How Is a Smoke Gun Food Smoker Used and How Well Does It Work?
Have you ever watched Top Chef? If so, have you seen chefs on this competition show using a handheld device to “smoke” meats and other foods? Could you actually smoke something with a small handheld device? Is it something worth owning for your kitchen? If so, how do you use it?
I’ve asked all these questions and more. Owning a big old meat smoker, or even a newfangled electric smoker is not in the cards for me, and probably most of my readers. We may be interested in getting some smoke flavor into our foods sometimes, but certainly not enough to justify the expense and footprint of such a device. And, hey, if we really want some genuine smoked brisket, or some other great barbecue, we know where to get it in our town!
What is a Handheld Smoking Device?
But, a handheld smoker like the Breville PolyScience The Smoking Gun is not really a smoker in that regard. Real smoking is slow and takes hours. Some people smoke their meats for up to 13 hours. A handheld smoker is more of a smoke infuser or smoke flavoring device. In principle, this is a great idea. We love smoke flavor in our foods but we don’t always want to grill outdoors! And liquid smoke flavoring is not the same at all. So, why not an easy and portable way to put some smoke into our food?
Although there may be more than one company making these, the one everybody talks about is the Smoking Gun Handheld Food Smoker by PolyScience. It is a handheld battery-powered smoke gun that can be used inside or outside.
I’ve tried to gather together some resources on using The Smoking Gun food smoker to share here on CulinaryLore, but I had limited success. I have included some videos from Williams Sonoma with Chef Michael Voltaggio. Remember I mentioned Top Chef? Michael Voltaggio was the season six winner. He holds a Michelin Star and is the recipient of several awards, as well as being a finalist for James Beard Best New Restaurant award. He serves as Chef de Cuisine of The Dining Room at The Langham, Huntington Hotel & Spa in Pasadena. He hales from Frederick, Md. (my state!) In the videos below (parts one and two), he explains the use of The Smoking Gun and demonstrates how to use it.
The Smoking Gun with Chef Michael Voltaggio, Part I
The Smoking Gun with Chef Michael Voltaggio, Part II
Chef Voltaggio explains about the different kinds of wood chips you can use, such as apple, cherry, mesquite, and hickory and what kinds of foods they are suited for. He also explains how you can use herbs and spices such as coriander in the smoker! You can also use teas, hay, or dried flowers. By the way, you can also use sawdust, but if you do buy a smoking gun to use, be careful of what sort of sawdust you use. Much of today’s lumber is pressure treated with chemicals to preserve it. You do NOT want to smoke with the sawdust from such lumber! Little canisters of wood chips to use in The Smoking Gun are available separately for purchase, but you shouldn’t have much trouble finding them locally for a cheaper price. The basic Smoking Gun comes with two .5 ounce samples of apple and hickory wood chips.
The goal of using the handheld smoker is to finish your already cooked food with a little hint of smoke. But you don’t have to smoke only cooked food. You can smoke salt, for example, as the chef demonstrates in part two. He also shows how to make a smoked tomato salsa, a smoked soup in a blender, a smoked Margarita cocktail (sorry, I’ll pass), and table presentation.
If you find the commercial version of the Smoking Gun linked above to be a bit out of your price range, you may find the Breville Smoking Gun Food Smoker in Silver/Black for home chefs to be a better choice. It has all the same functions but is made with home cooks in mind, ideal for more occasional use.
Many Culinary Lore readers, after reading this entry, opt for a less expensive unit to try their hand at indoor smoke infusing. A popular choice on a budget is the Gramercy Kitchen Co. Portable Smoke Infuser Bundle.