When I first got my Weber Smoky Mountain smoker this summer, I envisioned eating lots of smoked brisket, pulled pork, ribs, salmon, shrimp and tuna. That's definitely happened to my delight, but I never thought I'd be putting hunks of cheese on the smoker as well. A chef friend of mine first turned me on to this trend with an article she read in the Takeout. Then, I brought it up to a BBQ champion friend who confirmed it was legit. And that's when I found out just how trendy smoking cheese is.
I immediately joined the Facebook group Smokers n' Grillers and experienced what the author of the Takeout article reported: that people are obsessed with smoking cream cheese. Food Network and TODAY have both interviewed the author of the original post, James Tudor. So the next time I fired up the smoker, I added two blocks of cream cheese and made a foil nest for them.
I covered one with Trader Joe's Everything But the Bagel Seasoning (one of my favorite ingredients) and the other with a sweet and spicy barbecue rub usually reserved for my ribs.
I added them to the smoker, a little worried they would turn into a melted mess.
But after two hours at 225 degrees, they had achieved a perfect crust and split evenly down the middle with very little spread. They looked exactly like everyone else's photos in the Facebook group (you can also create a hatch mark pattern in the cheese if you want to get really fancy) so I couldn't wait to dive in.
As usual, friends were my guinea pigs, but I don't think they minded. Even their two-year-old son was a fan!
Both cheeses were delicious hot which makes them super easy to spread all over a cracker. The one with the barbecue rub was pretty spicy, which I like. I preferred the bagel seasoning cheese cold the next day, but you could also pop them in the microwave for a minute to take the chill off. Both had a defining smoke flavor that complimented the different seasonings. Win win for such an easy appetizer!
Some people use olive oil on their cream cheese before adding any rub or seasoning, but I didn't find it necessary. One guy in the Facebook group went so far as to create grated baskets for his cream cheese because he thought "that there might be a lot of missed smoke opportunity with placing them in foil." What a clever idea!
Smoked cream cheese is definitely a thing. Just do a search in the group, and you'll literally find hundreds of posts, pictures and comments on the amateur smoker's tips on how to smoke the perfect block of cream cheese. Some turn their cheese into dips, cover with bacon and jalapeños or even transform into cheesecakes. There's no limit to what you can season or top this smoked cream cheese with!
But, why stop at cream cheese? Once I saw how easy it was to create an appetizer with the extra room on the smoker, I was on a mission for other smoked cheese dishes. I found a few smoked brie wrapped in prosciutto recipes online and knew I had to put my recent black garlic obsession to work in my take on this dish.
Prosciutto Wrapped Brie with Black Garlic
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Serves: 6 as an appetizer
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
1 wheel of brie cheese
1 4 oz. package of prosciutto
Crackers, for serving
1. Lay out half of the prosciutto slices and place the brie wheel in the center.
2. Top with Black Garlic Market mustard.
3. Fold the prosciutto slices over the brie and cover all of the cheese. Place in a metal pan that can go on the smoker. I used a disposable cake pan.
4. Drizzle Black Garlic Market honey over the top.
5. Smoke at 225-250 degrees for one hour.
6. Serve warm with crackers.
This was ooey gooey deliciousness and so easy to make! If you don't have any Black Garlic Market products (I highly recommend buying some), you can use any other fruit preserve or hot pepper jelly you like and top with any honey. Brie has a mild, buttery and creamy taste which makes it the perfect pairing for lots of flavors. I also use it in my grilled cheeseboard, which you need to try the next time you fire up the regular grill.
Both of these cheeses were smoked using the same temperature you would smoke meat or seafood, but I've also heard about "cold" smoking cheese. Now, cold smoking isn't really cold - it just isn't as hot as these temps. That's a blog for another day once it cools off a little more here in Florida.
What I like about the other smoked cheeses is that you can put them on the smoker along with your meat and seafood at the same temperature. There's hardly any extra effort involved, and all you need is a little extra room on your smoker.
If you want even more cheese knowledge, don't miss our virtual Culinary Heaven: Wine and Cheese Tasting this Friday, November 12 at 6:30pm CST. You'll taste five prominent cheese styles mixed-&-matched with five wines. If you live in Chicago, you can pick up the wines from us and if not, we tell you what wines and cheese to shop for. This seminar is fun and delicious for all wine and food lovers!
This week's challenge for our private Facebook group is all about the cheese, so I hope that the next time you fire up the smoker, you throw some cheese on it. If you do, share it with our group!