Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Becoming a smoker

The first Charcutepalooza challenge involving smoking meat was this month. (You might notice that I am posting on the 20th instead of the 15th, this month I did smoke the neat on the 15th, but we didn't try it till breakfast on the 16th.)

I made Canadian bacon, brined and hot-smoked pork loin. I remembered it being bit like ham only smoked, and that's about right.

The smoking technique still needs practice. I have grand plans to apply technology and my electric smoker to the task eventually - I have a temperature controller, a data acquisition system to eventually replace the temperature controller with brains that do smoother control, and an electric smoker ready to be controlled -- ready, except that I set up the temperature controller to run a rice cooker, and the smoker requires an outlet with a ground, and I haven't been motivated to modify the temperature controller again. But this is supposed to be a food blog, not a geek blog.

So we made smoke the low-tech way. Ok, not that low tech. I lit the fire with matches, crumpled newspaper, and a chimney, not by rubbing two sticks together. But I did have two sticks, and those went into the project too - the source of smoke for our canadian bacon was the remains from pruning one of our backyard plum trees.

I improvised my smoke and heat source by putting some lit coals in with small bits of the sticks, cut up with the pruning shears, and some shavings from the wood to make sawdust, too. I don't think it worked as well as intended - the heat was slow to get to where I wanted it (indirect heat around 200F) and then the coals burned out too fast. But in the meanwhile, we got some smoke flavor into the meat. Not long enough to fully hot-smoke it to a fully cooked temperature, so then it went into a low oven for a while. The house smelled of tasty smoke by the time that was done, so I knew the smoking part of the adventure had not been for naught.

All those words (and all that work) for a few slices of meat, more brought to a birthday party, and more in the fridge for later. But my, those slices of meat were good.