Fire Pit Helper, everything to know about firepits
 

Liquid smoke feels like one of the magic tonics or potions from the crank doctors who used to advertise in Sears' catalogs and travel via medicinal road shows. But the all-natural food additive -- it's smoke-infused water -- is regaining popularity for people slow-cooking roasts inside of a crock pot instead of putting them on a grill.

The process of making liquid smoke is pretty cool to watch. It is distilled smoke, typically from mesquite or hickory wood, that's then often aged in oak barrels.

Here, the process is compared to a water bong. You can buy it in bottles or attempt to emulate the Food Network's Alton Brown and build your own fire pit in order to harvest the liquid smoke.

 

But it's not without detractors. Just head over to a Kansas City Barbecue Society event and see what happens when you suggest that your pulled pork made with liquid smoke should be in the running. Most people who dismiss the flavor of liquid smoke suggest that that is some how off or not as rich as actual smoking.

This Chowhound thread considers both sides of the debate and even offers some alternatives, such as Tabasco's Chipotle Pepper Sauce. If you opt for using liquid smoke, just remember to pour slowly -- it's powerful stuff as you'll discover when you remove the cap. And there's really no way to dilute it if you overpour, so measure it before adding it to a sauce.

As for a test recipe, you could try slow-cooked, pulled pork with liquid smoke. Because even if you're not a fan, at least you'll be sitting down to a dinner of pulled pork.