On the Menu with Rita Calvert, The Grassfed Gourmet Fires It Up!


  • Pastured Pulled Smoked Chicken with Smoked Tiny Tomato Concasse
  • Smoked Lamb Rosemary Brochettes with Spicy Yogurt Dipping Sauce
  • Smoky Sausages with Cherry Cabernet Glaze

Whole Foods Annapolis was stocked to the brim with holiday cheer and I got to give a festive class from my cookbook with the unusual technique of smoking indoors-that means on the stovetop. I've been smoking this way for years when the weather stops me cold in my tracks from running back and forth to the grill under snow (or rain). The recipes were a mix and match which I highly encourage when using The Grassfed Gourmet Fires It Up!

A most important point to remember when smoking is that the protein does exceptionally well when brined or marinated before smoking.

Tea Smoked Chicken 

We adore the spicy star anise in Hoisin sauce, which gives it that elusive yet captivating character. We’ve added piquant fresh lime juice and extra garlic for zip. The smoky-tea grilling method adds a dimension that tastes like lots of work. We fooled them!

serves 2

  • ¼ cup Hoisin sauce
  • Juice of 1 fresh lime
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons lemon verbana, finely chopped
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Combine the Hoisin sauce, lime juice, garlic, and lemon verbana in a medium bowl or zipper bag. Add the chicken and marinate 2 hours to overnight.

for the smoking fuel:

  • ¼ cup jasmine green tea or any black tea
  • ¼ cup jasmine rice
  • ¼ cup sugar

When ready to smoke the chicken, heat the grill or stovetop burner to high.

For the smoking fuel, combine the tea, rice, and sugar. Spread the mixture evenly in the center of a sheet of heavy aluminum foil. Place a small rack over the tea mixture or form a “snake” out of aluminum foil to put around the tea to support the chicken. Place the smoking mixture on the foil over the heat of the grill. When the mix begins to smoke, place the chicken, over the tea, on the rack, or balanced on the foil snake.

Cover with the grill lid (if you also wrap the lid in foil you will have no clean up whatsoever other than recycling the foil). Smoke for close to 20 minutes and check for doneness.

Serve immediately or cool and use for a great 1st course, stir-fry or Asian-style chicken salad. The smokiness is enhanced by refrigerating the smoked chicken overnight.


Rita’s Indoor Stovetop Smoking Method

Here in the Mid-Atlantic, the winters are fairly mild (2010 being a major exception) so I keep my grill active, even through a bit of snow. It always has been my modus operandi to grill year-round. However, with my love of smoky grilled foods, I have also adapted some indoor smoking techniques to create that deep, rich, earthy character without creating a room full of smoke. I used this indoor stovetop technique to test the Hoisin

Citrus-Tea Smoked Chicken (page 135), but I originally developed the process for the Stovetop Smoked Tomatoes I prepared on an Emeril Lagasse television show.

My stovetop smoking method is excellent for tomatoes and perfect for a number of veggies, poultry, or seafood. I use a simple wok set-up, a small rack (close to the size found in a toaster oven), heavy aluminum foil, and aromatics, such as green herbs, rice, and white sugar (brown sugar would burn too quickly), for adding scent to the smoke.

for the wok or smoking vessel:

In a small bowl, create the smoking mixture by combining a small amount of rice, tea leaves, and sugar.

Line the wok with a sheet of heavy foil (enough to fit inside the wok) and spray the foil with an olive oil cooking spray. Place the wok over high heat and add the smoking mixture, then add fruitwood leaves and sprigs; make sure not to make the pile too heavy because air circulation is necessary. Cover with a lid.

When small bursts of smoke begin to rise, place the rack holding the tomatoes or other food over the smoke source, cover with the foil—allow a small, gentle wisp of smoke to escape—and cook about 12 minutes on medium-high heat.

Remove the entire setup from the heat, but leave covered an additional 5 minutes or longer to infuse with smoky flavor.

Smoked Tomato Basil Concasse

  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, peeled and minced
  • 2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 cup smoked tomatoes (attached recipe)
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves


Have all of the ingredients prepped and ready to cook as it goes very quickly.

In a medium saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. When hot, add the shallots and toss; add the chopped tomatoes and saute 2 minutes.

Add the smoked tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Adjust the salt and pepper. Remove from heat and place in a serving bowl. Just before serving, stir in the fresh basil, leaving a bit to garnish the top.


Yogurt Pomegranate Lamb Brochettes on Rosemary Skewers

We very successfully tested and served this lamb creation at the Cook Local:Save the Bay class I gave at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Philip Merrill Center in Annapolis. The class was given a “perfect” rating as our local and sustainable products were paired with fine local wines . . . all in the gorgeous fall setting of the Chesapeake Bay.

serves 4 to 6

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 /3 cup pomegranate vinegar
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into chunks
  • Sturdy rosemary branches, soaked at least 30 minutes in cool water
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, about 1/3 cup

In a nonreactive bowl, combine the yogurt, salt, pepper, vinegar, garlic, and minced rosemary. Add the lamb cubes and toss to coat. Marinate at least 4 hours or overnight.

When ready to grill, remove the lamb from the marinade and pat dry.

Start a charcoal or wood fire or heat a gas grill; grill should be moderately hot. Thread lamb onto rosemary branches, 3 or 4 chunks of lamb per rosemary skewer. Brush lightly with olive oil just before grilling.

Grill, turning skewers as each side browns, taking care to avoid flare-ups; total cooking time should be from 6 to 10 minutes for medium-rare. Meat continues cooking a bit more after you remove it from the grill, so keep this in mind.

Serve  lamb cubes on the rosemary branches.


Cherry Cabernet Sauce/Glaze 

This fruity, upscale barbecue sauce marries beautifully with smoked meats and poultry. We tried it with our Hoisin Citrus-Tea Smoked Chicken (page 135). It is glorious slathered on pork, or try some on smoked sausage like the great varieties Whole Foods Annapolis carries. Make a full batch and keep it on hand in the fridge.

For the Whole Foods class, we used their basic Italian sausage which was juicy and smoky without being marinated first. This sauce is the perfect partner!

makes 3 1/2 cups

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 /3 cup Hoisin sauce
  • 2 /3 cup dried tart cherries
  • ½ cup chunky cherry preserves
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon or spicy mustard
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon toasted fennel seeds, freshly ground
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, optional
  • ¼ cup water, optional

Place olive oil into a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until limp, 3 to 4 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, except for the lemon juice. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid begins to thicken slightly, about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly.

You have a few choices here: you can leave the sauce chunky, which we prefer, or, for a smooth version, pour the mixture into a blender, add 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and blend until very smooth. Add a bit of water until you reach a thick but pourable consistency. Taste and add more lemon juice, if desired. Use warm or at room temperature.













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