Chicken Coop Chatter©
Traditionally meats are smoked, and you'll find cheese smoked or fish, but I've experimented with smoking a variety of things including all of the above. How about Brown Sugar and Salt?? Maybe fruits and vegetables, what about garlic? You may wonder why you would even want to. I have an easy explanation for why I have done it and ways I have used the seasonings.
Pork and Ham especially are enhanced with brown sugar, whether baked, fried or grilled. I have used the smoked brown sugar plain as a glaze for these meats and I've used it in seasoning rubs and BBQ sauce for the grill. It adds not only the touch of sweetness but it adds the smoked flavor without the need to smoke or grill the meat, giving you other options when smoking or grilling are not on the schedule.
Smoked salt is great on red meats and fish, as well as poultry. It adds just a hint of smoked flavor whether you bake or fry those meats. And the smoke added to herbs for seasoning about anything is just the perfect change of pace from other seasoning choices. Try mixing your smoked salt with plain paprika for a *bacon* flavored salt.
Smoked fruits and vegetables bring out a different, yet pleasing flavor when smoked. And of course meats that are smoked are a favorite of many.
Don't limit yourself to just the meat, fish or fowl, try smoking a variety of things to add a gourmet touch to every day meals.
HOW TO SMOKE BROWN SUGAR
Spread the brown sugar out on a cookie sheet. Fruit wood chips in the smoker or use your favorite wood chips. I only use one chip tray to smoke the brown sugar, but if you like a heavy smoke flavor you can add as much as you like. Stir or turn the brown sugar periodically to make sure smoke penetrates all of it. When the wood chips have turned to ash, remove the brown sugar and allow to cool. When cool, run through the food chopper or blender to break it up. Seal in air tight containers until ready to use.
Rub the smoked brown sugar on meats of your choice, and cook by preferred method.
Add smoked brown sugar to spices and herbs as a seasoning mixture. Just sprinkle or rub on to the meats, fruits or vegetables of your choice. This is especially good on cooked corn and sweet potatoes or yams.
Add 1 or 2 T. of the smoked brown sugar to your homemade BBQ sauce, to give it a lift that is not too sweet, but flavorful.
HOW TO SMOKE SALT
Spread the sea salt or table salt out on a cookie sheet. Fruit wood chips in the smoker or use your favorite wood chips. I only use one chip tray to smoke the salt, but if you like a heavy smoke flavor you can add as much as you like. Stir or turn the salt periodically to make sure smoke penetrates all of it. When the wood chips have turned to ash, remove the salt and allow to cool. When cool, run through the food chopper or blender to break it up. Seal in air tight containers until ready to use.
Rub the smoked salt on meats of your choice and cook by preferred method.
Add smoked salt to spices and herbs as a seasoning mixture. Just sprinkle or rub on to the meats, or vegetables of your choice. This is good on just about anything that you would use plain salt on.
Add paprika to the salt for a bacon flavored salt that is great on meats,eggs,casseroles and vegetables.
Slice vegetables or cut in thin wedges so that the smoke can penetrate the entire vegetable. Most vegetables are suitable for smoking. I use one tray and typically use a fruit wood, however the choice of wood chips is optional. Pierce the vegetables if thick cuts, so that more smoke will penetrate the interior of the vegetables. Smoke until the tray of wood chips has turned to ash. Remove and serve immediately or chill and use in salads or casseroles. Depending on the heat temperature you use in the smoker as to whether you want par cooked or fully cooked vegetables.
Soft fruits work best, such as peaches, pears, apricots or plums/prunes. Cut in wedges or slice the fruit. Pierce fruit that is thickly cut to allow smoke to penetrate the entire fruit. I use only one tray of fruit wood. Fruit wood such as cherry or apple is the best choice for smoking fruit, however the choice of wood is optional, according to your preferred taste. Smoke until the tray of wood chips has turned to ash. Remove and serve immediately or refrigerate and use in salads, or chilled fruit and cheese plates. The smoked fruit is especially good served as a garnish for cottage cheese or along side smoked cheese and fresh french bread.
