Thursday, December 28, 2017


Cold Smoked Cheese is a very simple technique with very rewarding results. Follow our instruction and enjoy some all natural smoked cheese.
The Cast Iron stove top smoker pan is a wonderful addition to any kitchen for indoor, condo smokingThe cooler season is here and that’s the perfect time to think about cold smoking techniques that bring special flavoring to heat sensitive items.  First up for us, cheese!  We’re lighting up the Technique Cast Iron Stove Top Smoking Pan and loading it up with our favorite varieties of cheese in preparation for a couple of recipes.  If you don’t own a stove top smoker pan, see our blog titled “The Kitchen Find” which will guide you on using items likely found in your own kitchen.

90°F or Less

Cold smoking requires that you keep the temperature below 90°F.  That may sound like a challenge but when you use a stove top smoker – equip it with an ice cube pan – you’re on your way to all things cold smoked.  The best chips to use for this method of smoking are SmokinLicious® Minuto® Wood Chips.  I’m electing to use Wild Cherry for the balance of flavors between my cheese choices.  These chips will combust evenly and slowly, releasing a steady smoke vapor that will work well with the cheese.
We fill the bottom of the stove top smoker with ice to reduce the heat and produce some nice steam.
First, the stove top smoking pan needs to be set up.  The Technique pan comes with everything needed, including a drip pan.  We won’t be using the drip pan for its intended purpose but rather, to become an ice pan.  An ice pan will help to keep the temperature of the smoking pan below 85° F; and that means you can smoke all types of foods that normally couldn’t be exposed to heat! (chocolate, cheese, fragile fruits, candies, etc).

Be sure you have a handful of wood chips in the base pan before adding the drip pan full of ice cubes.   Place the wood chips in the center of the pan then fill the drip pan completely with ice.  Then add the grill pan and get the cheese out of the refrigerator.  Remember, you will be smoking the cheese for a few hours so you’ll need to refill the drip pan with ice cubes every hour.   There is no need to replenish the wood chips as a single handful will be plenty.

The Ice Tray

With the heat set to the lowest setting possible on your stove top, the drip pan filled with ice cubes to reduce the temperature even more, the cheese selections which include Swiss, horseradish cheddar, muenster, and fresh mozzarella, are added to the grill pan.  Place the cover on and this should be left untouched for at least an hour.  Once the hour passes, it will be time to replace the ice cubes in the drip pan.  Be sure to leave the cover on the grill pan when changing out the ice tray.  This should be done every hour up to the final hour you want to smoke.  I am doing a four-hour process on my cheese today so I will replace the ice pan three times.  That’s it!
Our finished smoked cheese, showing a darkened color change caused by the smoking process
Once infused, remove the cheese, wrap in wax or parchment paper and refrigerator for at least 2 days to allow the smoke vapor to release throughout the cold smoked cheese process.  Then get ready to enjoy your smoked cheese as is, or include in recipes.  We have 2 recipes coming up: A smoked cheese and bacon quiche and smoked grilled cheese with tomato and pepper jelly.

I hope I’ve inspired you to try cold smoked cheese on the stove top.  We need your comment and rating, so subscribe and follow us so you don’t miss a thing.  As always we welcome your suggestions as well on recipes and techniques you want to learn about.  We are your source for all things wood-fired, providing tips, techniques, recipes, and the science behind the fire.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

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

Is it fresh, is always a question that comes from new customers! At Smokinlicious® we are cutting products daily and measuring moisture to maintain the best smoking wood in the world
Is it fresh, is always a question that comes from new customers only! Our old customers know that at Smokinlicious® we are cutting products daily and measuring moisture to produce the best smoking wood in the world!

I always find it interesting when we receive a new inquiry about providing specialty products for commercial-grade smokehouses.   I’m speaking specifically to the large commercial-grade smokehouse.  The type that utilize walk-in, wall smokehouse units that can turn out hundreds of pounds of product each cycle.

