Title:
Grill smoking composition and method of production
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A direct-burning grill smoking composition for imparting the flavor of a selected hardwood to a grilled food product contains a quantity of particles of the selected hardwood distributed in a solid matrix formed by partially dehydrating a slurry containing the hardwood particles and a binder dispersed in water. Following ignition, the grill smoking composition continues to smolder without the need for application of further heat until the grill smoking composition is reduced to ashes.



Inventors:
Smith, Gary Warren (Yukon, OK, US)
Application Number:
11/975450
Publication Date:
04/23/2009
Filing Date:
10/19/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
426/312, 44/551
International Classes:
C10L5/44
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
HINES, LATOSHA D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
James T. Robinson (Exclusivity-Law, Inc. 222 East Main Street, Norman, OK, 73069-1303, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A direct-burning grill smoking composition for imparting the flavor of a selected hardwood to a grilled food products, the grill smoking composition comprising a quantity of particles of the selected hardwood distributed in a solid matrix, wherein the solid matrix further comprises an at least partially dehydrated mixture of a binder in water, and wherein, following ignition, the grill smoking composition continues to smolder without the necessity of application of additional heat.

2. The grill smoking composition of claim 1 wherein the binder is Tabu-no-ki.

3. The composition of claim 2, wherein the binder is about 10-18% by weight of the quantity of the selected hardwood particles.

4. The composition of claim 4, wherein the binder is about 15% by weight of the quantity of the selected hardwood particles.

5. The composition of claim 4, the quantity of hardwood particles is a blend of fine particles and intermediate-sized particles.

6. The composition of claim 4, wherein the quantity of hardwood particles is a blend of fine particles, intermediate-sized particles, and course particles.

7. The composition of claim 1, wherein the binder is Elmer's glue.

8. The composition of claim 1, wherein the binder is flour.

9. The composition of claim 1, wherein the binder is starch.

10. The composition of claim 2, wherein the quantity of hardwood particles further comprises up to about 10% by weight ground charcoal.

11. A method of producing a direct-burning grill smoking composition for imparting the flavor of a selected hardwood to a grilled food product, the grill smoking composition comprising the steps of: mixing a quantity of particles of the selected hardwood with a water mixture of a binder to create a slurry; pouring the slurry into a mold; drying the mold and the mold contents to at least partially dehydrate the slurry to create a solid matrix containing the hardwood particles; removing the solid matrix containing the hardwood particles from the mold.

12. The method of claim 11, wherein the quantity of hardwood particles further comprises a at least two different particle sizes of the hardwood particles.

13. The method of claim 11, wherein the quantity of hardwood particles further comprises a at least three different particle sizes of the hardwood particles.

14. The method of claim 11, wherein the binder is about 10-18% by weight Tabu-no-ki

15. The method of claim 14, wherein the binder is about 15% by weight Tabu-no-ki.

16. The method of claim 11, wherein the drying step is performed at room temperature.

17. The method of claim 11, wherein the drying step is performed in a cool oven at a temperature up to about 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

18. The method of claim 11, wherein the quantity of wood particles further comprises up to about 10% by weight ground charcoal.

19. The method of claim 11, wherein the binder is Elmer's glue.

20. The method of claim 11, wherein the binder is flour.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to flavor enhancers used in grilling food over a bed of coals or gas, and, more particularly, but not by way of limitation, to a direct-burning grill smoking composition which, following ignition, smolders to produce volatile agents for flavoring grilled foods.

2. Discussion

In the United States and elsewhere, cooking of meat and other foods over an open fire or a bed of coals has long been considered to impart unique and desirable flavors. Special woods such as hickory, mesquite, apple, oak, maple, alder, cherry, sassafras, birch, ash, willow, cedar, and some pines are often used to give particular flavors to the meat. Other aromatic materials such as spice hulls, nutshells, and spices have also been added to the bed of coals or placed within the grill to impart flavor to the food as the food is being cooked.

