This piece originally aired on February 10, 2017.
When most of us think of smoked foods we think of traditional barbecue pits with roaring fires creating smoke and heat to slowly cook things like pork shoulder or brisket.
But for years smoking food wasn’t just about who had the best ribs on the block; instead it was about preserving meats and other foods so they could be consumed safely before they would spoil.
This technique is what is considered cold smoking--when smoke that is between 68º and 86º Fahrenheit is used to add to the curing process of meat -- and it is by far one of the oldest cooking techniques on the planet and has been part of food processing and production for thousands and thousands of years, going back to the days of cavemen.
But these days we don’t have a real need for curing large cuts of meat at home in a salt pack and then cold smoking them for preservation. Most of the time we simply purchase cured foods like bacon, pastrami and other deli meat because it’s simpler to run to the store and pick up a half pound of whatever we feel like eating that week. Which is a shame, because cold smoking is a fantastic way to add amazing flavor to all sorts of food, from cheese to nuts to salt and even ice cream.
On this episode of Cooking with Fire, Chef Tom and I break down a history of cold-smoked foods and then give you some simple tips for cold smoking on your grill at home.
- Place your cheese of choice inside the cooking chamber of your grill. If you have a grill with a fan, turn the fan on, but do not light a fire. If your grill does not have a fan, place a small battery operated fan in the chamber to create a draft.
- Place a smoke tube or wood chip box in the grill. Light the pellets or chips on fire with a torch. Allow them to smolder. It is best to NOT soak your wood chips. Soaked chips create white acrid smoke that will taste bitter. Cold smoke the cheese for 2-3 hours.
- Remove the cheese from the chamber. Place in the refrigerator uncovered until chilled. Transfer to a vacuum seal bag. Vacuum seal the bag and return to the refrigerator. Let rest one week to mellow the smoke flavor. After one week, the cheese is ready to eat.