Smoked foods have a unique and unmistakable flavor. Smoking, the process of cooking and flavoring food by exposing it to smoke from a smoldering material, adds a smoky taste which works well with many sweet and savory foods. As the evenings begin to get longer, and the barbeque grill and smoker calls out to be used, foodies and lovers of food alike should be getting their food recipes ready in order to truly take advantage.
Why does smoked food taste so good?
There is something about smoked food which seems to tap into a primary part of our DNA. Smoked foods target the fifth taste bud – umami. Appealing to the desire for deliciousness, smoked foods provide an endorphin-releasing element which makes eating even better. It’s no wonder why smoking food has grown in popularity over the years with a pickup in BBQ competitions, forums, and websites like SmokingMeatGeeks.com.
When food is smoked it also provides two other essential elements which make enjoyable food even more pleasurable; a delicious aroma and a delectable texture. These stimuli make for an overall more sumptuous meal.
Types of food smoking:
The first thing to note is that there are two different ways to smoke food; wet smoking and dry smoking.
Wet smoking is the most common form of smoking food. Also known as water smoking, this method combines the smoke with steam from a pan of water to maintain moisture and tenderness.
Dry smoking uses a low, smoldering wood fire to indirectly cook food on a slow heat while infusing it with a strong smoked wood flavor.
Different smoked wood flavors:
The type of wood used when smoking food will affect the flavor. Try using different woods to add distinct flavors and varying levels of smokiness to your meal. Mild and sweet tones can be achieved by burning alder or maple wood chips. For fruity tones, choose an apple or peach wood. A strong smoked flavor can be achieved with hickory, ideal for nuts and capers.
Best foods to smoke on a grill or smoker:
Poultry: Poultry, especially chicken, locks in the smoky flavor very well, so is a perfect starter option if smoking food for the first time.
Pork: Being particularly fatty, pork provides a self-basting factor which works well when slowly smoked at a low temperature.