Yet wood is not normally used for open cooking. A large amount of wood would be required to prepare a bed of coals suitable for grilling or cooking. Seasoned (i.e., dry) firewood burns very quickly and produces abundant flames which must be allowed to die down before the desired bed of coals is available. The fast burning wood produces large volumes of smoke which can be unpleasant in confined locations such as a back yard or in the kitchen of a restaurant. Furthermore, the characteristic flavor comes from volatile materials within the wood, and the burning wood does not release the volatile materials efficiently. The flavoring smoke is emitted from the wood during the initial stages of the fire when the flames are too intense for proper cooking. Moreover, the flavoring smoke is generated too fast for efficient absorption by the meat.

It is now customary to cook meats over a bed of coals prepared from charcoal or in a gas grill. Charcoal burns with a substantially flameless fire that is more easily controlled than a wood fire. Charcoal briquettes molded from powdered charcoal have come to be universally used for grilling meats over a charcoal fire. Yet the volatile materials whose flavors are sought for flavoring the meat are lost during the process by which the charcoal is produced. Even special charcoal such as that prepared from hickory wood is a poor substitute for the wood itself for imparting a hickory-smoked flavor to meats. Electric smokers are also used to prepare meats.

Unless the grill chef is cooking with whole logs of hard wood, the only way to get a true smoky wood flavor in grilled foods is to add wood to the fire. Whether preparing meat using a gas grill, a charcoal grill, or an electric smoker, experienced grill chefs often use wood chips or wood chunks to add a smoky wood flavor to their meats. Mesquite and hickory are often used for chicken, ribs, and brisket. Cedar and alder woods go well with salmon and other seafood. Apple and cherry are commonly used with pork. Dried woody branches of rosemary or grape vines are sometimes used with lamb. For gas grills, the grill chef places a couple of handfuls of wood chips in a smoker box or wraps them in aluminum foil a perforates the aluminum foil several times to permit volatile materials to escape. The smoker box (or the substitute aluminum foil packet) is placed on the burning element and the grill is closed to retain the volatile flavor enhancers.

For charcoal grills, the grill chef soaks several handfuls of the wood chips or wood chunks in water for 30 minutes or more to prevent the wood from burning too quickly. Then, just prior to grilling, the grill chef sprinkles the moist (but not dripping wet) wood chips over the hot coals. As in the case of gas grills, covering the grill helps to intensify the smoke flavor. For electric smokers, the soaked wood chips or wood chunks are placed between the electric heating element and the meat.

Wood chips are small pieces of wood whose combustion produces small, quick bursts of smoke. Even when soaked in water, chips will burn up fairly quickly, create smoke, and then disappear. Chips are best for short grilling times or when only a small amount of smoke flavor is desired. Some electric and gas smokers are designed to handle wood chips only. Chunks are relatively large pieces of hardwood, usually less than two inches, best suited for creating smoke over a longer period of time. Whether using chips or chunks, the grill chef soaks them in water in an effort to slow down the combustion and prevent bitter flavors resulting from quick, intense bursts of smoke.

Hinderer, U.S. Pat. No. 2,341,377, discloses a briquette comprising powdered charcoal and comminuted aromatic wood. The powdered material is mixed with a binder, molded into a briquette, and hardened.

An alternative procedure, disclosed by Smith, U.S. Pat. No. 2,916,365, is to coat blocks of aromatic wood with flame retarding materials to control the rate of combustion.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,102,653, to Simmons et al., discloses an aromatic wood product for use in barbecuing foods which comprises wood impregnated or coated with combustion-retarding materials such as alkali metal salts, borax and the like to control the rate of release of volatile wood components for proper smoking of the food. The flame inhibition process may be applied to chunks, blocks or small logs of wood or to comminuted woods which are formed into briquettes.

Crace, U.S. Pat. No. 5,096,727, discloses a composition containing aromatic woods and/or spices which is placed in a container between a bed of coals and the meat being cooked. The aromatic ingredients of the composition are vaporized by the heat of the coals and impart flavor to the meat.

