December 1, 2009

A Kiss of Smoke

There are many methods used to enhance the flavor of grilled food.  Some of the means include brining, marinading, injecting, applying dry seasonings, and using glazes or sauces.  However, a really simple way to enhance the flavor of grilled meats and vegetables is to add a hint of smoke.  Using smoke to flavor food is easy if you have specialized equipment such as a smoker but how can this flavoring agent be used in a gas grill? The answer is a smoke pouch.  To begin, tear off two pieces of aluminum foil approx 12 to 18 inches in length.  Stack the two pieces of foil on top of each other and place 1 cup of unsoaked wood chips or pellets in the center of the foil.  The wood chips pictured above are apple but feel free to experiment with other hardwoods too.  The most popular wood used to flavor food is hickory.  However, cherry, oak, mesquite, pecan, and alder are used too.  Wood chips can be found at most grocery and hardware stores.  Next, fold the foil around the wood chips to create a packet.  Punch a few small holes in the packet to allow the smoke to escape.  Place the smoke pouch above the burners and below the cooking grate of the grill.  Preheat the grill on high until the packet begins to smoke approx 10 minutes.  Finally adjust the burner controls to achieve the appropriate cooking temperature and place your food on the grill.  Keep an eye on the grill to ensure the wood chips do not ignite.  The goal is to have the wood chips smolder but not catch fire.  I often keep a small spray bottle filled with water handy to knock down any flare ups.  When your done cooking and the grill has cooled the foil packet may be removed and discarded.  I'm confident once you've tasted food grilled with a hint of smoke you will use this technique again and again.  Please give this technique a try and let me know the results.       

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