We did a smoky whiskey cocktail with a sparkling twist!

We did a smoky whiskey cocktail with a sparkling twist!

SMOKY WHISKEY COCKTAIL FOR THE HEARTY DRINKER

Listen to our blog

I’m bringing you another smoked cocktail that is deep in flavor and suited for those who like hearty cocktails.  For this cocktail, I’ll be adding even a deeper flavor to the whiskey by cold smoking it with a handheld food smoker.  A rich syrup is made first and then added to our cocktail that can be served hot or cold.  Perfect, either way, to warm you up on cold winter days!

The Syrup

ingredients in the pot warming up

#whiskey

To get our Harvest Smoke & Sparkle cocktail started, we need to make the sweet syrup to balance the boldness of the smoked whiskey.  In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together ½ cup of honey, ¼ teaspoon ground ginger, ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon ground clove and 1 cup of orange juice until it starts to bubble.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

If making individual cocktails, it is important to still make the full batch of cider-honey syrup and take the 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of cider-honey syrup from the batch per cocktail.

Tasting Notes: This is referred to as a harvest sparkle due to the traditional spices associated with the Fall.  Feel free to experiment and adjust these flavors as cardamom and allspice also work well.

The Construction

smoking the whiskey with the handheld smoker

#Breville #coldsmoking

With the cider-honey syrup made and cooling, it’s time to take your favorite brand of whiskey and cold smoke flavor into it.  I’m using The Smoking Gun® by Breville which is self-standing to make the actual smoking process easy.

After placing the whiskey in a measuring cup, I place the measuring cup in a plastic bag and insert the hose of the smoking appliance into the bag.  I then add a pinch of Piccolo® wood chips to the bowl and turn on the unit while lighting the chips.  Once the smoke fills the bag, I shut off the unit, remove the hose, and cinch the bag closed to allow the smoke to penetrate the whiskey.  It helps to move the whiskey around in the cup to help the smoke molecules to cling to the alcohol.  That’s it!

What is so great about this whiskey cocktail is that is can be served hot or cold.  Today, I’m making the cold version in a large batch to serve many guests.  I start by adding my smoked whiskey and cider-honey syrup to a large pitcher with lots of ice.  Next, I whisk these two ingredients together well.  If making a single cocktail, add an ounce of the smoked whiskey and 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of the cider-honey syrup to a shaker filled with ice.  I strain into a serving glass and add Prosecco and a garnish of rosemary.  I prefer a bit of ice in the glass for the cold version.

Our whiskey and herbs together heating up on the stove

#smokedcocktail #warmcocktails
#hotcocktails

Now, for those that like it hot, simply whisk together the smoked whiskey and cider honey syrup in a saucepan or heat in the microwave for 45 seconds in a mug.  This is one smoked cocktail that will take away any chill in the air!

Do you have a favorite smoked cocktail?  Leave us a comment to let us know and subscribe to our channel to get all the tips, techniques, and recipes we bring your way.  Always eager to share our expertise on all things wood fired, that’s SmokinLicious®!

SmokinLicious Products used in this recipe:

Wood Chips- Piccolo®

For more reading related to

For more reading related to this smoky whiskey cocktail

Related reading:

-WINTER COCKTAIL GETS A BIT SMOKY

-JACK FROST GOES SMOKEY-THE COCKTAIL

-SMOKY BOURBON CRANBERRY COCKTAIL

 

Dr. Smoke in this recipe we did a smoky whiskey and added sparkling wine!

Dr. Smoke in this recipe we did a smoky whiskey and added sparkling wine!

Discover a great taste with wood chips by cooking Swordfish Al A Plancha

Discover a great taste with wood chips by cooking Swordfish Al A Plancha!

SWORDFISH AL A PLANCHA

Listen to our blog

Colder weather can often end your outdoor cooking but it doesn’t have to take away your desire for wood fired foods.  I’m going to show you an easy method of keeping wood fired flavors going even in the coldest, snowiest weather by taking the indoor plancha to my stove top.  I’ll prepare a tasty swordfish using wood chips for flavoring to the fish and finishing with a ginger-garlic butter sauce.  Purchase some fresh swordfish and let’s bring authentic wood flavoring to this great cut of fish.

