When it comes to smoking meats, fish or food on my Big Green Egg, I like to believe that I am smarter than the average bear. I’ve tried successfully, and unsuccessfully, a variety of preparation methods; from brines, to rubs, to simply nothing at all, but until recently I had never tried to smoke nuts. Perhaps now you are thinking that this was a bit nutty to try (see what I did there).
Until a recent visit to Kitchen World in Minneapolis, I had never even thought about smoking nuts. Every time I am at Kitchen World, I am always buying something; perhaps it is alder wood (perfect for smoking salmon) or a sleeve or three of Nespresso coffee (the only Nespresso boutique in Minnesota). Kitchen World is definitely a dangerous place for my wallet.
Approximately three weeks ago as I walked around Kitchen World looking for a custom table for my Big Green Egg, a conversation with my salesperson quickly turned to an upright smoker that uses wood “pucks” for smoking. As I began to slightly drool, I thought that I needed to try smoking nuts on the Big Green Egg.
In order to smoke nuts on the Big Green Egg, here is what you will need:
- 5 pound container of unsalted mixed nuts
- 5 pound container of unsalted cashews
- Two disposable medium-sized aluminum pans
- Hickory chunks of wood
For every smoke on my Big Green Egg, I always start by using my ash tool to remove all the remnant ashes. I then fill by Big Green Egg firebox with new lump charcoal. Next I use my ash tool to circulate the new charcoal with the old charcoal, so that I have a good mixture of the charcoal, which helps with a more even burning within my Big Green Egg.
I then place my electric charcoal starter in the middle of the coals, burying the heating element deep in to the charcoal. Fully opening my top and bottom vents, I set a digital timer for eight minutes. Once the eight minutes are complete, I remove my electric charcoal starter and place aside for cooling down. I then close the lid of the Big Green Egg and immediately place my DigiQ BBQ Guru extender on to the bottom vent. Attach the blower to the extended.
The temperate within the Big Green Egg should start to climb from about 150 degrees to 200 degrees Fahrenheit relatively quickly, so you will want to watch your temperature to make sure the Big Green Egg doesn’t get too hot too fast. It is a lot more difficult to cool down a Big Green Egg then it is to heat one up. I next place my ceramic grate into the Big Green Egg, without the plate setter. I then place a “probe tree” in to the middle of the ceramic grate. For me, the probe tree is ideal as I can attach the pit temperature probe, which will be about two inches about the ceramic grate. This is very important because temperatures in the Big Green Egg can vary depending on the place within. For example, the pre-installed temperature gauge on the Big Green Egg, consistently is 25 to 50 degrees lower that the pit temperature probe near the cooking surface.
This variance in temperature can be harmful to what I am smoking, especially if one isn’t using an electronic food probe. I’ve had way too many brisket soups because I over cooked my brisket due to temperature being much higher at the cooking surface than what the pre-installed thermometer had indicated. I also find that by placing the pit temperature probe on the probe tree, I now can get a better correct temperature reading at the top of the food that I am cooking (two inches above the grate), which can make a different in cooking time.
While the Big Green Egg is heating up to 215 degrees Fahrenheit, I then take one of the 2.5 pounds containers of unsalted mixed nuts and run the nuts through a quick water splash. I then sprinkle two teaspoons of salt liberally across the nuts and then use my hands to mix the salt and nuts. Don’t worry if you think this isn’t enough salt, as it plenty. Before I place the 2.5 pounds of now salted nuts into the disposable aluminum pan, one of my secrets to smoking nuts in the Big Green Egg is that I make six quarter size holes in the bottom of the disposable aluminum pan. The reason why I do this is so that I not only have smoke that is on top of the nuts, but through the holes in the disposable aluminum pan, smoke is coming up through the nuts through the holes. Trust me on this one. You’ll thank me for it later.
Repeat this same process on the other 2.5 pound container of nuts and then place your now salted nut mixture in to the disposable aluminum pans. The medium-sized aluminum pan holds perfectly the 2.5 pounds of nuts. After confirming that my Big Green Egg has been comfortably resting at 215 degrees Fahrenheit, I then place about four to five chunks of hickory smoke in to the warm coals, put the plate setter feet up and then place the ceramic grate on top of the plate setter. Return the probe tree to the center of the grate and place each of the aluminum pans in to the Big Green Egg.
Depending on which size Big Green Egg you may have, you may need to fold up the edges of the aluminum pan to close your lid. By the time you are ready to close lid, you should have plenty of smoke that is now being produced and even though your temperature will have dropped back down to about 150 degrees Fahrenheit, once the lid is closed your temperature should be able to climb back up to 200 to 215 degrees quickly. The reason why I am such a big proponent of the DigiQ BBQ Guru is once my temperature is set all I need to do is pretty much walk away and come back at the end of my allotted smoking time.
After two hours of smoking your nuts, you should be ready to take them out of the Big Green Egg. When you open the lid, you will notice that your smoked nuts have a nice brown, roasted color. Now I know what I really want to do is grab a handful of nuts and pop them in your mouth (I am guilty of doing this), but by doing this you may get an overpowering amount of hickory flavor in your mouth. If fact I noticed that when I did this, the smoked nuts appeared to be a bit soggy and not crunchy; this is due to the moisture being retained within the Big Green Egg, so don’t worry about this at all. So what to do? Take your smoked nuts out of the Big Green Egg and place them on to several large cookie shoots to air dry for a couple of hours.
By placing the smoked nuts on the cookie sheets, the air drying process happens quickly and within the hour, we were snacking on our nuts. You can also use the empty 2.5 pound containers and pour the smoked nuts in to the containers for storage and drying purposes. Unfortunately for me we are almost done eating all of our 5 pounds of smoked nuts. I’ve had family and friends try my smoked nuts. They are they taste amazing, which I cannot rebut.