STORY / Jenn Garbee
Online recipes for smoking cheese on a grill tend to read like an emergency manual with a united goal: to avoid turning that cheese into a melted has-been. Cold smoking breaks that high-heat rule. Instead, a regulated electrical heat source generates smoke at a very low temperature.
The compact, handheld versions available today make the process even easier.
Plug in the device (like a Breville Smoking Gun), load in the shaved wood chips, and you’ll have smoked food ready in minutes. It’s a great method for lending subtle overtones to cheese, salami, hard-boiled eggs, olives, pickled vegetables, or anything you want to infuse with a veil of charred flavor (Popcorn! Sea salt! Cocktails!).
If you’re in the mood for big flavor, a handheld smoker won’t match a wood-fueled grill or an old-school side fire box smoker, but these little guys deliver a surprisingly powerful punch. One of our favorite ways to make smoking look Instagram-worthy is to put whatever needs a hit under a glass cake dome, from individual charcuterie plates to giant wedges of cheese.
Many handheld smoker recipes call for covering the food with plastic wrap during the infusion process. We prefer to use a hard covering, like a bowl, to keep the smoke from escaping (the plastic wrap comes off easily if not secured tightly). Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for using a handheld smoker.
SMOKE-FRIENDLY INGREDIENTS Olives, nuts, cheeses (semi-hard styles like Swiss to soft styles like goat cheese and Brie), salami (hard and soft varieties, including prosciutto), seafood (salmon, trout, shrimp), juices and simple syrups (for cocktails), pickled vegetables (cucumbers, okra, onions), hard-boiled eggs, salts and dried spices, dry snacks (popcorn, chips), fruits (plums, pineapple), and fruit jams.
RECIPES Rigatoni with Smoked Mozzarella