Who doesn’t love a grilled cheese sandwich! We are taking this grilled sandwich favorite and elevating the flavor with a cold smoked cheese assortment. Get the griddle or cast-iron pan ready! We’re making Smoked Grilled Cheese with Tomato and Pepper Jelly!
What You’ll Need
Certainly, you can purchase smoked cheese in the specialty grocery locations but we have a step-by-step series showing you the easy method of stove top smoking cheese that can be done in just a few hours. For our version of the smoked grilled cheese sandwich, you’ll need smoked cheese – we are using an assortment that includes Swiss, muenster, horseradish cheddar, and fresh mozzarella. In addition, you’ll need some fresh sliced tomato – sliced about ¼-inch thick -, a firm bread – we’re using sourdough and salt rising -, hot pepper jelly, and mayonnaise. You’ll also need a griddle, cast iron skillet, or other heavy duty frying pan and spatula for cooking your sandwiches. Oh, and feel free to do this on a grill if you like.
It’s important that your griddle or pan be hot before starting the sandwiches. I recommend a medium setting. If using cast iron, let that pan heat up about 5 minutes before starting the cooking process. First up, take a bread slice and coat one side with mayonnaise. Yes, I said mayonnaise not butter. It produces a nice browning and crisping to the bread beyond what butter can do. Place mayo side down in the pan and add your sliced smoked cheeses. Top with a tomato slice. On the second slice of bread, coat one side with hot pepper jelly, leaving a little bread border near the edges as the jelly will migrate during cooking. Place pepper jelly side down on the tomato. Now coat the face up side of the bread with mayonnaise.
This starts the monitoring stage. You want to peak at one corner of the sandwich after cooking about 3 minutes. If you see golden brown, it’s time to flip the sandwich. Once both sides are cooked, remove to a plate.
Like No Other
As I have 4 smoked cheeses to choose from, I like to put a combination of cheese on a single sandwich. Once you have a chance to experiment with the different combinations, you’ll find your favorites. It’s important to slice your sandwich on the diagonal while still hot so each half has a chance to marry all the flavors with the bread. Now, kick back and enjoy all that smoky, gooey goodness. Just be sure you have more than one made as it likely won’t be a single sandwich event!
I’ll bet you’ve already come up with your own variation of the Smoked Grilled Cheese Sandwich! Your comments and ratings are much appreciated, so subscribe and follow us so you don’t miss a thing. We always welcome your suggestions 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.
Smoke a Turkey with our easy to do tips will result in awesome color and flavor. Give it a try!
HOW TO SMOKE A TURKEY
There are so many ways to smoke a turkey with the main difference found in the amount of time for both preparation and cooking. One of the favorite methods is hot smoking whether done on a traditional smoker, charcoal grill, or gas grill.
To smoke a turkey, you’ll need the following supplies:
Grill or Smoker plus fuel for the equipment (charcoal, propane)
Dry Rub and/or Brine (about 1 cup of dry rub and 2 cups brine)
Whole Turkey preferably fresh and less than 18 lbs.
Aluminum foil and towels or an insulated blanket
Preparations Before You Smoke
The cleaning of the bird is the same as when you do traditional roasting; removal of the giblets and neck, rinsing and drying the bird, and trimming any loose skin. However, don’t truss or tie the legs as this can make it harder to cook the bird completely through when smoking. You can use toothpicks to pin the wings in if they seem to be falling away from the bird. If you elect to brine your turkey, be sure to start this process at least a day ahead of smoking. Even brined birds will have more flavor if a dry rub is applied. So apply any combination of dry ingredients you prefer to the turkey, being sure to put some of the rubs under as well as on top of the skin. Refrigerate the rubbed turkey overnight.
Once you’re ready to smoke, remove the turkey from the refrigerator and rub a small amount of oil on the skin, especially the bottom portion that will be touching the grill grates. This will keep the bird from sticking. Don’t apply oil to the grates as that will not guarantee the bird won’t stick! Always place a cold turkey on the grill or smoker as cold will attract more smoke vapor. Plan about 30 minutes cooking time per pound.
