Summer is upon us! For many of you that means lots and lots of grilling and/or camping. One of the exciting aspects of grilling is the different ways that you can prepare food. You can use dutch ovens, skewers, foil packs, new-fangled cooking tools that probably cost way-to-much, or simply throw the food on a hot rack and call it a day. Each way has its own benefits and rewards.
There is also the aspect of flavoring when it comes to grilling. Marinades can make or break a grilled meal, so it is important to keep this mind since a long marinade is much better than a last-minute, “oops I forgot” twenty-minute marinade. Slow and easy is the key.
For an culinary adventurer like myself, I wanted to try using hickory wood chips to flavor some chicken over Memorial Day weekend camping. I originally bought the set from World Market. It came with a metal black box and the chips. The instructions said to soak the chips for an hour, put them in the metal box, and then set the box on hot coals. Seemed simple enough. And, it failed miserably with the wood chips catching on fire shortly after placing the box on the coals…
So the dang chips sat in our camping bin for two years without being touched due to my disappointment with the first attempt. Yes, I am a sore loser. I also hate wasting space and effort, so when I did the inventory of the camping gear earlier this year I decided that I must use the wood chips or they would be sacrificed to the next campfire.
Thankfully, one of my favorite cooking books, Preserved by Nick Sandler and Johnny Acton, came to the rescue. I HIGHLY recommend this book for anyone considering smoking, sun-drying, or canning more exotic foods as it is a wealth of information on the topic.
The book covered a wide variety of topics for preserving and also goes into detail about smoking food. From there, I learned that you should soak the wood chips for at least four hours. And, a plate or something should be set on top of the chips in the soaking bowl so all of the chips are completely submerged. This is very important! The chips should look and feel thoroughly soaked when all is said and done.
And the book also mentioned that the easiest way to smoke the wood chips is in a foil pack with some holes in the top and bottom. The stupid metal box went into the recycling and I proceeded to do this the right way.
The result was perfect! The wood chips smoked the entire time we were grilling and then still smoked the next morning when we made breakfast. Who knew that smoked eggs could be so tasty?