This sounds weird, but it is the most pleasant, smoked fruit ice cream I’ve had. Once I was making a smoked peach ice cream and realized I didn’t have peaches; show-stopper, right? Well, I had some watermelon on hand and (gasp) don’t really like watermelon all that much – this is a sharp divide between my family and me.
Make the ice cream custard base, I now use this recipe b/c it works well and it’s very readable. Note that this is vanilla, go light on the vanilla (you can use extract because we want a mint undertone). During the scolding process, add a small handful of mint leaves (say 8); you can smack them first but don’t damage them as it’s a bit nicer if the green coloring doesn’t seep into the base. You can, of course, use mint extract, but my personal experience with this has been far from satisfying. I always get the extract too strong and it takes a sort of chemical taste. If you don’t have fresh mint leaves, I’d recommend mixing in a tablespoon of creme de menthe before refrigerating your mix. Experiment, you’ve got options!
The watermelon is where the magic happens. First gut the watermelon (preferrably seedless) into 1-inch cubes (no rind, no seeds). Put these in a disposable tin baking dish and put them into the smoker at 210F/100C with smoke for four hours. I use either Applewood or Mequite (Pecan turns out “odd” in my opinion). After four hours you should find yourself with large snotty, slimy cubes. Remove the baking tin from the smoker and put over medium direct heat (I use my gas grill, but you could use a stove top as well). Cook these down until they look like snotty gummy bears. There should be no liquid left, but the watermelon should have a slimy-wet plasticy texture. Cool in refrigerator overnight.
Chiffonade 4 mint leaves and dump the base and mint into an ice cream mixer. Add watermelon bits slows such that they do not clump. Treat this like normal ice cream with a direct freeze post-mix and a 5 minute thaw before serving.
This is good by itself, or you can top meagerly with an esspresso balsamic vinegar.