September 2017


This smoked potato curry smells and tastes awesome! Try this around a holiday to just add a small smoky flavor to a favorite vegetable.

This smoked potato curry smells and tastes awesome! Try this around any holiday to add a hint of smoky flavor to this popular vegetable!

Smoked Potato Curry Smokinlicious® style Click To Tweet

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Whenever we reach the transition between Winter and Spring, I like to start transitioning my meals from hearty comfort foods to a bit more health conscious to prepare for the “less clothes” season coming. Since I’m in the southwestern portion of New York State, our warmer temperatures can be a long way away from the calendar date of the first day of Spring.

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Wood fired stuffed tomato with Rice!

Wood fired stuffed tomato with Rice!

SUCCULANT WOOD FIRED STUFFED TOMATO WITH HERB RICE

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It’s tomato season! Boy, do we have a great technique for you to try on your charcoal grill as well as a tasty recipe to make- wood fired stuffed tomato.

Bring 8 large tomatoes in from the garden or purchased at the fresh market, clean out the charcoal grill, fire pit, or fireplace, and give a few hours to a great cooking experience and exceptionally flavorful recipe.

Lighting a Fire for Hot Embers

Coal cooking can be a very easy method of cooking foods once you know how to make and manage the fire. First, I am going to use only hardwood for my fire as I want to produce as much flavor as I can into the cooking area. For tomatoes, I am using Beech hardwood in the SmokinLicious®Single Filet Wood chunk. Once lit, I let the wood burn down to hot embers before even thinking about cooking. Oh, and the lid stays off my grill – I’m using a kettle from Stok®, while the wood burns down. I wait until the coal bed shows gray embers on top with hot red spots on the bottom. I’ve used a mesh screen in the charcoal area, to keep all my coals from ending up in the ash collection area, since many will get to be quite small.

Preparing the Tomatoes for Hot Coals

With our tomatoes washed, it’s time to prepare them for the coals. First, I cut about ¼ of the way around the top. I’ll be cooking both the body of the tomato as well as the tops. Next, I add a high heat roasting rack to my raked coals. Try to make the coal bed as even as possible to keep the tomatoes balanced. First cooking time will be about 12 minutes before any turning needs to be done. You will see bubbling juices in the tomatoes which will makes these red beauties even more flavorful.

Coal Firing to Unbelievable Flavor

After placing the tomatoes on the coal rack and leaving for about 12 minutes, it’s time to turn them. You’ll see how the outer skin will start to flake. When I get some cooking time on the entire tomato, I separate the cut top from the body and coal roast the tops separately to get a nice char. Once cooked through, which takes a total time of about 22 minutes, I remove the tomatoes to a cooling rack. Once cooled enough to handle, it’s time to take all the wood fired pulp out of each tomato leaving the charred skins as the base to my wood fired stuffed tomato recipe.

Fresh Recipe Ingredients

With our fresh tomatoes coal fired over hardwood, it’s time to start on our recipe. First, we need to remove all the tomato pulp from the charred tomatoes. You can do this with a spoon or the way I like to do it – with my fingers. Place the pulp only in a blender keeping as much of the shell of the tomato as possible for our base in the roasting pan. Then blend until a puree is formed. Meanwhile gather the other ingredients needed to make wood fired stuffed tomatoes:

  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 8 medium to large tomatoes
  • 2 anchovy fillets mashed
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced (feel free to use hot pepper as well)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley
  • Fresh ground pepper

Herb Rice Mixture & Anchovy Butter

This recipe allows you to use any rice you prefer. I like the texture of brown rice for this dish. As you cook the rice according to the package directions, you can start on the flavor mixture for the cooked rice. First, combine the 2 anchovy filets with the 2 tablespoons softened butter. I use a mortar and pestle. This will be added to the hot rice as soon as it is cooked. In a bowl, combine the tomato puree, diced pepper, parsley, basil, Parmesan cheese, and fresh ground pepper. Mix until just combined.

