Thursday, October 17, 2019

10 THINGS YOU DO THAT RUIN YOUR SMOKING & GRILLING EXPERIENCE

Don't ruin your Smoking & Grilling Experience by making simple mistakes!
Don’t ruin your Smoking & Grilling Experience by making simple mistakes!

We’ve all had those moments when the food comes off the smoker or  grill  and we wonder, What went wrong??

Sometimes the event is so bad you want to swear off  outdoor cooking  for good.  I’m here to ask you to step away from the ledge and think about whether you do any of the following things.  The more items on the list you engage in, the more likely you can benefit from my suggestions.

#1 Resting Meat

This tends to be the common practice for roasts and steaks/chops.  You’ve managed to get a nice crisp skin to the roast or steak and then you let it sit or rest, thinking it will make the outcome juicier.  You end up with a soft skin, a wet outside, and waxy fat.  These are meat cuts that don’t require resting.  In fact, they will rest enough on your dinner plate so they are best served hot of the grill or smoker, without a rest period.

#2 Using Too Much Wood

You know that charcoal and gas are the fuels used to reach and maintain temperature while you’re cooking, and that hardwood is what flavors your food.  You want to ensure there is adequate smoke flavor so you add 10 pieces of  wood chunks  to the hot coals when you start cooking.  Then after the first hour, you add another 6 pieces of wood.  STOP!  That is way too much and simply put, a waste of a tree. On average it takes just 6 ounces of wood to start flavoring meat.  My rule of thumb is to add 3-4 wood pieces for a full chimney of charcoal plus a couple of pounds of unlit.  Only when those pieces are fully combusted (black and ashy) do I add a couple more pieces.  Depending on what and how long I’m cooking, I may only use 6 pieces total.

#3 You Soaked Your Smoking/Grilling Wood

I know this is one of the biggest controversies out there when it comes to smoking with wood.  To soak or not.  I take the stand that you should never soak the wood as adding water will only fluctuate your cooking temperature and take more energy away from the fire to steam the water from the wood.  Remember, the wood cannot start to combust until the excess water has been vaporized.  Work with a wood that has at least 20% moisture for the best flavor.

#4 Room Temperature Meat

It is well documented that when you want to attract smoke vapor from burning wood, colder temperatures are like a magnet.  Don’t take the meat out of the refrigerator until right before you’re ready to place it on the grill.  In addition to attracting smoke vapor, colder temperature meats will warm up faster in your equipment than if you left them out on the kitchen counter.

#5 Searing to Lock in Juices

This is the one item even well-known restaurants can get wrong.  Searing meats before finish cooking does not lock in the juices.  What it does do is brown the outside of the meat and firm up the outer surface, giving a distinct pleasant flavor.  The meat fibers do not get sealed by this method or produce any additional juiciness to the meat.

#6 Marinating Overnight or Longer

As marinades tend to contain oil and meat is made up mostly of water, the two tend to compete against each other.  Here’s the thing with marinades.  Marinating for long periods of time do not allow the marinade to penetrate any deeper than if you marinate for just one hour.  In fact, you have an increased risk of breaking down the meat fibers too far with a marinade, producing a soggy outer layer.  Stick to short marinade times and understand most of that flavor will penetrate only to the outside layer.

#7 Don’t Trim the Fat Cap

Just like meat being made up of mostly water, fat is made up of oil.  Again, water and oil don’t mix.  Leaving a fat cap on meat only allows it to melt and drip into the equipment you’re using.  This can produce some additional flavors to the meat but allow too many drippings into the fire area, and you’ll cause flare ups that will deposit soot onto your meat.  Don’t forget, most of us have a habit of trimming fat off meat before we consume it.

#8 It’s Done When There’s No Pink Meat

I’m not sure how many ways I can say this so I’ll be blunt.  YOU NEED AN EASY READ DIGITAL THERMOMETER WHEN YOU COOK!!  That is the only way to know when various meats and poultry are fully cooked.  Follow safe temperature guidelines and don’t go by the color of the meat.  Remember, bone marrow reveals itself differently in animal proteins which causes variation in pink, red and even purple coloring near bone.