Preparing the Grill or Smoker
When using a traditional smoker, you can simply place the charcoal and wood chunks, as normally done, for a long smoking event. Usually, you position unlit charcoal in the firebox. Then lite a chimney starter full of charcoal and pour that next to the unlit charcoal. Then place a few wood chunks on the lite charcoal and some on the unlit areas so you will have wood flavor infusion during the entire cooking process. Place a disposable pan under the turkey that contains a few cups of water or mix of water and broth/stock. This will add moisture to the cooking environment and collect all the turkey drippings if you should want to make gravy. The goal is to maintain a cooking temperature of 225-275°F, though you can go as high as 300°F if desired.
When using a kettle-style charcoal grill, set up the drip pan and the turkey to one side of the grill, placing the hot coals on the opposite side. You can also set up some fire bricks in the charcoal area to retain more heat and stabilize the temperature.
These grills need to be set up using an indirect method of cooking – heat on one side meaning burners on one side lite while the turkey and drip pan goes on the unlit side. Wood chunks will be placed on the heat shields of the lit burners. These will smolder/burn giving off true wood flavor. Additionally, smoker wood chunks last a lot longer than using wood chips in a smoker box or foil pouch. Still, maintain a temperature of 250-275°F which can be tricky. You will have to see how many burners need to stay lit to do this technique. Then check the level of heat those burners need to be set to for that temperature. Certainly, you can cook at a higher temperature if you like but you may need to replenish the wood chunks as they will likely combust faster.
It’s important that you allow the turkey to cook on its own without fussing with the lid. Each time you open the lid, you release smoke vapor as well as heat. If you want the bird to cook in a reasonable amount of time, then leave the lid alone.
Never stuff a turkey that will be smoked as this causes the overall cooking time to extend and produce overcooked meat. Heat flow is blocked by anything put in the cavity as well so try to avoid stuffing herbs, citrus slices, etc. in there.
Always use a quality digital thermometer. You’re looking for the breast meat to register 160°F. You can remove from the grill/smoker at that point. Remember, if left sitting, the bird will continue to cook from all the radiant heat that has been trapped in the bones and meat.
If you need more than 18 lbs. of turkey, then consider smoking two smaller birds doing the same set up as above, just with two birds on the grill.
Feel free to mix some of your dry rubs with melted butter and a little oil and brush this mixture on the bird during the final hour of cooking. It will produce a fabulous color to the bird and help crisp the skin.
Remember, turkeys labeled as basted or enhanced contain a salt solution so be sure you season lightly so you don’t end up with a salty outcome.
You do not need to foil or tent the turkey when smoking. Let the air always circulate for the entire cooking process.
When cooking with charcoal, you will likely need less wood than with the gas/propane grill.
I hope I’ve inspired you to try smoke a turkey, so you can see just how unbelievably flavorful and easy this technique is. Remember to leave a comment and subscribe to our channel. Bringing you tips, techniques, recipes, and the science behind the fire and flavor – that’s®!
Tortellini Gets a Smoky Mate with the addition of Cherry wood smoked Brussels Sprouts! This is a medley and yummy recipe for the winter blues
TORTELLINI GETS A SMOKY MATE
There is something about the perfect pasta dish that isn’t necessarily loaded with a ton of ingredients. I’ve found that the perfect pasta often features only 2-3 ingredients in addition to seasonings. For me, the perfection is in how each of those ingredients contribute to the overall dish.
This is a pasta dish that features the smokiness of Brussels sprouts paired with the citric acid of lemon peel. Mix in the sweetness of caramelized onion and a full-bodied dish emerges.
A Smoky Start
The simplicity of the ingredients is what makes this such a flavorful and pleasurable dish. Start by smoking about a pound of Brussels sprouts – you can see our previous series on how to smoke these on the gas grill, an extremely easy and quick method. Then gather 3 tablespoons butter, 1 medium yellow onion that is thinly sliced, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or flavored olive oil, 1-1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, 1 lb. of cheese tortellini, and the zest of 1 lemon. With the Brussels sprouts already smoked, the cooking time for the rest of the dish is about 20 minutes.
