Tag Archives: Weber

How to Smoke Cheese on Your BBQ (and win friends and influence people)

Cheddar, Mozzarella and Pecorino– all warm and smokey.

Where’s there’s smoke there’s a woman who smells like a campfire.  That woman was me as I tried smoking cheese for the first time this past June.  Armed with a 30W smoldering iron, a tin can, hardwood chips and my Weber I was ready to MacGyver it up.  The Spread article about the experience will also tell you everything you need to know.  (Including how I struggled through a hurricane-like storm to achieve my lofty goal…..a smoked cheese burger).  But it did not include pictures of how this simple technique will make you look like a culinary superstar.

So here, with visuals, is the step by step.

STEP 1: Remove the label from your can. Now open the top with a can-opener about 2/3 of the way around. Bend back the lid and remove the contents (save for later). Rinse out the can.

STEP 2: Using a triangular can opener, make a hole in the centre of the opened lid of the can (where it’s still attached). It can be hard to get the right leverage so I put a pen under the open part of the lid to prop it up. Make a hole (vent) in the bottom, too.

STEP 3: Fill the can with wood chips. Fruit wood is a good choice because it gives a sweeter, milder note (mesquite chips can be overpowering for cheese).  Home Hardware has them.

Yes, this is the uncleaned bottom of my Kettle BBQ.

STEP 4: Insert the soldering iron all the way into the triangular hole in the top, where the lid is hinged. (I had to make the hole bigger.) Place the can with the soldering iron at the bottom of your grill (where the coals or flame would usually be). You want the iron lying on the bottom of the grill – so the chips in the can fall on top of it. Replace the top grate, close the lid. Plug in the soldering iron (you may need an extension cord). Its heat will cause the chips to smoulder but not catch fire. The barbecue should be filling with smoke in about 15 minutes.

STEP 5: I smoked cheese on my Kettle grill (above) and on our gas BBQ and it worked perfectly both ways.  Lay a piece on foil on the grill and lay your cheese on top. Close the grill.

I used three cheeses: Balderson 3-year-old cheddar, Pecorino Romano and half a ball of mozzarella (regular, not fresh). Check after 30 minutes to gauge how much smoke flavour you like; bigger hunks of cheese will take longer.   Flip the cheese half-way through the smoking to expose all the surfaces.

There they are on the gas BBQ. Happy as can be.

STEP 6: Remove the cheese and let it come to room temperature. If moisture has beaded up on the surface, dab it with paper towel. Wrap the cheese and refrigerate overnight (or at least a few hours) to let the flavours settle. The cheese will be slightly golden but not intensely dark.

After a bit of troubleshooting, the results were amazing. The cheddar was flavoured with the sweet, fruity smoke (I will be melting it on nachos). The Pecorino was also satisfying – the smoke was a nice match to the sweet/salty notes of the cheese. The mozzarella, which had a denser exterior, took on the mildest flavour, but would add perfect, subtle smoky notes to a pizza.

TIPS WHEN BUYING YOUR SOLDERING IRON:

Use a soldering iron with a cord. I bought a cordless version that stayed on only while your finger was pressing the button – back to the store for me. No amount of duct tape would make it stay down.  Honest.

Also, even if you have a soldering iron, you want to buy a new, clean one to use with the food.   THE SOURCE has them.

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Ribs as Fast Food–when it’s Tuesday night and you’re panicking

Quick ribs with baby new potatoes (dill and olive oil) and arugula salad.

I love ribs.  You love ribs.  We all love ribs.  Last time I made them (last summer) we ate at 10:30 at night.  I thanked the rib-Gods that the guests I had invited over for my homemade smoked ribs had cancelled last-minute.  Whatever they ended up doing was probably more fun than politely pretending, “oh no, this bag of chips with salsa is totally filling us up until the moon comes out, a wolf howls and your Weber grill spits out its slow-cooked creation.”

But–I will say the ribs kicked ass.

Still, I was curious (as a rib craver) to try a new product from Mastro.  They held a tasting at St. Lawrence market in June and I got to take home some of their prepackaged ribs.  Ready in just 15 minutes!

I finally pulled them out a few nights ago when I came home to a starving family and not a minute to spare before we settled on  a meal of Triscuits and some old mum-mums from Felix’s teething days.

