Not long ago I wrote a post about a kitchen gadget called a Chef’n which is a small, hand operated vegetable chopper that we use around the RV kitchen and our home kitchen as well. As I wrote in the opening remarks of that post it was a departure from the kinds of things about which I usually write. The same can be said about this article too because when it comes to most things that have to do with cooking I’m a dumbass.
I do know a thing or two, however, and today I’m writing about something I never thought I would: smoke flavoring. There’s not a whole lot to know about it, but when Diane, my wonderful partner confessed she hadn’t heard of it I figured there may be others in the same boat.
Smoke flavoring, or liquid smoke, if you don’t know, is a seasoning that imparts that delicious, smoky, BBQ flavor to foods. Amazingly, it’s not a gimmick. The stuff is made by burning wood chips, often hickory, applewood or mesquite, and running the smoke through a condenser. As the hot smoke runs through a pipe that is chilled it cools which causes moisture in the smoke to form as water droplets on the inside of the pipe. These water droplets are full of the smoke flavor and are drained from the condenser, concentrated and packaged for sale. The stuff I use is Wright’s Liquid Smoke, hickory flavor.
Besides the fact that it does an amazing job of imparting that delicious smoky flavor, easily, there is no junk to be found in the stuff that I use–nothing artificial, no preservatives. Here are the ingredients as stated on the bottle: “water, natural, hickory smoke concentrate”. That’s all.
I’ve been using liquid smoke for years and love it. Wright’s is super concentrated. Just a few drops is enough to give a delicious smoky flavor to a large pot of soup or a half dozen hamburgers. The stuff seems to keep really well too. The fact that it is so concentrated and has a long shelf life means that the smallest, 3.5 oz. bottle usually hangs around in my fridge for years. And it isn’t expensive!
There are hundreds of recipes that use liquid smoke. AllRecipes.com alone has 290! I like to use it in my lentil soup. (This is a really great recipe from Jane Brody, BTW. Easy too. Everybody to whom I’ve served it has raved about it and you probably will as well.) Using liquid smoke in soups, for example, allows you to create a smoky flavor in foods that you otherwise might not be able to. How would you BBQ soup, for example?
Whether or not you’re on the road in your RV or hanging around in your sticks and bricks home, when you’ve a hankerin’ for something smoky tasting and can’t manage the BBQ, a little liquid smoke may be just the ticket.