With all the ingredients combined, it’s time to put it all together. First, to our anchovy butter, brown rice, I add the tomato puree mixture combining well. Taking the tomato shells, I place them in a roasting pan that has been coated with oil. Next, comes the rice mixture, layering it in making sure all the tomatoes are covered. Last, top the rice mixture with the coal fired tomato tops. Now this pan is ready for a 350°F oven to bake for about 30 minutes.

Preserve the Flavors

After cooking our beautiful tomatoes over hot coals made from 100% beech hardwood, we removed the wood flavored pulp and produced a tomato puree. To that, we added Parmesan, basil, parsley, red pepper, and fresh ground pepper. Infusing anchovy butter into hot brown rice, we pour the tomato puree into the rice. Our wood fired stuffed tomato is made by layering the tomato shells in a roasting pan, then topping with the tomato puree-rice mixture, and the charred tomato tops. Then bake for 30 minutes in a 350°F oven, this is the perfect dish to serve with rustic bread. Stock up on your coal fired tomatoes – they can well – so you can enjoy your take on this wood fired stuffed tomatoes.

Now that we spurred your imagination with this recipe, we need your comment and rating, so subscribe and follow us so you don’t miss a thing. Finally, suggestions are always welcome as well on recipes and techniques you want to learn about. We are your source for all things wood-fired, providing tips, techniques, recipes, and the science behind the fire.

 

Related recipes and tips:

EMBER FIRED ZUCCHINI & RICOTTA GALETTE

Ember cooked Sweet Peppers

TOP 10 VEGETABLES TO COOK IN HOT EMBERS

HOW TO TURN YOUR CHARCOAL GRILL INTO A SMOKER

Purchase products:

Wood Chunks- Single Filet

Dr Smoke

Dr Smoke- “Tomato lovers will rejoice with our take on a stuffed tomato that’s coal fired.”

Wood ember roasted Tomato stuffed with Rice!

Wood ember roasted Tomato stuffed with Rice!

 

 

 

Ember roasted zucchini & Ricotta Galette is a superb recipe to entertain your guests palette

Ember fired zucchini & ricotta galette is a superb recipe to entertain your guests palette

Try our ember fired Zucchini with a galette twist Click To Tweet

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We are going French with a zucchini & ricotta galette that is simply out of this world. With ember fired zucchini we previously cooked on our charcoal grill with straight wood, this is one recipe worth making any time of year. Get 2 zucchini ember cooked and prepare yourself for the ultimate in wood fired flavors featuring summer zucchini!

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Having the experience of viewing her dad, our youngest staff member tried her hand at grilling for the first time! Look how great these Kabobs look!

Having the experience of viewing her dad, our youngest staff member tried her hand at grilling for the first time! Look how great these Kabobs look!

MY FIRST EXPERIENCE AT THE CHARCOAL GRILL (by the intern)

I’ve had a lot of experience over the years watching my Dad at our homemade barbecue pit. I’ve never had the experience of doing the actual prep and cooking until now.

I’m taking on the grill and preparing some kabobs using charcoal and wood. This is my first attempt at cooking on the charcoal grill without any help. Learn what worked and didn’t work for me, a 20 year old who tackles the fire!

Selecting My Menu

In deciding on a menu and given that it is the hot summer in the East, I went with kabobs. Shrimp and chicken were selected as proteins and an assortment of vegetables plus pineapple for sweet.

I purchased fresh, de-veined shrimp to cut down on some prep time. After washing the shrimp, I laid them out on paper towels and pat dry with additional paper towels. To get a good char on the shrimp, I’ve read how important it is to get as much water out of the shrimp.

Something I learned after: I should have sprinkled a little kosher salt to aid the water removal.

For my chicken, I purchased chicken breasts with the skin already removed and cut these into cubes trying to keep all the pieces the same size for even cooking.

Protein Preparation

I wanted a little spice to the menu so I elected to use a Cajun seasoning on my shrimp. I made sure every piece was coated well.