Producing Aromatic Flavors
Put a pot of water on for the tortellini to cook according to the packaged directions. What keeps this recipe extra simple is you can use frozen tortellini or fresh packaged rather than making your own and it will be just as spectacular a dish as if you made every ingredient yourself. We start with thinly sliced yellow onion in melted butter, releasing the sweetness of the onion. Once translucent and browning, add the smoked Brussels sprout quarters. Toss together just until the Brussels sprouts heat through.
While the onion and Brussels sprouts cook, our water for the tortellini is salted and brought to a boil. Once at a rolling boil, the pound of cheese tortellini is added. I’m using a frozen variety but you can certainly use fresh. Remember, tortellini is a filled pasta that does not take much time to cook to al dente so don’t turn your back on the pot. It will only be a matter of minutes once the water regains boiling level. Tortellini has the proven sign of being cooked when they float. Once cooked, transfer to a large bowl.
With the tortellini cooked, it’s time to pour the cooked smoky Brussels sprout and onion into the bowl. Once combined, add the tablespoon of olive oil. I’m using a Tuscan flavored olive oil for just a bit more refined flavor but plain EVOO will do. Time to finish this off with fresh ground pepper and salt. The final ingredient – grated lemon zest. Zest right over the bowl. I like a lot of lemon zest so I zest the entire lemon.
After smoking Brussels sprouts using cherry wood, we made a hearty pasta dish that blended the flavors of sweet onion, smoky Brussels sprout, and lemon zest. Added to cheese tortellini gets a smoky mate, this is so flavorful and easy to make. Think of the many variations you can give this dish: adding butternut squash, or zucchini cubes, or perhaps chestnut when in season. Even artichoke hearts. So many opportunities to put your own fingerprint on this dish.
This recipe is sure to give you a great start on incorporating your favorite ingredients. We’d love to hear what you think about our blog post “Tortellini Gets a Smoky Mate” so leave us a comment 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, that’s SmokinLicious®.
Our Smoked Carrot Cake starts with us grilling our carrots to add a hint of smokey flavor to this vegetable! Then we bake these carrots into a perfect looking cake for our Smoked Carrot Cake!
A FAVORITE ROOT VEGETABLE SMOKED MAKES FOR AN AWESOME CAKE!
Carrots are ready for picking and for cooking! We’ve got an easy smoking technique that can be done with whole, sliced, even grated carrot. Once smoked, we are taking all that flavor and making an oil-free, carrot-almond cake with ricotta cream.
Nutrition for your Bones
Carrots are known for their supply of antioxidant nutrients but they are also prized for their benefit to bone mass. Rich in Vitamin A, biotin, vitamin K, fiber and so much more, carrots offer a variety of color options: traditional orange, yellow, white, purple, and red. As they are considered a hardy root vegetable, they tend to keep longer than most other vegetables. On the grill or smoker, they work perfectly at absorbing the level of smoke vapor you want for recipes.
Carrot and Grill Preparation
As carrots are a root vegetable, they can get a lot of dirt on them. It’s important that you wash them well and then pat dry. If you want to smoke your carrots whole, simply trim the ends. My plan is to use these in our smoked carrot cake recipe so I’ll introduce my carrots to the food processor to produce even shredding. Once shredded, I place in a grill safe, flat pan. I’ll be using two SmokinLicious® single filet wood chunks in Wild Cherry to keep the flavor on the mild side. These chunks are placed on a lit burner set to medium-low. Only that burner will be on! Preheat the grill using all burners, then when the carrots go on the grill, turn off all the burners but the one with the wood chunks.
Just a Little Time
As I’ve elected to pre-shred my carrot for the eventual cake recipe, the actual smoking time will be quite short. I don’t want to remove all the water content naturally found in carrot as I want a moist cake. My total cooking time is roughly 15 minutes. If you do want additional smoke flavor without dehydrating your carrots, you can do a handheld food smoker application as well as this a cold smoking technique that will not affect the moisture of the food nor provide any cooking.