Preparing the Plancha

Adding wood chips to the plancha

#plancha #minutowoodchips

I love my stove top plancha pan but you can easily use a standard griddle with a heat safe pot lid.

To start, get a supply of Minuto® wood chips and prepare your plancha or griddle by first placing a ¼ cup of chips in the center of the griddle, then placing the grilling racks on the surface.  Turn a medium-high heat on and place the cover on the unit to allow it to reach temperature.  We want a high temperature of about 375-400° F.   Once the plancha is hot, you will smell the wood chips combusting and releasing aromatic flavor.  That tells you it’s time to add the fish.

Cooking & Sauce Making

making the sauce in the pan

#sauces # fishsauces

Place the fish fillets on the grill racks of your plancha griddle.  Cover and allow to cook and infuse with wood flavor for 4-5 minutes on one side.

With the fish on the plancha, you can start to prepare the butter sauce that will go on the finished fish.  You’ll need:

  • 3 tablespoons butter at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cloves garlic minced
  • ¾ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • lemon peel- ¾ teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon citrus balsamic vinegar

Place all these ingredients in a small saucepan and bring together over low heat.

After 4-5 minutes of cooking, turn the swordfish fillets and cooked for another 4 minutes. Then remove the fillets to a plate and clean out the combusted chips to a heat safe container.  Place the hot plancha back on the heat but reduce it the heat to low and leave the grill racks off.

Put the fillets back on the hot surface of the plancha to sear the outside.  It will only take a minute per each side.  Once seared, remove to a serving plate and pour the hot butter sauce over the top.  That’s it!  Great wood-fired flavor done on the stove top with a hot plancha or griddle.

What’s your favorite fish to add wood flavoring to?  Leave us a comment to opine and subscribe to get all our postings on techniques and recipes.  Bringing innovation to wood fired cooking with recipes, techniques and the science behind the fire, smoke, and flavor. That’s SmokinLicious®.

SmokinLicious® products used in this recipe:

Wood Chips- Minuto®

For more reading related to

For more reading related on Swordfish Al A Plancha and other plancha cooking from Smokinlicious.

Related reading:

-HOT SEARED SCALLOPS!

-WOOD FIRED LOBSTER TAILS CHILI

-STUFFED SQUID COOKED ON THE PLANCHA WITH SMOKINLICIOUS®

Dr. Smoke- Swordfish Al A Plancha with wood chips adds a great smoky taste to this wonderful fish!

Dr. Smoke- Swordfish Al A Plancha with wood chips adds a great smoky taste to this wonderful fish!

We love this Winter cocktail, because of its smoky twist!

We love this Winter cocktail, because of its smoky twist! Simple ingredients and easy to mix.

WINTER COCKTAIL GETS A BIT SMOKY

Listen to our blog

As we wait for warmer days, I have a perfect winter cocktail that will make you content as you bear the cold.  Featuring just 4 ingredients, I’m taking a single ingredient and cold smoking it to give a smoky flavor.  We’ll use a handheld food smoker for a quick, easy means of infusing the smoke flavor.

Ingredients and Smoke

an image of our ingredients

#coldsmoking

Our Smoked Winter cocktail has just 4 ingredients:

  • cream of coconut
  • vanilla vodka
  • crème de cocoa
  • ice

By using a handheld food smoker, you can make quick time of smoking the cream of coconut needed for our Winter Wonderland cocktail.  I’m making a full batch of drinks to serve about 6 so I’ve placed 6 ounces of cream of coconut, (I like the CocoLopez brand), into a container.  That container is placed inside a plastic bag.  I’m using The Smoking Gun® by Breville which is a stand-alone, easy to control cold smoke appliance.  I simply place the smoking hose into my container, cinch the bag around the hose, lite my Piccolo® wood chips while the food smoker is turned on, and allow the smoke to fill the container.  I then turn off the unit, remove the hose, cinch the bag tight, and allow the smoke to sit for a few minutes to infuse the coconut cream.  That’s it!  Now time to assemble our Winter Wonderland cocktail.

