Smoking is a popular food preparation method that has been used to cook and preserve food for thousands of years. In commercial foodservice, quality smoking equipment can mean the difference between producing a flavorful, tender piece of meat or one that is tough and tasteless.
The role of a smoker in the cooking process depends on the food being prepared, but in most cases, smoking involves smoldering different types of wood to create another flavor within the food. As this trend evolves, operators are using smoker ovens in new applications outside of large cuts of meat, smoking delicate items like grains, dairy, vegetables and cured fish.
In fact, the smoking process today has become an art form. Chefs are incorporating a variety of woods that impart unique flavors, including fruit woods like apple, cherry and pear; nutty woods like pecan; and hard woods, such as hickory, maple and oak. Adding smoke is a healthier way to enhance and modify food flavor without changing dietary components.
“One area we’re seeing a lot of growth in smoked foods is institutions, like schools and healthcare,” said Ryan Norman, director of consultant services at Alto-Shaam. “As dietary restrictions, such as the reduction of sodium and fat, have increased, the use of certain seasonings and flavorings have been more limited.”
Types of Commercial Smoker Ovens
There are a number of commercial smoking options for operators, including pit smokers and pellet grills. However, equipment that burns wood as solid fuel requires more expensive, dedicated type 1 ventilation hoods, adding significant installation and operating costs.
With solid fuel smoking equipment, there is also the added cost of purchasing wood logs. Not to mention, the amount of labor needed to maintain the burning fire and rotate product around the pit.
Labor-Free Smoker Ovens
Operators can now become a pit master without the pit using Alto-Shaam’s latest Cook & Hold Smoker ovens. These labor-free smokers provide the ability to effortlessly infuse bold, authentic flavors into food with real wood chips. As an added bonus, Smoker ovens feature Halo Heat® technology, which results in greatest yields and highest quality food – all while lowering operating costs.
“Because our equipment can be placed under a more common type 2 ventilation hood, the cost compared to a traditional smoker is considerably less, while improving yields and maximizing food quality and consistency,” Norman said.
Cook & Hold Smoker ovens improve yields up to 20% more than solid-fuel commercial smoker ovens while also costing less than $2 per day to operate. By surrounding food with a low-heat electric cable, Halo Heat thoroughly cooks and holds items to a consistent temperature that retains moisture and ideal food temperatures until service. This heating method helps reduce energy and labor costs, since the electric method is highly efficient and can be utilized overnight to increase productivity in the kitchen.
Further expanding menus, operators can cold smoke items like poultry, fish and cheeses with their Smoker oven. This feature delivers the same flavor enhancements as hot smoking without using heat to cook the food.
Remote Oven Management
Featuring an advanced control with remote oven management capability, new Cook & Hold Smoker ovens are designed intentionally simple to further reduce labor and training time. Alto-Shaam's ChefLinc™ remote oven management system, puts operators in complete control of their equipment, menu and business from wherever they are. Using an intuitive dashboard, operators can create multi-step, programmable recipes to ensure smoked food is executed consistently every time, no matter who is operating the oven.
Almost any foodservice operation can benefit from the cost-savings and menu enhancements from Alto-Shaam’s latest smoker ovens. To learn how to effortlessly expand your menu, register for an upcoming 30-minute webinar at 11 a.m. CST on Tuesday, June 15.