April 2019


Fresh seasonal asparagus

 

EMBER ROASTING FRESH ASPARAGUS ON A HIBACHI OR OTHER CHARCOAL EQUIPMENT

 

Its Asparagus season and that means you should get the most out of this sensational vegetable while it’s fresh!  Learn how easy it is to ember roast this thick skinned vegetable to bring out the fantastic flavor of this vegetable as a side dish, or used as an ingredient in other recipes like a refreshing dip, soup, or stuffing for meat or fish.

SmokinLicious® Grande Sapore® Wood Chips

SmokinLicious® Grande Sapore® Wood Chips

INGREDIENTS:

 

PREPARING TO EMBER COOK:

Clean the Hibachi or small charcoal grill unit of all previous ash, as well as any leftover wood and charcoal.  Add the SmokinLicious® Culinary Wood Products Grande Sapore® Wood Chips in the base of the Hibachi on the charcoal grates. If not using a Hibachi unit, then place the wood chips in the charcoal area of your small charcoal grill. I like to use Wild Cherry Grande Sapore® Chips to bring a balance to the asparagus’ flavor.  Since I plan to use my roasted asparagus as an ingredient in other recipes, I’m using the chips in their natural state rather than soaking in a flavored liquid but feel free to soak in wine, alcohol, juice or other liquid of your choice.

Items need for this recipe

Items need for this recipe

LIGHTING THE FIRE

After loading the Hibachi or other unit with my Grande Sapore® Cherry Chips, I light the chips using a small kitchen size torch.   I let the chips burn down until I have about 2-3 inches of hot embers to cook with.  I need the layer long enough to accommodate the spears of asparagus and deep enough to ensure the embers encircle most of the spear.  I keep plenty of extra Grande Sapore® Cherry chips on hand to ensure I get the depth and size of the ember bed throughout the cooking process.  This includes maintaining a perimeter of unlit chips around the hot embers.

 

PREPARING THE ASPARAGUS

While I wait for the chips to burn down into embers, I start preparation of my fresh asparagus.  First, I gently clean the spears and then trim the bottoms just where they are a bit dried out and tough.  I gently pat dry and leave them in a tray to wait on the fire.  I drizzle some oil over my asparagus spears and sprinkle with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.  The oil will help the seasoning stick to the spears and also ensure an even cook on the asparagus.  Letting the asparagus sit while you wait on the embers allows the seasoning to penetrate the stalks, giving it additional flavor.

EMBER ROASTING FRESH ASPARAGUS TECHNIQUE

Once I have a bed of hot embers, I’m ready to cook!  I won’t be needing the grill grates as asparagus has a nice thick skin so it’s an ideal vegetable to be placed directly on the hot coals.  Prior to adding the asparagus, I add some more wood chips to the outside perimeter of my cooking area so that I will be able to bring in new embers as needed.  In addition to providing new embers, the unlit chips will provide additional heat to the grill as they ignite.

Asparagus cooking directly on the embers

Asparagus cooking directly on the embers

I lay my asparagus spears into the hot embers allowing the coals to wrap around the majority of each spear.

As I’m using very thick diameter spears, I will let the asparagus cook in the embers for about 10 minutes prior to

checking on the char level.  Just like with conventional cooking, you’ll see the asparagus get a brighter green sheen as they cook through.  Once I see a nice layer of char develop to the skin, I will turn the spears with tongs. The oil will also give a nice golden hue.

Ember roasted fresh asparagus

I’ve turned the asparagus spears only as the char develops on each side until they are fully charred and the spears have tenderized. You’ll know the perfect tender level when you prick the spear with a knife tip and it just penetrates.

Now I’m ready to use these beauties in my recipes but only after a few spears are enjoyed as is.  Ah, the perks of cooking over hot embers.  Bon-Bar-B-Que!

Please go to- Smokinlicious Instagram #smokinliciousasparagus for the audio instructional series

Dr. Smokes favorite- SMOKED STRAWBERRY HAND PIE is a great recipe for fresh or frozen Strawberries. The smokiness will add a special twist

Dr. Smoke- ember roasting Fresh Asparagus on the Hibachi is adding a charcoal side burner!

SmokinLicious® Products used in this recipe:

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

More recipes using asparagus:

-Flank Steak Pinwheels with Ember Roasted Asparagus

-Crostini with Smoked Asparagus

-Top 10 Vegetables to Cook in Hot Embers

Our Finished Greek Style Smoked Meatballs done on a Kettle Grill!

Our Finished Greek Style Smoked Meatballs done on a Kettle Grill!

