October 2016


Ember Cooking of Sweet Peppers

Gorgeous Char Marks on the Ember Roasted Sweet Peppers

[Dr Smoke -Picture collage of the easy steps to ember roast sweet peppers]

There’s nothing better than ember roasted sweet peppers in the outside fireplace or pit.

 Here’s what you’ll need:

  • An Outside fireplace or pit that is clean of ashes
  • Cast iron skillet, if you prefer to cook in a container rather than directly on the embers
  • Grande Sapore® Wood Chips from SmokinLicious® Gourmet Wood Products.
  • Sweet peppers- medium to large size, any color though multi colored ones provide for a better presentation, 10-18 quantity

Building The Fire

My plan is to roast the peppers directly on the embers in my outdoor fireplace. So first, I need to clean out the fire box from any ash and debris.  Then I select the hardwood for the actual cooking.  I’m going to use Ash wood because it is one of the best hardwoods for producing evenly sized coals and heat level when it burns.

Preparing the bed of embers for the roast

Preparing the bed of embers for the roast

While I am using pieces of the SmokinLicious wood chunks, the Grande Sapore® ash chips will produce the same great results.  In fact, use of the Ash Wood Chips will likely save some time as their pre-ground state would allow for quicker coal build up due to their faster burn rate.  Remember, the need with ember cooking is to ensure that you have a 2-3” buildup of coals so the cooking process is uninterrupted.

The Ember Bed

I now have a bed of coals establish in the bottom of the fire box.  Spread them out to provide a wider cooking area and facilitate an even heat level.  I will be increasing the depth of the coal bed over the course of my cook by maintaining a perimeter of newly lite wood product.   I would suggest using Grande Sapore® SmokinLicious Gourmet Wood chips for the additions as the bed can be built up much quicker and keep the cooking process moving forward.

Embers spread out and ready for the peppers

Embers spread out and ready for the peppers

Adding The Peppers

Once the Ash Wood develops into a great bed of coals you’ll understand why I love to use Ash Wood for ember cooking.  The uniformity of the coal bed is so precise! Remember, Ash tree is part of the olive family of trees so it is known for its mild smoky flavor making it an ideal choice.

Sweet peppers place on the embers to begin roasting

Sweet peppers place on the embers to begin roasting

I begin adding my peppers to the embers with the stem and seeds intact.  It is so much easier to rid the peppers of its seeds once fully cooked so don’t be concerned about them now.  I seat each pepper well into the hot coals to ensure that the base is enveloped in that consistent heat level.  As the pepper begin the charring process, you’ll see them wrinkle a bit as this is the sign of the dehydration that takes place in this water rich vegetable.

Ember Cooking Technique

Once the pepper are in place, I allow them to cook and char before touching them.  Once I see some char marks develop, I gently rotate each pepper around the coal bed, sliding over some new coals to the cooking area with each rotation.

After about 20-25 minutes of ember roasting, the peppers will begin to tenderize.  Remember there is a lot of moisture in sweet peppers so you may even hear them whistle a bit!  Feel free to pierce them with a knife to release some water/steam.  I like to do that step about ¾ of the way through the cooking process.

see how the peppers are beginning to roast during this unique cooking process

see how the peppers are beginning to roast during this unique cooking process

I want to remind you that this ember cooking technique requires a tempered hand but also some attention throughout the cooking process.  You will need to rotate the peppers frequently to ensure even char.  Remember, our heat generation is developing from the bed of embers and then radiating to the walls of our cooking area as well as the food. Once removed from the heat source, the peppers will have wilted a bit as they enter an immediate change in temperature and humidity.

 THE FINISHING TOUCH

Once the peppers are completely charred and tenderized, remove them to a mesh or other tray to cool.  Then you can use them in a variety of ways – cut into strips and drizzled with a lite coating of extra virgin olive oil, a hint of salt, fresh pepper and fresh mint.  Or, use these beauties whole as a container for a ground turkey, beef, or lamb stuffing that includes fresh ricotta cheese, parsley, a hint of chili pepper flakes, and a topping of fresh mozzarella.  The recipe options are endless so start experimenting or look to your favorite cookbook for inspiration!

