Thursday, August 20, 2020

Great Sustainable Wines To Pair With Your Smoked Meat

 Wines to pair with your smoked Meat is important but not easy!

Great Sustainable Wines To Pair With Your Smoked Meat Guest blog by — Kylee Harris is an events planner and writer who is a strong advocate of allergy awareness.

She has also expanded her mission to stress the importance of food safety not just in events, but in her community.  She also has a great eye for current interests and finds great ways to tie wood fired foods and sustainable food practices together.

Back in 2015, only 6% of consumers said that their first choice of wine would be a bottle that is produced in a sustainable way. This figure has been steadily rising. The 2018 American Wine Consumers Survey even showed that customers are willing to pay $3 more for a sustainable option. 

They want an environmentally-conscious wine that has been made from ethically grown grape varieties. The farming process is pesticide free and even bottling the wine is done in a way that won’t cause harm to the environment. It has even been suggested (although not proved as yet) that sustainable, organic wine can prevent a hangover. You’re more than welcome to test out this theory – and even better, you can pair the wine with some delicious smoked meat. 

Maple-Smoked Pork Chops, Wines to Pair

Pairing your wine with smoked meat, is all about complimenting the delicate smoky flavor of the wood used. Maple-smoked meat will naturally have a slightly sweet and fragrant taste. This can be achieved by using maple woodchips in your barbecue or smoker. In order to contrast the sweet maple taste and the white umami flavor of pork, you should pair your meal with a sharp and zingy white wine.

Benziger Chardonnay-Coelo Chardonnay
Coelo Chardonnay

Benziger Family Winery in Sonoma county have a few delicious and fresh Chardonnay options, including the Coelo Chardonnay and the West Rows Chardonnay. Perfect for a barbecue on a hot summer’s day with friends and family. Don’t forget you can also buy sustainable wines by the can – this makes it so easy to keep cool when you’re having a garden party. Everyone can help themselves. 

White Oak Smoked Venison 

The strong and almost pungent aromas of white oak are best paired with a dark, gamey meat that can hold its own. Duck breast, pigeon and venison are good choices. The white oak adds a complimentary bitterness that balances well with the rich flavors. A hearty sustainable red wine is a good option with smoked white oak. Silver Oak Vineyard in Napa Valley have a fruity and dark Cabernet Sauvignon that pairs beautifully with White Oak smoked dark meat. New York’s sustainable Red Tail Ridge Winery offer a tangy Teroldego, which is similar to Syrah that is a great partner to White Oak smoked venison.

2012 Teroldego bottle -Red Tail Ridge winery

Alder-Smoked Seabass Wines to pair

The mild flavor profile of alder makes it the perfect wood choice to smoke fish with – particularly slightly salty seabass. The taste of the alder itself adds a slightly sweet taste to the fish, even if it is only smoked for a short amount of time. Pairing alder with a sustainable wine is easy. A good Prosecco or sparkling wine will work well – look for something dry and fresh. Left Coast Cellars in Oregon have a lively Blanc de Noir that is perfect with alder. It adds citrus notes of lemon and pineapple, which complement the taste of the smoke and the fish well.

Left Coast Cellars Blanc de Noir sparkling wine
Left Coast Cellars

There are an increasing number of vineyards and suppliers in America offering truly sustainable wine. Pair something tasty and delicious with your smoked meat and enjoy a great meal.


Thursday, August 6, 2020


Our top tips to prevent hot dog shrinkage!
Our top tips to prevent hot dog shrinkage!

 Prevent Hot Dog Shrinkage–There is nothing more frustrating than getting your family and friends all excited for a hot dog barbecue only to have great disappointment when the dogs come off the grill.  There they are.  All shrunk and shriveled that it would take a least two hot dogs to fill a standard hot dog bun.

That’s why I’m going to share with you my top tips to prevent shrinkage and shriveling of your hot dogs.  All these tips are done before adding the hot dogs to the grill of your choice, making them very simple.

Let’s get started!

Three Techniques to Keep Size

Before I start with the first preparation tip, let me just clarify some information about the standard hot dog or frankfurter or wiener, additional terms you may be familiar with.

Hot dogs now come in a variety of options including all beef, beef and pork, chicken, turkey and even a vegetarian or vegan style.  One thing that is common with hot dogs is that they contain a lot of water, fat and generally, sodium.   Know that the water can be in the form of ice mixed with the meat trimmings and flavor ingredients.  To adjust for all the wetness, dry starches or powdered milk are used to absorb the extra moisture, as starches do not allow moisture to enter the hot dog until heated. 
Once heated, the starch granules breakdown and allow the moisture to enter which makes the starch swell.  This is the plumping commonly seen when hot dogs are cooked on a grill.

