Wow. I love beets, but I really wasn’t expecting these smoked beets with balsamic glaze to be so amazing. The perfect combination of flavors, starting with just a hint of smoke and ending with goat cheese drizzled with a fantastic balsamic glaze. The more I cook, the more I find myself using balsamic vinegar in my dishes, and it certainly was a star in this one. If you don’t have a smoker you can still make these beets. Just toss them in a 375 F oven and roast them until tender. They won’t have that light smoky flavor, but they will still be great with the glaze and cheese.
In a pinch you can skip using fresh beets. Grab canned or jarred, slice and serve with the remaining ingredients. Or just make my non-smoked beet but-still-really-great beet salad.
It’s an understatement to say I’m a big fan of smoking chuck roast. When it’s on sale it’s big time cheaper than brisket and yet still tender, moist and ‘beefy’. Sometimes I slice my smoked chuck roast, but more times than not I chop it for sandwiches or cut it into chunks for use in a chili or stew. This barbacoa-style smoked chuck roast packs fantastic flavor and juiciness, with a nice hint of heat. Perfect on a chopped beef sandwich! I do not trim my chuck roasts before marinating them. I want all that fat to still be on the meat when I smoke it, adding flavor and moisture. After the meat is done I slice or chop it, leaving off the fatty pieces.
Wonderfully smoky, tender meat with a lightly crispy skin, these smoked and then fried chicken wings were a thing of beauty. These are one of most dangerous things you could ever put in front of me. I don’t even need any sauce to toss or dunk them in, either. Just give me a big basket of them and get out of the way! The process is simple. Season your wings, and place them onto your smoker. No messing around with them either. Just smoke for 2 hours.
When the wings are done you toss them into a deep fryer for a minute or so, until golden brown and lightly crispy. You can also make a big huge batch and freeze the smoked wings (before frying). All you have to do is thaw them and deep fry them when you’re ready to serve them at a later time. I was worried that making them from the frozen smoked wings would result in over-cooked, tough wings, but oh no, they were fantastic!
There’s a brewpub by our house, Redemption Alewerks, that makes crazy-good chicken wings. They smoke them first over a mix of mesquite and cherry woods, then flash fry them. They sauce them then place them over a hot flame to finish them off. My approach is similar, but I don’t always put them onto the grill at the end. They are fantastic either way, but grilling them real quick does help set the sauce.
For smoked wings that seem like they were fried, but weren’t, try my almost-fried smoked wings. Same great crunch and flavor without the oil.
I absolutely love chicken wings, cooked any way, with any sauce (or without). I love them so much that I created a free eCookbook that is full of my favorite wing recipes.
Fire up your smoker for 225 F. Use any wood you like. I used Jack Daniel's whiskey barrel chunks because I wanted a good, noticeable smoke flavor. Use a lighter wood if you want your wings to be a little less smoky.
Place the wings onto the smoker and smoke for 2 hours. No need to rotate or flip them.
When done, remove from the smoker. You can deep fry them immediately or freeze them for thawing and frying later.
To fry, heat canola oil to 350 F.
Working in batches, add the wings and fry for 1-2 minutes or until they are the desired color.
Let cool slightly. Serve tossed with your favorite sauce and your favorite dipping sauce on the side.
Optional: Toss the wings onto a hot grill for 1 minute after saucing them to set the sauce.
I’m a huge fan of spareribs trimmed St. Louis-style and smoked low-and-slow. I have to admit, my favorite part are the rib tips that come from trimming the spareribs. And that’s why, until recently, I haven’t really smoked a lot of baby back ribs, which have less fat and no tips. Well, now I cannot stop making them. This is my go-to method for making the most tender, juicy, flavor-packed baby back ribs in around 5 hours. They’re truly easy to make and are about as fool-proof as you can get, and you get the same results time after time. Don’t be afraid of the mustard on these smoked baby back ribs. It’s there to help the seasoning adhere to the ribs. Trust me, you won’t taste it a bit when the ribs are done.
So why are they called 2-2-1 ribs? Because you smoke them uncovered for 2 hours, then smoke them wrapped in foil for another 2 hours, and finally finish them off uncovered for another hour. Now, depending on the size of the ribs and the temperature of your smoker, they might be done a bit earlier or later, but a minute here or there won’t make a big difference. Just make sure they’re nice and tender before removing from the foil.
Elliott Moss’ Buxton Hall Barbecue’s Book of Smoke is one of my favorite cookbooks. It actually contains more than just recipes, much more, but the recipes are usually very easy to make and yet still fantastic. Smoked grits are about as simple as you can get, but what you do end up with are grits (and I do so love grits) with just a nice hint of smoke. Not crazy overpowering smoke, you want just a hint of it.One thing I don’t go cheap on is grits. There are a number of small grist mills in Indiana (and in fact my father-in-law once worked in the grist mill at Spring Mill State Park which still operates today here in Indiana) where you can buy freshly ground grits, but you can also find quality grits in the grocery store. My motto is: don’t buy the cheap stuff. Grits are a magical thing and being cheap with them just isn’t necessary.
I like smoking things that I haven’t smoked before, like these grits. I’ve also smoked peppercorns, which where a new thing for me too. They also came out great.
Sometimes what you think might be a mistake can end up being one of the best things that you have ever done. I ordered some pork shanks from our local butcher. My goal was to make pork wings, which are made from the shank. Well, I didn’t explain myself well and what I ended up with was a big bag of shanks that had been cut in half, which definitely weren’t going to work for pork wings. Well, a quick glance around the web and I found tons of great recipes for braising shanks, which I will do but I also found the idea of smoking them and using them in the place of smoked hocks. Now that’s an idea I can get excited about because I love hocks and beans. So I took 8 of the shanks (trust me, I have plenty more), brined them for a while and then smoked them. The end result was tender, perfectly smoky-flavored shanks that were amazing in a big pot of beans. I wouldn’t hesitate at all to get more shanks from my butcher for no other reason than to smoke them. They’ll be great this fall and winter in soups and stews. They also fit in well with my ‘no empty space on the smoker’ rule, which says if you’re going to fire up your smoker, use all available room that you have. No point in wasting smoke. Shanks are the perfect size for using up valuable smoker grate space in my opinion.
I’m not sure why I was hankerin’ for egg salad, but I was. But I figured it was time for a little twist on the ole classic, so I decided to fire up my smoker with a few charcoal briquettes and a chunk of apple wood and smoke a few eggs. I figured a little smoke flavor would really make for a special egg salad. I was right. Eggs are also a great thing to toss (er, gently of course) onto your smoker after you’ve finished smoking a pork butt, ribs, brisket or whatever, and you still have a good fire going. They take just two hours. Smoked eggs can have just a hint of smoke (use a small chunk of light wood) or a stronger smoke flavor (use hickory), but it doesn’t take much smoke so don’t overdo it.
I love smoked potatoes. Smoking them adds such a fantastic (but not overpowering) smokiness. And it’s cooler than just baking them in the oven. And since I also love sweet potatoes, why not just combine two of my favorite things? Smoked sweet potatoes are sweet (duh) and creamy, and oh so tender. To counter that sweetness just a bit I top them with a nice (also smoky) sour cream and chipotle mixture. And a little bacon for some more smokiness and a bit of crunch. Forget russet potatoes, smoked sweet potatoes are the best! Don’t have a smoker? You can use the technique for my perfect baked potato on sweet potatoes too. You won’t get all that smokiness of course, but the chipotle sour cream and bacon will help make up for that.