#9 Steak Should Always Have Grill Marks

Grill marks are not the mark of a great  steak !  A uniform brown coloring on the meat’s surface is what your goal should be.  That means a deep sear was achieved and great flavor is hidden underneath.  The only way to achieve that is to learn how to direct cook the steak with a higher cooking temperature and frequent turning.  This allows for maximum radiant heat and even coloring and cooking.

#10 You Use Something Other Than Water in the Water Pan

There are all kinds of justifications for why liquids like beer, juice, wine, etc. should be used in a water pan while cooking.  It produces better flavor, it penetrates deeper, it produces more moisture.  Let me be clear.   It’s called a water pan for a reason.   It is designed to hold water and hot water at that.  By starting with hot water, you allow the energy of the fire to go directly to cooking the meat not heating up the water.  Water evaporates which produces a moisture rich environment keeping meats from drying out.  Other liquids will not evaporate and could even burn in the pan due to sugar alcohol levels.

Even if you’ve checked off a lot of these items as practices your guilty of engaging in, it’s easy to turn around your outdoor grilling and smoking skills.  In the end, it will be safer for your guests, better for your meat investments, and an overall more pleasurable experience doing the cooking.

Do you have a bad habit you turned around when you grill and smoke?  Leave us a comment to let us know.  We welcome all types of questions and encourage you to follow and subscribe to our social channels so you don’t miss anything.  We look forward to providing you with tips, techniques, recipes, and the science for all things wood-fired cooked.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

GRILLED LAMB

Our Finished grilled Lamb resting before slicing!



I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how lamb has slowly been gaining greater popularity in North America.  Normally associated with Easter, I’ve had many followers indicate that they love to cook lamb in the summer on the grill as well as for holidays like Thanksgiving (yes, there are some that don’t do a turkey or add this protein to the dinner) and Christmas.

My intention today is to provide some guidance on the cuts of lamb, which work best for wood-fired cooking methods, and provide some flavor pairing suggestions to consider for your recipes.  Know that my definition of lamb is a young sheep of fewer than 12 months of age.

 

Primal Cuts

There are eight basic cuts of lamb: neck, shoulder, breast, ribs, loin, leg, foreshank, and shank.  Immediately, I want you to understand that there is much less meat harvested from a lamb than on some other common animals.  The reason is that lamb tends to be quite fatty and the fat is not something consumable like the current rage with pork.  Once a lamb is harvested, trimmed of its fat, had non-edible parts removed, there is about 40% of its weight remaining in viable meat.  Thus, lamb can be very expensive.

Let’s look at each of the cuts and provide some insight into the best methods of cooking each.

Neck:  Then neck contains some of the most marbled meat of the lamb making it ideal for longer cooking methods.  Because of the fattiness of the cut, it is best to marinate it for about 4 hours prior to cooking.  This is a cut that is generally sliced, marinated, and then cooked casserole-style.  This can be done on a grill set up with a two-zone cooking method to allow the wood to be added to the hot side of the grill which can infuse the contents of the casserole if left uncovered.  This cut also works well when ground to produce lamb burgers and sausage.

Shoulder: This is by far one of the most flavorful cuts, is less expensive as it contains more connective tissue and bone producing a tougher cut and can be cooked a variety of ways.  This section can produce bone-in and boneless roasts, shoulder chops, and stew meat.  It is ideal for a slow and low method of cooking which includes traditional smoking.  As such, preparations can include brining, dry and wet rub, and marinating.

Foreshank and Shank: As the name implies, the foreshank is attached to the front legs of the lamb while the shank is connected to the rear legs.  These cuts are ideally braised and presented as individual servings.  Again, these can be done like the neck cut in a casserole on the grill with wood for flavoring.

Rib: Containing what is called the rack and crown, this is the section of the lamb that would be the equivalent to prime rib roast of beef.  It is the most expensive cut and is ideal on the grill.  Always use a two-zone cooking set up to prevent overcooking of the outside.  Chops can also be produced from this cut but note that they cook quickly.  I prefer to still use a two-zone cooking setup so I can move the chops from direct heat to indirect as needed.

Loin: This muscle of the lamb is the most tender and resembles miniature versions of T-bone steak.  It can also be cut into the tenderloin and top loin chops, which is the filet mignon of lamb.  Don’t think you can roast that tenderloin, however, as the size is too small for this method but it works perfectly when grilled.

