Several people have asked me via social media and the old fashioned way…in person (gasp!) to post my recipe/instructions on how to smoke ice, so here it is!
Summertime and the smell of a charcoal grill – pure bliss. Ok, so it’s not Summer quite yet, here in Arkansas we’re still washing the pollen off of everything, and this yankee is happy about that fact because Summertime in Arkansas can honestly feel like hell on earth with the heat and humidity.
Growing up in Kansas, where the Summers are as hot but don’t start in February like they do in Arkansas… 😉 I have great memories of the grill being fired up and grilling with my family as a kid. My Dad would throw steaks or burgers on the grill and then he would proceed to drill ground balls off my chest – I’m pretty sure some of them rolled along the ground before ricocheting off me in every direction but it sure didn’t feel as if anything slowed down their velocity before drilling me – but in fairness I loved playing baseball, I loved spending time with my Dad and I honestly loved doing it…and if I didn’t paint a good enough picture I’m talking about fielding practice for me for baseball. To this day I have no fear of stepping in front of a missile-esque ground-ball on the softball field…provided I have the proper equipment in place – a cup.
I’ve been grilling food for about 20 years, and I can’t wait to start similar memories (as mentioned above) with my son in the backyard. But smoking meats is a brand new venture for me.
In my short smoking tenure I’ve smoked the holy grail of meats: brisket (my favorite and the primary reason I got in to smoking), ribs, and pork butt for pulled pork.
a pork butt on my smoker
Everything I have smoked has turned out amazing thanks to my awesome smoker, The Good One, Open Range, which I purchased at Antique Brick and Block here in Little Rock, AR – they are also known as Antique Brick Outdoors, if you listen to 103.7 FM you’ve probably heard their commercials. Go visit them and talk to Cody or Meghan and/or their co-workers for more information about their amazing line of smokers. I go in to their store every couple weeks to stock up on charcoal and wood chunks and other accessories I’ll need while smoking. They have a great variety of smokers, and also a great depth of knowledge about their smokers; they most definitely can help you pick out a smoker (and even build an outdoor kitchen around it!) that best suits your needs. I started from square 1 with smoking and Cody helped me out and their staff continues to give me tips and pointers. I can’t thank them enough! Their store near downtown is a gorgeous store that features home furniture, outdoor living components, and they will also be hosting smoking classes with smoking pros this spring and summer in their awesome outdoor facility. Honestly, you have to see their amazing facility and I can’t wait for these smoking classes! I’ll post more information about that when the schedule has been set.
my smoker – The Good One, Open Range – excellent smoker!
The possibility of smoking ice for use in drinks was first brought to my attention while I was in a BBQ store in Overland Park, KS. This may sound like a weird concept, but if you follow my recipe you will have smoke-flavored ice cubes to add to your drinks that will add a whole new dimension to your bourbon, scotch, bloody mary’s, or any other drink suitable for a smoky layer of flavor.
This recipe is very easy if you have the proper equipment. I’ve done this recipe three times and every time it has come out perfect.
Without further ado…the recipe for smoked ice:
You can do this at any time during the smoke, but I would recommend doing it while your meat is still in the smoking chamber – because then you can freeze the water and enjoy them as an after-dinner drink.
- My smoker is a lump charcoal smoker and I use pecan wood chunks as my smoke flavor.
- My smoker was kept at 225F
- I don’t know if you could do this with a grill…maybe if you have the grill modified enough to produce enough smoke, and maybe a charcoal grill would be easier than a gas grill…then maybe you could do it…but grills are normally used for much shorter amounts of time…but hey, don’t let me stop you…if you find a way to do it then, awesome!
Ok…here we go…
- Place any size or shape of ice cubes in a disposable aluminum pan. I used 2 small Weber pans that are about 6” x 9”, and I basically put enough ice cubes to fill the bottom of the pans.
- Place the pans on the smoker and close the lid of the smoker; you’ll be doing this while smoking your meat du jour. (note – I started with ice cubes in the pan instead of just placing water in the pans. I don’t know the physics of this process but from what I’ve read the smoke clings better to the surface of the ice because of a larger surface area.)
- Leave trays in the smoker for one hour. The ice will melt during this time…duh.
pork butt on left – ice pans on right
- After 1 hour remove the foil trays from the smoker and allow them to cool. Note – the pans will be hot…they’ve been in a 225F oven for crying out loud!
note the color of the tap water in the glass on the left compared to the color of the smoked water in the measuring cup on the right
- Transfer the water to ice cube trays or even a zip-lock bag if you don’t have ice cube trays which you might not because of the advent of ice makers in freezers.
To my KU friends, yes these are the ice cube trays (in the picture) that they gave out at a football game that make “KU” on the ice cubes…pretty sweet.
this is the most recent batch
- Final step: Enjoy! You can add this ice to your drink of choice that might be complimented by a little smokiness – bourbon, scotch, bloody mary, etc.
This picture doesn’t do the drink justice.
So what does it taste like? Well, I’ve read that if you do it “wrong” it tastes like drinking an ash tray, yuck! Thankfully I haven’t had that experience.
For me the smoked-ice added an additional, smooth layer of flavor to the bourbon. It seemed as if this layer of flavor came directly from the bourbon and not from the ice. It blew me away at how seamless and natural the infusion seemed. You can taste the smoke but it’s not like you taste the heavy smoke and then taste the bourbon; when the ice is sitting in the glass and when it melts the flavors blend together and makes it seem like an added layer of flavor to the bourbon. I enjoy bourbon, but I enjoy bourbon even more since adding smoked ice to my bourbon.
Sidenote – In order to be able to smoke foods, if you are married and especially if you have children…let’s say for example a 13 month old who is walking everywhere and getting in to everything he can put his little hands on, it is important to have a patient and gracious partner, and thankfully my wife is exactly that. While smoking I am outside tending to the fire and to the meat for long hours (anywhere from 6-14 hours) while she tends to the active and now walking-everywhere-and-getting-in-to-everything 1-year old who can and will tire anyone out in no-time flat. So what better way to relax than to enjoy this ice in your bourbon.