Kitchen Tool Test: The Smoking Gun

Want to whip up some smoked ice cream or cocktails at home? Just aim the Smoking Gun.

The Smoking Gun. Photograph courtesy of Polyscience.

Smoking is a technique originally used to preserve meats and fish, but some chefs are smoking everything from gnocchi to ice cream. At home, the process often requires a custom-built smoker plus a few hours. It wasn’t till we spotted bartenders at DC’s Elisir using a Smoking Gun that we learned a shortcut.

The restaurant uses the tool ($100 at Williams-Sonoma) to blow cool smoke made from pipe tobacco and hickory chips—among the many chips that can be ordered with the gun—onto brandied cherries for a Manhattan. In the dining room, an applewood cloud billows from a branzino-filled cigar box. We fired up the gun to give it a try. Unlike hot smoking, cold smoking won’t cook food, so the gun is all about flavor, and it’s best used on ingredients incorporated into a dish or drink.

Cherry-wood-smoked whiskey-pecan ice cream on apple pie was delicious, and bourbon-barrel-smoked cream stirred into espresso created a smooth, alcohol-free Irish coffee. It also works as a finishing touch. Steak smoked with hickory before searing didn’t retain a woodsy flavor, whereas hitting roast chicken with a cloud of the same recalled hours in a smokehouse. Want to play magician? The Elisir effect is easy: Pipe applewood smoke into a glass, invert it over a sliver of raw salmon, and the sweetly smoky fish appears in a heady cloud when the glass is lifted.

This article appears in the May 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.