Smoking food is a traditional method for preserving food longer. Meat, fish, shellfish and even cheeses can be smoked. The more fat, the better the result. They taste different and keep longer. Basically, everything we put on the barbecue can also be placed in the Barbecook smoker.
Either cold or hot smoking are possible. Cold smoking takes longer and the food remains raw. When hot smoking food, the food is cooked and the smoking time is significantly shorter.
A smoker works very simply. In essence, it’s a simple device that adds a smoky flavour to the food that comes from burning wood chips. Today’s smokers have a storage space where wood chips are burnt at a low temperature. Because of the lack of oxygen in a smoker, the wood chips do not catch fire, but release smoke instead. Smoke will be led past the meat or fish through a specially designed channel, giving it its delicious smoked aroma.
Make sure that the sawdust used (smoke chips or wood chips) is pure and free from glue or other additives. Beech is widely used. Oak and fruit tree species can also be used and give a typical flavour to your dishes. Avoid pine because of its resins. Ready-made smoking chip mixes are for sale at Firepit-online.com.
Place a layer of slightly humid smoking chips on the burning charcoal. They will start smoking immediately. Close the smoker, with the food inside, and then achieve the desired temperature by closing or opening the valves on the side and top of the lid.
Cold smoking (max. 30°C):
Add some charcoal to one of the two dishes at the bottom of the smoker. Light the charcoal as you would to start a barbecue. However, use much less charcoal. A few briquettes should suffice as the smoker should actually not produce heat, only smoke.
Once they’re white-hot, cover them up with a layer of slightly moistened wood chips.
In most cases, the piece of meat or fish has been salted some time in advance. This not only ensures extra flavour, the brine also pulls moisture from the food so it can be kept longer.
Place the second dish above the heat source and fill it with water. This not only catches any fats that are released from the food, it also serves as a heat shield. Place the griddle with the food above it. Close the oven with the lid and try to keep the temperature as low as possible by opening or closing the valves. Make sure the chips keep smoking. Should the smoking stop, one can always start again. It’s much prefered that the fire goes out once in a while than that the temperature is too high.
The smoking time depends on the temperature of the oven and your personal taste. The higher the temperature, the shorter the smoking time. The longer the smoking time, the more intense the flavour. Smoking is also possible in winter. The outside temperature is lower and therefore it’s easier to keep the temperature lower in the smoking oven.
Dishes that are cold smoked quickly can also be prepared in the usual way in the oven or in a pan (chicken, duck, bigger pieces of meat). They’ll have a subtle smoke taste. Cold smoked, flatter pieces (salmon fillets, duck breast) that stay in the smoking oven for a long time (at least 4 hours, up to 8-10 hours) can be eaten, if they have been salted properly. Let them harden in the fridge after smoking and then cut them into thin slices.
Hot smoking (50 – 80°C):
When hot smoking, the temperature can be higher. It’s a combination of grilling and smoking, but with a closed lid. Here, the rules of a traditional barbecue apply. The dish with water is not always necessary. One can then move the dish with the charcoal and the wood chips and use more charcoal.
Of course you can also choose a combination of cold and hot smoking. The experiences of the cook will play a big role. Check out the Barbecook site for more information.
Good luck and have fun with smoking!