  • Ingredients:
  • Fireplace or open pit
  • SmokinLicious® Grande Sapore® wood chips- Ash wood or your favorite wood species
  • ½ bushel of sweet peppers (approximately 16) in multi colors for presentation
  • Herbs – optional
  • Drizzle of Extra Virgin olive oil
  • Patience

Bon Bar B Que

Dr Smoke

The finished product! Roasting over embers adds a superb wood flavour!

The finished product! Roasting over embers adds a superb wood flavour!

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Press logo for audio instructions

Press logofor audio instructions and other cooking techniques. 

 

 

Ember Cooking Onions- Fire Place Technique

The one vegetable we can pretty much get all year long is … the onion!  So, why not give this common vegetable a special, no, fabulous flavour infusion. The way to this end? Ember cooking in an outside fireplace or cooking pit.

To reach this end you only need a few items:

  • An outside fireplace or cooking pit that has been cleaned of ash
  • If you prefer, you can use a cast iron skillet within the embers though I prefer to nestle my onions directly in the embers!
  • Grande Sapore® Chips from SmokinLicious® Gourmet Wood Products – I recommend Ash wood.
  • Sweet Onions approximately 10-12

 

Fire Preparation

In preparing to roast onions on the embers in a fire place I need to first clean out the fire box from any ash and debris.  Then I select the hardwood for the actual cooking.  Today, I’ve selected Ash for its great coaling ability and uniformity of coal size while it combusts.

Preparing the bed of embers, keeping extra wood to add during the cooking process

Preparing the bed of embers, keeping extra wood to add during the cooking process

I will begin building the bed of coals with the SmokinLicious® Grande Sapore® Ash wood chips.  Since wood chips are already in a pre-ground state, the process of setting up the fire will be quicker than with just wood pieces or lump charcoal.  It is key to keep a large supply of the chips on hand in order to reach the 2-3” depth of embers needed for the cooking process.

 

Preparing the Onions for Roast

While allowing the coal fire to build, I begin preparation of the onions, which is rather simple.  Wash and clean the onions leaving on the outer skin covering as it will be needed to protect the heart of the onion during the ember cooking process.

 

Ember Roasting Process

After building up a bed of coals to 2-3” in depth, we’re ready to add the onions to the coals!  As I position each onion, I gently push down on them to seat them into the coals.   This will allow the coals to completely cover the bottom of the onion as well as allow the heat to radiate completely through the onions.

As the onions cook, you’ll start to see the tops turn brown because I left the outer part of the skin on for protection.  Remember, the outer skin of the onion will char during this process.  I want to protect the inner core of the onion as I plan to use them in my recipes.

It’s important to remember that the coal bed will need to be replenished during the cooking process so a perimeter of additional wood chips should be going at all times up to the half way point of the cooking process.  Generally, it’s best to keep the additional chips burning at the sides of your ember bed.  You can then easily scoop in additional hot embers to the bed to maintain the heat level and flavour infusion.

The onions are seated into the coals as they begin to cook from their bottoms

The onions are seated into the coals as they begin to cook from their bottoms

Unlike other vegetables like peppers, the onions don’t need to be turned but rather simply rotated so there is even char and cook.  Onions, like most vegetables, have a high water composition.  Don’t be alarmed by the steam trail coming up thru the top of the onions.  This is a sure sign of the convection process occurring.  Once cooking is about ¾ finished, you may want to pierce the tops of the onions to allow the release of the steam.

Scrumptious Ember Roasted Onions

You simply won’t believe how flavorful and tender ember roasting makes the average onion.  We were able to build the bed of coals by using SmokinLicious® Gourmet Wood Products Ash hardwood.  Remember, we left the outer skin on the onions to protect the inner core while we developed that exceptional char. Once the outer skin is pealed back you will see the perfectly cooked onion core that is infused with a mild wood char flavour.

Nicely charred onions over a bed of embers adds a great natural flavor

Now, get ready to use these highly flavored onions in the recipes of your choice and prepare for all the questions on what you did to give the dish such fabulous flavour!

Bon Bar B Q

Dr Smoke

Dr Smoke- “Try this different delicious way of cooking.”

Note to visit our @smokinlicious and #smokinliciousmenu on instagram for audio instructions and other cooking techniques.  