Tasting Notes: Although I elected to smoke the cream of coconut, you can smoke one of the alcohols or even the water to make the ice cubes.  For those looking for a bolder smokiness, feel free to smoke the entire cocktail mixture before serving over ice.

Quick Shake to Yum

After smoking the cream of coconut, it’s time to mix the cocktail.  This is best done in a shaker.  For a single cocktail, fill the shaker with ice, add 1 ounce of the smoked cream of coconut, 1-1/2 ounces of vanilla vodka, and 1-1/2 ounces of crème de Cocoa.  Shake until well chilled and the flavors marry.  Strain into an ice filled glass and serve.

This is one winter cocktail you’ll enjoy sipping as you wait on those warmer days.

Do you have a favorite smoked cocktail?  Leave us a comment to let us know and subscribe to our channel to get all the tips, techniques, and recipes we bring your way.  Always eager to share our expertise on all things wood fired, that’s SmokinLicious®!

SmokinLicious® products used in this recipe:

Wood Chips- Piccolo®

For more reading related to

For more reading related to how we made other winter cocktails and added a twist of Smoke!- #handheldsmoker

Related reading:

-JACK FROST GOES SMOKEY-THE COCKTAIL

-THE SMOKED PEAR BELLINI COCKTAIL

-STRAWBERRIES GET SMOKY FOR AN AQUA FRESCA COCKTAIL

Dr. Smoke- This winter cocktail is fun even in the summer!

Dr. Smoke- This winter cocktail is fun even in the summer!

Our Art rendition of the steps in making the Smokey Jack Frost Cocktail

Our Art rendition of the steps in making the Smokey Jack Frost Cocktail

JACK FROST GOES SMOKEY- THE COCKTAIL!

Listen to our blog

 

Also known as the  winter  piña colada, the Jack Frost cocktail is perfect for introducing a little smoke flavor to.  If you like sweet, smooth cocktails, then the Jack Frost is for you.  I’ll give you the recipe and the easy technique for  smoking  the entire drink that you’ll enjoy sipping all winter long.  Pick your favorite  festive cocktail  glass and let’s take Jack Frost to the smoky side.

A Sweet Rimmed Glass

coating the rim of the glass

#rimmedglass

Before we can make the actual cocktail, the serving glass must be prepared.  Collect your favorite glasses, some finely shredded coconut, and light corn syrup.  With a paper towel, apply a thin coating of corn syrup to the rim of each glass.  Place a small amount of shredded coconut on a plate and dip the coated glass into the coconut.  Be sure to lift and press the glass into the coconut a couple of times to ensure an even coating of the rim.  Set aside until the cocktail is ready to be poured.

Processing the Cocktail

Adding the coconut mixture to the drink

#coldsmoke

I prefer to make a slightly frozen style cocktail so I start by adding ice to the food processor, followed by 1 cup of pineapple juice, ½ cup of vodka, ½ cup of Blue Curacao, and ½ cup of cream of coconut.  Pulse this mixture until smooth or the ice is reduced to the consistency you prefer.

Tasting Notes: Although I’ve elected to use plain vodka in my Jack Frost, you’ll find peppermint vodka another great alternative that gives a particularly festive flavor to the drink.

Jack Gets Smoked

By using a  handheld food smoker , introducing controlled smoke to a cocktail couldn’t be easier.  I’m using  The Smoking Gun™ by Breville  to do just that.

Since I’ve produced a full batch of the Jack Frost cocktail, I place the cocktail pitcher into a plastic bag, insert the hose of the smoker, and add a pinch of   Piccolo® wood chips  to the device.  The unit is turned on and the chips lit which begins the cold smoke production.  Once the bag and pitcher are full of smoke, the device is turned off, the hose removed and the bag cinched to allow for full smoke infusion.  I like to shake the liquid a bit in the pitcher to be sure the smoke vapor clings to the drink molecules.

