Young and Hungry

Smoke Your Own Pecans and Cheddar Cheese

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Maybe you don't have an obnoxiously large barrel smoker with an off-set fire box that virtually demands seasoned hardwoods. Never fear, the recipes for smoky pecans and smoked cheddar, which come from the Southern Living Big Book of BBQ, are designed for smaller smokers that need only wood chips and a full water pan.

If you happen to be using a barrel smoker, however, I would suggest smoking the pecans about 75-90 minutes, depending on how smoky you want those nuts. Once you reach the two-hour mark, though, the pecans will take on a slightly bitter quality, which I had to mask with some sugar. They were still damn fine.

As for the smoked cheddar, you might consider boring a hole through the middle of the cheese for better smoke penetration. Otherwise, the wood smoke mostly clings to the exterior.

The recipes after the jump.

SMOKY PECANS

Hickory chips

2 lbs pecan halves

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 tsp salt

  1. Soak wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Prepare charcoal fire in smoker; let burn 15 to 20 minutes
  3. Drain chips, and place on coals. Place water pan in smoker; add water to depth of fill line.
  4. Stir together pecans, butter, and salt in a 24 x 12-inch pan. Place on upper food grate; cover with smoker lid.
  5. Cook 1 hour or until golden, stirring once after 30 minutes.

Makes 2 lbs.

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EASY SMOKED CHEDDAR

Hickory chips

2 (16-oz.) blocks Cheddar cheese

  1. Soak wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes. Prepare smoker according to manufacturer's directions, bringing internal temperature to 225 degrees F; maintain temperature for 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Place 1 cheese block on top of the other; coat with cooking spray. Place cheese lengthwise in center of a 24-inch piece of cheesecloth; tightly wrap cheesecloth around stacked cheese. Repeat procedure twice. Place wrapped cheese in a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.
  3. Drain wood chips, and place on coals. Place loaf pan on upper food grate; cover with smoker lid.
  4. Smoke cheese, maintaining temperature inside smoker between 225 degrees F and 250 degrees F for 2 hours. Remove pan from smoker. Place loaf pan in refrigerator, and chill 24 hours.
  5. Remove pan from refrigerator; place bottom of pan briefly in hot water to release cheese from bottom of pan. Gently unwrap cheese; cut into sticks or cubes for serving.

Makes 2 (16-oz) blocks

  • Keith B

    How aged was the cheddar you used, Tim (does the book give guidelines)? It looks good, but I'm guessing there's some limit of too moist/dry that needs to be respected.

  • Tim Carman

    The book doesn't say, Keith, and I haven't done enough experimenting to know. The cheddar I bought was young, with plenty of moisture. The block turns slightly liquidy when finished smoking, but that's why, I presume, the recipe calls for such a tight cheesecloth wrap, the loaf pan, and the overnight refrigeration. Sorry I'm not more help here.

    -Tim

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  • Mike Turner

    I have a smaller charbroil barrel smoker w/ sidebox I was considering placing a pan next to the inlet filled with ice to try to cool the internal temp down a bit but was wondering if it would inhibit smoke from permeating the cheese. On a vertical smoker you could just fill the waterpan with ice.

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