6 Smoked Recipes for a Greener Grilled Summer

Reader Contribution by Jennifer Landis

The summer sun brings a chance to enjoy some quality meals in the yard or on the patio. Tradition tells us that the barbecue is the go-to cooking method for backyard eats, and for good reason. However, if you’ve never tried your hand with a smoker, you’re missing out. This flavor-packed cooking method offers a laid-back, slow cooking approach that’s perfect for summer days and produces tender meats and savory treats.

Grilling and smoking your food isn’t just a great way to enjoy some time outdoors while making delicious meals, though. These cooking methods can help save the planet at the same time. By using a sustainable fuel like all-natural pellets or wood chips in your smoker or grill, you’ll be burning naturally occurring fuel that doesn’t contribute to pollution and greenhouse emissions.

Alton Brown’s Simple Smoked Salmon

Hearty brisket and cured bacon might be what most of the country thinks of when it comes to smoked dishes, but for West Coast inhabitants, smoked salmon is often the gateway drug to the only good kind of smoking habit. The buttery flavor of fresh salmon takes wonderfully to some smoke and cooks much quicker than red meat.

This simple but effective recipe from Food Network’s ubiquitous epicurean expert Alton Brown might look imposing because of its day-long prep time, but it’s just a matter of marinating the fish overnight in a sweet and savory mix of brown sugar and salt.

Grilled Veggie Pizza

How would you like to eat delicious pizza made with fresh ingredients for less money than a visit to the local parlor? You can, in your own backyard. All it takes is a pizza stone and a recipe, and we’ve got you covered for the latter. This veggie pizza is bursting with flavor from fresh mushrooms, onions, peppers and mozzarella cheese. After you experience the wonderfully crispy grilled texture and homemade goodness of fresh grilled pizza, you might not want to go back to restaurant-style.

Smoked Mojo Chicken Legs

Get your mojo going with this easy take on citrus-heat chicken legs. Fresh cilantro, lime juice, orange zest and orange juice combine with jalapeno peppers for a dish that calls for the use of a smoke packet. The combination of applewood smoke and citrus heat is wonderfully creative, and juicy chicken thighs make the perfect vehicle for this zesty take on a summer classic.

Smoked Tomato Salsa

What would summer be without snack food? Chips and salsa are a tried-and-true favorite that you can make on your own by doing a little green grilling. Smoking brings out the lovely flavors in tomatoes, which combine with sweet onion and yellow corn to create a colorful classic chip topper that is simple and flavor-forward. This recipe calls for a digital smoker, but if you’ve already got something more sustainable, it’ll do just fine.

‘Ol Hick Baby Back Ribs

Ribs are a summertime staple on the grill, but you can always take things up a notch and think outside the traditional barbecue sauce box. Rub them with a combination of paprika, turbinado sugar, garlic and onion powder, coriander and more. After grilling on a pellet cooker for about two hours, wrap the rack in foil with some butter and brown sugar. When they’re done, you’ll have deliciously tender meat falling off the bones.

Juicy Lucy Stuffed Burgers

What’s more fun than burgers on the grill? How about burgers that ooze melty, cheesy goodness when you bite into them? The name “Juicy Lucy” hails from Minnesota, where taking advantage of a clear summer day is an occasion for stuffed burgers indeed. The trick to getting these right is nailing your burger construction. Make sure that there are no holes or thin spots for stuffing to seep through, as that might lead to burger breakdown on the grill. Cheese is the standard “stuffing” for these burgers, but there’s lots of room to experiment and find just the right mix for your taste.

Smoked Duck Pancakes

Yes, you read that right. Summer classics are great, but when the sun is out, you sometimes have to find a little whimsy in your menu. Fans of chicken and waffles will feel right at home with this sweet and savory combination, which pairs moist smoked duck with a blueberry compote and whipped Chevre cheese. Breakfast, lunch, dessert — there are few meals where this dish doesn’t fit in. If you’re craving something that combines sweet and savory, give these a try.

Grilled Peaches and Mascarpone

Impress your summer sweetheart with this health-conscious dessert that looks outrageous and takes only a couple of minutes to cook. The key to a delectable fruit dessert is good ingredients. The more flavor you can bring out of fresh peaches and cold mascarpone, the better it will be. Just paint some agave onto your halved fruit, throw them on the grill for a few minutes and then top them off. You’ll be amazed at how simple it is to make something that looks so gourmet.

This list offers you a selection of sweet, savory, delicious goodness and health-hearty veggies, all of which you can make in an environmentally friendly way using your sustainable grill or smoker.

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