Call me old fashioned, but as with grilling, I believe that smoking is a man's job.
Alright fine, you can call me lazy because rather than going through the gazillion steps it takes to smoke something, I choose to cheat with a nifty secret ingredient called liquid smoke. This stuff is genius, though I must admit to some rolling of eyes and raising of the nose during my first encounter with it at the market.
For some reason, seeing a bottle of literal liquid smoke triggered the same reaction that I would expect to get from let's say a bottle of liquid love or liquid brawn. I perceived a complex, smokey flavor as something that needed to be worked at, so I didn't buy into this bottle business...initially. I bought it later that day (curiosity got the best of me). And boy am I glad I did, because I'll say it again, this stuff is genius.
It all started with a craving for the smoked almonds that I used to make while working at Hudson Yards Catering. There was a separate "smoking" room where all the goodies for Blue Smoke, another joint pertaining to Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group, were...well, smoked.
The almonds were my favorite, and after years of never having smoked almonds quite like those, it was time to intervene.
Cheater's Smoked Almonds(yield: 3 cups)
3 cups almonds, unsalted
4 tbsp water
3 tbsp hickory flavored liquid smoke
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
In a large bowl, mix together water and liquid smoke. Add almonds, and toss to coat. Let almonds soak in mixture overnight.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.
Toss almonds with oil, 1/2 tbsp salt, and 1/2 tbsp sugar.
In a small bowl, stir together remaining 1/2 tbsp salt and 1 tbsp sugar, and set aside.
Spread almonds in a flat, even layer onto prepared sheet pan. Bake 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. While they are still warm, toss the almonds with reserved salt/sugar mixture. Let cool completely before eating (resist the urge to nibble).