Friday, 21 August 2009

Home made smoke house

Just got back from a very nice trip to France. We stayed in the South West, somewhere between Bergerac and Bordeaux - wine country, as you can see by the vinyards...

This is the beautiful little town of Saint Emillion - home of one of the South West of France's best known varieties. I know very little about wine, which is why the info here is patchy.

Anyway, apart from the odd winery visit, and a lot of time sat about by the pool, there wasn't a huge amount to do at our French escape. There was, however, a big kitchen and a built in BBQ, so one cloudy afternoon, I decided to build a smoke house.

The basic principle is that you funnel the smoke away from the fire into a separate chamber where whatever you are smoking sits. Since the thing you are smoking isn't actually near the heat, it isn't cooked - this is called cold smoking. Perfect for me, because I wanted to smoke butter, in order to recreate the radishes we had at the first Farmyard Feast.

As you can see, I used the BBQ, with some foil wrapped around to gather more of the smoke, and a piece of hose pipe in the chimney leading to the chamber, which was made from a sealed mixing bowl (sat on top of a wine cooler). What you can't see is the funnel that I created out of more tine foil, that's wrapped around the end of the pipe that's sitting in the chimney.

Ideally the pipe would have been wider, but it still worked pretty efficiently.

Getting the fire going. The other good thing about the place we were staying was that there was a lot of fire wood, and a lot of tree bark, which is the perfect fuel for creating a lot of smoke. The fire wood also meant there was no need for charcoal, so all the food we cooked had a lovely subtle smokey flavour.
To make matters even better, there was also loads of fruit growing on the trees in the garden. Dad made a sorbet out of damsons, and I picked a load of figs, which were then cooked in the smoked butter and a bit of black current jam. These were used in a duck breast and fig salad we had as a starter.

Here's the radishes cooking away in their smoked butter. And below, being served up with bread, toasted on a roasting dish over the fire. Rustic. Next to it are the duck breasts, moments before being seared over our white hot fire wood.
After the appetisers and duck salad starter were served, it was on to mains: A mixed fish platter, and some lamb chops.
Dorado, marinading in parsley, lemon, and garlic.
On the grill.
Pretty much ready to serve. You can see the little foil parcels underneath which are directly on the coals. They contained salmon steaks, challots and fennel, with a little local rosé wine and olive oil.

And of course, some more meat. Lamb chops, marinaded in rosemary (from the garden) and garlic. Classic stuff.

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