Crace, U.S. Pat. No. 5,427,805, discloses a charcoal briquette which encloses at least one pellet of combustible aromatic material.

Each of the approaches described above has deficiencies. With the briquette according to the Hinderer '377 patent, individual particles of wood are subjected to high temperatures of the charcoal flame, so the individual particles of wood burn rapidly and produce the undesirable short, quick bursts of smoke discussed above. The physical integrity of the charcoal briquette is affected by the presence of individual wood particles, both before and during combustion. Moreover, production of a different charcoal briquette for each different wood flavoring would be required. The method disclosed in the Smith '365 patent has obvious economic disadvantages. The aromatic wood product disclosed in the Simmons et al. '653 patent requires a separate heat source to generate the flavor enhancing volatile wood components. The Crace '677 patent requires both a separate composition and also an additional piece of apparatus in the grill. Like the Hinderer '377 patent, the Crace '805 patent discloses a briquette which would require a different product for each flavor enhancing wood.

Accordingly, what is needed is a simple, economical composition for generating volatile aromatic vapors for flavoring meat and other foods cooked on charcoal grills, in gas grills, and in smokers.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A direct-burning grill smoking composition for imparting the flavor of a selected hardwood to a grilled food product contains a quantity of particles of the selected hardwood distributed in a solid matrix formed by partially dehydrating a slurry of the wood particles and a binder dispersed or dissolved in water. Following ignition and elimination of open flame, the grill smoking composition continues to smolder without the application of external heat until the grill smoking composition is reduced to ashes. Additional flavor enhancers such as ground charcoal and the like can also be incorporated into the grill smoking composition.

An object of the present invention is to provide a direct-burning grill smoking composition for use in conjunction with gas grills and electric smokers to impart a wood flavor to the food product.

Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a grill smoking composition which eliminates the need for soaking of wood chips and wood chunks prior to grilling.

Other objects, features, and advantages of the present invention will become clear from the following description of the preferred embodiment when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings and appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a view of a grill-smoking composition according to the present invention in use on a gas grill.

FIG. 2 is a view of another grill smoking composition according to the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a view of the grill smoking composition shown in FIG. 2 wherein the grill smoking composition has been ignited.

FIG. 4 is a view of the grill smoking composition shown in FIGS. 2-3 wherein a substantial portion of the grill smoking composition has been lost due to combustion.

FIG. 5 is a view of the grill smoking composition shown in FIGS. 2-4 the combustion process is nearly complete.

FIG. 6 is a view of a molded grill smoking composition produced according to applicant's invention wherein the grill smoking composition resides in a mold.

FIG. 7 is a view of the grill smoking composition of FIG. 6 deployed in a small pan for use in a grill.

FIG. 8 is another view of the grill smoking composition of FIG. 6 in conjunction with a view self-contained pan for use in a grill.

FIG. 9 is another view of the grill smoking composition of FIG. 6 packaged in a partially tear-away container.

FIG. 10 is a view of a representative cross-section of a grill smoking composition according to applicant's invention.

FIG. 11 is a view of a representative cross-section of another grill smoking composition according to applicant's invention.

FIG. 12 is a view of a representative cross-section of another grill smoking composition according to applicant's invention.

FIG. 13 is a view of another grill smoking composition according to applicant's invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

In the following description of the invention, like numerals and characters designate like elements throughout the figures of the drawings.

Referring generally to the drawings and more particularly to FIG. 1, a direct-burning grill smoking composition 20 rests in a pan 22 atop an unlit burner B of a gas grill G. The grill G has a cover C and a spit S driven by a drive motor M. A food product F (e.g., chicken, turkey, pork loin, lamb, or beef) is secured on the spit S for grilling. Vapors 24 emitted by the smoldering grill smoking composition 20 enhance the flavor of the food product F. Burner control valves V1, V2, V3, and V4 meter gas to corresponding burners B1, B2, B3, and B4, respectively of the gas grill G. The grill smoking composition 20 includes a burning portion 26 (from which the vapors 24 are emitted) and an as-yet-unburned portion 28. It will be understood by one skilled in the art that the grill composition 20, once ignited, continues to smolder, without bursting into open flame, until the grill composition 20 is reduced to ash (See FIGS. 2-5). It will also be understood by one skilled in the art that, while the present invention is described in relation to a gas grill, the present invention is equally applicable to smokers, including electric smokers, and all types of grills, including charcoal grills.

