Deano Jalapeno Burger – Fire Day Friday

Don’t you just love those Durkee Fried Onions?  Yeah, those ones that you put on top of green bean casserole.  Yes, the ones you guiltily snack on when you think no one is looking.  
Imagine the same thing but instead of onions, imagine it made out of thin sliced jalapenos.  I received a fiery care package from my friends at Hot Sauce Daily (a blog about all things hot and spicy) and one of the items was a mysterious gold foil package of Deano’s Jalapenos brand Jalapeno Chips.  
One taste and Alexis said they were like super spicy fried onions.  I loved them too and immediately knew I had to use them as a burger topping.  To offset the heat, I made a ranch dressing with cilantro and avocado spread to help cool it off.  
Deano Jalapeno Burger
source:  NibbleMeThis
Ranch dressing adapted from Barefeet In The Kitchen
Ingredients
  • 2 lb ground beef
  • 4 teaspoons burger seasoning*
  • 6 buns
  • 6 oz monterey jack cheese, thin sliced
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce
  • 1/2 cup fried jalapeno slices*

For the cilantro and avocado ranch spread

  •  3.5 oz heavy cream
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dill
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 ea Haas avocado, diced

Instructions

  1. Mix the cream and lemon juice together and rest for 5 minutes.
  2. Mix together the sour cream, mayo, garlic, cilantro, dill, salt and pepper.  Stir in the cream mixture.
  3. Place the diced avocado and half of the dressing mixture in a blender or food processor and blend until the avocado is broken down, about 30 seconds.  Fold this batch back into the rest of the dressing.
  4. Mix together the beef and burger seasoning.  Divide into 6 third pound portions and form into 5″ patties.  
  5. Preheat a charcoal grill to 450f.  
  6. Grill the burgers for 4 minutes.  Flip and grill another 4 minutes.  Top with the cheese slices in the last minute.  Remove and let rest for 5 minutes.
  7. Top bun bottoms with shredded lettuce, a cheese burger, a handful of jalapeno chips and slather the but top with a healthy bit of the ranch dip. 

Notes

  • I used a commercial burger seasoning tonight but you can make a simple one of 2 tsp kosher salt, 1 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp oregano, 1/4 tsp onion powder.
  • I used Deano Jalapenos’ Jalapeno Cheddar chips.  I have made my own before by doing a standard flour, eggwash on slice jalapenos and deep frying them in 350f oil.  It was a lot easier using theirs.   
  • The recipe makes about twice the amount of ranch dip that you will need, but you will be glad.  Use the rest for a great dip for chips or thin it with some milk to make a great ranch dressing.
The thick creamy avocado dip helps cool the heat of the jalapeno chips.

Grilled burgers, a sign that summer is coming soon!

The ranch makes a great dip for spicy fries too.

FTC Disclaimer:  I have no affiliation with Deano Jalapenos and didn’t receive any compensation for this post.  I did get the sample for free but it was a care package from some friends of ours. 

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Fire Roasted Chicken Wings – Fire Day Friday

The NFL playoffs are firing up and so are grills at game day parties everywhere.   There will be “chicken wings” on menus but these are a little different.  Instead of the traditional hot wing pieces of “drumettes” and “wingettes”, these use whole chicken wings.
It’s cold and possibly snowy wherever you are and you probably don’t want to drag your grill out.  Good news, you don’t have to.  You can do this one in your oven, if you have to.  But they are even better roasted on your grill.
Fire Roasted Chicken Wings
Adapted from Adam Perry Lang’s BBQ25
Serves 6
Ingredients
  • 24 chicken wings (whole wings, not wing parts)

For the marinade

  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1.5 tsp black pepper, coarsely ground
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp peanut oil
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp hot sauce

For the BBQ glaze

  • 1 cup BBQ sauce (use your favorite)
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Instructions

  1. Combine the marinade ingredients and marinate the wings for 1-3 hours. 
  2. Preheat your grill to 300f for indirect heat* (or your oven). 
  3. Drain the wings and pat them dry.  Take the wing tip and tuck it behind the other end of the wing (the “drumette”.
  4. Place the wings on your grill (or in your oven) for 1 hour.
  5. Remove the wings and toss a large bowl with the BBQ glaze ingredients.
  6. Raise the grill (or oven…you really aren’t using your oven are you? ha ha) temp to 400f.  
  7. Cook the wings for another 30 minutes.
  8. Eat and enjoy!