 

Greek Style Smoked Meatballs on the Kettle Grill! Click To Tweet

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Although I love Italian-style meatballs with traditional red sauce as a sandwich, I’m going to change up the flavors by making a Greek version.  Then I’ll smoke my meatballs on the charcoal grill using charwood, which is a partially charred hardwood from SmokinLicious® that still retains a core of uncarbonized material to release wood flavorings.

My Greek-style meatball will feature feta cheese, oregano, and parsley, and will be finished with a Greek-yogurt cucumber sauce.  I’ll swap traditional sub-style bread for a pita pocket that will make this the perfect meatball sandwich that’s lighter on the belly but not light on flavor and satisfaction

Tasting Notes: Feel free to use any type of equipment for the cooking and smoking of the meatballs.  Just remember to use wood for added flavor to the finished meatball product.

It Starts with Quality Meatball Ingredients

our mixture of ingredients before we make into the meatballs

#greekmeatballs

Obviously, meatballs start with the meat.  We’ll be using ground chuck for this recipe.  Taking two pounds of ground chuck, I add one cup of crumbled feta cheese.  To that, I add two tablespoons fresh oregano, two tablespoon fresh chopped flat leaf parsley, ½ teaspoon of crushed red pepper, 1 large beaten egg, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper.  Mix all the ingredients well until evenly combined.  This recipe will make approximately 32 meatballs that are 1-inch in diameter.

Lighting the Grill

our Greek Style meatballs cooking on the grill over charwood

#charwood

As with all our recipes, you can elect the type of equipment you want to do the actual smoking and cooking on as well as the charcoal and hardwood choices.  Today, I’ll be using my Weber kettle as this is an ideal grate size for my sheet pan.

After mixing and forming the meatballs, I’ve placed them on a foil lined sheet pan over direct heat.  There is no need to turn these meatballs as due to their small size, they will crust all the way around on their own.  In 20-30 minutes, these will have reached 160° F and be ready for eating.  For the record, my intake vent is open half way and the outtake is wide open.

Tasting Notes: Keep in mind, when you use any type of metal pan with direct heat and wood product on a grill, some level of creosote will develop on the bottom of the pan.  I’ve found that if I spray a small quantity of oven cleaner on these areas while the pan is still hot, in 5 minutes I can simply wipe away with a wet cloth or sponge.

Greek-Yogurt-Cucumber Sauce

making our yogurt Cucumber Sauce for the sandwich

#yogurtcucumbersauce

When eating Italian meatball sandwiches, the sauce is traditionally red tomato.  For Greeks, it is a light, tangy cucumber-Greek yogurt sauce that accompanies the meatball.   Here’s our rendition of this sauce.

Start with one cucumber, peeled, seeded and grated.    Be sure to squeeze the extra water from the grated cucumber so the sauce does not become watery.  Add 1-1/2 cups of whole milk Greek yogurt, followed by three tablespoons fresh, chopped mint, one tablespoon fresh, chopped dill, ½ teaspoon lemon zest, one tablespoon fresh lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper.  Mix well and refrigerate until ready to use.  This will make about 1 cup of sauce.

Make a Pita to Your Liking!

our completed sandwich with greak style smoked meatballs and yogurt cucumber sauce

#greekmeatball pita

Now comes the fun!  Assembling our Greek-Style Meatball Pita!

I’m using whole wheat pita but any blend of grain can be used.  I start by adding shredded lettuce to each pita pocket half.  I prefer a bit of moisture both at the base of the pita as well as on top of the final ingredient.  I add a tablespoon or so of the yogurt-cucumber sauce to the shredded lettuce, then top with sliced red onion and tomato slices.  Next, in go the smoked meatballs.  I prefer to slice the meatballs in half to make eating the pita easier since each bite will be quite substantial.  After adding about three meatballs worth of meat, another dollop of sauce goes on top and we’re ready to eat!

Obviously, this is a recipe to make your own with the type of fillings you love.  That may include more spice from jalapeno or banana peppers, or more saltiness from black or green olives.  Change up the lettuce leaves to kale or spinach.  The options are limitless but the flavors will always be fresh and balanced.

What are your favorite pita or sandwich fillers?  Leave us a comment to opine and subscribe to get all our postings on tips, 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® used in this recipe:

Charwood

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

For more reading related to smoking on the kettle grill!

For more reading related to smoking on the kettle grill!

Other recipes you may enjoy:

-GRILLED PRIME RIB THE ULTIMATE WITH WOOD

-ROSEMARY INFUSED SMOKED BEEF SHANKS FROM THE GRILL

-Smoked Snow Peas With Cucumber Salad

Dr. Smoke- try our Greek Style smoked meatballs with Pita Bread- this will be a hit for your family!

Dr. Smoke- try our Greek Style smoked meatballs with Pita Bread- this will be a hit for your family!

