So in these trying economic times, it is a good time to find ways to add new kitchen equipment. Doing so will help you make tasty, low-cost meals at home. My top priority right now is to get a meat grinder (hand cranked, dedicated machine, or Kitchen Aid with attachments). Next up is an infrared thermometer. Quickly moving up the charts into this weeks #3 spot: buy a stove-top smoker et a good roasting pan that can double as a smoker, or try the SAVU Smoker Bags.
Not all of us have kick ass weekend retreats up in Ellijay (you know who you are). Thus, we are resigned to our lives as feeble city dwellers in an apartment. While getting a full fledged smoker would be ideal, it’s not really an option for me. But that does not mean we are unable to smoke our own food. Let’s consider both the equipment and the technique employed to properly smoke your protein.
There are really three ways to go here. One option is to utilize a handful of apparatuses, another is the other is to purchase a stove-top smoker, and a third is to utilize these nifty little smoker bags.
Making your own temporary smoker is fairly straight forward. Get a roasting pan and fill the bottom with wood chips. Cover that with tin foil and then place a wire rack in the pan. Your protein goes on there. If you have a top that will cover your setup, now is the time to use it. If not, you can fashion a lid out of some more tin foil. While this is far from ideal, it will get the job done.
You can purchase your own indoor smoker. Granted, a stove-top version will not perform as well as the real thing, but that does not mean they won’t suffice. The Cameron Cookware Stovetop Smoker is a popular item on Amazon. The VillaWare Indoor Smoker (if you can find one) is the way to go. The VillaWare got solid reviews from Americas Test Kitchen and I was really pleased with the results when I used a friends (note: I have not done a price comparison so you may want to shop around a bit). If you need some wood chips – you can purchase these.
A third option is something I have not tried. Per a recommendation, I ordered some SAVU Smoker Bags from Hot Diggity Cajun. At $3.50 a pop, they are über cheap, but you only get one use out of each bag. I’ll report back when I know what’s up.
Regardless of the equipment you elect to use, the process is relatively simple. Again, don’t expect the robust flavors that you will get from smoking an item all day in an outdoor smoker. Just remember to use a low to medium heat. Fish will take the least amount of time, while denser meats will take the longest.
A popular technique is to replace your chips with Lapsang Souchong leaves, a Chinese black tea. Lapsang Souchong smoking will give you an earthy, smoked flavor. It pairs particularly well with fowl and mushrooms. When utilizing this method, I suggest mixing the loose-leaf Lapsang with equal parts brown sugar and long grain rice. Using wood chips might not be innovative, but it is still undeniably effective.
Also, smoking is a particularly temperamental cooking technique. I find that the slightest adjustment in wood chips, spices, herbs, and cooking time will make big differences. Write down what you do so that you can refer back to something as you continue to try new combinations.
Last but not least, turn on that over-the-stove fan and a window. It could get smelly!