Notes

  • Indirect heat is where you put the hot coals on one side of the grill and cook your food on the other side while the grill lid is closed so the meat “fire roasts” instead of grilling. 
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Fire Roasted Screwdriver Chicken – Fire Day Friday

I have your curiosity, right?

But not screwdriver as in Craftsman.  I’m talking about the screwdriver cocktail. 

I used the classic cocktail as a base for a “mop” for chicken roasted on the grill.  A “mop” is kind of like a BBQ sauce but it is thinner and you baste it on several times during the cook instead of just the last few minutes.  It builds on layers of flavor with each baste. 
Fire Roasted Screwdriver Chicken
serves 4
Ingredients
  • 4 bone in, skin on chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

For the Screwdriver mop

  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp oregano, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp chipotle hot sauce
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flake
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat your grill to 325f  (medium) for an indirect heat cook.  That means you push your hot coals to one side of the grill and you’ll cook over the empty space.   I added a 4″ chunk of cherry wood for a little smoke flavor.
  2. Season the chicken breasts heavily but evenly on both sides.  Place chicken skin side up on the grill over the void (not the coals), close the lid and cook for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile whisk the mop ingredients together.  After the first 30 minutes, “mop” the sauce onto the chicken.  Old time pitmasters would use an actual small mop tool to do this.  You can replicate that by dabbing the sauce onto the chicken with a basting brush.  Dabbing instead of brushing gets more of the solid herbs and spices onto the chicken.  Repeat every 15 minutes.
  4. Cook for another 45 minutes to 1 hour (total cook time 1 hr 15 min to 1 hr 30 min), until the breasts have an internal temperature of 160f.
  5. Remove from grill, allow to rest for 5 minutes.  Slice the rib bones from the meat and then slice into medallions for serving.

Notes
Sure, you could do this in your oven at the same temp but you won’t get the smoky flavor and don’t blame me if you get the sugary mop sauce on the bottom of your oven and it burns 🙂 

Optional:  Brine the chicken for 4 hours.  It’s worth the time!

Waiting to mop until after 30 minutes lets a crispy skin start to form first.

The layers of mopping build texture and flavor.

Slice the bones off lengthwise first, then slice into medallions like this.

Giveaway
I’m hosting a giveaway of this cool tailgating package over at NibbleMeThis.   Please enter and then don’t forget to post your favorite tailgating recipes on Tailgate Time.

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Carolina "All The Way" Burger

Do you remember the very first time that you thought to yourself, “WOW!  That is the BEST thing I have ever tasted!” ?  
I have two memories like that and both occurred when I was a kid while visiting my grandparents farm in Lisbon, NC.  The first was when I tasted real pork bbq from the volunteer fireman’s fundraiser.  The second was when I tasted an “All The Way” burger from Melvin’s (formerly a pool hall) in Elizabethtown, NC.  It was a messy flavor explosion that I could not get enough of.  
A Carolina “All The Way” Burger is a burger with chili, slaw, onions, and mustard.  Wendy’s sells a version called the “Carolina Classic” in some areas [Source:  Burgerpedia].  But for me, the best ones are like the original, from a small mom and pop joint in rural North Carolina. This really isn’t a “recipe” as much as just how to put a Carolina burger together, but I’ll give you some links or ideas for the components.
Messy but good!

Carolina “All The Way” Burger
source:  Nibble Me This
serves: 4

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat your grill to 450f.  Grill the burgers 3-4 minutes per side or until an internal temp of 165f.
  2. Remove and assemble burgers.  
  3. Top each patty with 3 Tbsp slaw, 3 Tbsp chili, 1 Tbsp onion and then mustard.  
  4. Top with the bun top and give it a “smash together” and enjoy. 

Burger Suggestion:  If you don’t have a favorite burger mix, try 1 lb of ground round mixed with 1 tsp garlic salt, 1 tsp black pepper, and 1 egg.  Divide in 4 parts, roll each into a ball and form into a flat 4″ patty.