Cheese is a little tricky in a hot smoker, however I don't worry if it melts. I just cut it in cubes and add to salads or fruit plates. But if you want non melted cheese, either smoke it by cold smoked methods or leave the smoker door ajar and set on the very lowest temperature. This is best done on a cold day, so the temperature can be controlled easier. Hard cheeses may be best if you prefer the cheese to remain unmelted and whole. Cheese choice is optional. I like to use mild cheddar and colby cheese, but most any cheese is suitable except the very soft cheeses like cream cheese. But I intend to even try that. When the tray of wood chips has turned to ash, remove the cheese from the smoker and allow to cool. IF oils have risen to the top, cover with paper towel to absorb the oils and place in the fridge. If the cheese melted in the smoking process, chill and cut in cubes (it will return to a solid). Store in air tight containers.
SMOKE DRIED TOMATOES
Sun dried tomatoes are all the rage in gourmet cooking, and easy to do, though most are not processed by the sun, rather most are dehydrated in the oven or dehydrator. I have gone one step further, by smoke/drying the tomato slices. Slice the tomatoes thin. Paste tomatoes work best or tomatoes with a lot of firm pulp, however any tomatoes will work fine, they just may have more liquid in them. You can leave the skins on, or remove them by dipping a few seconds in scalding water. The skins will slip right off chill and then slice the tomatoes thinly. Seeds may be removed if you wish, but I do not remove them. Place the slices on a cookie tray and place in the smoker with your choice of wood chips. When the chips have turned to ash, continue to heat the smoker until the tomatoes are dried but still pliable (leathery). Remove from the smoker and store in air tight containers.
Add the smoke dried tomatoes as a casserole or pizza topping. If dried crisp, break them up with a food chopper and use in salads or dips for a smokey flavor enhancer.
I have watched the Hispanic community roast their hot peppers at picnics, roasting them directly over a grill. I prefer to do mine in a skillet or place them in the smoker, where I control the heat and smokey flavor, but you can certainly try grilling them if you prefer to add a bit of the smoked flavor emitted from the grill.
Chicken Coop Chatter©
1 dozen hot or sweet peppers (any variety)
Sea Salt (to taste)
1-2 T. Butter (unsalted)
Wash the peppers and place on a greased cooking sheet. Set the smoker to 450 degrees, turning the peppers a few times, until soft, and slightly charred (about 45 minutes). Remove from the smoker and allow to cool until able to handle. Remove the skins, seeds and stems. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with melted butter or oil over the peppers if desired. (I leave mine plain so I have options for use). Store in a Mason jar with lid until ready to use, making sure to pour in any juices from the smoking process.
Serving Suggestion: Add the peppers to My Pepper Mayonnaise Dipping Sauce to serve with fresh vegetables or on your favorite meat sandwiches. For the link:
NOTE: If using very large peppers, they may be cut in half and roasted with the cut side down.
NOTE: Hot peppers have very potent oils in the entire pepper. Use gloves when handling and avoid touching your face during the processing. If you happen to get any of the juice on your face or in your eyes, wash with cool water 15 minutes or seek medical attention.
Chicken Coop Chatter© All Rights Reserved 2011-2016
My method of smoking:
I am not fond of heavily smoked foods, so I typically use fruit wood, but choice of wood chips is entirely up to preferences. There are large chips and small chips to choose from. I prefer the small chips, but either work fine. I soak the wood chips at least an hour in hot water. Preheat the smoker, to reach the optimum temperature for the item you are smoking. Place the item you are smoking into the smoker on the lowest shelf to start. Place the soaked wood chips in the chip pan. When the chips have turned to ash, I do not add additional chips, however if you want stronger flavor you can add more chips as necessary, or not soak the wood and just use it dry. About half way through the smoking process, move the meat or other smoking project to the middle or top shelf if you have an option. I always use a meat thermometer and continue to smoke the meat until the inner core temperature reading has reached proper temperature. An example, poultry should be 165 degrees in the fleshiest part of the meat. Read the instructions with your meat thermometer for proper inner core temperatures for items you are smoking.
Smoking is a learning experience, and you will find that you either like a milder smoke flavor or a stronger flavor, you will find certain meats lend best to smoking while others may not be to your liking. Follow the manufacturer instructions that came with your smoker for best results when you are learning to use the smoker. Each one may be a little different and thermometers may not all be accurate. Times may vary so until you know about the proper length of time with your smoker, check about every 1/2 hour to 45 minutes to make sure the temperature has not fluctuated and baste as necessary. I baste right up to the last half hour then cover with foil to hold heat in the meat and keep it from drying out.
Enjoy the experience and once you have tried smoking according to instructions, feel free to experiment. Always have an accurate meat thermometer or meat probe if smoking hams and roasts and whole poultry, to make sure they are done to proper temperature.
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