Bring Your BBQ Back to Life This Winter
It’s getting colder and you may be thinking it’s that time of year to hang up the tongs and forget about the barbecue until next summer. However, there’s no need for your barbecue to hibernate this winter. The cooler temperatures at this time of year are perfect for cold smoking. I’m going to show you how easy and inexpensive it is to create delicious smoked food simply by using your barbecue as a smoker.
What Type of Barbecue Will I Need?
A smoker is simply any suitable enclosed container that can be used to smoke food. Usually a smoker has a draught intake and is top vented to allow the flow of smoke to fill the chamber and pass freely over the food and then escape. This means that a disposable barbecue is not going to be suitable, however most barbecues now come with a lid and a vent such as a kettle barbecue.
When lit the Smoke Genies will raise the internal temperature of your barbecue slightly. The larger barbecues are much better for cold smoking. Their larger volume allows them to run cooler whereas the smaller ones can get too hot and ruin your food. Really, any good sized barbecue that has a lid and vent can be used as a smoker to get you smoking!
What Else Will I Need?
You will need a pack of Smoke Genies and a disposable foil (or other suitable tray) to place them on.
It’s important when cold smoking you keep the temperature between 5°C and 30°C. Near zero and below and the flavour particles of the smoke will not penetrate the food and if you go above thirty degrees then the food will spoil. Cheese is best smoked below 25°C.
Most barbecues will come with a thermometer, however, their scale is normally designed to read the higher temperature range associated with grilling. An inexpensive milk thermometer that has a suitable temperature range can be used to give a more accurate reading. This can be placed on the grill beside the food or alternatively be inserted through the vent at the top.
How Do I Prepare My Barbecue?
Thoroughly clean your barbecue and grill as this is where the food will be placed. A Brillo and warm soapy water will do the trick. Investing in an extra grill for your barbecue is a good idea if you get into smoking food, one can be used for grilling and the other for cold smoking.
Where Should I Position My Barbecue?
Normally, your barbecue will be positioned in a sunny spot of your garden where, if like me, you can enjoy a beer in the sunshine while you cook. It’s important to position your barbecue in the shade and out of direct sunlight. It’s surprising how a small flash of sunlight can raise the internal temperature of the barbecue above 30°C and spoil your food. Even on an overcast day, make sure that your barbecue is still placed in the shade as the sun’s heat can penetrate the clouds.
Keep your barbecue sheltered from the wind as much as possible to prevent the wind blowing into the vents and backing up or blocking the free flow of smoke which can result in bitter tasting food.
For best results, smoke food in calm, cool and dry conditions. In light winds turn the draught and vent holes away from prevailing wind.
How Do I Smoke My Food?
Most foods require curing prior to smoking to inhibit bacterial growth and may need further cooking afterwards. Cheese, for example, is already cured and can be smoked straight away. Check out the Smoke Genie recipes page that demonstrate the curing and cooking steps accordingly. All recipes can be smoked on your barbecue.
Simply lift the grill and place your foil tray at the base of the barbecue. Setup your chain of desired Smoke Genies on top of the tray.
If you have room and there isn’t much clearance between the grill and the base of the barbecue then it’s best to position the tray and Smoke Genies off to one side to reduce the possibility of direct heat underneath the food.
If you are using a gas barbecue ensure the gas is switched off or disconnected. Simply light the Smoke Genies and replace the grill. Place your cured food to be smoked on the grill on the opposite side of the Smoke Genies. Get the barbecue lid on and fully open top vent. You should see a steady flow of smoke now coming out the vent - that’s all there is to it, you’re now smoking!
I hope this has inspired you to create your own smoked dishes simply and easily, and without the fuss or expense. This month I will be focusing on cold smoking recipes using only the barbecue. I encourage you to join in and get smoking with me. Feel free to post any questions or pictures of your barbecue smoking adventures below.