SMOK­ING

The Australian Women’s Weekly Food Magazine - - Secrets From The Test Kitchen -

Smok­ing adds a rich layer of flavour, in­creas­ing the umami ef­fect and mak­ing foods like meat even more savoury. Smoke is made of many things, some of which in­hibit the growth of mi­crobes, and oth­ers that re­tard the ox­i­di­s­a­tion of fat. This is what makes it a preser­va­tive, usu­ally in com­bi­na­tion with salt.

HOT SMOK­ING

VS COLD SMOK­ING

HOT SMOK­ING ac­tu­ally cooks food. Meat is gen­er­ally smoked at

115°C and the smoke source is po­si­tioned close to the food. Hot-smoked foods can be eaten im­me­di­ately. COLD SMOK­ING uses tem­per­a­tures no higher than 29°C, which doesn’t cook food, so it needs to be salted/cured first.

The food is placed far from the heat source, so it’s smoked long and slow. Cold-smoked foods are gen­er­ally left for 24 hours for their flavour to de­velop be­fore eat­ing.

SALTING

THIS IS THE first step in the smok­ing process. Not only does salting sea­son the food, but it par­tially dries it out, re­mov­ing some of the mois­ture that mi­crobes might thrive in. Salt is crit­i­cal to the pre­serv­ing process, so al­ways use the amount of salt spec­i­fied in the recipe.

Even for cold smok­ing, where tem­per­a­tures are low, you need to first salt the food, ei­ther by cov­er­ing it di­rectly with a layer of dry salt or im­mers­ing it in brine. This process changes the tex­ture of the meat, mak­ing it firmer. The quan­tity of dry salt or the con­cen­tra­tion of salt in the brine re­quired is higher for cold smok­ing, as the smok­ing tem­per­a­ture is low and the item isn’t ac­tu­ally cooked. Af­ter salting, food is briefly rinsed and al­lowed to dry be­fore smok­ing.

MAK­ING SMOKE

WOOD CHIPS & WOOD Hard woods such as hick­ory, oak, maple, ap­ple and mesquite are all good choices. To en­sure the wood hasn’t been treated with chem­i­cals and is food-grade, it’s best to buy woods specif­i­cally sold for smok­ing (usu­ally found in bar­be­cue sup­ply stores). OTHER IN­GRE­DI­ENTS The smoke doesn’t just have to come from smol­der­ing wood. You can also use herbs or, for tea smok­ing, a com­bi­na­tion of tea, brown sugar, rice and spices.

DIY BAR­BE­CUE SMOKER BOX

You can use a smoker box to hold the wood chips and fol­low the in­struc­tions for your bar­be­cue, or sub­sti­tute with a dis­pos­able foil pie tin. Add the food to be smoked once the chips start to smoke, ei­ther di­rectly on the grill plate or in a sep­a­rate con­tainer, then cook with the lid closed. For char­coal bar­be­cues, lumps of smok­ing wood are added di­rectly to the coals.

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