Leg: Unlike other animals, the leg of lamb is very tender and versatile, producing boneless roasts, sirloin steaks, and kabob meat.  This cut can be butterflied if deboned and grilled or left whole for grilled lamb.

Breast: This tends to be a small cut that you can use bone-in or deboned.  If bone-in, treat like a rack of ribs and plan to slow cook.  The ideal is on the grill after marinating overnight.  A temperature of 225°F is recommended and again, using a two-zone cooking method will keep this moist if you include a water pan.  There are many recipes for stuffed lamb breast as well that a roasting method can be used.  Certainly, grilling two-zone method will make these moist, tender and flavorful.

 

Flavor Pairings

One characteristic of lamb is its ability to stand up to other strong flavors whether in spice or herb form.  Here are the top flavor pairings for lamb:

Almond: incorporate into a stuffing with rice

Anchovy: cuts slits into a leg or shoulder and insert drained anchovy into each cavity

Anise: a perfect addition to a casserole for infusion to the meat

Apricot: preferably used dry this is perfect with cinnamon, cumin, coriander

Cabbage: add potatoes and let it simmer with the meat

Cherry: adding onions, saffron, almonds, pomegranate, feta, mint, parsley, pistachio

Cumin: add chili and put on the grill

Eggplant: perfect if done kabob style over the hot coals

Goat Cheese: add spinach or kale and this is the perfect pairing for lamb burgers

Mint: likely the most well-known pairing which reduces the funkier undertones of the meat

Peas: add butter, onion, and tomato

Saffron: use this spice in rice to accompany the meat

With all these great flavor pairings, lamb should continue to grow in popularity and maybe will surpass one of our more common animal protein choices.

Do you have a favorite cut and preparation of grilled lamb?  Share your thoughts and photos. 

Bringing innovation to wood-fired cooking with recipes, techniques and the science behind the fire, smoke, and flavor. That’s SmokinLicious®.

Friday, September 27, 2019

COAL-FIRED LEEKS TERRINE

COAL-FIRED LEEKS TERRINE begins by cooking the leeks over a bed of hot ember coals!
COAL-FIRED LEEKS TERRINE begins by cooking the leeks over a bed of hot ember coals!

Considered one of the healthiest foods, leeks join onion and garlic as part of the allium vegetable family.  This seasonal delight is commonly used as a soup but I have something else in mind.  I’ll be putting these directly on the hot coals and charring them for tenderness and flavor.  Then I’ll be layering them in a terrine that includes goat cheese and crème Fraiche.  I’ll also provide a dip alternative using the same ingredients to give you two options for these great flavors.  Get shopping and pick out about 5 lbs. of vibrant green leeks, and let’s make an appetizer.

 

The Small Coal Bed

One of the benefits of having a cooking wood company is when we produce our charwood product, I can have the micro pieces saved for my cooking use.  By using these smaller pieces, it allows my fire to reduce faster to the hot coal stage.  I’m using a Weber kettle for this coal method and include a fine mesh screen on the charcoal grate to prevent the micro pieces from falling through.

our cooking bed of coalsI place a Firestarter on the screen, then place my chimney starter over the top.  I fill the chimney with my micro charwood pieces and light the base where the Firestarter is.  Leave this alone until the coals gray over and are hot.  Then pour in an even layer in the charcoal area to be ready for the leeks.

Tasting Notes: I recommend for the best char taste to the leeks that you use hardwood charcoal and not briquets.  This will allow you to break apart charcoal pieces easier and get an even coal bed.

 

Quick Leek Preparation

Leeks are one of those vegetables that are simple to prepare for cooking.  First thing, if you’ve purchased with the root ends intact, remove those roots.  Even if the roots are removed, still trim the root end to remove the hardened, dried end.  Then cut off the dark green tops.  Remember to save these parts to flavor soup stock! Wash the leeks to remove trapped dirt and pat dry.  Once dry, cut each leek lengthwise in half.  Now get a sheet pan and we’ll finish getting the leeks ready for the coals.

With the leeks cleaned and trimmed, it’s time to spread them out on a sheet pan and season with salt and fresh ground pepper.  Taking the pan to the grill, place the leeks on the hot coals trying not to overlap any.  Let them cook for about 10 minutes before turning to char the other side.  Be sure to move around any leeks that are lighter in char color than the others.  Total time on the coals will be about 20 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool briefly.

