Great winter BBQ activity: Cold-smoke some cheese on your kettle!

Ecological Brie, Camembert, some Port Salut, and some mature Cheddar, ready for the smoker.

Ecological Brie, Camembert, some Port Salut, and some mature Cheddar, ready for the smoker.

I’m a big fan of the French kitchen, and I’m also a big fan of go big or go home. And what could be more gluttonous and over the top than going with a nice plate (or cart if you have one) of cheese for dessert after a BBQ feast? You tell me. Anyhow, it’s cold here now, freezing every single day, so it’s real easy to keep the kettle low in temperatures. This makes the weather perfect for smoking some cheese, because you really don’t want it to melt all up in your kettle now, do you? This was my first go at smoking cheese, so I bought some different ones they had at the local supermarket, just to do a test. In the pic above you can see the candidates, and since most of you don’t know Norwegian, I will explain. There are two soft cheeses, both Norwegian, ecological versions of French staples Brie and Camembert. Then there’s a Norwegian version of Port Salut, and a good Mature Cheddar from England. A hot tip btw is taking a picture like this of your arrangement, so you know which cheese is which when they come back in the kitchen. Take note that the cheese will taste best if you do the smoking some time before eating. I did it the day before, and they came out great. We found the hard cheeses came out best, which makes sense since the soft ones have this protective layer on the outside. Maybe next time I’ll try slicing the soft ones lengthwise into two circular “bowls” and see if that makes them smokier. A lot of people recommend Pepper Jack and Monterey Jack cheeses, so if you can find those where you’re at – I’d go for those! Gouda should also be a good alternative.

This is what they looked like after 2 hours of cold-smoking using hickory chips

This is what they looked like after 2 hours of cold-smoking using hickory chips

What you need:

  • Cheese for smoking
  • Some lump charcoal, or briquettes
  • Smoking wood chips (I used Hickory, but Pecan or others should be great for this too)
  • Honey, maple syrup, dried fruit and some crackers could be useful for serving. For drinks I’d go with some strong, sweet Trappist style craft beer (Chimay, Rochefort), or some dessert wine.

Preparations:

  • Make a very small fire on your kettle all the way off to one side. Make it as small as possible, just enough to keep the chips smoking. As the goal here is cold-smoking, this would best be done in winter, and if the sun is shining, keep the kettle in the shade!

The setup for cold-smoking cheese

How to do it:

  • Unwrap cheese
  • Place on cold side of smoker on a clean rack
  • Make sure you keep the smoke going all the time. I smoked the cheese for about 2 hours, and it seemed about right
  • I mellowed the cheese in the fridge overnight, wrapped in plastic. Some people claim the smoke flavour will spread better through the cheese after a couple of days or even a week. Didn’t have time to test this claim yet, but if you do, let me know what you think!
  • Remember to take your cheeses out of the fridge a couple of hours before eating, fridge-cold cheese is not awesome.
  • Enjoy!

Deliciousness!

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ABT’s with hot chorizo and vegetable filling

ABT’s are great as an appetizer or side dish if you’re cooking something low & slow and have some extra space on your grill. Why they’re called atomic bomb turds, I do not know. It’s kind of a weird name for a food item, but there ya go. That’s what it means. You can use all kinds of stuff to put into the chillies, but in this recipe I went for a simple filling with some vegetables, cream cheese and hot chorizo sausage. I also used some good pancetta instead of the traditional bacon to wrap them, but you can use either, and it will be fantastically good. The union of hot chillies, bacon and tons of apple smoke is a tasty one indeed. Just make sure you make enough of them, I’d say 3-4 per person as a minimum for a starter.

Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Time on the grill: 90-120 minutes
Grilling method: Indirect, with smoke
Grilling temperature: 130 Centigrade lid temp (266F)

What you need:
5 Largish peppers of your choosing. I found some large chillies at my local market
10 strips of good bacon or pancetta
Some cream cheese, I used Philadelphia with much success
A little bit of hot chorizo sausage
A little yellow onion
One green pepper
Two mushrooms
Some toothpicks (not the ones with mint flavor…)

How you do it:

  • Slice your chillies lengthwise, and deseed them
  • Mix cream cheese with some finely chopped mushroom, green pepper and onion. You can use almost anything in here, I’m sure shrimp or crab meat would be good, different cheeses, have fun with it and experiment
  • Spread a thick layer of the cheese mix in each chilli half
  • Wrap each chilli half in bacon or pancetta, use toothpicks to secure the bacon if it doesn’t work out without them
  • Put them on the indirect side of your grill and smoke them using apple or cherry wood for 90-120 minutes
  • Enjoy, and watch out for any heart attack symptoms