First, there’s always the question if we can duplicate the current wood chip product.  That’s where the education begins.

The Truth Is in The Sample

Sending the current wood supply sample is key to determining what should be used in product.  Once we provide the video review of what is in the sample in terms of sizing, we’re on the way to getting an understanding of why the current product may not be ideal.  Our concern is not just the overall flavor and color to the finished product, but also to reducing equipment failures that may occur from clogging of the wood material due to dust particulants.

Is It Fresh- Is Best

we check all our products for the proper moisture levels for the proper balance of too dry and just perfect for smoking. Following our discussion on product sizing, it’s time to explain why ordering fresh product is key.  We don’t operate on the concept that you need tons of extra product inventory sitting in your location, making the potential for color changes to the wood, moisture depletion, and susceptibility to mold spores a reality.  Instead, fresh product is produced when you need it, allowing for consistency in your smokehouse products’ flavor and color.  I know this is a stretch when there are many suppliers out there who encourage you to order pallet after pallet of product with the incentive of saving 10% if full truck loads go out.  Good luck getting the premium flavor and color your looking for with that old, dehydrated product!

We’ve Got Your Back

our Minuto wood chips are a clean bark free wood chip for superior results in any commercial smokehouse. There are many sizes to fit any equipments need.We know every customer we have the privilege of doing business with needs assurance that we can cover their needs.  That’s why our entire Team is involved to ensure that we can ship earlier if needed.  We take the time to monitor your Company’s usage and predict your next order.  Or, we can set up a shipping schedule you’re comfortable with that is easy for everyone involved and won’t require extra, valuable storage space be used.

Yes, you could say we are not the norm and we’d be just fine with that.  In fact, we encourage it.  To us, there’s nothing like cooking with fresh product that has been designed with your Company’s needs in mind.  That’s why our superior product will give you a superior outcome.  Fresh hardwood product for unmatched smoke infused food products. That’s the SmokinLicious® way!

Thursday, December 14, 2017


Open Pit cooking fire We built by using Smokinlicious ash wood to develop great coals for our ember cooking of Peppers
Build an open pit cooking fire for grilling and ember cooking! Is easier than you may think follow our steps below!
SmokinLicious® receives a lot of questions about wood-fired cooking and one of the most repetitive concerns the building of the fire for cooking.  We’ve developed this series to address how to build the  fire by equipment and technique.  For Part I, we cover the open pit cooking fire.

Get Organized

The first step is to know where you will build the fire.  Are you planning on using an outdoor fireplace, a fire pit, or will you construct a temporary fire location?

When using an existing fireplace located outdoors, you must ensure that the firebox is clean of previous ash and wood.  The same is true for a open pit cooking fire pit.  If you will set up a temporary location for the fire, consider what you will use for materials to secure the area.  It is never recommended to use your patio, paved driveway or lawn because a hot fire is sure to damage them or, at the very least, mar their appearance (thin charcoal black coating the surface).  Using large stones, interlocking bricks, or a metal fire ring work great at securing the area to contain your fire.

Once you’ve decided on the location, you’ll need to collect some supplies to make the cooking safe and fun.

picture of Smokinlicious Double filet wood chunks make a perfect source for developing the perfect cooking fire▪ material to contain the fire like stones, bricks or a cast iron/wrought iron ring.  You can use an outdoor fireplace or open pit cooking fire pit whether permanent or portable

▪ water, shovel, dirt, and/or fire extinguisher to deal with potential fire spread or wayward embers

▪Smokinlicious® smoking wood chips for quick lighting

▪ small twigs or small pieces of hardwood to create a tepee around the wood chips (we like our Smokinlicious® smoking double or single filet chunks)

▪ larger hardwood pieces to create a 2nd tepee around the first (Smokinlicious®1/4 cut logs work great for that)

