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I'm a Chef that loves to Smoke!



Yeah, not that kind of smoking...silly.


Todays blog is all about smoking food. I do smoke though, every chef has there issues...lol. The inspiration for this post is based on a new product line I'm working on in Ecuador, Victory Chocolate. With our 2022 product line of flavours completed, Ive been compiling a list of new savory chocolate concepts like white and dark chocolate infused with French and Italian truffles and SMOKED chocolate, that's right SMOKED. How do you smoke chocolate you say? I'll let you know when I figure it out...lol;


Food smoking was, in the past, carried out for more pragmatic reasons than today - namely to preserve quickly spoiling fish and meat for the leaner months. Today, as with other traditional techniques like brining, curing and pickling, chefs are hooked on the unique flavours that smoking can bring to modern cuisine. While most meat and fish are smoked using aromatic wood chips, it is used today to impart all manner of delicate smoky flavours into food, from hay to herbal teas.


THE ART OF SMOKING


And it is an art, and also seasonal. November through March is the best time to smoke in Canada. The temperature is the thing that matters here, colder is better for the most part.


Smoked meat is the result of a method of preparing red meat, white meat, and seafood which originated in the Paleolithic Era. Smoking adds flavor, improves the appearance of meat through the Maillard reaction, and when combined with curing it preserves the meat. When meat is cured then cold-smoked, the smoke adds phenols and other chemicals that have an antimicrobial effect on the meat. Hot smoking has less impact on preservation and is primarily used for taste and to slow-cook the meat. Interest in barbecue and smoking is on the rise worldwide.


Equipment

You may think that home smoking requires you to develop some kind of smokehouse den in the garage, but this is no longer the case, as products are now available to make your adventures in smoking as hassle-free as possible. There are, broadly speaking, two type of home smokers available for purchase - electric smokers, which are used for hot and cold smoking, and stove-top smokers, that use the direct heat of the hob to hot-smoke food. Electric smokers are great for beginners, as they allow you to precisely control the levels of heat and smoke, while stove-top smokers are portable and, with a bit of practice, allow you to experiment with all manner of hot smoked flavour combinations.


Smoking woods fall into three main groups: hardwoods such as oak, beech and birch; fruit woods such as cherry, apple and pear and nut woods such as hazel and pecan. They all have wonderful unique characters that are worth exploring, such as the lovely toasty vanilla smokiness you get from oak, and the bacon-like nature of hickory. It’s great to experiment with smoke and make your own blends – for example I love hickory and cherry mixed together for chicken and pork. You can also add extra elements such as herbs – rosemary, bay and thyme are all fantastic smouldering away, but be careful as they’re quite strong flavours and should be used sparingly.


Smoking with wood

Generally meat is smoked using hardwood or wood pellets made from hardwood; softwood is not recommended due to increased PAH from the resin. Wood smoke adds flavor, aroma, and helps with preservation. There are two types of smoking: cold smoking generally occurs below 90 °F (32 °C) and has more preservative value. Hot smoking generally occurs above 160 °F (71 °C). Most woods are seasoned and not used green. There are many types of wood used for smoking; a partial list includes:

  • Woods with a mild flavor: Alder, apple, apricot, ash, birch, cherry, maple, peach, pear.

  • Woods with a medium flavor: Almond, hickory, pecan, post oak, pasania.

  • Woods with a strong flavor: Acacia, black walnut, chokecherry, grapevine, mesquite.

  • Other woods and organic matter: Avocado, bay, beech, butternut, carrotwood, camphor, castanopsis, chestnut, citrus woods, cottonwood, crabapple, fig, guava, gum, hackberry, kiawe, lilac, madrone, mulberry, olive, peat, plum, persimmon, pimento, tea, and willow.



Stay tuned for a follow up to this thread, were I may or may not share my extremely secretive recipe for cold smoked Scottish salmon lox. In the meantime get out there and do a little smoking of your own. Cheers!

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