Smoking ovens are more than just another piece of equipment; instead these units have become a flavor-enhancing instrument that have helped chefs bring even more creativity into the kitchen. Ryan Norman, corporate executive chef at Alto-Shaam Inc., provides valuable insight on the use of smoking ovens.
- When utilizing this equipment, the biggest thing is to think outside the box. “Chefs should not hesitate to experiment with adding smoke to different kitchen ingredients,” says Norman.
- Another important factor to keep in mind is smoking should not be restricted to using wood or wood chips. “Chefs can add almost anything for supplementing flavors, such as rice and tea or herbs like rosemary for a signature dish,” he says.
- For the most effective smoking, wood chips need to be soaked. The ingredients wood chips are soaked in can vary, depending on the flavor being sought. “For example, soaking wood in apple cider vinegar or whiskey will bring different flavors into the mix,” says Norman.
- During the process, it’s important to control the amount of smoke so as to not over smoke foods. “A light tinge is nicer on the palate,” says Norman. “Too much smoke can impart a bitter flavor.”
- When deciding on a smoker’s capacity, the daily volume of product will be a key factor.
- Both the unit’s footprint and capacity need to be taken into account when designating hood space for a smoker.
- For added versatility, a combi oven can handle other cooking tasks in addition to smoking.
- If a dedicated smoker is warranted, a cook and hold oven should be specified. “Cook and hold smoking ovens operate the same as our other ovens, but have smoking capabilities built in,” says Norman. “But while a combi oven’s interior can be cleaned to erase the smoke residue, cook and hold ovens used for smoking will always impart a smoked flavor afterwards.”
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