The finished Jack Frost

#jackfrostcocktail

You can decide how long to leave the smoke in the bag or wait until it has completely dissipated before removing the pitcher.  Now pour the smoked cocktail into your rimmed glasses and let the party begin!

Do you have a favorite  smoked cocktail ?  Leave us a comment to let us know and subscribe to our channel to get all the tips, techniques, and recipes we bring your way.  Always eager to share our expertise on all things wood fired, that’s SmokinLicious®!

 

 

SmokinLicious® products used in this recipe:

Wood Chips- Piccolo®

For more reading related to Holiday Cocktails are coming! using the #handheldsmoker

For more reading related to Holiday Cocktails are coming! using the #handheldsmoker

Additional reading:

-SMOKY BOURBON CRANBERRY COCKTAIL

-ELEVATE YOUR KIWI CAIPIROSKA

-THE SMOKED PEAR BELLINI COCKTAIL

-STRAWBERRIES GET SMOKY FOR AN AQUA FRESCA COCKTAIL

 

Dr. Smoke

#Dr. Smoke- Everyone love’s the a cocktail, try our smoked versions for a change of taste!

Our gorgeous color on our Grilled Prime Rib with wood on the gas Grill- Yum!

Our gorgeous color on our Grilled Prime Rib with wood on the gas Grill- Yum!

GRILLED PRIME RIB THE ULTIMATE WITH WOOD

Listen to our blog

#smokinlicious

Yes, prime rib is expensive and likely the reason so many are fearful to take this cut of beef to the grill.  I’m going to take away that fear and show you just how your grill will respect this cut and produce the tender, buttery, crusty outside roast you want.

Although there are different opinions on whether to make a roast with the ribs intact or removed, I am someone who prefers to cook with the ribs in.  I’ll give you tips on doing a boneless version as well if that is your preference.

For now, purchase an 8 lb. or 3 rib roast, get your favorite wood chunks, and get ready to fire up your gas grill using a two-zone cooking method for a prime rib roast you won’t soon forget.

Meat Preparation

Trim off the excess fat and season with Salt! Let site overnight to season

#gasgrill

For the most part, my butcher has done most of the trimming.  I will just remove any remaining fat and ensure all the silver skin is gone.  You should see meat all the way around the roast. In the end, I’ve removed about a pound of additional fat.

At this point, I want to add salt to the meat to reduce the amount of water before cooking and tenderize the inner fibers.  For every pound of meat, I sprinkle a ½ teaspoon of kosher salt.  This is called dry brining and will require that the meat be refrigerated for 24 hours after the salt is applied.  I simply salt and wrap the meat in plastic wrap to prevent liquid from leaking, and place in the refrigerator.  Or, you can salt and place in a non-reactive container and leave uncovered.

Char Crust Rub

While the meat is tenderizing with the dry brine, we want to prepare a char crust to be rubbed all over the outside of the roast just before it goes on the grill.  Combine 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, 1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, 2 tablespoons fresh ground black pepper, 2 teaspoons dried oregano, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon paprika, ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder, and 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish.  I combine all my ingredients with a mortar and pestle.  If it is a bit too thick, just mix in a little water so more of a paste is formed.  Apply the char rub just before cooking and you’re ready to good.

Tasting Notes:

Feel free to incorporate different herbs and spices in the char crust rub.  Some considerations include: thyme, cinnamon, chili powder, clove, ginger, even cocoa powder.

Smoking on the Gas Grill

two zone cooking with the smoker box on the right over the heat and rib roast on the left

#twozonecooking

I really enjoy cooking a prime cut of beef roast on the gas grill as the two-zone set up makes this low stress.  I prepare my LP/Gas grill by first placing a disposable foil pan under the grill grate on the side I plan to cook on.  This will be my water/drip pan.  I add about ½” of hot water to the pan and place my metal smoker box containing three SmokinLicious® wood chunks on the side I plan to cook on, right under the grill grate.  Now I lite only the burners under the smoker box.  I set these burners to medium heat to start.    Just before I’m ready to grill, I check the temperature readout and adjust my heat setting until I hit my target temperature of 225°F.

