Category Archives: Smokers & Wood Chips

BURNING PAPER

As I’ve probably mentioned in one of my earlier posts, I love German brand Axtschlag because of it’s wide selection of artisanal smoking wood and quirky packaging. Most brands offer the basic woodchip varieties – Hickory, cherry, apple and the like. But Axtschlag range extends to more unusual flavours like Plum, Wine, Beer, Walnut, Beech – just to name a few. What’s even more interesting are the kinds of wood products they offer like grilling papers, wood chunks, herb boxes and grilling planks.

Here’s a fun little thing I tried over the weekend – Axtschlag Barbecue Grilling Papers.

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What exactly are Grilling Papers? They’re basically thin pieces of wood that you can wrap your food around and smoke.

Here, you can see that I’ve stretched out some chicken wings and wrapped them neatly in the grilling paper. It’s pretty simple to use.

First, you soak the paper in water for about 30 minutes. While waiting, marinate the wings. I used a little salt and honey. Once the grill papers have softened up enough, you can wrap them around the meat and tie it up with the string provided (you will need scissors for this).

Next, place the food on the grill. On a 3 burner BBQ with 6 wings, I turned on 2 burners at medium heat. These are thin so they catch fire very easily – you’ll have to watch them closely and swap them around the less hot areas of the BBQ to prevent them from getting burnt.IMG_9363

Don’t worry too much about the strings burning off, as the wood will stay in place.

The end result will be something like this:

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As with most smoking, you’ll get a very juicy and tender inside and a lovely flavour of wood infused into the meat. These cook pretty fast, so the flavour of the wood isn’t too intense. Overall, I think my favourite smoking method is still using the grilling planks – it’s a lot easier to handle and the size of the meat that you’re smoking doesn’t matter.

Axtschlag grilling papers are available from Liberty Patio at $18 for a pack of 8 sheet. Available in Cherry, Alder and Western Red Cedar.

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HICKORY & CEDAR: A BOLD BLEND

 

I’ve been grilling every single day now – it’s not just the BBQ parties I’ve been throwing – I mean, I’ve been coming home and turning the grill on like it’s instinctive or embedded in my brain to do it. I like to call it the “December Feels” – where you just gotta party like a boss, every day until New Year’s.

Anyway, I know it’s already the 29th, but let’s backtrack a little to Christmas. I had a special request from my dad to smoke an entire chicken on the grill. I’ve never done a whole chicken before, but…

Challenge Accepted!

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I call this dish – The Bold Blend
In one of my earlier posts, I discussed the different types of smoking wood. Hickory is usually used for red meats, and Cedar usually for fish – but I decided to put them together to see what I could get.

Since Hickory is the stronger flavour, I used the Hickory in a smoker cup, and placed it away from the chicken, and placed the chicken between the 2 XL cedar planks, so the smoke from the planks would be more concentrated around the meat.

While smoking, the wood gave off such a strong scent. My cousins who had just walked into the garden commented that it smelled like Canada. I have to agree.

The outcome of this process gives you a distinct smokey flavour on the epidermis of the chicken, while the inside is absolutely tender and juicy. I only smoked this for about 50 minutes, but I reckon if you smoked it a bit longer than that with just a smoker cup, and basted it every hour, you could get a more thorough flavor throughout the chicken.

Here are the Ingredients you’ll need:

  1. 1 whole chicken (cleaned out inside)
  2. Butt Rub (I use Bad Byron’s, but you can find similar seasoning from the Butcher’s Dog. The base ingredients of this rub is onion, garlic, salt, pepper, paprika and chipotle)
  3. Coarse Sea Salt

Here are the smoking accessories you’ll need:

  1. 1 cup of Hickory Wood Chips (I used a full Axtschlag Smoker Cup)
  2. 1 Smoker Box (Or smoker cup / smoker tube)
  3. 2 x XL Axtschlag Western Red Cedar Grilling Planks

First things first. Soak the wood chips in water for an hour and place them in the smoker cup. I also soaked the 2 grilling planks for the same amount of time.

I used the latest smoker cup from German brand, Axtschlag. It’s wonderfully solid – 304 stainless steel and is made in Germany. Definitely NOT a buy and throw away kind of item.

After the wood has soaked, prop the chicken in between the 2 grilling planks and start rubbing the chicken all around with coarse sea salt and butt rub. Use enough to cover the whole chicken and leaving some on the grilling planks too.

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Place the smoker cup between the grill and the sear plate, on the far end of the fire box, and just above a burner. Place the grilling planks at first, closer to the middle of the cooking surface. Switch the burners on the side of the smoker cup on, as well as the middle burner (this is based on a 3 burner BBQ – here, I am using a Napoleon LEX485).

