Did you know that you can smoke without wood chunks? It’s true. You can use several aromatic vegetables as a smoking agent to add subtle flavors to your food.
Smoking with Beef Fat
I developed this technique to help recover that ‘grilled steak’ flavor when using the Reverse Sear method. During normal grilling, a steak drips fatty juices down into the coals. Those juices burn up and produce a rich, beefy smoke that goes right back into the meat. This is why steaks grilled over charcoal taste a million times better than steaks grilled over gas. This is also why products like Grill Grates sacrifice flavor for looks – because those juices don’t make it to the coals.
If you’re cooking steaks or beef roasts indirect, save the fat trimmings and put them over the coals for 5-8 minutes. They’ll melt and sizzle and flare up like crazy – but the smoke that is produced will add a wonderful flavor to your foods that are cooking indirect. Put them directly on the coals, that way you can remove after a few minutes. Don’t go longer than 10 minutes, or your food will pick up a bittery mcdonalds gross flavor.
I like to save beef fat in the freezer so I always have some on hand. Beef fat smoked french fries and tater tots are AMAZING.
Smoking with Onion
This one will fill your neighborhood with a magically delicious scent. I like to use the outside layer and trimmings from a yellow onion, but you can use a whole onion if that’s what you prefer. You can place the onion on the coals or on the grate. No need to remove once burned up. As the onions burn, they put out a very aromatic and delicious smoke. I’ve found that onion smoke works very well with beef, especially burgers.
You can get similar effects from leeks, spring onions, and even garlic. Onions are cheaper though, and I think they produce the best flavor and smell.