Time to add the char crusted rubbed roast to the unlit side of the grill, directly above the drip/water pan.  I insert a thermometer and close the lid.  Basically, for the next couple of hours I just need to monitor that the temperature holds to 225°F and that the water pan has enough water in it.  Only as I get closer to 110°F internal temperature of the meat, do I start to babysit the grill.  This is when I like to brush a bit of butter on the outside of the meat.  It produces great color to the crust.

At 115°F internal temperature, I remove the water/drip pan, meat string ties, and the meat thermometer.  I’m now going to finish the cooking to 130°F internal temperature by direct searing the roast on all sides.  As soon as it reaches or approaches that internal temperature, I immediately get the meat off the grill and serve.

Oue finished roast showing great color and a wood flavoring for and add delite!

#primerib

Tasting Notes:

We all have a guest who insists they want their meat cook further.  If that is the case, you can add a slice directly to the grill for just a minute or two, turning constantly, to give them what they want.  Yes, you will have someone who wants the meat at 145°F or possibly above.

And don’t forget to save the bones to make our smoked beef broth.

Tasting Notes:

If using a charcoal grill, still use a two-zone cooking set up meaning charcoal on only one side of the grill.  Be sure you only cook with hot coals, no flames.

For those looking for a boneless version of this roast, feel free to request a boneless roast from your butcher, or you can remove the bones yourself and cook separately on the grill for tasty riblets.  Essentially, the preparation is still the same as is the overall cooking temperature and finished meat temperature.

What’s your favorite preparation for prime rib?   Bringing innovation to wood fired cooking with recipes, techniques and the science behind the fire, smoke, and flavor. That’s SmokinLicious®.

SmokinLicious® products used in this recipe:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

For more reading related to Grilled prime rib and other gas grill techniques

For more reading related to Grilled prime rib and other gas grill techniques

Related recipes:

-WOOD FIRED LEG OF LAMB

-GIVE ME THAT BEEF BRISKET!

-SMOKED HAM ON THE GAS GRILL

-SMOKE A TURKEY- LEARN HOW

Dr. Smoke- Try Grilled Prime Rib on the grill and add some Wood chunks for a nice flavor!

Dr. Smoke- Try Grilled Prime Rib on the grill and add some Wood chunks for a nice flavor!

Barbecue Sauces come in many different size, shapes and colors, our primer can assist you in understanding their use ages.

Barbecue Sauces come in many different size, shapes and colors, our primer can assist you in understanding their use ages.

BARBECUE SAUCE BROKEN DOWN

Listen to our blog

Barbecue is a cooking method that includes smoke vapor for flavoring.  This is my pure definition.  I won’t go into the controversy over whether grilling is part of barbecue or not.  Just know that some type of plant material must combust to produce smoke that produces flavor to what is being cooked.

The resulting food whether an animal protein or some other item,  can be finished with various methods.  By far, the most popular finish is with a sauce, more commonly known as barbecue sauce.

Let’s dive into what comprises a sauce used for barbecue and how regions are influenced by the ingredients chosen for the sauce.

I’m Talking Sauce Not Mop!

For those that aren’t familiar with the difference, we are talking only about sauces today and not mops.  A mop is a thinner liquid that is applied while meats are cooking to keep the protein moist during the cooking process.  These are commonly used for open pit barbecue and grilling and are applied while the meat is raw all the way through the cooking process.  Like a marinade, once a mop is used for a cooking event, any leftovers need to be discarded to prevent cross contamination of bacteria.  The tool used to apply the mop looks like a miniature floor mop.

Sauce is a glazing liquid that is much thicker than a mop and usually contains ingredients that provide a balance of sweet, salty, savory, and spicy.  Generally, a sauce is either applied near the end of the cooking or left as a side to be applied by the guest enjoying the barbecue meats.

There are a lot of variations to a sauce which are generally based on regional ingredients and cuisine.

Carolina Sauces

The Carolina states revolve around mustard and vinegar-based sauces.  Since pork ribs, whole hog, and pork butt dominate in these regions, the acidity of these ingredients blends perfectly to bring the meats to perfection.

