One of our best customers came in this week and asked ‘what kind of wood do you smoke with?’ – Our response: ‘Maple or Apple’. He then told us that a Nurse at the Amherst Hospital told his father that there is no REAL Smoked Meats in Amherst. ‘They all use Liquid Smoke’.
First and foremost, I am flattered the gentleman and his nurse were talking about smoked food in their small-talk. That’s Awesome! And that we were a part of that discussion, even better. But, that’s simply not true. Then my protective side came into my head and said ‘you better set the record straight’.
We use a Commercial Smoker that is loaded with wood (logs) in the fire-box. The operator sets the temperature, cook-time, and holding temperature, and then presses ‘Start’. A thermostat tells the propane pilot to raise the temperature. The flame comes on like a Tiger Torch igniting the wood and raising the temperature of the cook-chamber to the set cooking temperature. Once the desired temperature is achieved, the thermostat tells the propane to shut down. The wood (logs) are left smouldering in the fire-box with smoke filling the cook-chamber. When the temperature falls below the set-temperature by 5 degrees, the propane comes back on until the temperature comes up. That is how we maintain our desired cook-temperature and smoke our foods without having to tend a fire for 12-hours at a time.
We use a Southern Pride MLR-150 Commercial Smoker. It has a rotisserie in it so that food cooks and smokes evenly. Without a rotisserie the operator must rotate the food several times in the cooking process in order to account for temperature gradients/smoke density differences (e.g. top to bottom) in the cooking chamber. Commercial Smokers like ours (there are other types) have a heavily insulated Cooking Chamber to make them highly efficient and maintain an even cooking temperature with less influence on or from Ambient Temperature.
Because of this question, I looked into liquid smoke. Here is a great article from ‘The Spruce Eats’ that we thought you might enjoy. https://www.thespruceeats.com/liquid-smoke-overview-335486
We don’t use liquid smoke in anything at our kitchen. We use Smoked Chicken, Beef or Pork Bones to make a smoky Bone broth packed with flavour, and that is sometimes used to infuse a smoky-taste into some of our liquid-based foods such as baked beans or cheese sauce.