 

Terrine Filling

With the leeks charred and tenderized, it’s time to make the terrine filling.  Start by combining 4 ounces of softened goat cheese, 4 ounces of crème Fraiche, 1 teaspoon lemon or lime zest, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.    Mix these ingredients together well.   Line a standard 9×5 loaf pan with plastic wrap so that about 4-inches of wrap overhang the ends of the pan.  This will allow for ease in releasing our terrine once it is set.

The layering of the leeks in the pan and goat chees fillingWith the leeks, goat cheese mixture, and loaf pan ready, it’s time to assemble the terrine.  Start by adding leeks to the bottom of the loaf pan in a single layer.  Then add a layer of the goat cheese mixture.  Repeat until the pan is filled, being sure to start and end with a leek layer.  Fold the plastic wrap over the finished terrine and place a piece of cardboard cut to size on the covered terrine.  Apply canned goods to weigh down the terrine and refrigerate overnight.

Tasting Notes: If you prefer to not make a terrine, you can still use this basic recipe to make molded leek topping.  Simply chop the charred leeks into small pieces and add directly to the goat cheese mixture.  Combine well and then mold in small bowls, still refrigerating overnight.

After spending the night in the refrigerator, the coal-fired leek terrine is ready to be un-molded.  Start by unwrapping the terrine and inverting it onto a serving platter.  I like to cut 1-inch slices while the terrine is still firm.  Be sure to use a sharp, serrated knife to get through all the leek layers.  Then allow softening somewhat before serving with your selections of suitable accompaniments.  I am using a hearty pumpernickel bread as well as a crusty Italian bread.  Other good choices are radicchio leaves, water crackers, petite bread, and mini pepper halves.  This is an easy means of giving your guests a unique appetizer that is healthy too.

Do you have a favorite leek recipe?  Tell us in a comment.   Bringing innovation to wood-fired cooking with recipes, techniques and the science behind the fire, smoke, and flavor. That’s SmokinLicious®.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

COAL FIRE CAULIFLOWER RICE WITH TOMATO

Our finished Cauliflower rice with Tomato we fire roasted with just a chimney starter!
Our finished Cauliflower rice with Tomato we fire roasted with just a chimney starter!

With my special chimney starter cooking technique, which you can view in a separate posting, a fresh head of cauliflower was wood fired for a charry flavor.  Now, it’s time to take this fabulous flavor and marry it to tomato and spice in a cauliflower rice dish that can be consumed as a main course or a fabulous side dish.  A simple recipe that’s full a flavor that you’ll want to enjoy again and again.  Plus, you’ll enjoy the added benefits of this super nutritious food due to its low saturated fat and cholesterol and high vitamin and mineral daily needs.

 

Making Rice


After tenderizing my fresh head of cauliflower on the hot coals of a charcoal fire, I’m going to turn this into a cauliflower rice dish that features tomato, feta cheese and just a hint of jalapeno pepper.
Our charred Cauliflower in the food processor ready to be "riced"
To start, cut your cooked cauliflower steaks into smaller florets and place half in a food processor with a standard blade.  Pulse the cauliflower until it is reduced to rice-like particles.  Remove from the processor bowl and add into a pot.  Continue to process the remaining cauliflower in the same manner.  You’ll see the tiny flecks of the charred goodness easily if you’ve prepared white cauliflower.  Keep in mind, that one head of cauliflower will produce nearly two quarts of rice before the other ingredients are added, so this can comfortably feed 6 as a side dish or 3-4 as a main entrée.

Tasting Notes: If you care for additional spicy notes, feel free to pulse in some fresh ground pepper or pepper flakes.  Just be sure to reduce the amount of fresh hot pepper in the cooking section.

 

Hearty Flavors


Adding the broth to the cauliflower rice!Once the cauliflower rice is made and in the pot, it’s time to add the other ingredients.  Start by adding 2 cups of diced tomato and one finely chopped jalapeno pepper.   Pour in ½ cup of broth – I’m using bone broth – and stir well.  You can adjust the moistness of the finished rice by adding more broth.   Add ¼ cup of feta cheese just before serving, allowing the cheese to be heated just a couple of minutes.

