Apple Crisp in a Smoker? Am I Crazy?
May 23, 2015 10:59 AM   Subscribe

I have this pie-in-the-sky idea that I can make an apple crisp in a smoker whilst delicious meats are also cooking. The temperature would be around 220F, and I'm thinking 2.5 hours would do it. Have I wildly miscalculated?

The temperature is non-negotiable, and your typical oven cobbler or crisp is done in the 300s typically for 30 to 45 minutes). I need advice: is my timetable too short? Is cooking it at 220F too low no matter how slow? Will an oatmeal/brown sugar topping never crystalize or crisp? Will the apples (I have granny smiths and pink ladies) never achieve pure cobbler nirvana? Should I just give up my dreams of smoked cobbler and commandeer an oven?
posted by julen to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Will an oatmeal/brown sugar topping never crystalize or crisp?

That's my guess. The smoky flavor aspect of this idea sounds great, but I suspect you'll get applesauce topped with weirdly crusty, oversweetened, spiced, steamed oatmeal.

Nevertheless, I kind of hope you try it and let us know how it goes.
posted by jon1270 at 11:14 AM on May 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

The smoking is an interesting idea. Unfortunately you won't reach the temperatures necessary for the crumble to crystallize, I think.

However! It could be very cool to put the dish in minus the crumble, and slow-cook/smoke the apples for a bit (not too long or it'll be like eating a campfire made of apples), then do the topping and commandeer an oven. Or smoke the oatmeal, then make the crumble.

(I've made smoked oatmeal-bacon cookies by doing that. You really don't need long, maybe 15 minutes.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:29 AM on May 23, 2015 [9 favorites]

I think your concerns about temperature are well-founded. Put the crisp in rather toward the end of the meat-cooking process, and then when you withdraw the meat, increase the temperature to the desired crisp temperature. That way, you'll get both the smokey goodness and the heatey hotness that you need.
posted by the Real Dan at 11:31 AM on May 23, 2015 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Just a couple weeks ago we were experimenting with a friend's new smoker and tossed things in towards the end of smoking a slab of salmon.

The best experimental smoked item was a cored (peeling might work too, but if you leave the skin in tact the smoke won't permeate nearly as well) apple that was put in during the last 15-ish minutes. It was very tasty.

So from that experience I would recommend smoking the apples on their own then making the crisp in a regular oven.
posted by zyxwvut at 11:37 AM on May 23, 2015 [5 favorites]

Best answer: If the topping is limp, maybe try taking a brulee torch to it in the end?
posted by glibhamdreck at 11:37 AM on May 23, 2015 [4 favorites]

I went a bit smoker crazy a few years ago and put pretty much everything in the smoker. The cobbler will absorb a lot more smoke than the meat, maybe to an overpowering level.

Perhaps try to smoke some of your apples in the smoker, then mix them into the regular apples in the cobbler. I'd do something similar with mushrooms in a stuffing and that tended to work out pretty well. You will have to experiment a bit (shucks, need to eat more cobbler) to find the right ratio. I'd suggest saving some of your test portions for the day after. After standing for hours over/near a smoker, you tend to get a bit deadened to the smell/taste of smoke so will not be the best of judges.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:39 AM on May 23, 2015 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Here's a recipe for blueberry crumble cooked with a smoker, but the temperature was higher (280F) and they cooked it for 3.5 hours.
posted by bCat at 11:42 AM on May 23, 2015

I'd start it in the smoker to pick up the flavor then finish it in the oven at a temp high enough to crisp and crumble the topping.

There's only so long you need or probably want to smoke the dish. An oven is fine for finishing.
posted by bitdamaged at 12:32 PM on May 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You can also do a streusel topping in the oven ahead-of-time with nothing underneath it, and then add it to the apples after the smoking has softened them.
posted by goingonit at 2:13 PM on May 23, 2015

Yeah, finish under the broiler (or, if the Queen is on your money, you might call in the cooker). The top element in your oven, anyway.

Recipes assume that you're baking it, so the elements of the crisp are combined in such a way, and with such timing, in support of that assumption. You're not doing that, so combining the elements of the crips (filling, crust, topping) must be done differently. They can all be done entirely separately if cooking one with the other will ruin either, which is what would happen if you just try swapping "smoker" for "oven."

I think you're going to get more smoke than you bargained for, but this idea is the seed of a great smoky crisp, and you've got gumption.
posted by Sunburnt at 5:00 PM on May 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

I like your thinking (smoky apple sounds great) but at that temp, it won't crisp, and it'll be soggy.

How about this: smoke the apples only, then make the crisp with them in a regular oven at regular baking temp.
posted by Miko at 8:44 PM on May 23, 2015

Yes, I was also going to say smoke the apples, and then make the crisp in the oven.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:23 PM on May 23, 2015

Best answer: Caramel starts to form at around 230 to 250, so I think you may be a bit low for the sugars to convert. I think you're finishing in the oven.

The other thing I'd consider is the time in smoke. Delicate flavours like apple can get really off if oversmoked. I'd start with about a half hour then move to the oven.
posted by bonehead at 9:15 AM on May 25, 2015

Response by poster: Although I quite liked the bruleeing torch and separate streusel topping ideas (a lot! Kudos, glibhadreck and goingonit), bcat's link really concerned me in general in terms of timing (after I scaled the timing exponentially to 4+ hours). The predictions of applesauce were probably accurate, too.

Among the "meaningless" details I left out is that this is friends' 6 foot tall, home-made smoker which doesn't really go higher than 230F - and they claimed they would be strict about when the door opened and when it was closed. So I couldn't just jank the heat up as you could on a gas or electric smoker at the end, and the oven was both a distance away and nearly some tentatively sleeping babies.

So, what I did is ... (*sob*) cook them (I did both berry and apple cobblers) at home in the oven in the morning. When they pulled the second wave of meat from the smoker, we put the cooked crisps into warm up for 90 minutes. When we pulled them out, the topping was thick and soft (but not mushy), not crispy, but still really nice. It slid down down over the apples, covering more than a traditional crisp topping normally would, in the scooped serving. More bites to have both topping and fruit!

BUT! I did do SOME experimenting. I took the leftover apple chunks and put them into small foil pouches with butter/brown sugar/cinnamon/quick-cooking oatmeal. I also had six whole apples left over that I topped, cored, and filled with butter and brown sugar. I put lemon juice on the exposed part and wrapped them in foil. I left 3 foil tops tightly twisted, and 3 tops open to the smoke. I put these in shortly after I got there, so they cooked for 3 1/2 hours.

The Results: The apples open to the smoker were a little firmer with some smoke and looked nicer than the the ones that were essentially steamed. The packets worked really well (no smoke taste - they were crimped tightly) - the apples melted a bit, but cooked nicely and the the topping wasn't crunchy, but it still had substance and tasted good with the apples. The texture was very cobbler-y (minus any crispiness). The larger packets - with 2 handfuls of apple chunks plus topping - ended up the best - the smaller ones would have probably been OK with less time but also would have benefited from more apples jostling up against each other. If I were making these at home, I'd have made up an additional crispy topping to put on top of the cooked packets.

The whole apples were less successful; they really needed spice, preferably cinnamon, although I woke up this morning thinking a paprika apple might be good if eaten with dinner.
posted by julen at 3:27 PM on May 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

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