Today’s post is about technique, not a recipe. But this technique — smoking foods indoors easily at home — is one that you’ll value forever.
That picture above is of the Cameron home smoker, a device I’ve used for twenty years and bless every time. You may have seen these devices in a kitchen supply store. You may have a friend who uses one. Or, you may have bought one years ago and now it’s stashed somewhere in the garage or basement. If that’s the case, get a flashlight and find it.
Why smoke at home? It’s simple: you gain enormous control over the flavor and moisture of the product. Yesterday Brian and I were at the store looking for some smoked salmon to use in a recipe test. I knew what I wanted. And the store had a wide selection of smoked salmon types, but not what I needed. I did the simple thing: bought a chunk of fresh salmon, took it home, broke out the wood chips, made a custom blend of wood flavors and lit the burner. In twenty minutes I had exactly what I wanted.
The Cameron home smoker is a metal box. The top lid slides and forms a tight seal. Inside the box, you put a layer of wood chips, then a metal rack, and finally put the food you want to smoke on top of the rack. Close the top, put the metal box on a burner, turn up the heat and in a matter of minutes, you are done.
The Cameron folks make a variety of wood chips, from Apple to Mesquite and beyond. Strength of flavor surprising, in English, follows the letter of the wood. So, apple is mild, cherry is stronger, and mesquite will give you quite a smoky flavor. For my salmon dish, I used apple with a pinch of mesquite.
What can you smoke? We’ve only done proteins, but a lot of fish and chicken. We have yet to do pork chops but this post is inspiring me.
How long do you smoke for? Well, my one pound slab of salmon took 15 minutes. Here’s the payoff. That salmon was smoky. But it was still deliriously moist. This technique lets you avoid drying out the food until it become leather. That’s a very, very key benefit of this technique. My smoked salmon was going into a verrine, a vertically layered dish with veggies and sauce. The salmon consistency had to complement those layers by retaining softness. A dried piece of smoked salmon, one with any hint of toughness, would have been a failure.
I invite you to investigate the Cameron smoker. It’s a rewarding experience and one that will earn you culinary plaudits.