South Carolina: the sauce is yellow, sweet with a tartness commonly found in central South Carolina to the coast of Charleston.  The sweetness comes from cane or standard sugar and the tartness from standard yellow mustard paired with a little dried mustard powder.

The western portion of South Carolina tends to lean toward ketchup-based sauces while northwest you’ll find tomato sauce added.

North Carolina: Although commonly associated with North Carolina, vinegar-based sauces are really a central to eastern North Carolina preference.  These locations often use the vinegar sauce as both a mop and sauce, starting with naked meat; no rub.  Commonly white distilled vinegar is the choice rather than the apple cider variety and this is paired with a little sugar, salt, red pepper flakes or crushed Chipotle, black pepper and hot sauce.

The western portion of the state is more prone to a tomato-based sauce or “dip” as it is called.  Like their eastern counterparts, they apply this as a mop and sauce to naked meat.  Ingredients generally include distilled white vinegar, ketchup, sugar, hot sauce, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and a bit of juice, usually apple.

Alabama White

Used for chicken, this is a mayonnaise-based sauce that has no sweetness at all.  Other ingredients include apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, apple juice, garlic powder, horseradish, dry mustard, cayenne pepper.

Kansas City Red

This is likely what most of the sauces sold in grocery stores can be compared to.  It is very thick, very sweet, and ketchup or tomato based.  Its common ingredients include onion, cayenne pepper, hot sauce, chili powder, spicy mustard, molasses, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire, and ketchup.

Texas Style

 With beef being king in the state of Texas, their sauce also tends to serve as a mop as well.  This sauce tends to be very dark and similar in consistency to gravy.  Due to their proximity to the Mexican border, chiles are common in the sauce.  As beef takes a long cooking time, this sauce/mop penetrates deep into the meat making it seem less like a sauce.

Kentucky Black

Known to include vinegar and Worcestershire, this is often referred to as Western Kentucky-Style Barbecue Sauce.  It is quite thin due to the amount of water added with only a little bit of ketchup and seasonings that include paprika, dry mustard, onion and garlic powder, and red pepper.

Memphis Style

When in Memphis, learn how to order your ribs.  They serve them two ways – dry and wet.  Dry is just that – dry rubbed only.  Wet will give you a saucy rib.  Oh, yes, Memphis is all about ribs.

The sauce tends to be a balance of sweet and spicy as they use both vinegar and ketchup in most recipes.  Other ingredients include: onion, garlic, Worcestershire, butter, molasses, mustard, paprika, brown sugar, oregano, thyme.

Keep in mind, most natives only like dry ribs but are known to indulge in sauce on their pulled pork and chicken.

Other Finds

Certainly, you will find other sauces available during your travels in North America.  Some will be soy sauce based like Hawaiians use while others are fruit rich.  I love smoking various fruits while in season and then using their rendered juices in a sauce.  Strawberry, raspberry, peach, and cherry work great for this purpose.

To me, a sauce should compliment the protein your serving and not cover it up.  It should not be the only flavor you taste.  If you can’t decipher the meat under the sauce, then the balance of ingredients is not there.

If you step into the arena of sauce making, here’s some additional information to keep in mind.  Always include some level of vinegar, salt, sugar and spice as these have preservative properties that will allow your sauce to stay fresh for a while.  Use glass jars for storing your sauce and try to get the sauce in the jars while still hot.  Get them to the refrigerator quickly after jarring.

Unopened sauce will last many months while open jars should be used within a month.

Keep in mind that when cooking with hardwood as in traditional hot smoking, it is the ingredients, cut of meat, age of the wood that all factor in to how the wood flavonoids reveal themselves.  Don’t let anyone tell you that a fruitwood will always produce a sweet flavor to smoked meats.  That is for you to determine through the additional ingredients you use in the meat’s preparation.