▪ rolled newspaper or fire starters

▪ have additional hardwood for producing more coals for cooking as needed

▪ a coal rake, fireplace tongs for moving and relocating wood pieces, spray bottle of water to tame flames near food, instant read thermometer (you can also use a traditional wrought-iron log holder to make the fire – the hot coals will fall through and then you rake them to the cooking side)

The Perfect Fire

Always take note of the day’s temperature, wind conditions/direction, and conditions of your wood (dry or wet, fresh cut or aged) before you start.  You want to be sure you set up and start the fire where the wind direction won’t cause smoke to enter house windows or the dining area.  Keep those locations upwind.
stack the wood into a teepee shape to maintain the flame and burning processIn your fire safe area, pile up a few handfuls of hardwood chips (you can use newspaper but I like to try to stay with wood in its natural state).  Make a small tepee around the wood chips using small wood pieces (our single filet wood chunks work great) or twigs.  Make a second tepee of larger wood pieces around the first one.  You’ll see that you’re graduating from small wood pieces to larger as you build but you’re also ensuring good oxygen pockets to help feed the fire to the next level.  This is what ensures even combustion and even coals.  Now, light the wood chips at the center and allow everything to ignite.  Don’t add any additional wood until you see the outside wood ablaze.

Fire for Fuel, Coals for Cooking

The purpose of your shovel other than as protector of wayward fire, is to take those hot coals and move them to the cooking area.  Remember, the fire area is not where you are going to cook.  That location is nearby but not with the flames.  You should never cook over direct flame as it will overcarbonize the foods and result in bitter tastes.

Ideally, you want to cook over coals that have a white colored ash over them.  Now, here’s how to determine temperature of those coals: hold your hand over the coals the distance your foods will be.  If you can only hold your hand for a count of 2 seconds before you need to pull it away, that is high heat.  3-4 seconds is medium-high, 5-6 seconds is medium and 7-8 seconds is low heat.

Bring on the Food!

We have burnt down the ash single fillet into a bed of hot coals. Ash wood is a perfect coaling wood to useOnce your coals are at the perfect temperature for the foods you want to cook, it’s all about cooking!  Remember, you can set up different heat areas to cook different foods.  That’s what makes the experience with wood cooking, specifically with coals, so exhilarating.


Avocado chocolate pudding kissed by "fire" and "smoke" for an extra boost of flavor! In this series we explain how to smoke an avocado and then mix it into your chocolate pudding.
Avocado chocolate pudding kissed by “fire” and “smoke” for an extra boost of flavor!
Avocado has been known for its health benefits for some time and has gone beyond the simple slice or dice and add to your favorite salad.  It has become the new replacement for butter in many recipes.
Grilling avocado is a great way to intensify their flavor
Now, I’m going to do a similar approach to chocolate pudding by incorporating avocado instead of dairy but first, I add a wood-fired flavor to the avocado to bring out a flavor level to this fruit that is distinctly different from its raw flavor.  You can see our previous article on the technique we used on the gas grill.

the simple ingredients displayed on our tableFlavor Affinities

Once you’ve wood fired your avocados on a gas or charcoal grill, you need to gather the following ingredients:
  • 2 wood fired avocados
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder- ¾ cup
  • Pure maple syrup- ½ cup
  • ¼ cup- fresh orange juice, plus ¼ cup additional reserved
  • Hot water (not boiling)- ¾ cup
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup chopped hazelnuts
  • whipped heavy cream
In addition to the above ingredients, you’ll need a blender.

Using a standard mixer for the blending of all the ingredients.Blending Flavors Is All That’s Needed

Whenever I wood-fire avocado, I usually remove the flesh from the shells and store in a container in the refrigerator for my recipes.   Take the flesh of two previously wood-fired avocado and place in the blender.  Carefully split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds adding to the blender.

Now comes the cocoa powder, maple syrup, agave nectar, orange juice – ¼ cup to start – and salt.  Turn on the blender and incorporate everything until a coarse puree forms.