Marrying smoked Broccoli with flavors from India finished dish

Marrying smoked Broccoli with flavors from India finished dish

Smoked Broccoli with Flavors from India Click To Tweet

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So far, we’ve shown you how to cook and flavor broccoli on the gas grill using wood chunks and a direct method of cooking.  That is a very fast means of cooking and charring broccoli quickly and is convenient for most of us who own a gas grill.

My second method of cooking and wood flavoring broccoli is using a stove top smoker.  I enjoy using my Nordic Ware Kettle Stove Top Smoker as this is one little unit that packs a punch when it comes to infusing smoke flavoring.  Plus, using this process, I don’t have to babysit the smoker.  Just set it up on the stove, turn on the overhead stove vent, and come back in about 20 minutes and the broccoli will be tender and full of flavor.  That means, it’s ready for all your recipes.

Now that the broccoli is ready, I’m going to make an India-type curry using tomato, potato, onion and smoked broccoli.

Tasting Notes: I’ve only mentioned two methods of smoking the broccoli but note you can also do this on a portable grill, charcoal grill, traditional smoker and electric smoker.  You can also use a handheld food smoker if you don’t want complete penetration of the smoke vapor into the broccoli.  Note that the stove top and charcoal methods will provide the boldest smoke flavors.

A Tomato Sauce

the ingredients for our smoked broccoli with india spices

#ingredients

The first thing to prepare for our curry dish is the tomato sauce that will flavor the dish along with the smoke flavors.  To start, I take two tomatoes – I’m using vine tomatoes – and dice them.  To the diced tomato, I add one teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon garam masala, ½ teaspoon cumin powder, ½ teaspoon chili powder, and ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper.  This mixture needs to be mashed down which you can either do with a food processor or food masher.  Be sure the mixture is smooth as this will be the sauce or gravy type quality to our dish.

I’ve elected to use a mini food processor for my tomato mixture.  This sauce mixture can be set aside until the other vegetables are ready.

Tasting Notes: Another ingredient that I like for this sauce is and Asian garlic-chili sauce.  If you elect to go with a tablespoon of so of this ingredient, eliminate the minced garlic clove and cayenne pepper.

Developing a Curry

To make the actual curry contents, you can use a skillet or a Dutch oven.  I’ll be using a Dutch oven as I prefer the ease of being able to heat up the cast-enamel which retains heat well.  Be sure you are comfortable with regulating the temperature setting on the Dutch oven if you chose to use this cookware as it does retain heat well.

Place one tablespoon of safflower or olive oil in your cookware and allow to heat.  Add one small chopped onion, two cloves of garlic which you’ve minced.  Allow these to sweat and tenderize.  Be sure you don’t burn the garlic so stir often.  To this add one medium size chopped potato.  You can decide if you want the skin on for extra nutritional value or peeled.  Stir these contents well and frequently, adjusting the heat of the Dutch oven if using this cookware (I went from a medium-high setting to a low setting by the time the potato had cooked for just a few minutes).   After tenderizing the potato for a few minutes, add one head of chopped smoked broccoli.

Now add in your tomato sauce mixture stirring well.  Here’s the important part of the dish – be sure you don’t allow the mixture to dry out.  Add water intermittently as needed to maintain moisture and convection.  For those who like wine flavor infusion, you can also add about ¼ cup of red wine of your choice.

mixing the spices

Tasting Notes: Don’t get hung up on the exact quantities of any given ingredient.  If you like spice, think about increasing the cayenne pepper or adding a garlic-chili paste to this.  You can also alter the type of chili powder used.  Use this recipe as a guide and make the end result your own.

A Beautiful Finish

Essentially you can have this dish cooked in 30 minutes following the 20 minutes smoking process of the broccoli.  However, I prefer to keep the pot on low and cook for a couple of hours to intensify the flavors.  Just be sure you add water as needed to keep everything moist and only in small quantities to prevent the vegetables from becoming mushy.

This is a vegan menu option but you can certainly alter the basic recipe to make this your own.  The nutritional value of these vegetables using very little oil makes it a healthy smoked alternative than traditional barbecue.

What’s your favorite broccoli recipe?  Leave us a comment to opine and subscribe to get all our postings on tips, 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®

Wood Chunks: Double Filet

For more reading related to smoked Broccoli and its many uses

For more reading related to smoked Broccoli and its many uses

More broccoli recipes:

-BROCCOLI PESTO WITH A WOODSY NOTE

-SMOKED BROCCOLI CASSEROLE WITH APPLE & QUINOA

-CHARRED BROCCOLI SOUP!

Dr. Smoke- using our smoked Broccoli and adding flavors/spices from India provides a tasty twist

Dr. Smoke- using our smoked Broccoli and adding flavors/spices from India provides a tasty twist