An easy way to add smoky flavor to almost any food (and drink)

Where there's smoke, there isn't always fire.

Smoking meat is a great way to enhance the flavor and texture of your food-- and it’s easier to do than you might think.

When it comes to the art of smoking, Victor Albisu is the man for the job. Chef and owner of Del Campo, an upscale South American Grill in Washington, D.C.,  Albisu told he incorporates smoking into not only meats, but also cheese, eggs, vegetables, olive oil and even cocktails.

Albidu says smoking doesn’t take a lot of equipment, but it takes some practice. Keep reading to learn more about Albisu and his super-secret smoking tips. Why do we need smoke in our food anyway?

Victor Albisu: Smoke is a flavor preference. For me, it's about connecting with simple cooking from the country and incorporating that into a fine-dining concept. Does it dry out your meat or fish?

Victor Albisu: The way we use smoke it enhances the flavor and texture of the food. It doesn't dry it out the food. What are the best things to smoke?

Victor Albisu: You can smoke just about anything from meats to cheese, eggs, steak tartare and vegetables. It's a flavor great flavor enhancer.

At Del Campo, we also make some smoked cocktails. Our bartenders place the cocktail glass over smoldering canela and fill the glass with it's scent and flavor before pouring the liquid. Smoked cocktails are some of our most popular drinks. What items that should never be smoked?

Victor Albisu: Generally fruits take well to char, but not to smoke. I would also never smoke juice, water or ice. Do you pair meat with wood, like you pair with wine?  Break it down for us.

Victor Albisu: I tend to smoke most things with dried herbs. For example, I smoke pork with oregano. For lamb or goat I use rosemary. For beef I use a combination of rosemary, thyme and oregano.

We use applewood to give off a nice flavor to our house-smoked olive oil, and for house-smoked olives, we use hickory. If you want to smoke at home, do you need one of huge backyard smokers?

Victor Albisu: No, I use a table top smokebox filled with dried herbs to smoke most menu items at Del Campo. It's all you need to infuse herb-smoked aroma and flavor into your food. What are some rookie mistakes and how do you prevent them?

Victor Albisu: Two common mistakes are under and over-smoking, as well as using herbs that aren't dry enough.

Like anything, smoking takes practice to give off the right flavor and scent. It's also important to use well-dried herbs for smoking. Fresh herbs must be fully dried before they can be used for smoking. Would you share your super-secret tip to smoking?

Victor Albisu: The table top smoke box is my secret weapon for smoking inside Del Campo and at home. You don't need to buy expensive equipment. You just need a smoke box, lots of dried herbs, a torch and a little practice.