Once burners are on (medium to high heat), close the hood and allow the wood to start smoking. Turn the fire down to low-medium, and If the grilling planks catch fire and the fire is really big, shift them to the other side of the grill without the fire.

close the hood and wait for about 45 mins – 1 hour, checking on the meat once in a while, flipping it over at about 30 mins into the smoking process – cook until golden brown.

Enjoy!

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Smoking the Right Flavour

I’m a big fan of using wood while barbecuing. Wood chips and grilling planks are great for BBQs because while they have their own individual flavours, you still get that beautiful smokey taste (which is kind of the point of smoking anything IMO).

Napoleon recently brought in their full range of wood chips and grilling planks into Singapore, and here’s our take on the flavour pairings:

Hickory
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Aptly nicknamed the “King of Smoking Woods”, Hickory wood chips are the most commonly used wood for smoking. With its sweet to strong, heavy bacon taste, this wood chips flavour goes perfectly with all meats – pork in particular. The bold flavour that it produces is often linked to Southern BBQ.

This flavour does tend to get bitter, so I recommend soaking it for longer than the other woods; 1 – 2 hours should suffice. Soak it in beer, bourbon, and even Coke.

Mesquite
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The bold, sweet and earthy flavour of mesquite is in line with the tastes of the southwest. This wood comes from the south of USA and Mexico, and its flavour is a little lighter than hickory. Pair this wood with meats like beef, pork, duck or lamb.

Whiskey Barrel Oak
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Made from recycled whiskey barrels, the whiskey barrel wood chips have a hint of aged whiskey when smoking. While it is bold, it is also not too strong at the same time. It is perfect for meats like beef and lamb. Soak these wood chips in juices like grape or orange, or even merlot and sauvignon.

Apple
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Apple wood chips have the strongest flavour out of all the fruit wood chips. It has a mild fruity flavour that’s a little bit sweet. While very versatile with pairings, it is best used with seafood (especially fatty fish like salmon) and pork. You can also use it to smoke fruits and vegetables too. Soak them for a minimum of 30 minutes in water, wine, or even juice. Great to serve with a side of apple chutney.
Cherry
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Said to be the best wood for smoking, the mild and fruity flavour of the cherry wood chips are best for smoking most meats like beef, venison, pork and poultry. It also pairs well with fruits and vegetables. It is also one of the best woods for mixing with other woods.

The flavour is a little sour and acidic, and sometimes can even be bitter. But overall light and fruity, and works well when soaked in cider, apple or pineapple juice, or wine.


Maple
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Made from the sugar maple tree, this unique flavour is a little sweet and great for mixing with other wood flavours, in particular, hickory and apple. It is great for smoking a pork roast, ham and bacon, and cheese and vegetables because of its light and balanced flavour.

Smoker Pipe
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After soaking your wood chips, remove them from the liquid and insert them in the Napoleon smoker pipe. Place pipe directly on the sear plates of your gas grill. When the wood chips start to smoke, place the food on the grill and shut the hood. Then keep the hood closed to keep the smoke inside, this helps give the food the best smokey flavour.

Cedar & Maple Grilling Planks

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Napoleon Grilling Planks come in two flavours – cedar and maple. They are sold as individual pieces, so at $12.50, instead of in pairs like other brands (such as Axtschlag). They are also thicker, so they tend to last longer. These planks are great with salmon and chicken wings. I allow the edges to catch fire a little before shifting them to the side of the grill that hasn’t been lit. It’ll start to smoke, and I’ll close the hood and keep it smoking for about 15- 20 minutes.

All wood chips, smoker pipes and grilling planks are available from $12.50. Purchase them from Liberty Patio or from Napoleon Dealers (do call them before you go down to check if they have stock):

Decofix
Level 1
10 Jln Serene, 258748
tel: 6875 1657

Big Box
Level 3 (at the Outdoor Furniture/BBQ section)
1 Venture Ave, 608521
6801 6688

 

 

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What…Using Charcoal in a Gas BBQ?

Labour day weekend came and went in a flash, as to be expected when spent with the best people in the world!

I threw a surprise BBQ party for my best friend’s birthday, and being my best friend, I really pulled out all the stops for this shindig. I used the super awesome 18 piece stainless steel BBQ tool set from Liberty (I call this the James Bond set because it comes in a very conspicuous carrying case LOL), I used wood planks, herb boxes, wood chips… and….and…

Yes. I went out of my comfort zone and did it. I used charcoal!!!
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But… I kind of cheated a little bit. Haha.