Something I learned after: if I had prepared these even a few hours early, I could have sealed them in a storage bag and let them really infuse the flavor. For my chicken cubes, I marinated in a simple preparation of Italian salad dressing. This protein I did marinate overnight.

Other Preparation

I decided to incorporate more traditional items for my kabobs like tomato, pepper, mushroom and pineapple. I do a simple wash of the vegetables, then cut peppers and pineapple into even pieces big enough to be skewered. Button mushrooms are left whole as are my small tomato rounds. I make sure everything is at the ready to make assembly easy. I think this step in the kabob making was relatively easy to manage.

Kabob Assembly

As you can see, I did a bit of variation to my assembly process for the kabobs. I did mix my vegetables and fruit on a single skewer as well as my two proteins.

Something I learned after: I should have first oiled the skewer to ensure ease in removal of the food items once cooked. I also should have made skewers with the same food item on them so I could control the timing each item takes to cook. So, next time I will have full skewers of mushroom caps, full skewers of pepper, full skewer of shrimp, etc.

Charcoal Barbecue Setup

My barbecue is an open pit style, hearth level, hand built by my Dad. When cooking, we generally use charcoal or charwood with wood chunks and chips for flavor. Today, I went with Sugar Maple chunks (double filet size), for the kabobs. I learned the importance of starting a chimney starter of charcoal first to be sure all the coals are hot before they go into the charcoal area of my pit.

Something I learned after: if your grill is in a safe area, you can start the chimney starter while preparing the food items so by the time you get everything prepped, the coals are hot and ready to go.

Once my embers are burning red and starting to gray over, it’s time to pour them into the chimney brazier. My pit will hold about 6 lbs. of charcoal. Once the charcoal is in, I add my Sugar Maple wood chunks for flavor to the kabobs.

Something I learned after: I should have laid a bed of unlit coals in the charcoal brazier. That way, I could be sure to have enough heat for the entire cooking process and I would have a chance to use the hot embers later for other cooking.

Time to Grill

With my grilling grates in place, it’s time to add the foods. I ended up putting a series of skewers on the grates trying not to crowd the grates. I did cook some of the chicken and shrimp off the skewers to give my guests options for just extra protein.

Something I learned after: I really didn’t give much thought to the cooking time of each item so some things were cooking faster and drying out before others. Shrimp cooks faster than chicken so lesson learned: chicken needs to go on first. Plus, I need to brush with marinade or oil to keep things moist.

Lessons Learned

For my first ever effort at making kabobs on the charcoal pit, I was pleased with the results. Without question the sugar maple chunks from SmokinLicious®added to the great flavor. I was amazed at just how little wood it took to impart that smoky quality to the foods. I learned quite a bit along the way: my sequence of adding items to the grill needs to change. My longer cook items like chicken, peppers and mushroom need to go on first. That’s where having skewers made with just the one ingredient will really come in handy. Pineapple, tomato, and shrimp certainly take less time. I also need to keep a basting brush and cup at the grill so I can coat the food items either with marinade or oil to keep the moisture locked in the food.

Toasting Marshmallow & Peanut Butter Cup S’more

A great way to use the hot embers leftover when your main dish cooking is done is a simple dessert. Nothing shouts summer and fun like a s’more! Graham cracker, peanut butter cups, and marshmallow fired in the hot embers – oh so yummy good!

I hope you enjoyed this first-time griller’s experience at the charcoal grill. Leave a comment and subscribe to us so we can keep bringing you innovative tips, techniques, and recipes on working with wood for cooking, grilling & smoking.

Related reading:

HOW TO TURN YOUR CHARCOAL GRILL INTO A SMOKER

THE WOMAN’S GUIDE TO ‘MAN’-ING THE GRILL

Purchase products:

Wood Chunks- Double Filet

Dr Smoke

our youngest staff member tried her hand at grilling for the first time! Look how great these Kabobs look!

our youngest staff member tried her hand at grilling for the first time! Look how great these Kabobs look!