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[collage of steps to roast/cook Cauliflower on the LP/gas grill with with wood chunks]

[collage of steps to roast/cook Cauliflower on the LP/gas grill with with wood chunks]

Cauliflower on the LP/Gas Grill Technique

It’s time to bring your vegetables into grilling season!  Nothing beats the smell of a fresh garden vegetable roasting over wood even on an LP/gas grill.  Make this the time of the year you’ll get great char wood flavour in your seasonal vegetables.

Ingredients:

  • All you’ll need for this easy cooking experience is an LP or gas grill – any brand or size will do.
  • “Double” Filet wood chunks from SmokinLicious® Gourmet Wood Products.
  •  a couple of heads of cauliflower.  Pick the color you like the best – white, yellow or even purple!

Grill Preparation

If you want to add special wood flavoring to your LP/Gas grill there are easy steps to follow:

  • Make sure your grill is clean from any significant grease build up.
  • Remove the grilling grates and determine how much space is between the diffuser and the grilling grate.
  • The diffuser is the plate covering the unit’s gas burner(s).
  • Don’t remove the cover.

[setting up the wood chunks on the heat Diffuser to develop hot spots for Charring]

[setting up the wood chunks on the heat Diffuser to develop hot spots for Charring]

Once you have the sizing computed, then select the SmokinLicious® wood chunk size that will fit – Single Filet which is ~4 inches or the Double Filet which is ~2 inches.

 

Wood Preparation

Now, let’s set up the wood on the grill.  Remove the cooking grates from the grill then strategically place the wood chunks over the heat diffuser.   This is the metal piece covering the actually gas burners.   If the SmokinLicious® wood chunks are fresh, then you can add them directly to the unit without pre-soaking them.  If not, you may want to consider a lite soaking of about 15 minutes.  Because I’m cooking cauliflower, I am using the chunks in their natural state.  However, feel free to consider a pre-soak in liquid with flavouring such as beer, wine or juice.

 

Now replace the grill grates back on the unit, over the SmokinLicious® wood chunks!  Make sure the grates are securely seated back on the unit.  If there is a lot of space on your unit between the diffuser and the grate you may want to consider a SmokinLicious® single filet or block item.  Now light the unit, set the dials to a low heat setting and bring the unit up to temperature.  Say around 180 degrees.  Do not overheat the unit.

 

Cauliflower Preparation

In preparing my cauliflower for this cook, I’ve elected not to reduce the cauliflower heads into pieces.  I prefer to do the cutting towards the end of my grilling presentation.

After pre-heating the grill to around 180 degrees, I add the cauliflower heads to the grill grates.  Let the wood infusion flavour begin!

[ Fresh heads added to the grill, note the wood has not ignited yet to develop a hot spot]

[ Fresh heads added to the grill, note the wood has not ignited yet to develop a hot spot]

Roasting Process

I position the cauliflower head over the hot spots created by the SmokinLicious®Double” filet wood pieces which are under the grilling grates.  The wood will ignite and begin the charring stage of the heads of cauliflower.  I recommend bunching the wood pieces together to produce a hot spot on the LP/gas grill to allow for a direct char technique.  While I am not using the smoke from the wood, I am still infusing great natural grilling flavour with the wood.

[Now I have hot spots, and look a the char we are putting on the cauliflower. The green is the Parsley I add at the end of the process]

[Now I have hot spots, and look a the char we are putting on the cauliflower. The green is the Parsley I add at the end of the process]

My cooking is taking place with an open lid because I want to char not smoke!  It’s important to keep turning the heads so the flavour will be even.  In the final stage of charring, I add some fresh parsley to the cauliflower heads for final flavour and presentation.  And, of course, I love to drizzle melted butter sometimes infused with paprika, to the finish product.

Remember this is a vegetable, not meat so there is no grease to flare up the LP/gas grill.  This is another example of why using SmokinLicious® Wood Chunks on the diffuser and under the grill grates of your LP/gas unit can generate such exceptional wood-fired flavour. Now, get those head of cauliflower and ENJOY!

Note to visit our @smokinlicious and #smokinliciousmenu on Instagram for audio instructions and other cooking techniques.

Bon Bar B Q

Dr. Smoke and the Culinary Team

[Finished and ready to serve, nice Char on the outside and a wood cooked flavour]

[Finished and ready to serve, nice Char on the outside and a wood cooked flavour]

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