How, you ask?

With the help of my trusty charcoal smoker tray that fits nicely over the gas burners of my Napoleon LEX485RSIB.

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As a testament to how well insulated the LEX485RSIB is, charcoal smoker tray doesn’t really require much charcoal. Just 2 hands-full was able to last me about 3 hours of grilling (and it kept going even after I was done!). The flames were really big too, so we had to throw water over it a couple of times to keep it down. When we were done, there was barely any ash to be cleaned up after I was done too. How easy is that!

I placed Axtschlag hickory woodchips, which I has soaked in water for 30 minutes prior, in the triangular slot on the corner of the smoker tray. After which, I fired up 2 burners under the smoker tray and closed the hood of the LEX for about 15 minutes (or until the charcoal catches fire). Once lit, I turn the burners off and as far as the gas BBQ goes, I only used the infrared side burner to sear the steaks before transferring them to the main charcoal section. It’s really such a simple way to have get the charcoal going.

The Charcoal smoker tray only takes up half the BBQ space, which is perfect for me to utilize the other half for smoking with the Axtschlag Herb box and cherry wood planks because they can’t be directly over the fire in order for them to be slow cooked.

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Marinade-wise, the lamb and steaks I served that afternoon were lighted seasoned with pink Himalayan salts, with extra minced garlic for the Lamb. Salt is supposed to bring out the flavour in the food, and I find that my choice of salt does it very well. I also believe in investing in good quality meat – so we taste the natural flavours of the meat and its fat, rather than going overboard with the seasoning. Normally I like a good USDA Prime steak, but this time I used Australian King Island beef which was very well-received by my guests.

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Axtschlag Herb Boxes: $32

Axtschlag Grilling Planks: $32 (set of 3)

Axtschlag Wood Chips: $18 (1KG)

Liberty 18 pc BBQ tool set: $108

Napoleon Charcoal Smoker Tray: $110 (can be used with most Napoleon BBQs)

All available from libertypatio.com

 

 

 

 

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Got Wood? BBQ Smoker chips, wood planks, sawdust and more!

Recently, I’ve been getting a lot of enquiries about where to find smoker wood chips in Singapore. Most people either don’t know where to find them or if they know where to look, it’s just too unaffordable.

I’ve found the easiest and most affordable place to get my BBQ wood products is from Liberty Patio, because it also has the widest range I’ve seen so far.

You can get everything from Wood Chips to wood planks, grilling papers to herb boxes.

You’ll be able to find more famous BBQ brands such as Char-broil and Napoleon that charge about $14 per bag of woodchips, to gourmet brands that specialise in smoking products like Axtschlag and Best of the West.

My personal favourite is the new brand on the market — Axtschlag. Hailing from Germany, Axtschlag offers one of the widest ranges of BBQ wood products I’ve seen.

Axtschlag Wood Chips

New to Singapore, Axtschlag has flavours like Hickory, Apple, Wine, Beer, Whiskey, Beech, Alder and Cherry.

I’m absolutely crazy about the artwork on the packaging that teaches me how to use the products. The sassy lady is such a fun addition to the whole BBQ scene!

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I love the sassy artwork on the Axtschlag packaging.

Axtschlag carries more unique flavours such as Walnut, Wine, Strong beer and Whiskey. These go for $20 per kilo.

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Axtschlag’s gourmet flavours include Wine, Walnut, and Beer. $20 a KG.

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Other Axtschlag products include sawdust and grilling planks.

Looking for Sawdust and Grilling planks? Sawdust costs $18 a bag, and grilling planks start from $28.

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My favourite products in the Axtschlag range – Herb boxes!

Herb boxes and their refills keep this brand interesting. You can get them for meat or fish. These 30cm boxes contain herb mixtures of boldo leaves, rosemary, sage, lavender, red chilli, curry leaves OR birch leaves, lemon balm, lemon, dill, carrots, corn flower. Just place the food you’d like to smoke on these boxes and watch as the flavours take over once the smoking begins.

These are $32 a box, and $15 for the herb refill.

cedar paperscherry papers

Lastly, Axtschlag also carries grilling papers for $18 a packet. Each packet contains 8 pieces of wood paper. Just tie the wood paper around the prepared food and put them on the grill to smoke. Cherry flavour is my favourite with thai prawn paste chicken wings.

Check out all these items on Liberty Patio.

Till my next post! Enjoy Smokin’ on your grills!

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BBQ Grill Planks: We be PLANKING!!!

