[CH] Smoking and other deviant pleasures

Wed, 27 May 1998 12:46:45 EDT

Judy sent in recipes:

>I was looking for tomatillo recipes and I found these in my file: 

I look forward to trying several of them. Thanks...if you're ever in the LI,
 NY area, feel free to swing by for a free day of striped bass fishing.

In regards to chile smoking, Bear wrote:

>Soak the wood in water before placing it on the coals so the 
>wood will burn slower and create more smoke.  The barbecue 
>vents should be opened only partially to allow a small 
>amount of air to enter the barbecue, thus preventing the 
>fires from burning too fast and creating too much heat.

Please indulge me for a spell. Although I've never smoked chiles (that will
 soon change) I would strongly advise against over-smoking *any* foods. Until
 recently, I used to smoke meats and wonder why they always had a very bitter
 flavor. Here's why, according to Clark "Smokey' Hale--author, publisher, and
 barbecue chef.



By Smoky Hale

<major snippage>

As more and more people are learning, meat cooked in the smoke stream of 
burning wood gets marred with all the cresols and phenols and other 
noxious volatiles which make good wood preservatives but donít taste 
very good - even to an unskilled palate. Since early time, even 
primitive man with primitive palate learned that food tastes better 
cooked over coals than over flames and smoke. 

<more snippage>

Regardless of the species of wood, too much smoke is offensive. It is 
truly amazing that those whose palates do not rebel at creosote 
contaminated meat are the same ones who claim that they can discern the 
flavor of grape leaves, wine barrel French oak, Mackintosh apple or June 
berry. Fact is that, except for a few wood species, such as hickory and 
mesquite, less that 5% of the palates in the world can tell what kind of 
wood was used to cook.

Itís time we clear the air with some facts.

Five Reasons why wood coals are superior to flaming wood for cooking:

1. Green woods are 20-40% water. This must be boiled off before the wood 
can burn. This means that BTUS (British Thermal Units - a measure of 
heat) are used to boil water rather than to cook. 

2. Dry wood still has 8-12% moisture and contains many compounds which 
must be cooked out - absorbing BTUs - before the temperature can rise.

3. As long as there are moisture and volatiles to boil out, the 
temperature cannot rise above the boiling point of the substances. 
Therefore, in order to reach broiling temperatures - 5-700 degrees - all 
the moisture and volatiles must be driven out. At that point the wood 
becomes embers/coals.

4. Successful broiling - steaks, burgers, chops - requires high radiant 
heat. Flames of burning wood do not generate radiant heat at 
temperatures as high as live embers. 

5. In the hoursí long cooking periods, such as roasting and barbecuing, 
the smoke flavor in the wood coals is more than ample. Anytime that you 
see a full plume of smoke coming out of a barbecue cooker, you know that 
the cook in making a serious error. 


So there you have it. Bottom line: get your hands on some good hardwood, burn
 them down into glowing embers, and smoke away. The smoke stream will be barely
 visible, but the flavor is outstanding. I'd be interested in reading your
 experiences with smoking.

Check out the entire web page at www.barbecuen.com. After I studied the proper
 techniques and applied them to my cooking, my smoked pork chops and beef
 briskets have been unequalled in flavor.

And thanks, George Dark, for making me laugh my ass off at work...

>forced to forgo the dynamic balance test