Coleslaw suggestion:  Chop 1/2 head of napa cabbage.  Add in 1 shredded carrot and 2 Tbsp finely diced onion.  Make a dressing of 1/3 to 1/2 cup mayo, 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar, 1/2 tsp celery seed, salt and pepper to taste.  If you like horseradish, throw some of that in there too.  Mix thoroughly.

It’s hard to beat a burger over hot coals.
Smashing it together makes it easier to eat.
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Fire Day Friday: Wanton Wontons

One of the wonderful byproducts of grilling and smoking is that I usually have a little extra cooked pork, chicken, or steak left over. This week I had a bit of hickory smoked pulled pork. It wasn’t really even enough for two bbq sandwiches but it was enough for 8 appetizer servings of these fried wontons.
These slightly spicy wontons make great appetizers for a formal meal or as the star of a tailgating menu.
Wanton Wontons
8 servings (3 wontons each)
¾ cup shitake mushrooms, diced
¼ cup carrot, diced
¼ cup red bell pepper, diced
1 Tbsp ginger, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
½ cup napa cabbage, diced
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
½ cup pulled pork
3 Tbsp sweet chili sauce
½ tsp fish sauce
½ tsp rice vinegar
½ tsp Sriracha sauce (hot chili garlic sauce)
Teriyaki sauce
24 wonton wrappers
Preheat a saute pan or wok over medium high heat. Add a tablespoon of oil.
Add the mushrooms, carrot and saute for 4 minutes.
Stir the bell pepper, ginger, and garlic. Saute another 1-2 minutes.
Turn off the heat and stir in the napa, cilantro and pulled pork. Let the residual heat of the pan wilt the napa and cilantro for a minute.
Mix the sweet chili sauce, fish sauce, rice vinegar, and sriracha sauce. Stir that into the pan mixture.
Place about 2 teaspoons of the mix on each wonton wrapper. 
Wet two edges of the wonton wrapper. Pull one corner over to the other corner.   Seal one edge and work as much air out as possible. 
Seal the remaining edge. Repeat with remaining wontons.
Preheat a deep fryer or a deep skillet with oil to 350f. Add the assembled wontons 3-4 at a time and cook for 30 seconds. Flip them over and cook another 30 seconds or until golden brown.
Drizzle with terriyaki sauce, red pepper flakes and serve with a cold beverage.
The crispy crunchy shell and the spicy fillings will make you “wantin’ wontons”.  yeah, I know, that’s a bad pun.
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Fire Day Friday: Slow Smoked Spare Ribs

Normally I try to keep my Fire Day Friday posts to short grilling recipes but since it is Labor Day Weekend, I want to post how I like to smoke pork spare ribs. The process is written for 1 rack of ribs, multiply as needed. 
Slow Smoked Spare Ribs
1 rack pork spare ribs trimmed St. Louis style and membrane removed from back
1 Tablespoon peanut oil
2 teaspoon black pepper, coarse ground
¼ cup BBQ dry rub
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 “long squirt” Squeeze Parkay (See instructions)
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
2 Tablespoons honey
1.5 teaspoons BBQ dry rub
Rub rib on both sides with the oil. Sprinkle both sides with black pepper. Sprinkle both sides evenly with BBQ rub. [Rub note: There are a lot of good BBQ dry rubs available on the market now. If you can’t find one or want to make your own, try the dry rub from this recipe from Chris Lilly on Grilling.com.]
The St Louis style trim gives you even portions and quicker cooking.
Build an indirect fire in your grill at 250f. If you are using a charcoal smoker or grill, mix several fist sized chunks of wood in with the coal. If you are using a gas grill here are some options for you from Grill Master, John Dawson of Patio Daddio.
I like hickory wood for flavor and cherry wood for coloring the meat.
Smoke the ribs bone side down in a covered grill for 3 hours, replenishing coals and wood as needed to maintain the temperature. 
Remove the ribs from the smoker/grill. Fold a 3 foot piece of foil in half. Place half the brown sugar and Tiger Sauce on the foil. Squirt one “rib length” squirt of the Parkay on top. Place the rib meat side down on top. 
 
