Let Steven Raichlen show you the way.
And there’s a lot to learn! The book is loaded with gorgeous, I-need-to-make-that-right now photos, but it’s also a super accessible soup-to-nuts primer on everything you need to know, and then some, whether you’re a novice, an enthusiast, or a total all-out smoked food addict. There’s hot smoking and cold-smoking, smoke-braising, tea-smoking, “caveman” smoking direct on embers, and stovetop smoking. Who wouldn’t want to know the 10 steps to perfect brisket, or how to make best-ever Chinese barbecued pork, smoked nachos, and bacon from scratch?
Once you’ve mastered the classics, you can go on to make smoked ice cream, smoked mayo, smoked butter, and smoked ice. Until you get your smoker fired up, here’s Raichlen’s list of 10 ingredients that add great smoky flavor without your having to fire up anything—plus a recipe/primer for a fantastic smoky seafood dip.
Bacon: Look for a good artisanal brands, like Nueske’s, and use it to wrap lean foods like shrimp or chicken breast. Chipotles: Add chopped chipotles and some of their adobo sauce to ketchup with orange juiced for an amped up cocktail sauce.
Ham: Add diced smoked ham to mac and cheese.
Lapsang souchong: Use for tea smoking, or use in marinades and brines, or make smoky iced tea.
Mezcal: Tequila’s cousin will give any cocktail and instant smoky flavor.
Pimenton: Adds smoky flavor to any dishes not easily cooked on a grill, like scrambled eggs.
Rauchbier: This smoked beer from Germany is great in beer-based barbecue sauces and beer cocktails.
Scotch whiskey: Look to brands like Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Bowmore, and add a bit to heavy cream before whipping. Smoked Cheese: Use smoked cheddar, Gouda and mozzarella in sandwiches, or grate into mashed potatoes.
Smoked salt: A no-brainer for seasoning steaks, chops and other grilled meats, and a great way to add smoke flavor to barbecue rubs.
Recipe for Steven Raichlen's Smoked Seafood Dip:
Makes 2 cups
You can flavor this simple dip with any or many of the following items: minced sweet onion or chives, grated lime or lemon zest, horseradish, Thai or Chinese chili paste, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, or fresh lemon juice.
8 ounces smoked bluefish, salmon, clams, oysters or mussels
8 ounces mascarpone or cream cheese
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Flake the fish—or add the clams or oysters—into a food processor, discarding any skin or bones. Pulse to chop. Add the mascarpone or cream cheese and any of the flavorings. Season with salt and pepper and pulse just to mix. Season to taste; the dip should be very flavorful. Serve with crackers or grilled bread.
Adapted from Project Smoke (Workman Publishing), by Steven Raichlen.