with wood chunks and had these done in about 75 minutes using a temperature close to 300°F.  They, to me, are a true barbecue item, right down to the wet rub, wood flavor infusion, and smoke infused color.

I agree, tougher cuts of meat and poultry benefit from longer cooking times to allow the connective tissue to dissolve.  Plus, my preference is to use a temperature closer to 275°F for most of my animal protein cooking.  For my vegetables and fruits, though, I turn up the heat still using wood for true smoking. I use the tenderness of the vegetable and fruit to guide me on the timing.
Double Filet hardwood chunks pure wood and bark free!In short, true barbecue is cooking with smoke and for me that is cooking with suitable hardwoods known to present pleasant flavors to foods you cook.  You can introduce hardwood to pretty much any type of equipment including home made smokers whether for the outdoors or on your indoor stove top.

The key is to utilize an ideal temperature to generate quality and flavorful smoke gas production, as well as a tempered hand in the amount of wood to use at a time.  You’ll find that you can produce the flavors of barbecue with any equipment and any food.  After all, barbecue seems to have gone beyond just animal proteins.

How do you define barbecue?   Leave us a comment to opine and subscribe for more great recipes, techniques, tips, and the science behind the flavor, that’s SmokinLicious®.