Today's recipe & photo share are courtesy of my son, Matthew.
To set the scene of today's post, we'll begin here...
It's Saturday afternoon & the phone is ringing.
Matthew: (no hello, just a voice doing his best Beavis & Butthead impersonation...)"Aaaaaahhhhhh, if you were fennel, what are you & where would you be in the grocery store?"
Mom: (I'm now thinking, what in the world is my #2 child cooking...)"Fennel is a spice and you'll find it in the spice aisle"
Mom: "Sort of looks like caraway seeds".
Mom: "What do you need fennel for?"
Matthew: (his phone is now breaking up as it often does when he calls me from the grocery store and all I could make out was...) "I'm going to smoke it."
Mom replies in a somewhat louder/concerned type of voice: "WHAT...you're going to do SMOKE IT????"
Matthew: "Yea, I bought some salmon and I'm going to smoke it." "The brine calls for fennel".
Mom (now in a more relaxed voice): "Oh, yea, that sounds good."
Mom: "Do you have a smoker?"
Matthew: "I'm going to turn my grill into a smoker." (He inherited this sort of "make-do" ability from his Dad)
Mom: "Hummm, will that work?"
Matthew: "Yea, it'll work."
(Blogger Mother is now brainstorming....I'm not quite sure what kind of response this question will bring, but what the heck...I'm going to ask it anyway...so here goes)
Mom: "You should take pictures." "You know, step by step pictures." "And I'll post it on my blog!"
(He said okay, can you b-e-l-i-e-v-e it! Mother is now doing the "happy dance" as she has Monday's blog post all planned...and better yet, she doesn't have to make the mess in her kitchen or even take the photos!!)
Sunday afternoon (It is at this time I'm really wondering if sonny boy is going to pull through on this sort of deal we had goin'. Later in the day I check my email and oh baby I got mail! Mail from Matthew! Mail with lots of pictures attached! We are makin' smoked salmon & Matthew you are thee man!!!
Here is the recipe just as it came to me from Matthew...no editing, so enjoy!
ok so here is what i had to do. first you have to put the "brine" together and soak the salmon in it for a day or so. here is the brine (Mom thinking here...looks like the college grad could use a refresher course in capitalization)
4 cups water
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 bay leaves
1 stalk sliced celery
1/2 cup chopped fennel
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 smashed garlic cloves Place salmon in a pan & pour brine over
Refrigerate over night.
After that is done soaking it is time to lay the meat out and let it dry out. The reason for this is so that "pellicle" is formed on the fish and it gives the smoke something to adhere to. (Mom thinking...he has been doing some major research on smoking, now he is throwing "big" words at us). During this step it is a good idea to have the fish sitting somewhere cool (65 degrees or less) and with air movement. I sat it outside and had a fan blowing on it for about 2 hours. (Mom thinking...something about this picture totally cracks me up! What if the neighbor's dog or cat catches whiff of this out on the deck drying?????)
Hickory, wood of choice.
While the fish is drying its a good time to start soaking your wood chips in a bowl of water. (Me thinking...dang I taught him well, he is multi-tasking!!!)
Since i am using a gas grill which isn't a wonderful candidate for smoking, i made several packets ready to replace any that stopped producing smoke. After your fish has been "dried" and your wood chips are nice and waterlogged its time to prep the grill. Take your wood chips and wrap them in heavy duty tin foil so that it is pretty much air tight. To get good smoke you should put the packet (or packets) of wood chips under the grill grate so its exposed to direct flames. Turn the grill up until you start to see smoke.
once the grill is smoking its time to get the temp under control. smoking is suppose to be done between 225 - 250 degrees. I had the fish on the side of the grill that had the burner turned off and the other side was on low which for me kept it just below 250 degrees the entire time i was smoking the meat.
Depending on the thickness of the fish you should leave it in the "smoker" anywhere from 1 - 4 hours. i left mine on the grill for pretty much the entire patrioits vs. baltimore football game (Mom is now laughing out loud...isn't this a classic "description of time" coming from the male gender?!!!) i think it was just under 3 hours.
I now have something to snack on for the next week.
Fresh smoked salmon will be good in the fridge for 10 days and 6 months in the freezer.
And that ends our fun day of cooking with Matthew. Please let us know if you would like this to become a weekly deal, as I'm sure Matthew wouldn't mind.....
Also please free to offer any favorite brine recipes or smoking tips that you may have!
Have a good evening,
(Matthew if you should happen upon this post...thanks a bunch! - Love, Mom)