Still referring to FIG. 1, the gas grill G is shown without grates normally used for grilling food products such as hamburgers, steaks, pork chops, chicken pieces, pork chops, lamb chops, vegetables, and the like. Depending on the physical configuration of the gas grill G and the size of the food product F cooked on the spit S, removal of the grates may be required to accommodate the food product F. It will be understood by one skilled in the art that the direct-burning grill smoking composition 20 according to applicant's invention can be placed in any convenient location so that, when the cover G is closed, the food product F is imbued with the flavor-enhancing vapors 24 emitted by the smoldering grill smoking composition 20. It will also be understood by one skilled in the art that, for best results, the direct-burning grill smoking composition 20 should not be placed directly in the path of flames rising from the burners B1, B2, B3, and B4 of the gas grill G. In FIG. 1, the grill smoking composition 20 is placed in a shallow pan 22 directly on the unlit burner B1.

Referring now to FIGS. 2-5, a direct-burning grill smoking composition 50 is tracked during the combustion process. The direct-burning grill smoking composition 50 consists of a quantity of flavor enhancing wood particles consisting of a blend of fine wood particles 52 and intermediate-sized wood particles 54 in a matrix 56.

Referring now to FIGS. 3-5, vapors 58 rise from a smoldering portion 60 of the grill smoking composition 50 above an un-burned portion 62. In FIG. 5, the smoldering portion 60 continues to emit vapors 58 as the un-burned portion 62 disappears, leaving only a small residue of ash 64. It will be understood by one skilled in the art that the direct-burning grill smoking composition 50 leaves a negligible quantity of ash 64 for cleanup as compared to traditional wood chips and wood chunks.

Referring now to FIGS. 6-9, the process of producing the direct-burning grill smoking composition 20 is shown. A quantity of a selected flavoring-enhancing wood particles is mixed with a quantity of a binder and a sufficient amount of water (preferably, distilled water) to form a slurry 100. The slurry 100 is then cast directly into a mold 102. The mold and its contents are then dried at room temperature (about 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit) for at least 72 hours, or in the alternative, in a cool oven (less than about 200 degrees F.) for about 24 hours, until sufficient water has been removed to result in a solid matrix. The mold 102 is then removed to provide the grill smoking composition 20 shown in FIGS. 7-9. The drying time can be further reduced by application of a partial vacuum during the drying process.

Referring now to FIGS. 7-9, the grill smoking composition 20 produced as described can be supported by the shallow pan 22 at a convenient location in the gas grill G, in an electric smoker (not shown), or in a charcoal grill (not shown). A more convenient approach is to supply the grill smoking composition 20 in a disposable foil support 104, as shown in FIG. 8. In FIG. 9, a foil wrapper 106 has an upper tear-away portion 108 and a lower support portion 110 used to support the grill smoking composition 20 within the gas grill G.

It will be understood by one skilled in the art that the shape of the direct-burning grill smoking composition 20 (FIG. 1, FIGS. 6-10) and the grill smoking composition 50 (FIGS. 2-5) is determined by the shape of the mold used to produce the direct-burning grill smoking compositions 20, 50. As shown in FIGS. 6-9, the removable mold 102 consists of a disposable paper cup. The grill smoking composition 50 shown in FIGS. 2-5 was molded by placement of the slurry 102 in a removable mold having the shape of half of an egg.