My hesitance with the pre-cooked ribs is kind of a guilt/snobby/ foodie annoying thing.  Ribs should be made with a secret sauce, over a smoky charcoal grill, basted at regular intervals, internal temperature monitored, sweat wiped from the brow, anticipation building…..yada yada yada.

But–when it came down to a meal of ribs or a meal of stale carbs, I chose ribs.  I opened the package, popped them on a cookie sheet (on foil) and baked for 15-17 minutes, flipping them halfway.  You can also heat them on the grill (which is where you put them 5 minutes before guests arrive and then fake some perspiration on the brow I imagine).

The ribs were great.  I tried the balsamic and fig (my fave) and spicy fire-roasted tomato (had a good hit of spice) — there is also a roasted garlic and tomato flavour.

They are about $14.99 and I think could serve 4 people–or 2 super hungry people.

So, I’m passing on the info, you can decide for yourself if it’s possible to come terms with pre-packaged ribs. I think I would have to make my own on a weekend or if friends came over (dury calls and all that) but let me tell you, in a pinch?  Hit the spot and timeline.

Enjoyed with a little of this.  I must admit the bottle came in my gift bag from the tasting event, but I keep a couple of these bottles around for some weeknight sipping so I was pretty content with the match.

Ascheri BARBERA D’ALBA 2008

Here is a bit more info from the company about ingredients and make-process:

Mastro starts with lean, top-quality pork ribs, seasons them with Italian herbs and spices, individually oven-cooks them, and then smokes them over hardwood hickory.

The ribs are always shipped to your grocery store fresh, never frozen. You don’t have to thaw them – don’t have to pre-cook them – and don’t have to sauce them.  They are available at Sobeys, Metro, Royal Canadian Super Centres, and No Frills.

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Thanks for the ribs Pete Watson

Man, my camera was so sticky.

Nothing grilled, nothing gained as they say.  Five years after Pete Watson and his wife Lara gave us a Weber kettle grill for a wedding gift we finally made ribs on it. What idiots we were to deny ourselves the pleasures of grilling ribs on charcoal for sheer procrastination.

But we have gained, oh yes, we have gained.  Sticky fingers, kind of sexy, smoky smelling hair and the most envious aroma of deliciousness coming from any backyard in the neighborhood.   If only I had begun the process in the early afternoon as I declared I would, we could have actually had the ribs for dinner rather than the cold pizza we half-heartedly choked down waiting until the ribs were fall-off-the-bone tender at 11pm.

Here is our talented little grill pre-show.

The kettle potential.

And then I bought myself some apple wood chips and though I could not get a coal chimney (sold out) I got some quick burning coal starter things which were quite effective as long I did not let my thought wander to the substances that made them so quick-burning.

My indirect heat set-up is almost ready.

I have the coals on one side and a drip-pan filled with water on the right.  I put a stainless steel box of soaked applewood chips on the coals just before I added the top grate and the the lid.

Ribs: rubbed, rested and ready.

Two racks of baby back ribs, about 2 lbs each.  I put a dry rub on them and left them for an hour at room temperature.  The rub had sweet paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, dry mustard, celery seed, fresh back pepper and chili powder.  The recipe (BBQ Back ribs with Sweet and Sticky Sauce) came from the Saveur BBQ Issue (I know, what else, right?  I will branch out one day but once again not only were the magazine’s recipes lipsmacking but the stories of BBQ, coleslaw, baked beans, coals, tradition and rivalry were addicitive too!)

And while the ribs cooked between 225 F-250 F over 3 hrs  ( I actually found it hard to keep the heat below 300 F even adjusting the vents as much as I could) I made the sauce.  Honey, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, worcestershire, hot sauce, cloves……MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMessy.

Served with coleslaw and napkins.

And finally at 11pm, with the grill lit from the soft glow coming through the back door of the kitchen, I was able to pull off  shreds of the crispy rib-ends that were slowly caramelizing from their recent basting in sticky sauce.  And I ate them greedily, slightly out of site of my husband before he next opened the door to ask, “are they done yet?”.  And they were good.  Sigh with pleasure good.

Like Angelina Jolie, I am now a Pitt master.

And that’s why I want to thank you Pete Watson.

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