Once sampled, you’ll taste the meaty char flavor from the coal cooking technique that is balanced so well by the sweet tomato and slight kick of the spicy pepper.  This is hearty enough to eat as a main meal or the perfect accompaniment to your favorite animal protein.  Just think what the festive colors can do for this dish if you’re lucky enough to find yellow or purple varieties of cauliflower. [#cauliflowerrice]

Tasting Notes: There are so many variations to cauliflower rice.  Use seasonal ingredients to guide you.  Options: curry powder, honey, Dijon mustard, & butter; asparagus, mushroom, basil, & coconut milk; black beans, tomato, corn, onion & Verde sauce.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

COAL FIRE CAULIFLOWER BY COOKING ON A CHIMNEY STARTER

We are cooking on a chimney starter with a grill pan to nicely char our head of Cauliflower for this recipe!
We are cooking on a chimney starter with a grill pan to nicely char our head of Cauliflower for this recipe!

A cousin to broccoli, #cauliflower is one of those vegetables that can be eaten raw or cooked and converted to so many different textures.  Best yet, cauliflower is one of those super cancer-fighting foods as it contains sulforaphane known to kill cancer stem cells.

I’ll be taking my head of cauliflower and introducing it to hot coals, first, direct heat using a #chimneystarter for the actual cooking and then directly on the hot coals to give it the perfect “meat” char.  No matter what color you enjoy – white, yellow, purple – grab a head and get your chimney starter ready, as I show you how to use a chimney starter as an actual grill.

 

Why a Chimney Starter


There are times when you really don’t need to fire up a full charcoal area of coals on the charcoal grill.  I have the perfect solution when you’re doing just a small quantity of a food, like our head of cauliflower. 
All our hot embers accumulated in the Chimney starter provides an excellent heat source for cooking
To start, I place a mesh screen on the charcoal grill grate to help retain the small, hot coals for cooking.  I have a collection of micro charcoal pieces that work perfectly for this type of cooking.

After lighting a Firestarter, I place the charcoal filled chimney starter on top of the Firestarter and allow the coals to burn down to hot embers.  Hot embers are what I will be using to cook my fresh cauliflower, first, directly on the chimney starter, then on the mesh screen once I dump the hot embers from the chimney starter.

 

Prep and Cook


Pouring the butter over the cauliflower resting on our grill planCauliflower is so simple to prepare for chimney starter coal cooking.  Just remove the thick stem and the green leaves, then cut in half.  I’ll be placing a griddle pan directly over the chimney starter for the start of the cooking.  I first drizzle a couple of tablespoons of a high heat tolerant oil over the cauliflower (I’m using avocado oil).  Allow that to cook while you melt butter which will be poured over the cauliflower.   I melt the butter directly on the grill while the cauliflower is cooking.  Allow this to char the cauliflower on the griddle for about 12 minutes.  We just want enough tenderness to allow the direct coal cooking to provide the flavor.

 

Embers Give Char Flavor


nicely charred Cauliflower ready for our recipe!After the cauliflower has produced some tenderness while direct cooking over the chimney starter, it’s time to remove the griddle pan and dump the hot coals onto the mesh.  You’ll see I’ve placed a large wood chunk just off the hot coals to produce some additional wood-fired flavor.  Now in goes the cauliflower steaks.  I position them right on the hot coals.  Don’t turn or disturb these pieces for a least 8 minutes at which time, flip the cauliflower to char the other side.  This is what produces the fabulous “meaty” char taste and why cauliflower is done on the grill is often referred to as a cauliflower steak.

If you will use the cauliflower in a recipe, then cooking about 12 minutes on the coals will be enough.  If enjoying as is, then cook slightly longer and enjoy.  This truly is the easiest method of cooking a single head of cauliflower for a true char flavor.  Which I will be taking to a cauliflower rice recipe that’s coming up!

Have you ever cooked directly on a chimney starter?  Leave us a comment to share.  Bringing innovation to wood-fired cooking with recipes, techniques and the science behind the fire, smoke, and flavor. That’s SmokinLicious®.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

SEASONAL SMOKEY BAKED APPLES WITH SWEET STUFFING

These finished apples get smoky are a wonderful fall treat!
These finished smokey baked apples are a wonderful fall treat! Easy to do on the gas grill with a two-zone cooking method with wood chunks.