Lately, I’ve been experimenting with Grilling Planks on my BBQ because I was sent some samples from Axtschlag BBQ wood company in Germany and I must say, it’s been pretty fun!

Grill Planks come in different types of flavours – the flavours that I got were Red Cedar Wood and Cherry. But I only tried out the Red Cedar wood this time.

Here’s how I used it:

Step One: Soak the plank for about 30 minutes in water. Most instructions will tell you about 60 minutes, but I felt 30 minutes in our humidity was enough. You can also soak it in juice if you like.

Soak the plank for about 30 minutes.

Step Two: Marinate the chicken wings. I used a Thai Prawn paste marinade which I got from Golden Mile Complex at Beach Road because it’s one of my favourite seasonings.

Them Chicken Wings!

Step Three: Remove the plank from the water and place it on top of the fired up grill. Place the chicken wings directly on the grilling plank. Close hood and let wings smoke on top of the plank. Check in every 5 minutes to see how the chicken is cooking and flip it over after 10 minutes. It should take about 25 minutes for the chicken to be fully cooked.

You can reuse the planks too!

Results: Thai Western Barbecued Wings! These wings were smoked directly on the planks which I feel, definitely gives it an advantage of just using wood chips in a smoker box. Plus, it’s a lot faster in achieving that smokey BBQ effect. It’s so easy to use and the results are just fantastic. It’s especially wonderful because the juices really get locked into the meat because of the indirect cooking, while avoiding burning the marinade. I also tried this with steak – unfortunately, it didn’t taste as good as the wings I have to say. I think steak still tastes best with it’s own flavour.

Axtschlag isn’t available in Singapore yet (shame! they have quite an extensive variety of other BBQ wood products which I will be reviewing over the next few weeks), but it will be in about 2 months time.

In the meantime, you can get cedar wood planks by Fire & Flavor from Liberty Patio. Enter “BBQLOVE” at checkout to get 15% off this product!

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YES! Napoleon has hit Singapore!

I’m really stoked that we’ve finally brought Napoleon to Singapore because we’ve been using our Masport Maestro Deluxe gas grill for almost 5 years now, and I think it’s time to retire it (it’s still in great working condition even though I’m really lazy when it comes to maintenance).Image

I have to say that they really had me sold on the whole infrared sizzle zone concept. This isn’t new technology. I say this because the original infrared cooking actually derives from the concept of burning charcoal, where you would have all those glowing red bits on the charcoal, instead you get 10,000 tiny little ports with tiny little flames on each burner. So really, similar cooking method to charcoal, but less mess. Hooray!

There are lots of other features on the Napoleon LEX485, but what really caught my attention is this accessory you can get called the Napoleon Charcoal Smoker Tray. Lots of customers come in and they ask, “hey, can I put charcoal inside my gas barbecue?” The answer is NO! Gas barbecues are built to take that kind of heat. Don’t confuse Lava rocks with charcoal. Lava rocks heat up, charcoal sets on fire!

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Anyway, let’s continue. The Charcoal Tray is a brilliant way you can convert your gas barbecue into a charcoal one, simply by placing the tray above the burner (without the flame tamers) and adding in the charcoal. You’d light them simply by switching on your burner and leaving it for about 5 minutes, then switch it off (but leave the hood open the whole time). You can even add woodchips to the mix because it’s got a triangular slot on one corner with holes in them. This tray is made of cast iron, so it’s sturdy and takes heat really well.

Available from Liberty Patio.

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Smokin’ Hot!

For Mothers’ Day weekend, I decided to experiment with our new wood chip smoker box.

I tried a spicy pork rib recipe from a Southern cookbook called “Adam’s Ribs”. It’s a dish that takes up to 5 hours to cook.

Despite having owned a barbecue for years, I’ve never actually tried to smoke anything before.

Some things to note from this little experiment:

1. Soak the wood chips in water before putting them into the smoker box. This will help to keep them moist and last longer.

2. I actually turned on 2 burners at first (as the recipe instructed), but the heat proved to be too close to the meats. Some of the meat closer to the burners started to get black really fast. So I turned off the 2nd burner and it was much better.

3. As you can see from the images below, I’ve actually put the ribs on the unlit side. I put the smoker box on the lit side.

4. It’s good to preheat your grill like an oven as it takes a while to heat up. The general idea is to get about 175 degrees Celsius.

5. Baste the ribs every hour for about 2 – 3 hours. On the last hour, baste every 10 minutes.

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Your thoughts: Would you get a smoker? If so, what flavours of wood chips would you like to try?

Wood Chips and Smoker Boxes are available from Liberty Patio.

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