With the blender running on medium, gradually stream in the hot water and blend until smooth and creamy.  The hot water will produce a very shiny, ganache like appearance to the pudding.  If you feel the pudding mixture is too chunky or thick, blend in additional orange juice from the ¼ cup reserve but do not exceed the additional ¼ cup amount.

Chill It Before Serving

refrigerate the Chocolate Avocado pudding before serving.Once you’ve reached the perfect consistency for your pudding, it’s time to divide the mixture into 6 serving bowls and chill for at least 2 hours.  You can make this up to 3 days ahead of time but be sure you do not cover the pudding while it chills.  This is not like older recipes that contained dairy and could form a “skin” on the pudding.

Once chilled, top with whipped cream and chopped hazelnuts – I prefer to crush my hazelnuts using a canned good with the nuts in a sealable storage bag.  Super rich, creamy with a distinct extra flavor that mixes so well with the sweet syrups and fresh flavors of orange and vanilla.  Smoky Avocado Chocolate Pudding – a star finish to any meal!

In conclusion, we hope you found inspiration with this recipe.  We’d love to see your photos of your take on the recipe.  Leave a comment and subscribe.  Keep following us as we bring you innovative tips, techniques, and recipes on working with wood for cooking, grilling & smoking.

Thursday, December 7, 2017


We explore the question “is wood-tar creosote” bad for your BBQ food?
There are lots of stories out there in the BBQ world about creosote!  Most have the same tone: creosote is not something you want when you cook with wood.
Unfortunately, that can never happen as creosote is always present in wood.

So, why has creosote become the monster of BBQ cooking?

Likely because there is confusion with another type of creosote: coal-tar creosote, commonly used to preserve such things as railroad ties, telephone poles, bridges, etc.  You know when material has been exposed to coal-tar by the black, charred appearance.

The Advantages of Wood-Tar Creosote

One of the primary advantages to having creosote in hardwood is its ability to act as a preservative.  Long before equipment was designed for cooking, people would dig holes in the ground to produce a smokehouse for preserving game meats they hunted.  It was the only method of ensuring safe consumption when refrigeration wasn’t readily available.

Wood-tar creosote is colorless to yellowish and presents as a grease or oil consistency.  It is a combination of natural phenols which are the natural compounds that produce the flavors of BBQ when the wood is combusted or burned.  In addition to the distinct flavor, phenols are also responsible for the aroma and color of BBQ foods.

Guaiacol is a compound derived from methyl ether and is responsible for BBQ’s smoky taste while the dimethyl ether syringol is the chemical responsible for BBQ’s smoky aroma.

Risks of Wood-Tar Creosote

Now that you know not all of creosote’s chemical composition is bad, what are the risks to a wood-tar creosote?

The biggest risk is in burning wood that is not at an ideal combustion rate.  I’m sure you’ve had experience with campfires that produce an acrid aroma and literally cause a foul “taste” in the air from poor combustion rate (too slow burning).  That is the challenge and risk when using wood products with food for hot smoking.  Remember, hot smoking requires temperatures that are lower – generally below 275°F.  To achieve a consistent low temperature, you must control air intake and damper or exhaust.  If you don’t achieve a good balance, the result will be a sooty, bitter tasting and smelling food outcome.

How do you know if your crossing into risky and poor outcome territory?

By the color of the smoke.  A poorly balanced combustion of wood will produce a black smoke.  Repeat these conditions and you’ll stimulate creosote deposits within your equipment which can reduce the draft needed to ensure the fire gets enough air to optimally combust.  Remember, creosote on its own is highly combustible which is why there are many wood stove house fires occurring due to poor maintenance/clean out of these units.

Not All Hardwoods Are Equal In Compound Percentages

Now that your aware that phenolic compounds, specifically guaiacol and syringol are key to tasty, flavorful BBQ foods, let’s talk about these compounds in specific hardwoods.

