Cooking Techniques: Smoking to enhance flavors

It’s almost summertime in Chicago! The foods we crave during the summer months are usually garden fresh vegetables, smoked and grilled meats and seafood, and a nice cold cocktail or beer. A cooking technique, you should try this summer is smoking. Smoking meats, seafood, and cheeses are a great way to enhance the flavors of your ingredient. Smoking is a Cooking Technique that enhances flavors, browns, cooks, and preserves meat by exposing it to smoke from burning wood. There are two ways to smoke meats: Hot smoking and Cold smoking.

Cooking Technique-Hot Smoking

Hot smoking is when your smoker generates heat (charcoal or gas) while simultaneously smoking with flavored wood.   This technique generates steam which permeates the meat keeping it tender and succulent.

Cooking Technique-Cold Smoking

This is your go to process for curing or preserving meats.  A much longer technique, can take days, and the temperature needs to stay at 20 degrees Celsius to not destroy the preservative properties. Usually, you soak the meat, seafood, or cheese in a brine of salt and sugar liquid and then the smoking begins to remove the moisture. This concentrates the flavors of smoke into your ingredient of choice.


Cooking Technique-Smoking

Here are a few tips to get you started!

  1. Choose a shady and cool are outside to put your smoker. There are a ton of Youtube videos that show you how to make a homemade smoker, but I highly recommend just buying one. You will definitely use it over time!
  2. Season your smoker. Fire up the smoker and let it heat up and cool off. Make sure the charcoal isn’t flaming-the coals should be white hot.
  3. Soak wood chips in water (Remember your wood chips add flavor, so choose wisely)
  4. Place the wood chips in a stainless steel smoker box to prevent the chips from burning. Put directly on charcoal.
  5. Wait-in about 30 minutes the smoke flavor will begin to develop.
  6. Depending which technique you choose: hot or cold, you may need to top off your wood chips over time.
  7. Use a water pan! It infuses moisture and becomes a buffer in the slow cooker.
  8. Place hot water with some added herbal flavors like a sprig of rosemary or mint.
  9. Put the water pan in between the heat source layer and the ingredient you are smoking.
  10. Leave the top air vent open during smoking to develop steam and smoke.
  11. Bottom vent should be opposite of the wind direction so it doesn’t snuff out the smoke.

Cooking Times

Depends upon how much food you cook at the same time and which smoking technique and smoker you use.

Use a meat thermometer to check that meat is cooked thoroughly. If you smoke cheese, you may want to do some taste testing. It tends to be more dependent on the intensity of flavor.

A whole chicken tends to take up to 3-4 hours to cook, so keep in mind if you cut the meat it should take less time.


Troubleshooting

I want a more intense smoke flavor!

-Well, the heat is too high. Low and slow is best to intensify the flavor. Reduce your cooking temperature and smoke for a longer period of time.

I’m losing heat, what should I do?

-Stop peaking at your food! Do not remove the lid, you can view food at the access doors on the side. But try not to look at all.

The meat is pink, is it done?

This is a very common color in smoked meats. To make sure it is cooked to a proper temperature, use a high quality meat thermometer.

Lastly, smoking is a cooking technique that takes patience and time. It is a process and if you are hungry for mouthwatering smoke meat and seafood, you may not be able to wait. It is ok! Lloyd’s Chicago offers delicious smoked meats and seafood for lunch and dinner in downtown Chicago.

New to our Bar bites menu is the Smoked Whitefish schmear. Our chef slow smokes Lake Superior whitefish until it is tender and flaky and enhanced with a rich oak smoke flavor. Schmear on toasted ciabatta bread and top with pickled onion with a cold and sudsy after work craft beer.

Cooking Techniques: Smoking to enhance flavors

From time to time, a smoked turkey club is available for lunch. Again, the smoke flavor infuses into the succulent turkey and layered with bacon and lettuce on toast. Last but not least, Nueske’s smoked bacon can be found in variety of Lloyd’s menu items from salads to burgers and entrees. Lloyd’s Chicago is also a great venue for your next private party. Customize your private party menu and feature one of our smoked menu items. See you soon!