Alternative Foods To Cook In Your Smoker

bbq vegetables - Alternative Foods To Cook In Your Smoker


By: Joshua Rooks

Alternative Foods To Cook In Your Smoker

They say you can smoke an old shoe and it would taste good. I’m not sure I entirely subscribe to that philosophy, but there’s something to be said for thinking outside the box when it comes to what we can cook low and slow.

On that point, I’d like to propose some foods generally and then specifically that you can put next to a flame that results in maximum flavor and savor. You can eat these delicacies by themselves once you’ve completed the cooking process, or you can then use them as ingredients in another dish. The choice is entirely up to you. Let’s begin!

fruitgrill

Fruits

Smoked fruits can be absolutely spectacular. The sweet and savory effect that is created from the caramelization of the sugars and the earthy taste of the smoke creates a contrast that elevates any meal beyond the ordinary. Some fruits lend themselves to being smoked better than others, but for the most part, the process is a safe bet for great flavors.

I operate under two basic principles when smoking fruits. Cold smokes are primarily just for adding smoke flavor while hot smokes do the same while cooking the food. If I want to retain most of the natural state of the fruits I’m smoking, I simply apply a cold smoke. If I want to slightly change the composition of the fruits and add some caramelization, I apply a hot smoke. Remember, a hot smoke isn’t something radical. We’re talking between 200 and 300 degrees, depending on the contents. A cold smoke is going to land somewhere between 85 and 105 degrees.

A few great fruits to consider are cherries, grapes, peaches, pineapple, and apple. Remember that this smoking process will not last a long time. Most pitmasters smoke fruits in the range of 15-20 minutes with few exceptions. For fruits like cherries, place them in a pan with a perforated bottom so the smoke can touch them, but no cherries will fall through. For fruits like peaches, cut them in half and remove the pit/seeds and place them on a perforated pan.

9-grilled-nutsNuts

This includes anything from walnuts to pine nuts. Technically, you can even smoke seeds. Pumpkin and sunflower seeds are an excellent option. Whatever your choice, nuts can be smoked a little longer than some of the other choices on this list due to the fact that they can be more dense. With this knowledge, I suggest a medium-hot smoke of 200 degrees or so lasting 1 to 2 hours.

This will allow the smoke to transfer its flavor to the nut or seed and still retain the classic “nutty” flavor that made you want to use it in a dish in the first place. Some pitmasters prefer to use raw nuts for this. There’s an argument to this reasoning as usage of raw nuts will provide a unique amount of moisture left inside. However, it’s not imperative that the nuts and seeds be raw, so the choice is up to you.

In either case, I suggest a hardwood like Oak or Hickory for smoking nuts. Finally, use a pan to contain the nuts during the smoking process.

grilled-eggsEggs

Ok, so this one isn’t from me, it’s from my wife. Full disclosure: I’m not a huge boiled egg fan. But when hard boiled eggs have been smoked, I’m much more easily persuaded to partake. In fact, if you use a sweet wood like a fruit wood or even maple, some wonderful complexity can be imparted onto the hard-boiled egg. Remember, for this smoke to work, the egg has to be boiled, and peeled. I also suggest leaving them whole. You’re more than welcome to crumble or break them up, but the smaller sizes will add more surface area exposed to the smoke and therefore could potentially add smoke flavor to the point of pungency.

Try this out with a smoker temperature of roughly 210 degrees for 10-15 minutes for a truly unique egg salad recipe. You could even add it to your cobb salad and slather it in some ranch dressing. That cobb salad just made me hungry…Also perfect to Devil these eggs. Find RECIPE HERE: https://pitmasterandthecook.net/6-deviled-eggs-recipes-perfect-for-easter-and-beyond/

Eel

I saved the best for last. Now hold on, before you turn up your nose, just remember that eel is technically a fish. A very slimy, snake-like fish. But once you get your brain past the initial “ew” factor, you’ll find that eel is perfect for smoking.

If you’re cleaning the eel yourself, be warned that they are slimy and difficult to work with, especially if caught live. Many people who cook eel whole will first cover them in salt to better work with them. This also aids in removing the slime, which is paramount. A slimy eel in the smoker will hinder the smoke from properly penetrating the meat. Additionally, if you are comfortable with this process, I suggest smoking an eel whole as they’re difficult to fillet, unlike other fishes. Finally, a good suggestion is to let the eel rest in a brine for 8-24 hours.

If you’re preparing your own eel, cut the eel length wise down its belly toward its gills. Once the incision has reached the jaws, cut behind the gill plates from one to the other. Now you can peel back the skin and gut the eel. Remove all its contents, then rinse and clean thoroughly.

When smoking your eel, I suggest a fruit wood. Apple, cherry, peach, or any combination thereof will work. The smoke produced will not be as strong and that works well for the lower density of fish. Remember that optimal internal temperature of fish is about 145 degrees Fahrenheit. If you can control your smoker’s temperature on the dime, this smoke should last roughly 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how well-done you like your eel (some pitmasters go 4 hrs). However, a word of caution: once the skin has begun to peel away from the meat (you’ll be able to see this on the undercarriage where the eel has been gutted), the eel is done. If it goes longer, the meal may not taste as good.

Final thoughts

I hope this helped you today! It’s always nice to think outside the box and as always, my goal has been to inform, illuminate, and inspire. If you found this article helpful in any way, please feel free to share via our social media pages and with your family and friends. Thanks for reading, and happy smoking!


Alternative Foods To Cook In Your Smoker

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