We’re so excited about all the new smoking kit that has arrived, that we haven’t been able to put it down. The two products we’ve been cooking with are the Cameron’s Gourmet Mini Smoker (its bigger brother is the Camerons Gourmet Smoker), and the ProQ Cold Smoke Generator. Yes, they both smoke things. Yes, you may *need* both of them!
The Gourmet Mini Smoker is a hot smoker. Hot smokers cook food at around 150°C whilst smoking it. Some examples of hot smoked foods that you might have seen before are hot smoked mackerel and thinly sliced smoked duck in supermarkets. Even pastrami is hot smoked.
The ProQ cold smoke generator is a cold smoker. Cold smoking surrounds the food with smoke, but never lets the temperature get above 32°C. This food stays raw, keeping the beautiful translucence of cold-smoked salmon. This method is also perfect for cold smoking foods that melt when heated, for example butter or cheeses. Because the food isn’t cooked, meat or fish should always should be cured before it is smoked. For example brining in a salt sugar solution, sometimes even with saltpetre (to kill bacteria); or packing tightly with curing salts for a couple of days in the fridge. Often food is cold smoked to freeze or refrigerate and cook later – for example bacon.
After choosing your smoking method, then there is a choice of woods. We’ve mainly used oak, as we get a better feel for the technique, but there is anything from apple to cherry to whiskey oak. All the wood chips work with either of the smokers.
Hot smoking with the Camerons Smoker
The Camerons smokers sit on any type of hob indoors, or can be used outdoors on a BBQ. Wood chips are placed in the base…
… and covered with a metal drip tray. Then pop a little foil onto the drip tray (if you’re not a keen washer-upper), insert the rack, and sit whatever is cooking on top.
Cover with a lid
After 20-30 minutes, a perfect piece of hot-smoked salmon for dinner. Delicious flaked over pasta, or served cold with a salad. See the gorgeous deep orange outside…
… and the lovely moist pale pink interior.
Boned chicken thighs for lunch went from pale and pasty to deliciously smoky and deep orange colour in another 30 minutes or so on a very low heat on the hob.
And then a second lunch of smoked halloumi, just because…
Cold-smoking with the ProQ cold smoke generator
For the last few days, a fillet of salmon has been curing in the fridge, covered in herbs, salts and spices. It was taken out yesterday, rinsed thoroughly, patted dry and cold smoked for 6 hours. A night in the fridge to let the flavours mellow, and sliced this morning for breakfast. Certifiably the most delicious salmon we’ve ever eaten. And when a 1kg side of salmon is £7-£10 from a supermarket, and cold smoked salmon is £15-£40 a kilo, it’s pretty darn good value.
The cold smoke generator is lit with a candle.
It sits in the base of a Weber BBQ, or other metal housing to hold the smoke (dustbin, oil drum, etc).
The cured salmon is rinsed, and patted dry, ready to smoke. Just hang or place on a rack in the smoker and leave for 6 hours (the cold smoker can generate smoke for around 10 hours).
Left overnight, finely sliced and ready to eat. Salmon perfection.