Got patience? Soak some chips, fire up the smoker

Friday, June 24, 2011, Vol. 35, No. 25

A smokin’ hot summer!

Well, if you have read my column much you know how I love to grill outside. It always does – and I guess always will – remind me of the times that my family would go camping and cook everything over a grill. I treasure those memories.

I used to have a smoker, but as I have gotten older (just a bit) and want things to get done faster, I have given it to a friend of mine. However, smoking food is a lot of fun and you get one delicious meal! With some planning, you can prepare the whole meal in the smoker.

I was sent a “press release” (which I usually just ignore), but this one caught my eye because of the content – smoking meats and veggies on an outdoor smoker. I have not included the entire release due to my limited amount of space, but you can go to the Web site to get more tips. I did pick out the ones I thought were the best.

“20 Summer Smoking Cooking Tips” from John McLemore’s DADGUM That’s Good!:

1. When smoking with gas or charcoal, it is best to soak the wood chips, which allows for longer smoke time. However, if smoking with an electric smoker, don’t soak the wood chips.

2. Season a new smoker before your first meal. Fill the wood chip tray with a handful of wood chips, set the smoker to the highest temp setting, open the air vents and allow it to smoke for about two hours. Add wood chips twice during this time.

3. When smoking, if internal food temperatures get close to the desired target early, you can wrap the food in aluminum foil to retain moisture. Reduce the smoker temperature until mealtime.

4. The most commonly used chips are hickory and mesquite, which are in most grocery stores. If you want to try something different, look for apple or pecan wood chips, which add a unique, milder smoked flavor.

5. Smoking is great for all types of vegetables and some fruits.

6. Baby back ribs are great if you’re smoking for the first time. They’re the most tender and cook faster than spare ribs. For wet ribs, apply your BBQ sauce and wrap with aluminum foil during the last hour of smoking. For dry ribs, use your favorite dry-rub seasoning.

7. Smoked Burgers: Use meat that’s 80 percent lean. For safety’s sake, turn your smoker up to 275 degrees F. before you start smoking, then bring it down to 225 degrees. When internal temperature is 160 degrees F, your burgers are done.

8. Instead of grilling ordinary hot dogs, smoke some brats.

9. Cabbage: You can use either Savoy or red cabbage. This is a great side dish to serve with ribs. Put it in the smoker along with the ribs and they’ll be ready at the same time.

10. Corn on the Cob: Before smoking, prepare the corn by pulling back the husks. Remove the silk, but not the husks. Place the ears in water and let soak for two hours.

11. Turkey Burgers: Add a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce or your favorite steak sauce for a great flavor.

12. Leg of Lamb: Ask your butcher to butterfly the meat for you, so you get a thinner piece of meat, which shortens the cooking time.

13. Chicken thighs: Choose the bone-in (it reduces the shrinkage and helps to retain moisture).

15. Pork Tenderloins with peanut butter. Peanut butter? Yes, it adds a deliciously nutty flavor that complements the pork.

For more smoking tips and recipes, visit

Bean Dip with Horseradish

2 cups cooked beans (cannellini, pinto or Great Northern)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon prepared horseradish

2 scallions, minced

Salt to taste

Combine everything except salt in a food processor and blend until smooth, adding a little water if necessary. Season with salt to taste. Serve with Pita Chips.