Ember Cooking/Roasting Garlic In A Skillet

 

Ember roasted garlic for the ages!

Ember roasted garlic for the ages!-Dr. Smoke®

One of my favorite herbs is garlic due to all the applications garlic has in cooking.  One technique that you may not have tried is ember firing the garlic using a wood for flavor and a cast iron skillet for smoke control.

 

Here’s what you will need to do this technique:

  • A cast iron skillet – Lodge™ has a great model
  • Garlic purchased with the stalks on as you’ll need these for presentation and control during the cooking process
  • An LP/gas grill – any model or size

 

Grill Preparation

Ever wonder what else you could do with the cast iron skillet other than fire place cooking?   Well, use it to ember roast garlic but on your LP/gas grill!  That’s right.  We will use the gas grill for fire proof cooking and air control without need for the LP/gas.

 

Place the iron skillet on the grill grates and prepare to add the wood chips.   We will be using Grande Sapore® wood chips from SmokinLicious® Gourmet Wood Products.  The species selected is Ash for its ability to produce hot heat level and an even bed of coals.  It is one of my favorite hardwoods to use for ember cooking of vegetables because of its coal-ability and mild flavor.  You will need a ¼ cube of the chips.  Remember, we are developing a bed of coals for this cooking technique so unlit and lit coals will be used.

 

Adding Wood for Flavor

Grand Sapore wood chips added to skillet

Grand Sapore® wood chips added to skillet

It’s time to add the wood chips to the skillet!  Take the Grande Sapore® Ash wood chips and fill the cast iron skillet.  Light the chips using a cooking torch or match but remember not to use any other materials for lighting the wood; no newspaper and certainly no lighter fluid which is petroleum at its best.  Once the chips ignite, you need to monitor the depth as you want to end up with a 3-inch depth.  That means, add wood chips as need during the buildup of the embers.

 

Adding the Garlic

Once we reach a depth of embers of approximately 2-3 inches in the skillet, it’s time to add the garlic by placing them on top of the hot embers.

Take the stems and twist the whole garlic so that each garlic head seats completely in the embers.  Almost instantly, you will see smoke from the embers all around the outside of the garlic.  This is the flavor infusion at the start.  It’s now time to close the top of the grill to control the amount of airflow to the embers.

 

Ember Roasting Cooking Technique

Once the garlic is added to the hot embers, you will see the dry outer covering of the garlic ignite.  This is the main reason why the outer covering and stems are left on the garlic heads as its sole purpose is to protect the cloves!  You will see the great char coloring on the outside of the garlic.  The stems will either fall off and burn or burn off during the roasting process.  The entire roasting process will take 45-60 minutes depending on the overall heat level and depth of the embers.

 

Wood embers ignite garlic

Wood embers ignite garlic

The Break to Garlic Heaven

Now, remove the garlic heads from the pan and allow to cool before the peeling process begins.  This is the heavenly part – breaking apart all the charred outer portions and revealing the tenderized, wood charred garlic cloves!  Get ready!  These beauties are ready to be minced, diced, added whole – just about anything you can think of to add depth of flavor you’ve never experienced before.  Now, go on.  You know you’re just dying to try this technique yourself!

Bon Bar B Que!

Dr Smoke

Dr Smoke®

Dr. Smoke and The Culinary Team

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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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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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It’s Pea Season!

One of the most versatile vegetables is now in season and can be used in both hot and cold side dishes and main courses.     In this series we will be roasting our peas using a hot smoking method to bring great wood fired flavour.

Ingredients

  • At least 1 lb of peas, I like sugar snap peas
  • Almond oil
  • Sea Salt & Fresh Pepper
  • A charcoal smoker, any size will do
  • A disposable foil pan or vegetable pan or basket that is high heat tolerant
  • 3 lbs. of lump hardwood charcoal
  • 1 cup SmokinLicious® Grande Sapore® Wood Chips – I’ll be using Wild Cherry
  • Kitchen torch for easy lighting

I’ll be using my Stok Drum Charcoal Grill for this series.  As the Stok has its own charcoal basket, I won’t need to prepare any additional lump hardwood charcoal. I am using a direct method of cooking.  I place my charcoal in the unit’s charcoal basket leaving my grate insert off for now.  Once the coals turn gray, I will lift the charcoal basket and allow the coals to advance into the cooking drum.  I the grate insert off as I will use my vegetable pan to go right over the top of the insert area.

Adding the wood chips to the charcoal fire in our Stok kettle grill

Adding Grande Sapore cherry wood chips

While the coals have been firing, I start preparation on the peas.  As I am using sugar snap peas for this recipe there is very little preparation that has to be done.  I first will remove all the string membrane that is attached to one side of the snap pea.  If any stems are left on, I will remove those as well.  I then wash the peas in a colander and then allow them to drip dry, shaking my colander occasionally to rid any excess water. If needed, I will pat dry the peas to ensure they are ready for the fire.  Then I sprinkle on some Almond oil, sea salt, and fresh pepper to the peas.  Now, we’re ready to wood fire!

My coals are hot, the wood chips are smoking, and the peas are ready to be kissed by fire!  I place the vegetable pan on the center of the grill and leave my grill cover off.  When cooking with wood, know that some temperature fluctuation can occur due to the natural variation in combustion so don’t leave the peas unattended.  Once you see the peas start to char, give them a toss with a spoon to ensure an even char cook.

Placing the peas on the Stok grill pan

Placing Peas on the Grill

Usually you will see char begin about 4-5 minutes into the cooking cycle.  Once that occurs, you will be looking at another couple of minutes before the peas will be ready to come off the grill.  Be sure you monitor that you don’t go too far with the smoking process.  If the peas begin to shrivel and wrinkle, you went too far.  You can remove them and place in an ice bath or run under cold water to stop any additional cooking from taking place.

It’s so hard to explain the aroma that comes from the grill when you wood fire vegetables.  Keep in mind, that even when the vegetables are chilled, they will retain their char flavor.  Here are some tips to finishing these beautiful smoked sugar snow peas: add some crumbled feta cheese and serve, or a splash of lemon juice and dill, or even a dollop of ricotta cheese that’s been whipped with a bit of cream.  You can also check into our next blog on peas where we feature these scrumptious beauties in a Snap Pea and Cucumber Salad, just perfect on a hot summer’s day!

First Turn on the Grill

First Turn on the Grill

Bon-Bar-B-Q!

Dr Smoke

Dr Smoke

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