Contact Form

    News Details

    Cooking with Judy: Consider smoking something tasty this Fourth of July
    • July 4, 2024

    Bring out the flags! Strike up the band! It’s Independence Day, and there’s lots of places to celebrate in our neck of the woods.

    Hot enough for you? Brea’s Country Fair at City Hall Park includes swimming at the Plunge, a pancake breakfast, live entertainment, kiddie parade, dog parade, classic car show, food, games, exhibits and handmade gifts.

    In Fullerton head to the Downtown Plaza for a car show, carnival rides, games, food booths, live music and spectacular fireworks. La Habra’s festivities at La Bonita Park include fireworks, live music, kids’ activity booths and food and retail vendors.

    At Veterans Park, the Yorba Linda annual Fourth of July Spectacular will feature a live band, family activities, kids fun zone and food trucks.

    Entertaining at home? Why not? July 4 is probably the grilllingest day of the year.

    You’ve barbecued chicken on a beer can. You’ve grilled your Thanksgiving turkey, not to mention burgers, veggies, fish, even tofu. But even if you haven’t done any of those things, it’s time to get smoking, people!

    “Wood smoke contains hundreds of flavor-enhancing compounds,” notes Steven Raichlen, in “Project Smoke” (Workman, $22.95). “I call wood smoke the umami of barbecue. Like umami in Asian foods, it accentuates the intrinsic flavor of meats and seafood and gives them more character, but when done right, it doesn’t really camouflage their taste.”

    When it comes to grilling no one tops Raichlen, author of a veritable library of award-winning cookbooks, including “The Barbecue! Bible,” “How to Grill” and “Planet Barbecue!” He’s also host of multiple PBS series.

    With “Project Smoke,” even a novice can learn how to smoke meats, poultry, seafood, vegetables and, believe it or not, desserts.

    “The wood variety matters less than how you burn it,” advised Raichlen. “The flavor of the smoke varies from wood to wood, but it varies subtly, and it’s certainly not literal. That is, cherry wood smoke doesn’t really taste like cherries, nor does maple taste like maple syrup.

    “What’s more important is dosing the wood and smoke gradually. Soak wood chips in water, then drain, to slow the rate of combustion. I add fresh chips every 30 to 45 minutes and wood chunks once an hour,” he said. “When you do it right, you get a pale blue smoke, which kisses and flavors the food without overpowering it.”

    One of the pitfalls to avoid is what he calls the “guy syndrome,” namely, “thinking that if some smoke is good, more is always better. Too much smoke makes food taste bitter.”

    Fullerton’s Judy Bart Kancigor is the author of “Cooking Jewish” and “The Perfect Passover Cookbook.” Her website is


    Smoked Beef Tenderloin

    From  “Project Smoke” by Steven Raichlen; serves 8


    1 whole beef tenderloin, trimmed (about 4 pounds)
    Coarse salt (sea or kosher)
    Cracked or freshly ground black pepper
    1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for basting
    Vegetable oil, for oiling rack


    1. Set up smoker following manufacturer’s instructions and preheat to 225 degrees to 250 degrees. Add wood as specified by manufacturer.

    2. Place tenderloin on rimmed baking sheet and season very generously on all sides with salt and pepper. Drizzle all sides with olive oil, rubbing it into meat.

    3. Place tenderloin in smoker and insert probe of remote thermometer (if using) through thick end of tenderloin into center. (Alternatively, check for doneness toward end of cooking, using an instant-read thermometer.) Smoke tenderloin until internal temperature is about 110 degrees, for about 45 to 60 minutes. Transfer to platter; let rest 10 minutes.

    4. Meanwhile, set up grill for direct grilling; preheat to high. Brush and oil grill grate. If using charcoal grill, rake coals into a mound, after smoking is completed, adding fresh coals as needed, to build a hot fire.

    5. Transfer tenderloin to grill with thermometer probe still attached. Direct grill, rotating like a log, until all sides are crusty, dark, and sizzling and internal temperature in thickest part reaches 120 degrees to 125 degrees for rare, or 130 degrees to 135 degrees for medium-rare, 6 to 10 minutes. Brush with additional olive oil as it grills, and if you like, give it a quarter turn on each side halfway through grilling to lay on a crosshatch of grill marks.

    6. Place tenderloin on cutting board and remove strings. Cut meat crosswise into quarter- to half-inch  slices.

    ​ Orange County Register