Apple season is here and I’ve found some beauties to make a simple but super sweet and flavorful recipe.    And of course, I’m taking it to the grill to let the apple get a kiss of smoke while tenderizing.  With so many varieties of apples available, you can pick your favorite and use this filling for the perfect stuffed apple.

The apples we bought at the Farmers MarketIn my home state of New York, there are over 25 varieties of apples.  Since these can be cold stored, they are available year-round but there is nothing like the fresh harvest.  In fact, controlled atmosphere storage was pioneered in New York State.

Whether served as the dessert or a sweet side dish is up to you but either way, you’re going to love the ease of making this dish and consuming all its seasonal goodness.  Pick your favorite variety of apple and get ready to stuff them with goodness everyone is going to love!  Smokey baked apples done on the grill, cleanup is a breeze!

 

Apple Preparation

Smoke coming from our wood chunks! Using a two zone cooking method 
I’ll be using my gas grill for this recipe so I start by lighting only half the burners on my grill which I’ve added a smoker box that contains 3 hardwood chunks.  This will provide for the great smoke flavor to the apples.  While the grill heats up to about 375°F, I prepare the Macintosh apples.  First, wash and pat dry the apples.  You can use an apple corer to remove the core but note you do not want to produce a clean hole through the entire apple.  We want to produce an opening for adding the stuffing but we don’t want it to run out of the apples.  I like to use a small, sharp knife, cut into the apple stem end about ¾-inch from the stem making a circle.  Remove the core membrane and seeds leaving a firm base to the apple for filling.

Tasting Notes: Although I’ve selected Macintosh apples to know any variety will do.  Just note, if the apples are significantly larger, you will need to make an additional filling.

 

Sweet Stuffing


our sweet stuffing in the mixing bowlWith our apples cored, it’s time to make the sweet filling before heading to the grill.  First, know I like to use a disposable foil pan to make clean up a breeze.  In that pan, I place a roasting rack so the apples will be exposed to radiant heat all the way around the apple.  I’m making ten stuffed apple but I will give you the ingredients needed for making eight apples.

Place 1 stick of softened butter in a bowl.  Add 1 cup of light brown sugar, ½ cup chopped pecans, and 1-1/2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon.  I prefer to mix this with my hand to ensure good distribution of the ingredients.  Taking a small amount of the mixed filling, I form a log shape and insert into the apple opening, pressing down to make sure this is filled to the top of the apple.  Once all the apples are filled, I head to the grill with my pan.

Tasting Notes: The stuffing for this apple recipe can be easily modified.  Feel free to swap the pecan for another nut like walnut, hazelnut or almond.  For spices, consider adding ginger, allspice, and clove either in addition to or in place of the cinnamon.

 

No Fuss Grilling


Our Smoker box with wood chunks for smokey flavorOnce at the grill, I check to ensure my wood chunks are smoking well.  I place my pan of prepared apples on the unlit side of the grill and pour enough water into the pan to coat the bottom by about 1-inch.  This will allow moisture into the cooking area to get the apples very tender in a short amount of time.  I usually check the apples after 45 minutes and rotate the pan if needed.  When the apples are tender and the filling browned, these are ready and can be removed from the grill-#grilledapples.

Tasting Notes:  Note that if you elect to use a charcoal grill the smoke infusion produced will be stronger.  You are encouraged to still use a two-zone set up on the charcoal grill to keep the sugars from burning.

Serve ‘Em Up

our finished smokey stuffed apple!Once the apples are tender and the filling browned, it’s time to remove the apples and prepare to serve them.  There are many options for an accompaniment to the apples.  Today, I’m using a vanilla bean ice cream that I’ve sliced into wedges.  Certainly, the apples can be served with whipped topping, another flavor of ice cream, a vanilla custard or pudding, or even a slice of hard or rind cheese.    These are best if served warm.  Don’t forget, if any filling is left, add to a pureed squash for another great recipe.  That’s why I always make extra!
our finished smokey stuffed apple!