With our carrots wood grilled, it’s time to start with the cake ingredients. Preheat the oven to 375°F. First up, 1-1/2 cups of finely ground almonds, preferably blanched, finely grated lemon zest from 2 lemons, and 2 tablespoons of sugar. If you cannot locate pre-ground almonds, you may use blanched slivered almonds and process in the food processor. Add all three ingredients to the food processor and pulse until a fine, ground consistency is achieved. Time to prepare the 9-inch springform pan. First, butter the bottom and sides. Feel free to add a buttered parchment round to the bottom of the pan if you wish. Then take a small amount of the ground almond mixture and apply to the sides of the pan. Before we start on the cake batter, melt four tablespoons of butter and set aside.
Now it’s time for the basic dry ingredients for our smoked carrot cake batter. This is a recipe that is oil free. I’ll be using cake flour to bring more lightness to this cake. Here’s what you’ll need for the start of the cake batter
Unbleached cake flour-1-1/4 cups
baking powder-2 teaspoons
All these ingredients will be sifted into a medium bowl to bring airiness to the cake. Next up, the wet ingredients. You will need:
4 large eggs
almond extract-¼ teaspoon
Crack the eggs in a large bowl and add the sugar. With an electric mixer set to medium-high speed, beat the egg mixture until pale, foamy, and thickened. Reduce the speed to low and add in the remaining almond mixture, almond extract, and the flour mixture. Once the dry ingredients are incorporated into the cake batter, take the 4 tablespoons of melted butter and pour over the batter, gently incorporating. In goes the smoked, grated carrot – about two cups. Just combine those items and then spread the batter into your prepared 9-inch springform pan. I’ve used the orange carrot for this recipe as they were available in the garden but I prefer yellow carrot for a golden color all the way through the cake.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F once the cake is placed on the middle rack (From the preheated oven of 375°F). It will take about 40 minutes to cook through. While it’s baking, I make the ricotta cream. Gather together:
ricotta cheese-1 cup
sour cream-1 cup
confectioner’s sugar-2 tablespoons
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Combine all these ingredients and refrigerator until the cake is ready to serve.
Our Smoked Carrot Cake- Spongy, Light Goodness!
With our cake lightly browned and springing back when touched in the center, it’s ready to come out of the oven and cool. Once the cooled cake can be plated to a cake stand, I take about ¼ cup of confectioner’s sugar and sift the sugar over the cake. Now it’s time to slice this succulent cake and serve our ricotta cream on the side. This is a very subtle smoked carrot so you will not get an overwhelming smoked flavor. In fact, if you don’t tell anyone you smoked the carrot, they likely will never know. Experiment with flavors you like – swap crushed pistachio for the almond, coconut extract for the almond extract. You can even dust with cocoa powder. Anything goes! Don’t forget, only dust the cake with the confectioner’s sugar before you’re ready to serve as this cake is very moist and will increase in moisture as it sits.
Did we spur your imagination with this recipe?
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Ember Fired Eggplant on the rack cooking above a bed of hot coals. This technique provides the heat for cooking and the aroma of the wood smoke
EMBER FIRED EGGPLANT WITH FETA TARTS
You’ve heard me mention before how great it is to ember or coal fire certain foods, with a good majority of those items falling in the fruit category. One of the best fruits to use this technique with is eggplant.
Not of Nutritional Value
Eggplant, also called aubergine, is part of a flowering plant grown for its edible fruit. This is a thick-skinned fruit that has a meaty quality to its flesh. In fact, it can make for a filling meal. Eggplant contains a lot of water – 92% to be specific! It is not known to be a contributor for daily nutritional intake. Despite all that, Eggplant remains a favorite ingredient to cook with.
Nestling is Key
When cooking in the coals, it is best to use medium sized eggplant. It doesn’t matter what variety you select, the technique for cooking in the coals will remain the same.
Starting the fire
First, you need to start with a good wood fire, using clean hardwood. In order to do this technique successfully, you need to ensure that there are no flames left in the fire, just hot coals. You’ll know the coals are ready for the cooking when they are completely grayed over. If your grilling area is large enough, you can stage a couple of burning wood pieces to provide additional heat to the area. Just don’t cook directly in those flames.
When the coals are ready, make sure the embers are in an even layer and then place the eggplants side by side in the embers. I like to use a fine screen in the bottom of my charcoal area to aide in heat retention. Now, leave these untouched for about 10 minutes. After that time, you can turn the eggplant to ensure all sides get evenly charred. If you make a large enough fire, you can bury the eggplant completely in the hot coals and not have to do any turning. That technique will require about 30 minutes of cooking time.