Interestingly, Beech wood is highly prized and used in Europe for smoking particularly in meat processing facilities.  This is no surprise to me since Beechwood has one of the highest percentages of guaiacol when at a high heat level (distilling).  Know that the phenolic compounds present in all wood distill at variant percentage levels and usually require a combustion temperature of nearly 400°F to peak.   Yet another reason why you want to keep a balance to your fire so combustion is optimal. Thus the resulting flavors and aromas are pleasant.


This smoked potato curry smells and tastes awesome! Try this around a holiday to just add a small smoky flavor to a favorite vegetable.
Whenever we reach the transition between Winter and Spring, I like to start transitioning my meals from hearty comfort foods to a bit more health conscious to prepare for the “less clothes” season coming.  Since I’m in the southwestern portion of New York State, our warmer temperatures can be a long way away from the calendar date of the first day of Spring.

That’s when I love to do dishes like Indian curries!

Hearty and filling, but loaded with healthy vegetables, I’m taking the traditional potato curry to a new level with my smoked potato!

Despite the many ingredients, this is still a very simple dish.

Ingredient List:

Gather together the following ingredients:
  • 2 cups smoked potato (see are previous posting on how to smoke the potatoes)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Clove, cardamom, fennel seeds, curry, turmeric, chili powder, coriander, cumin
  • 1 large red onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 green chili
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 can butter beans
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons high heat oil

Building Flavors

The first ingredients to incorporate will be the cinnamon stick and fennel seeds.  fennel seeds.  Heat the 2 tablespoons of high heat oil – I’m using coconut oil –  in a pan.  I’m using cast iron for the even heat distribution and retention of heat.  Once hot, add the cinnamon stick and fennel seeds and stir to keep the seeds from burning.  While infusing these flavors, mix together 2 teaspoons of curry, 2 teaspoons of cardamom, and 1 teaspoon of cumin.  Add these dry ingredients to the oil mixture and stir well.

You’ll start to smell the wonderful aromatics of these spices.

Vegetables and Spice Are Always Nice

Continuing to build on our flavors, I chop 4 garlic cloves and add to the spiced oil as well as 3 green chili slices, mixing well.  Allow these ingredients to tenderize for a few minutes then add your diced red onion.  But be sure you stir well to allow everything to incorporate.  Allow this mixture to cook on medium heat until the onion has become very tender and begins to darken in color, meaning it is sweating.  Now, get ready to add even more spice flavors.

Kicking Up The Flavors

Once the garlic, chili, onion mixture has tenderized, it’s time to add more spice.  Then, mix 1 teaspoon each of coriander, turmeric, clove, and chili powder together.  Add to the onion mixture in the pan stirring well.  Now we are ready for the 2 cups of the previously smoked potatoes.  Mix everything together well.  As the potatoes tenderize, you can break them apart into smaller pieces if desired.  Then add 1 cup of water and allow the mixture to simmer.  At this point I turn my heat down to medium-low.

Getting A Meaty Texture

Let’s add some additional meatiness to this dish by first incorporating 2 tablespoons of tomato paste.  Next, 2 diced tomatoes and the can of butter beans which if you don’t know, are white Lima beans, a great cholesterol lowering legume and rich in fiber!  Mix well and allow to simmer.  At this stage, you will see the ingredients thicken.  If you would rather more of a thick soup consistency rather than gravy consistency, feel free to add additional water.

After simmering for about 8 minutes on medium-low temperature, I add 2 tablespoons of butter to the mix.  If you’re dairy free, feel free to eliminate the butter and you’ll still have a wonderful dish.
I like to serve my smoked potato curry with chopped fresh green onion on top and brown rice on the side.  Taziki or Greek yogurt adds a nice touch as well for those looking for a “cooling” affect to the dish.

Now, dig in and see how versatile this dish can become.  Think about changing the smoked potato for a grilled or smoked eggplant, zucchini or yellow squash.  All wonderful options for this vegetable hearty dish.