How to Get Smoky Flavors without Firing Up the Grill
The fall weather is definitely here, which means the days of summer barbeques and nights at the tiki bar are behind us for a while. But you don’t have to take those flame-broiled steaks and smoky chicken off your menu just yet. We’ve compiled a list of ways you can bring the grilled flavors of summer to your cold weather menu.
Indoor Smokers and Smokehouses
If a majority of your menu revolves around barbequed food, you may want to invest in an indoor smoker or smokehouse to prepare your dishes in the colder months. These ovens use wood chips that have been soaked in water in the same oven as your meats, so the smoke from the wood infuses your pork, chicken, or beef as they’re cooking.
Bacon, as we all know, comes in many different styles and can be used in many different recipes. Bacon that’s prepared by smoking will transfer that flavor to whatever you use it in, whether it’s Brussels sprouts or cupcakes. Keep in mind, some bacon recipes taste better with smoky flavors than others.
Liquid smoke is one of the simplest ways to add pure, smoke flavor to your foods. It’s often used as a rub, marinade, or ingredient while preparing soft cheeses, bacon, jerky, tofu, and many other foods. Liquid smoke is made by burning wood chips and then quickly condensing and cooling the smoke.
Lapsang Souchong Tea
A common way to get a rich, smoky flavor associated with the grill is using ground lapsang souchong tea leaves. Lapsang souchong is often used to flavor vegetarian dishes, since it’s said to give a meaty, umami richness to foods without actually using meat.
This black tea originated in China and is known by some as the first tea in history. Its smoky flavor comes from the unique drying process used to prepare it for market. In order to keep up with increasing demand, the leaves were dried over pine wood fires, giving them their distinctive taste.
While molasses is best known as a baking ingredient, it is also used in many savory dishes to add a sweet and smoky flavor. Summertime foods like baked beans and barbeque sauce often contain this sweet substance to give them their signature taste. By using it in these and other savory sauces and dishes, you can achieve the delicious, smoky taste associated with these foods.
Smoked Salts and Spices
Chances are, you already use salts, herbs, and spices to flavor dishes. Some spices, like cumin and paprika, are commonly smoked to add another dimension to your foods. You can purchase spices that come pre-packaged with extra flavor, or you can smoke them yourself for a fresh-from-the-kitchen feel that your customers will love.
It may be a bit too cold outside to use your grill, but that doesn’t mean you can’t serve delicious, barbequed food. There are a number of different means of achieving distinctive, smoky flavors in your dishes, from ingredients and spices to new equipment and cooking methods. With so many options for achieving BBQ-like results indoors, the temperature outside doesn't need to limit the delicious flavors you offer your customers.