With the temps warming up, it is most certainly time to get mouths a-watering for barbecue season. Whether gas or charcoal, most of us have a backyard grill, but a dedicated smoker can be a luxury. They take up space, can cost a lot, and while they make sense for true smoked food fans, might not be necessary for the average grill fan.
In fact, they're not necessary at all. Cause with a little creativity and DIY ingenuity, you can turn the grill you already own in a smoker that can turn out tender, fall apart food fused with the flavor of fire.
Making great tasting ribs is certainly a little more involved than grilling a great tasting steak or burger, but that doesn’t mean it has to be difficult. The concern for most people is that this is a task better left to professional pitmasters or your local paper-towel-on-the-table BBQ joint. So many of us are just afraid of messing it up.
But here's the good news: you won't. As long as you understand that ribs are a working muscle and become their best selves with the use of low and slow heat. You can do this with any grill. Literally - any. grill. You don't need a dedicated smoker, and you can even finish the project in your oven if you'd like.
Looking to add a little of the "roasting on open fire" flavor to some of your seasonal libations? Check out this cool technique for making smoked cocktail garnishes to add some toasty, earthy notes to your drinks.
Need another drink to warm you up like you're sitting by a campfire, but you're actually stuck inside cause it's freaking freezing out? Check out ManMade's very own rosemary and smoke infused cocktail!
If you've ever watched an old school pitmaster, or read a single book or recipe on slow smoking and barbecue technique, you're no doubt familiar with "the mop." It's a flavorful combo of liquids that gets regularly added during a slow cook to help aid smoke absorption and the creation of a great bark.
Some will add the mop with a spray bottle, but the mop, the liquid ingredient, comes, of course, from its application - an actual mop.
With all of its magical texture and immensely satisfying combo of flavors, it's easy to think that bacon is made of nothing but little fairy tickles and stuff on the other side of rainbows. But the ingredients list is amazing simple, and the technique pretty basic.
All of which means, of course, that you can make it at home.
A countertop cold smoking machine is a great way to add a depth of grilled or barbecued-style flavor to a simple weeknight meal, or to up the excitement of a standard cocktail or a less-expensive dram of whiskey. They're easy to use, relatively small to store, and really can bring a different level to simple plate of roasted vegetables or pan-seared protein, especially in the dead of winter.
Made from an affordable 55-gallon steel drum and some easy-to-find parts from the home improvement store, this DIY smoker can produce excellent results, and unlike many DIY grilling projects you'll find online, doesn't require a welder or advanced metal working skills.
In my line o' work, I'm lucky to come across hundreds of creative DIY projects and ideas each week, and I'm always inspired. But every once in a while, I discover a truly clever project that reminds me why I do this work in the first place, and gets my DIY heart all aflutter. This is one of them.
For centuries, burning wood and tinder were basically the only means of cooking food (and heating one's home, and boiling water, and all sorts of other stuff.) The wood served as fuel, generating heat, thereby turning raw ingredients into completed dishes.
Some anthropologists argue that just one dominant feature separates humans from the rest of the animal kingdom: we use fire and heat to cook our food. Like salt, smoking has long been a means of preserving food, and over time, we've learned that it also tastes pretty awesome as well. Those flavors are why we're still willing to use the grill and light fires when we have access to electric heating elements: the taste just can't be matched.
Many drinks and spirits come with smoky qualities - lots of teas, coffee, beer, and whiskeys. But you can also smoke entire cocktails or mixed drinks to add a whole other level of flavor and complexity. As my friend Mike remarked after trying one of my smoked Old Fashioneds, "I don't know if I can ever drink a regular one again."