Place the rest of the brown sugar, Tiger Sauce, and another squirt of the Parkay on top. Parkay sounds weird I know. But a LOT of the pros on the competition BBQ circuit use this trick.
Wrap the foil tightly around the rib rack and seal tightly. Place back on the grill/smoker for another hour.
Remove the ribs from the grill. CAREFULLY open the foil with tongs and oven mitts. Take the ribs out of the foil but keep the juice.
Whisk together the BBQ sauce, honey, and BBQ rub. Add 2 Tablespoons of the juice from the foil pack and whisk into the glaze.
Glaze both sides of the rack of ribs and return to the grill for another hour. The ribs are done when they bend easily like this but don’t fall apart.
If you want “fall off the bone” ribs (which are technically overdone), leave them in the foil for an extra 30 minutes during the foiled portion.
Slice and serve with the leftover BBQ glaze. 
I hope you all fire up your grills and enjoy this holiday weekend!
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Fire Day Friday: Sparkling Barbecue Chicken

Last year, I won a copy of Steven Raichlen’s Planet Barbecue! and it has become one of my favorite cookbooks… or grill-books I should say 🙂  Either way you say it, I love it.


Now, I have not made as many things out of this book as I would like, but I’ll get there, I just need time and patience.

Of all the recipes I have tried, though, this one is definitely the easiest.  It was a quick way to put together a tasty meal with very little effort.  And, I thought it was an interesting little spin on the standard barbecue chicken.

So what makes it sparkling?  Lemon-lime soda, of course.  The great thing is, this barbecue sauce truly did sparkle.  And the soda brought a bit of a sweet flavor to the barbecue sauce.  It was delicious!

Sparkling Barbecue Chicken

Adapted from Steven Raichlen’s Planet Barbecue!
Ingredients:
1/4 cup lemon-lime soda (like 7up or Sprite)
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce (recipe for homemade bbq sauce)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Directions:
Mix together all the ingredients except for the chicken, in a bowl until well combined.  Reserve 3-4 tablespoons of the sauce.  Put chicken in a resealable bag and pour the remaining sauce of the chicken.  Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 4 hours (you can really get away with 2, but the longer it marinates the more flavorful it will be).

Preheat grill to 375 degrees F.  Brush oil on the grill grates.  Remove the chicken from the marinade and place directly over the fire.  Grill for 8-10 minutes per side or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.  You can use the reserved sauce for basting in the last 5 minutes of grill time or you can serve it along side – heck, do both, I dare you 🙂  Enjoy!

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Fire Day Friday: Quick Marinated Grilled Flank Steak

Fire Day Friday sneaked up on me once again.  I had a flank steak but didn’t want to do fajitas again.  I needed something fast and delicious.  
But I had an ace up my sleeve.  Instead of digging through a pile of magazines or flipping through cookbooks, I consulted Grilling.com on my phone and found a recipe for Quick Marinated Flank Steak with Packet Potatoes.

Fast, easy, and grilled…..just what I needed!  

Quick Marinated Grilled Flank Steak
adapted from Grilling.com
1 flank steak
1/2 cup red wine vinegar (I substituted balsamic pomegranate vinegar)
1/4 cup soy sauce
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 1/2 lb potatoes
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp parsley, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
Score the flank steak (make 1/8th inch deep cuts in a criss cross pattern) and then put into a Glad zip top storage bag.  Add the vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and parsley.  Let marinate for one hour.  That might not sound fast, but for marinating times, that is like broadband compared to dial up.
Cut your potatoes into 1/2″ pieces (skin on) and toss in the garlic, oil, parsley and some salt & pepper.  Divide onto two squares of aluminum foil.  Form each square into an “envelope” by folding in half and folding up the other three sides.
Now preheat your grill to high.  
I used 1 chimney (Weber 7416 Rapidfire Chimney Starter) full of Kingsford Competition briquettes in my charcoal grill (not my Big Green Eggs).  I like the Comp because it burns hotter for grilling & searing.  When I am cooking at lower temps (225f-350f), I use the original Kingsford.
Place the foil packets to the side (indirect) of the coal fire.  If you are doing this on a gas grill, place them where they are not directly over a burner.  
Grill the steak 4 minutes per side for medium rare (125f internal temp).  If you want nice grid marks, turn the steak 90 degrees after 2 minutes.  Go 5 minutes for medium.  