Various binders can be used to create the matrix which holds the flavor-enhancing wood particles in place for use as a direct-burning grill smoking composition. Elmer's glue, flour, and starch all worked, but the best results were obtained with Makko (Tabu-no-ki), a powder commonly used in the production of incense. Tabu-no-ki is the bark of the Machillus Thunbergii tree, which grows in Southeast Asia. Makko comes in several grades, with the higher grades having less aroma than the lower grades. Makko is a water-soluble adhesive and is almost odorless. As a result, the Makko aroma is not evident when the Makko is mixed with other ingredients. Makko also helps to promote smooth and even burning.

To make the grill smoking composition, a quantity of wood particles and a sufficient quantity of Makko (or other binder) is mixed with sufficient water to make a slurry. The slurry is then poured into a mold and dehydrated until the mixture hardens into a solid matrix. A mixture composed of about 15-18% Makko as a percentage of the wood particles produced a grill smoking composition which held together and burned evenly. At Makko percentages of less than about 10%, the resulting composition crumbled and burned unevenly.

Wood particles ranging from very fine (finer than sawdust) to fine (similar to saw dust) to intermediate (largest dimension about 1/32 inch to about ⅛ inch) to coarse chips (largest dimension about ⅛ inch and larger) are suitable for use, with varying success, in the present grill smoking composition. A grill smoking composition containing only fine wood particles resulted in good structural integrity, but the effect on the flavor of the food product being grilled was reduced. A composition formed from coarse wood particles was difficult to ignite and did not remain lit. An excess of Makko (greater than about 18%) resulted in a composition which smoldered down to ash more rapidly and contained a relatively smaller quantity of flavor-enhancing wood particles.

It will also be understood by one skilled in the art that the size of the direct-burning grill smoking composition depends on the application. The half-egg shape grill smoking composition 50 shown in FIGS. 2-5 is about 1 inch tall. Other shapes include tapered cylinders similar to the composition 20 shown in FIG. 1 with diameters ranging from 2 inches to 3 inches and heights up to 3¾ inch. Conical shapes were also successful.

It will also be understood that the particle size of the wood particles has an influence on the burning time of the grill smoking composition. A mixture of about 15-18% Makko with a trimodal blend of wood particles (one-third very fine, one-third course, one-third intermediate) produced a half-egg shaped grill smoking composition 50 which burned fully in open air in about 40 minutes and in a heated grill in about 26 minutes.

Referring now to FIGS. 10-12, representative cross-sections of grill smoking compositions 120, 130, and 140 illustrate the blending of different sizes of wood particles, together with a binder, according to applicant's invention. In FIG. 10, fine wood particles sizes 122 and intermediate-sized wood particles 124 are dispersed in a matrix 126 (represented by a clear background). In FIG. 11, fine wood particles 132, intermediate 134, 136 of wood particles are dispersed in a matrix 138 (represented by a clear background). In FIG. 12, two particles sizes of wood particles 142, 144, together with wood shavings 146, are dispersed in a matrix 148 (represented by a clear background).

Referring now to FIG. 13, another grill smoking composition 150 according to the present invention has includes a thin coating 152 of melted wax or fire-starter gel to facilitate lighting of the grill smoking composition 150.

Woods suitable for the direct-burning grill smoking composition according to the present invention include hickory, mesquite, apple, oak, maple, alder, cherry, sassafras, birch, ash, willow, cedar, and some pines. Other aromatic materials such as spice hulls, nutshells, and spices are also suitable for inclusion in the grill smoking composition. in the have also been added to the bed of coals or placed within the grill to impart flavor to the food as the food is being cooked. Moreover, the addition of a small amount of ground charcoal (up to about 10% by weight) to the slurry imparts a slight charcoal flavor to the grilled food product.

The foregoing descriptions of specific embodiments of the present invention have been presented for purposes of illustration and description. They are not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed, and obviously many modifications and variations are possible in light of the above teaching. The embodiments were chosen and described in order to best explain the principles of the invention and its practical application, to thereby enable others skilled in the art to best utilize the invention and various embodiments with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated. It is intended that the scope of the invention be defined by the claims appended hereto and their equivalents.