Blackened, Charred Skin Makes It Ready
Once the Ember Fired Eggplant has tenderized in the coals, it’s time to carefully remove it. Cool the eggplant, so it won’t burn and can be handled. Then, slice each eggplant open from end to end, and gently scoop out the flesh. Be sure to leave all the charred skin behind. If you’re ready to use this in a recipe, then no need to do anything more to the eggplant. If you plan on using it later, you must prevent the eggplant flesh from turning dark by incorporating 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and enough water to cover the flesh. When finished, it’s best to store the Ember Fired Eggplant in a glass jar, bowl, or other container.
6 Needed Ingredients
To make the Ember Fired Eggplant with Feta Tarts, you’ll need a muffin pan and the following food ingredients:
Flesh from 1 medium size coal-fired eggplant
¾ cup crumbled feta cheese (about 3 ounces)
¼ cup roughly chopped pistachios, plus 2 tablespoons for topping the tarts
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
5 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
Extra virgin olive oil for brushing dough and preparing muffin pan
Wood Flavored Eggplant Mixture
Roughly chop the wood fired eggplant. Then transfer to a medium bowl and add feta, 3 tablespoons chopped pistachios, coriander, red-pepper flakes, and mint. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper and stir gently to combine.
Making the Tarts
Lightly oil the muffin pan cups. Lay 1 sheet of phyllo dough on a board and lightly brush with oil. Stack 4 more phyllo sheets on top, brushing each with oil. Cut the stacked sheets into 6 equal squares. Carefully, pick up each square and place in a muffin cup, gently pressing in place. Fill each dough cup with about ¼ cup of eggplant mixture. Gently fold over the corners of the dough to enclose the filling as a tart. Brush tops with oil and sprinkle with crushed pistachios. Then Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes, then serve.
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The stages of cooking acorn squash on the grill-stuffing with brown sugar-cooking over wood on the gas grill-finished product!
One of the most popular winter squash that can be found pretty much anytime of the year, acorn squash is rich in fiber and potassium. Time to take this squash favorite and smoke it on the gas grill with cherry wood chunks. But first, we’ll give it some flavorful stuffing to make this exceptionally sweet.
Clean the Acorn Squash
Most acorn squash weigh between 1-2 pounds. After cleaning the outside under running water, cut off the pointed end and ensure the bottom is flat so the squash won’t tip while cooking. Now, scoop out the seeds and membrane until clean, just like you would do with a pumpkin. The seed-free squash is going to be our ingredient vessel that will make the acorn squash so sweet and full of goodness.
Sweeten Things Up
Once the acorn squash is clean of seeds and membrane, it’s time to stuff it. The ingredients are simple: brown sugar mixed with cinnamon and butter. That’s it!
First put approximately ¾ stick of softened butter into the acorn squash center. Then pack in the brown sugar-cinnamon mix. And I mean pack it in! Be sure to press down so the butter and brown sugar mix combine. Once filled, I sprinkle a bit extra of the sugar mixture on the cut top. Now place the acorns in a pan that will be heat safe on the gas grill. Time to prepare the gas grill.
Smoking on the Gas Grill
I’ve turned two burners to “on” of my 4-burner grill. I add two SmokinLicious® Single Filet CherryWood Chunks to one of the heat shields on my grill. Next, I add the acorn squash to a roasting pan and set it on the grate of the grill that has the burners turned “off”. This is known as an indirect method of cooking. The squash will cook until tender all the way through. Depending on the size of the squash, this will take between 1-1/2 to 3 hours. Then get ready for the sweet, buttery smooth squash meat!
A Side Dish or Dessert
Even though the butter was placed to the bottom of our squash and the brown sugar mix on top, the lighter weight of the butter will rise to the surface while the brown sugar mix sinks to the base. These ingredients will mix during cooking to sweeten the squash meat. Once tenderized, remove and allow to cool before handling. Then scrap out the squash meat with the cooked butter-brown sugar mix, combine, and enjoy. This is sweet so you can enjoy it as a side dish or as a dessert – a spoonful on pound cake or puffed pastry is define.
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