Thursday, August 29, 2019

WHY TWO-ZONE COOKING METHOD LET’S YOU WALK AWAY FROM THE GRILL

The SmokinLicious® culinary crew's two-zone cooking method set up to smoke Fava Beans on the Gas grill with Wood chunks!
The SmokinLicious® culinary crew’s two-zone cooking method set up to smoke Fava Beans on the Gas grill with Wood chunks!

We all know that the key to easy and successful outdoor cooking is to control the temperature.  I also believe that outdoor cooking should not hold you hostage at the grill.  That’s why everyone should learn the two-zone cooking method for grilling.

Let’s cover what type of cooking you can do by this method, why it’s so successful, and how to set up the zones.


Why Two-Zone is Best

 smoker box and single filet wood chunksTwo-zone cooking can be done on any type of grill no matter the fuel source.  What is two-zone cooking?  Using the fuel source on only half the grill while the other half holds the food.  Although you may use the unlit side of the grill for most of the cooking, you have the benefit of finishing crispy skins of items or quick cooking thinner cuts of meats on the direct heat side.

Two-zone cooking is also called direct and indirect cooking.  The indirect side uses indirect convection heat to cook the food which means the heat generated by the lit side radiates into the material of the equipment and produces heat (convection heat) on the unlit side.  The direct side produces the heat within the unit and can be used when quick cooking is needed or when a food that has been cooked on the indirect side needs crisping, additional coloring, or some char.


Set Up a Two-Zone

setting up the smoker box on the grillThe primary reason you want to set up two-zone cooking is most of the grill cooking does not require direct heat.  When you consistently cook foods, especially meats, over direct heat, you easily can have dried, stiff, flavorless results.  This is due to the components of meat reacting at different temperatures that with direct cooking occur too fast to react.

I will tell you that you need a grilling area that is large enough to establish two zones.  I judge the space needed with a rectangular, disposable foil pan.  If the pan can fit on half the grill area without issue, then you have plenty of room for a two-zone setup.   When using a gas grill, this means lighting the burners on one half of the grill.  If you don’t have an even number of burners, then decide how many are to be turned on and how many left off.   With a charcoal grill, placing the hot coals on only half the charcoal area.  On an electric unit, if you can manipulate the heating element, isolate the element to one side of the unit.  The temperature that works ideally for two-zone cooking is 225°F.  Of course, I always add wood chunks to give a smoky flavor to the foods.  Remember, the hardwood goes on the direct side of the grill or lit burner or hot coals.

Note that you can also use a water pan using two zones.  This can be placed on either side of the grill depending on when you need the direct heat side.  Keep in mind, when doing meats, it’s great to place a pan under the meat with vegetables (onions, potatoes, celery, peppers, etc.) and a small amount of liquid that can collect the meat renderings.  You can also place pans of beans to catch those drippings.  Anything is fair game.

For those times when you don’t want to add any additional foods, you can simply lay a thin foil pan under the grill grate of the indirect side or a sheet of foil.  That will collect any fat drippings.


Cook Anything!

Smoking Tomatoes on the gas grill with the two-zone cooking methodSince radiant heat is what you are cooking with when foods are placed on the indirect side, you can cook anything.  I love doing tarts and cakes via this method, especially during the hot months when you don’t want to lite your indoor oven.  In fact, those are the times that I cook an entire meal using a two-zone setup.

You can also cook multiple items using both direct and indirect heat.  A long cooking meat goes on the indirect side, is cooked to temperature and held there, while a side dish is cooked on direct heat.  Don’t forget, if the cookware you use is high heat tolerant, you can use cookware as well.  This is how I can make cakes, tarts, and bread on the grill.  You need to view this equipment like an oven as that is essentially what it is!


Use Like an Oven & Walk Away

I’m going, to be honest.  Although it’s true that you can produce more moist foods using a two-zone method the real reason I love this method of cooking is I can walk away from the grill.  This is particularly true when using a gas grill which holds the temperature steady, which for me, is 250°F for long cook meats and regular baking temperatures for all my cookies, cakes, tarts, bread.  Remember, charcoal grills will still require you to refuel so the temperature can fluctuate more if you’re not careful.  Keeping an extra chimney starter of charcoal going will solve that issue.

As a final note, even though two-zone cooking allows you more time away from the grill, you still need a good digital thermometer to monitor the temperature of the food.  Invest in an easy read one and you’ll really enjoy this new way of grilling and smoking.

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.