Know that all hot dogs are fully cooked before being packaged and some brands may also include smoking the hot dogs which gives them extra flavor and color.

Now, for our first tip on preventing the hot dog from shrinking while being reheated or “cooked” on the grill.

Tip #1: The “X” End Slice to prevent hot dog Shrinkage

cutting the end of each hot dog with an X allows the juices for run out

This is the easiest method of preparing the hot dog without an obvious change to its overall shape.  Simply take the blade of a knife and cut an “X” shape on each end.  This cut should go only about ½-inch deep into the meat.  The ends will curl slightly and get additional crispness that make them extra tasty.  Essentially, this hot dog maintains most of its original shape.

Tip #2: The Length Cut to prevent hot dog Shrinkage

The hot dog is cut to length with one slice of the knife and placed open on the grill surface
One of the reasons I prefer the length cut preparation to hot dogs is that if you are planning a large variety of toppings, this is an ideal preparation.  Additionally, it allows the toppings to nestle comfortably in the middle of the meat and gives every bite you take full flavors.  Simply take the blade of a knife and run it down the center of the hot dog from end to end about halfway down the meat’s thickness.  You can know cook these in the flat form.

Tip #3: The Spiral Cut to prevent hot dog Shrinkage

slices are randomly made over the length of the hot dog about 3-4 depending on the length of the dog

The spiral cut is another easy method of keeping your hot dogs true to size.  For this technique, simply pass the blade of a knife thru the skin of the hot dog about 1/2 -inch deep every inch or so down the length of the hot dog.  Be sure to do both sides of the hot dog.

Load ‘Em Up!

I’ve done all three preparation tips so you can see that the size of the hot dogs remains essentially intact no matter which technique you elect to do.  I also used both a charcoal and gas grill equipped with wood chunks for added smoky flavor to the grilled dogs.

the dogs with the different slicing are placed on the charcoal grill with double filet wood pieces added for flavor. I did set up an indirect cooking method on the gas grill to allow for a holding spot if I had some hot dogs cook faster than others, which tends to happen more on a gas grill than a charcoal unit.

I’ve got four topping options each that contains three ingredients.  Now, let’s look at each option in more detail.

The Italiano Dog

Featuring: fresh mozzarella, fresh basil leaves, and marina sauce
our Italiano Dog has fresh moxxarella, fresh basil and marina sauces.
I am a lover of fresh ingredients and summer harvest season makes it easy to get those fresh flavors. 

I start by spooning on a flavorful marina sauce followed by cubes of fresh mozzarella and finally topped with fresh whole basil leaves.

The alliedog has gruyere cheese, caramelized onions and fresh thyme

The Allie Dog

Featuring: Gruyère cheese, caramelized onions, fresh thyme

I call this one the Allie Dog in honor of the onions used as a bold flavor, which onion is part of the allium family, thus, the “allie” name.  Load on the buttery, caramelized onions, then top with Gruyére cheese and fresh thyme sprigs.

The Jalo-bean dog has re-fried beans, white cheddar and Jalapenos for a little heat! The Jalo-Bean Dog

Featuring re-fried beans, white cheddar, jalapeño

If you have a taste for tacos, then this is the dog for you.  Start by loading on a good quality refried beans.  Then top with chopped jalapeño and cheddar cheese – I prefer the white version.

The dog from Mexico has fresh guacamole, corn, and fresh cilantro

The Dog From Mexico

Featuring fresh guacamole, corn, fresh cilantro
I love this hot dog combination!  For me, spice is great so I tend to use a spicy corn but you can use just plain corn or buttered corn kernels if desired.  Start with fresh guacamole on the hot dog meat.
After that add the corn, and top with fresh cilantro.

There are no rules when it comes to toppings for your hot dogs so experiment and find what combinations you enjoy.  That includes experimenting with the bread as well so know that though I did not change the rolls on my combinations, that is another flavor level that can vary right along with the toppings.

What is your favorite method of grilling hot dogs and what makes your topping list?  Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to follow us on all platforms.  Providing tips, techniques, recipes, and the science behind the flame and fire to improve your skills with wood-fired cooking! That’s SmokinLicious®!