How To Make Smoked Ice Cream

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Barbecue Hall of Famer, writer and best-selling cookbook author Steven Raichlen has a new volume of recipes out that grilling enthusiasts won't want to miss. Burners of wood and utilizers of combustion by-products (smoked-food lovers, we're looking squarely at you) will be thrilled and delighted by Project Smoke, a book dedicated to all things smoke-infused. Happy grilling season!

He's been called the mad scientist of barbecue. His Michelin-starred restaurant, Asador Etxebarri, in Spain's Basque country, draws cutting-edge chefs from all over the world. His name is Victor Arguinzoniz, and no food is safe from his one-of-a-kind grills and smokers. Not kokotxa — hake throat, which tastes like fish and slithers down your throat like an oyster. Not butter, which Arguinzoniz smokes over oak to spread on — what else? — grilled bread. Not even milk, which he smokes in a wood-burning oven to make a smoked ice cream that, like everything he serves, will take your breath away.

Ice cream may seem like the last food you'd smoke, but wood smoke gives it a haunting quality. Sure, you could smoke the cream (see page 203) and churn the ice cream from scratch, but there's a far easier way to do it: Use a charcoal grill or smoker. Or use a handheld smoking device, like a Smoking Gun or Aladin, to smoke your favorite premium commercial ice cream.

Fuel: Wood chips (unsoaked) — enough for 5 minutes of smoking, or hardwood sawdust of choice — enough for 15 minutes of smoking

Shop: To make your life easier, start with a good commercial vanilla ice cream, like Ben & Jerry's, Häagen-Dazs, Graeter's, or Talenti.

What else: You have three ways to smoke ice cream. Use a charcoal grill or smoker: You want to add a lot of dry chips to the fire to generate dense smoke quickly before the ice cream melts. (Chips start smoking faster than chunks or logs and dry chips start smoking faster then wet chips.) You place the ice cream in a bowl of ice to keep it from melting while you smoke it. Alternatively, use a handheld smoker.

Reprinted with permission from Project Smoke

How To Make Smoked Ice Cream
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  • 1 quart best-quality ice cream (vanilla or your favorite flavor)
  1. Place the ice cream in a shallow bowl over a large flameproof bowl of ice. Keep this in the freezer until you’re ready to smoke the ice cream.
  2. On a charcoal grill: Set up your grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium-high (400°F). Place the ice cream over its bowl of ice on the grill. Add 2 cups unsoaked wood chips to the mounds of embers. Cover the grill and smoke until you see a light patina of smoke on the ice cream, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn the ice cream over with a spatula and smoke the other side the same way. Remove the ice cream from the grill. If it melted too much, refreeze it.
  3. In a smoker: Set up your smoker following the manufacturer’s instructions. Place the ice cream over its bowl of ice in the smoker. Add the unsoaked wood chips to the fire. Smoke as described previously. You may need a bit longer to put a patina of smoke on the ice cream.
  4. With a handheld smoker: Place the ice cream in a large glass bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap, leaving one edge open. Place the bowl over a pan of ice. Fill and light the smoker following the manufacturer’s instructions. Insert the tube of the smoker, fill the bowl with smoke, withdraw the tube, and tightly cover the bowl with the plastic wrap. Let infuse for 5 minutes. Repeat once or twice more, until the ice cream is as smoky as you like. If the ice cream starts to melt, refreeze it.
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