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Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

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photo by lindsay beyerstein


Indoor smoking

Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times
The pork shoulder is shredded into a sandwich.

Smokers Welcome: Try This at Home

Published: January 24, 2007

WINTER does strange things to grill lovers cooped up in city kitchens. They start daydreaming about smoldering hardwood.

Chefs around town seem to have that same impulse. Lately they have been smoking everything in reach — onions, tomatoes, chicken, fish, maple syrup. Some invest in professional indoor smokers, but the majority do what a home cook can easily do, rig a roasting pan with aluminum foil or use inexpensive gear like Camerons stovetop smokers.

After a 20-minute smoke and then a flash in a hot pan, chicken thighs taste like they are straight off the grill, but smokier, juicier and — depending on how you get your smoke — more interesting.

And the technique fills kitchens not with smoke, but with a cozy aroma, like potpourri, with Pavlovian effects.

Makeshift or manufactured, stovetop smokers work the same way. Sprinkle wood chips, either the finely shaved ones Camerons packages or another brand, on the bottom of the pan, top them with a drip tray or foil that doesn’t quite reach the edge of the pan, and a rack to hold food. Set the pan over medium low heat, slide the smoker shut or cover it with foil. If wisps of smoke seep out, use more foil.

Smoking, and smokehouses, originated as a means of food preservation, but cooks worldwide have figured out how to impart hints of wood and spice to food in their own homes. Chinese cookbooks often explain how to convert woks into smokers. There’s an Indian method called dhungar, which involves setting tiny bowls of smoldering charcoal within covered casseroles of cooked food.

Pichet Ong has used a similar method to smoke cream and flour at Spice Market, and now makes spice-scented beeswax candles to smoke desserts tableside at his coming restaurant, P*Ong.

Stovetop smoking actually cooks food, rather than just flavoring it. (Flavoring is the point of cold-smoking, in which ingredients are placed in smoke-filled chambers away from heat.) In a stovetop smoker, lean meats like the ones I’m inclined to wrap in bacon or baste in butter become far more complex without additional fat. And smoke offsets the intensity of richer meats and seafood, like pork shoulder and bluefish.

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