How did I get such great grill marks?  I cheated.  I used GrillGrates (Hard Anodized GrillGrate Gift Kit).  They work on gas grills and charcoal grills.  They prevent the flare ups and also give kick butt sear marks.  I’ve been using them for a few weeks and have been impressed.
 
Remove steak and let rest.  Flip the potato packets and could another 10-15 minutes while the steak rests.
Slice the steak thinly across the grain (short side, not lengthwise).  Carefully open the potato packets to avoid being burned by the escaping steam.  
This steak was delicious and disappeared!  

FTC disclosures:
1)  Kingsford Charcoal – They sent me to Kingsford University this year but Kingsford has meant “cookout” to me ever since I was a kid and my dad would be firing up the family grill.  I am proud to be affiliated with them.  I don’t get any kind of pay per post or anything like that.  Just a great product.
2)  Grill Grates – I received my set for free for testing.  If they call asking for me to return the sample, I’m not answering my phone.  Ya’ll didn’t see me.  I didn’t post this.  I was never here.   These are not the droids you’re looking for.
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Fire Day Friday: Changes and Potato Salad

I’m excited to announce a few changes here on Fire Day Friday!

First and foremost, I will be joined by Jenn of Jenn’s Food Journey and we will be alternating Fridays. Not only is Jenn a talented and energetic food blogger, she rocks the grill. Too many people think the grill is a man’s domain. That is crap and people like Jenn, Robyn (Grill Grrrl), and Danielle (DivaQ) are proving that day in and day out. Plus, her boyfriend’s name is Chris (not me) so she has got good taste 🙂

Secondly, while this weekly post will still be mostly about live fire (grill, smoke, fire roast, etc) cooking, Jenn and I have decided to not limit our posts to ONLY live fire cooking or sides.

This past weekend I was craving some old fashioned, traditional BBQ. I even ignored our two Big Green Eggs and brought out my old offset smoker.


I went with the basics. Smoked chicken, BBQ beans and potato salad. While my favorite potato salad is a spicy and warm jalapeno potato salad with feta cheese and black olives (odd I know but **** it rocks), I wanted a “normal” southern potato salad for this meal.


Southern Potato Salad
Source: NibbleMeThis

Ingredients
2 lb red potatoes
1 cup mayonnaise
3 hard boiled eggs finely diced
1/2 cup onion finely diced
2 tablespoons sweet gherkins finely chopped
2 tablespoons sweet pickled jalapenos, finely diced
2 tablespoons green bell pepper, finely diced
1 1/2 tablespoon stone ground mustard (I like Inglehoffers)
1 1/2 tablespoons French’s yellow mustard
2 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped
2 teaspoons turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon ground celery seed
1 tablespoon BBQ Rub (commercial brand or your home made stuff)
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
Leave the skins on the potatoes but cut them into 1/2″ sized pieces. Boil the potatoes in salted water just until fork tender. Drain in a colander and then rinse them with COLD water to stop the cooking process.

Place them in a large mixing bowl and then add the eggs, onion, pickles and peppers.

In another bowl, mix together the mustards, mayo, cilantro, sugar, celery seed, and BBQ rub. For the BBQ rub I used Dead End BBQ’s Chicken Rub this time. But you could use any other brand, your own, or even some Old Bay Seasoning.

Pour the mayo-mustard mixture over the potato mixture and GENTLY toss together to mix.

Season with salt and pepper to your taste.

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

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How To Make Your Own Smoked Cheese Without A Smoker

It’s time for Fire Day Friday when we take Our Krazy Kitchen outdoors and experiment with live fire (grilling, smoking, roasting, baking using flame).

Today we are going MacGyver! I (Chris from Nibble Me This) am going to show you how to cold smoke your own cheese by using just a cardboard box, a soldering iron, a tin can, and a few miscellaneous items. This is a fun project that you can use to involve the non-foodies in your house.