SmokinLicious® products related to this blog:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

For more reading related to barbecue Sauce broken down and other grilling tips

For more reading related to barbecue Sauce #bbqsauce broken down and other grilling tips

Additional reading:

-SALT-FREE DRY RUBBED CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS

-SMOKED STRAWBERRY MARINADE

-SMOKED MAPLE SYRUP MARINADE

Dr. Smoke- Barbecue sauce broken down, we hope this is helpful in understanding the sauces you use

Dr. Smoke- Barbecue sauce broken down, we hope this is helpful in understanding the sauces you use

Our Finished grilled Lamb resting before slicing!

GRILLED LAMB THE “NEW” HOLIDAY MEAT

listen to this pod cast

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®.

SmokinLicious® products used in this blog:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

More Related reading on other meats for the two-zone cooking method beyond grilled lamb, #lamb and other food items to prepare

More Related reading on other meats for the two-zone cooking method beyond grilled lamb, #lamb and other food items to prepare

Additional reading:

-WOOD FIRED LEG OF LAMB

-GIVE ME THAT BEEF BRISKET!

-SMOKED HAM ON THE GAS GRILL

-SMOKE A TURKEY- LEARN HOW

Dr. Smoke- Grilled Lamb can be served around the Holidays! Depending on the cut of meat you choose will raise the level of formality!

Dr. Smoke- Grilled Lamb can be served around the Holidays! Depending on the cut of meat you choose will raise the level of formality!

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!

COAL-FIRED LEEKS TERRINE

Listen to our COAL-FIRED LEEKS TERRINE blog

Listen to our COAL-FIRED LEEKS TERRINE blog

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

our cooking bed of coals

#hotcoals

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.

I 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

The layering of the leeks in the pan and goat chees filling

#leeks

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.

With 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®.

SmokinLicious® products used in this blog:

Charwood

For more reading related to grilling other items besides #cauliflowerrice with tomato!

For more reading related to grilling other items besides #cauliflowerrice with tomato!

Additional reading:

-SMOKED FAVA BEANS MAKE THE PERFECT DIP OR CONDIMENT

-A SAVORY TAKE ON THE PANCAKE FROM SMOKINLICIOUS®

-STUFFED MUSHROOM APPETIZER FEATURING SMOKED ARTICHOKE HEART

Dr. Smoke-add great flavor when you fire roast Cauliflower rice!

Dr. Smoke-add great flavor when you fire roast Cauliflower rice!

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!

COAL FIRE CAULIFLOWER RICE WITH TOMATO

listen to the audio of this blog posting

#cauliflowerrice

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

Our charred Cauliflower in the food processor ready to be "riced"

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.

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.

SmokinLicious products used:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

For more reading related to grilling other items besides #cauliflowerrice with tomato!

For more reading related to grilling other items besides #cauliflowerrice with tomato!

Additional reading:

-Cauliflower roasted on LP/Gas Grill over wood chunks

-SUCCULENT WOOD FIRED STUFFED TOMATO WITH HERB RICE

-SMOKED BROCCOLI CASSEROLE WITH APPLE & QUINOA

-WOOD GRILLING WINTER SQUASH WITH CUMIN & HARDWOOD

Dr. Smoke-add great flavor when you fire roast Cauliflower rice!

Dr. Smoke-add great flavor when you fire roast Cauliflower rice!

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.

SEASONAL SMOKEY BAKED APPLES WITH SWEET STUFFING

listen to the audio of this blog posting

Listen to the smokey baked apples blog!

The apples we bought at the Farmers Market

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.

In 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 bowl

With 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 flavor

Once 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

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!

our finished smokey stuffed apple!

SmokinLicious® Products used in this recipe:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

For more reading related to winter squash and other grilling/smoking techniques- #wintersquash

For more reading related to smokey #stuffedapples and another grilling/smoking techniques

Related reading:

-WOOD-FIRED APPLES MAKE THE BEST CAKE

-Smoked Strawberry Napoleon

-ACORN SQUASH- SWEET & SMOKY

-STRAWBERRY SEMIFREDDO GETS SMOKY

Dr. Smoke-Seasonal Apple cake with a special smoky twist!

Dr. Smoke-Seasonal smokey baked apples with wood chunks on the gas grill!

Next Page »