So last year I was given a great gift by my girl for X-mas that stayed on my pantry shelf for, well a year. It was two Emeril Legasse Smoker Bags (Hickory and Mesquite) for smoking food in an oven (now that I no longer have access to a BBQ). There was no reason I didn't use them, but this past weekend I decided I was going to use them after all.
When I think of Smoking food I sure don't think of Emeril. Bobby Flay or maybe Guy Fieri but not Emeril. I don't think he has much to do with the product other than endorsing it.
It's a great concept. You can use it on your grill or a campfire, but the great application is its use in an oven. I live in an urban environment and smoking is not a possibility except to go to restaurants. Now I have the power to make food smell good in my own kitchen.
Pick your meat, figure out how long it will take to smoke, then do it. Simple.
The inside of the packet has a bunch of recipes and cooking tips.
Size wize, the packet doesn't look very big, but it does hold a lot. And look at those clear instructions on the bottom.
PART I - PREP PROCESS
I had two pounds of wings that I cut up. I knew the smoking was good, you still got to rub your bird down. So I kept it simple and commercial and used Cajun rub.
Once rubbed, into the bag they went. These were big wings, and 2lbs fit in with just a little space to spare. Actually it was just right.
I folded up the end and the already heated oven was ready. The instructions said to heat it to 475-500 and leave the door open, but a) that seems ridiculously high b) my smoke detector goes off when the oven is near 400 with a brief opening of the door, let alone keeping it up c) it was waaay to warm in my unit as it was, let alone that much heat pouring into the space.
PART II - SMOKED
Following the directions, I let the wings cook for 45 minutes at 450. When I pulled out the tray, the bag was inflated like a little zepplin. I was very nervous about opening up the bag - not from the steam and heat - but from volumes of smoke I imagined that would set off the smoke detector, or worse, the building fire alarm. I let it sit for a minute, then slowly, slowly, opened the back up.
Steam poured out, but not smoke. I mean there was a smokey smell, but nothing that was going to wreck my place. Inside I found the wings well cooked, smoked, and swimming in juice.
I pulled out a drummette which looked really good. It smelled good too. And, it tasted good. The hickory smokey flavour was good, as was the Cajun rub. The meat was tender (actually it was so hot it was almost too hot to hold). This was good, but I had already planned to make it better.
PART III - MAKING SMOKED MEAT CRISPY
My biggest pet peeve with smoked wings are that the skin is not crispy. Knowing this, in the last 15 minutes of smoking, I had the oil in my deep fryer at the appropriate heat. After sampling the straight smoked wing, I dropped a batch into the fryer. And because the wings were already cooked, they only needed a few minutes in their bath.
Oh man, was that a tasty wing. Crispy, but the chicken was so flavourfull. This was awesome. But it I thought it could be even better . . .
PART IV - SAUCING IT UP
While the fryer was heating and the wings smoking, I also whipped together a BBQ sauce. I took some Baby Ray's, some sriracha, a little hot pepper sauce and some pineapple juice. I bottled the mix and squirted over the wings that were tossed in a bowl.
The wings with Chairman Emeril in the background looking on.
PART V - THE MEAL
My supper - homemade Caesar salad, yes, I made the dressing from scratch with coddled egg, anchovies and everything - and the wings. And a Cherry Coke to boot.
How good were these wings? Good. Very good. This has quickly become one of my favourite styles of wings. Smoked, fried and sauced wings. I love the levels of flavour and texture.
There are 3 levels of flavour:
- BBQ sauce
- Cajun seasoning
- Hickory smoked chicken
The 3 levels of texture:
- Goey, thick sauce
- Crispy skin
- Tender chicken that just pulls apart
Above is a shot of a deboned wing. You can see the crispiness of the skin, the saucy sauce, and the tender chicken. This was such a good meal that was satisfying on many levels. Everything went right and I'm glad.
So my review of Emeril's Smoke Bag is thumbs up. The bag was not as strong as you would get from a real smoker, but for someone who lives twenty some odd stories up, this is the only way I'm getting something smoked. I'm curious how oven cooked ribs would be like using this, or even vegetables. There is a lot of potential out there.
If your looking to smoke indoors, and you want a crispy wings, use the smoker bag, then deep fry. You will enjoy it, trust me.