You can turn this…..

Into this….. (I think this is the first officially licensed OKK product)

But first, the Legal Department here at OKK “asked” (okay….they locked me in a dungeon and force fed me Brussels sprouts until I agreed) to post the following Safety Notice:


For this project you will need:

  • A medium sized box slightly narrower than the racks you will use
  • 1 unused soldering iron without the tip ($14)
  • 1 tin can (burn out the inside with a torch or grill if it has a bpa lining)
  • a rack or two of some sort. I used two resting racks that were slightly larger than the box. You could use the rack out of your toaster oven.
  • Several blocks of various cheeses
  • 1 cup of hardwood or fruit wood chips (you can buy these at many grocery stores and hardware stores these days by their grilling/coal section)
I was using two resting racks so I measured down three inches and 6 inches from the top on the side. I cut slits at both marks on both sides. Work one end of your rack(s) through the slit on one side and then back through the other side like this so the slits are supporting the rack. The rack should stick out a little on each side.

Drill several 1/8″ holes on one side of the can (which will become the “top” side of the can) and a hole in the base of the tin can large enough to accommodate the base of the soldering iron like this:

Add the wood chips around the soldering iron like this. TIP: Use the smallest chips in the bag, you want to maximize surface contact with the iron.

Cut your cheeses into 1″ x 1″ rectangles (however long the length is doesn’t matter) and place them on the racks with room between the pieces.

Place the smoke generator on a trivet or other heat resistant, non-conductive surface in the bottom of the smoke box.


Plug in the soldering iron and wait for the first wisps of smoke (3-5 minutes)…..

Then close the box and tape it shut. You might be tempted to try to seal all the seams of the box for an air tight fit. DON’T. You want the little air gaps and a slight airflow. If you have an airtight fit, the wood won’t be able to smolder and the cheese would sit in stale smoke for an hour. You will have smoke escaping the box like this:

This generator should give you 90 minutes of smoke time, perfect for cheeses. After the 90 minutes, remove the cheeses. They won’t look too different and they may or may not smell very smoky (Your smoke smeller will probably be overloaded at this point). Don’t bother tasting or smelling a piece at this point. IT HAS TO AGE AND MELLOW!!!!!

Vacuum seal the cheeses and refrigerate for two weeks. If you don’t have access to a vacuum seal, double wrap them in plastic wrap and then seal them in a zip top back. This is partially to help them mellow but mostly to keep your fridge from smelling like smoke!


Here are some quick tips I can think of

  1. Bacteria spoils cheese. Make sure your hands, cutting boards, and knives are all sanitized during every step of this process.
  2. Cold smoke. The inside of the container has to remain below the melting point of your cheeses (roughly 70-80f). The smoke generator will raise the temp of your box by 10-15 degrees (the smaller the box, the greater the temp increase). So do this in the shade on a day when the air temps are 45f or less. Don’t you just love the high tech digital control panel of the OKK Smokerator 3000?
  3. Packaging – If packing the cheese for gift packs, pick cheeses that alternate in color and can be cut into roughly the same size pieces.
  4. Experiment with a variety of cheeses – my favorites have been gouda, cheddars, pepper jack, and monterey jack. It occurs to me that I’ve never smoked a blue cheese….and can’t imagine doing so but whatever floats your boat.
  5. Experiment with a variety of woods – my favorites have been hickory, cherry, and a mix of the two.
  6. Soft cheeses take on smoke more readily, hard cheeses take longer.
  7. Use as natural of a cheese that you can. Cheeses with a lot of flavorings and preservatives don’t seem to fare as well.
  8. Use the best quality cheese that you can.
  9. Smoked cheeses are great simply with crackers. But when used as an ingredient with sauces, sandwiches, soups and casseroles, it adds a nice subtle layer of flavor.
  10. Once you have smoked your own cheese, you probably won’t enjoy “smoked” cheese bought at a store because a lot of them just use “smoke flavorings”.
  11. Once you have tried smoking cheese, try smoking nuts, salts, and peppers.
On that note, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. May your stockings be full of high quality, natural hardwood lump charcoal…..

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