Last year around this time I had a little throw down with another blogger that was also sponsored Johnsonville (click). No throw downs this year so I would like to give you some new condiments to work onto some of those fantastic Johnsonville dogs.
I’ve been smoking a lot of things lately. I used to work at a restaurant and my station was located right above the smoker so two times a day I would get blasted with a ton of Alderwood smoke in my face which made not such a big fan of smoking… I don’t work there anymore and on a small level I missed that smell of smoke so I set up my grill at home to do some smoking.
Setting up a grill to smoke is easy. The first thing you want to do is stay away from any gas powered grill…it’s not worth your time and the results you will get will not be as good as a grill that’s set up to do charcoal. If you already have a smoking machine like this (click) then just use that…….(one day it will be mine)…..control is what you want (temperature & smoke time) and this is the best way to smoke something. I just don’t think a lot of people have $400+ sitting around to buy a smoker so I’m going to show you an inexpensive way to do this.
Go buy some wood chips. There are tons of types of wood chips out there….mesquite, apple wood, cedar, cherry wood, etc. I like the sweeter smelling woods rather than the standard alderwood or mesquite…..so my choice is normally apple wood or cherry wood. While you’re not going to be able to impart much flavor with these it’s important to just remember all you want to do is build another level of flavor to your food….think wine.
When setting up a charcoal grill to smoke just remember you won’t be able to do many larger cut proteins in the “smoker” because the burn times on wood chips just won’t allow a proper ring to develop in a larger piece of protein…..so doing a 15lb. apple wood smoked rock salt crusted prime rib isn’t a good choice….this is a job for the dream smoker I mentioned above. Also, when doing this type of smoking the temperature achieved through smoking won’t be enough to cook most food because once again the time of burn from the chips….You’ll get to 220-240F but for about 10-15 but the rest of the time is devoted to putting more chips in and opening and closing the top…..this is a no-g0 so think small. If you can get it much hotter than that temperature then congrats…..you’re doing it wrong.
A cheap experiment is salt and pepper. Take some freshly ground black pepper (large and coarse grind) and some kosher salt and place them in stainless steel bowls. Get the smoker ready then place the bowls in the smoker. 10 minutes later…..smoked salt and smoked black pepper! Wow, that was easy….right? If it’s not then do it more than once and it will become easier….that’s what cooking is all about. (That crust that develops on top of the salt is your “smoke ring”. Mix it into the rest of the salt and that will flavor the rest of the salt)
Last weekend I was at the Farmer’s Market and there was a sale on bruised heirloom tomatoes. I jumped on this and said, “these will be great for sauce who cares if they’re bruised”. My sauce would become a ketchup-like sauce that I swear by.
Place a little extra virgin olive oil with about 3 pounds of heirloom tomatoes and a little smoked black pepper and smoked salt into a bowl. Get your smoker ready then place bowl in your smoker for about 15 minutes or about as long as the chips will burn for (sometimes you can get 20 if you have a little wind blowing around). In a sauce pan saute some white onion, garlic, and carrots in a pan along with some crushed red pepper. Remove the bowl from the smoker then take inside and place contents into the sauce pan on the stove at very low heat. Season with fresh oregano, fennel, pimenton dulce, and salt and pepper if needed. Puree this and strain then bring back to the stove in the sauce pan. Slowly reduce until a ketchup-like consistency is achieved or you can be lazy and just add cornstarch to thicken the sauce….whatever floats your boat…..or you could reduce then thicken with agar like I did and just be crazy! (Side note: Don’t throw away the remaining ingredients in the strainer from the puree. You can spread them out on a silpat then cook them at very low heat in the oven….let it cool….place it in a spice grinder and now you have a smoked tomato powder…..dip the glass of a bloody mary into that powder and take all the credit for being awesome at your next party).
These are pickled mustard seeds and while I won’t tell you how to make them exactly I will say that smoking them then making a puree of them then throwing them into a French mayonnaise (click) just might be one of the best things out there. Put it on a Johnsonville dog and you’re set!
“Eric I don’t want to smoke anything….any ideas?!?!?!”
Yes! It’s going to take time but it’s totally worth it!
It’s a little bowl of amazing. A few months ago I read something about Thomas Keller and there was a recipe for his French Onion soup. What I took away from it is that he caramelizes his onions for about 5 hours before building the soup. That’s an enormous amount of time and after trying it a few times I swear by it.
The picture of it shows a little bowl of Walla Walla Sweet Onions that I caramelized. Your yield will be small…..I used 4 large onions totalling 4 pounds and I was left with around a cup of caramelized onions. I have taken Thomas Keller’s idea and spun it into an idea of my own!
At around the 2 1/2 hour mark I add PX S’Orange (Pedro Ximenez Sherry that has been infused with orange peels for over a year) then let that reduce over the last 2 1/2 hours to give a nice sherry/orange/caramelized onion flavor. Use this on your next Johnsonville dog with a little bit of that smoked heirloom tomato sauce and you’ll be the star of the party.
Johnsonville is having a video contest and the first 50 people that submit videos to the contest will receive free Johnsonville products. They’re also having a $2500 cash giveaway (click). If you like money and free stuff then this is your day!! This Week’s Johnsonville GRILLVILLE Secret Code Word is “Sausage”
Go grill something with Johnsonville!