Smoking Food

A long time ago, @james suggested I started a thread on smoking food after I somewhat subverted a thread of his on barbecues. It takes me ages to get round to things but we realised recently that we really missed smoked haddock - not every day, you realise, but although it is available round here, it is always dyed. Also, we’d prefer not to use haddock, given the over-fishing situation so wanted to try other things.

Being unsure about what to get to do this, and needing a barbecue anyway, we bought something a bit like this to try out cold smoking -

and for cold smoking, put one of these sorts of things, with a tea light, in the bottom

Following Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s guidance in his fish book, we ended up with very acceptable smoked haddock in the first instance, although it was quite warm outside and it was probably more cooked that was ideal.

Second time around we wanted to try pollack but the fish stall had run out, so tried coley instead and it was remarkably good.

I know there are other people on here that have done this sort of thing and I would really appreciate any advice/experience you can share as it’s incredibly hit and miss at the moment. We haven’t yet tried hot smoking so have no ideas on that one…

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I really miss smoked haddock. there is a stall on Cluny market, but it is prohibitively expensive.

It was surprisingly successful, smoking it ourselves. I was doubtful (hence buying a cheap barbecue-type-thing rather thank a purpose-built cold smoker). We had smoked haddock with poached egg on spinach, all topped with hollandaise sauce the first weekend we tried it. The following weekend when we did it with coley, we tried the same recipe again and it was equally good so I think we’ll continue with these experiments.

The online videos vary massively in their advice though and haven’t been overly helpful…

I’d like to have a go with smoking duck breast but that looks hugely complicated :thinking:

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I think you should give it a go! Yum yum!

We wait until there is a promo on haddock backs (dos d’eglefin) and then buy a lot to smoke and freeze the ones we don’t eat instantly. We find backs, being thicker, are more forgiving with our haphazard smoker.

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I’ve got identical kit (originally bought because I also missed naturally smoked haddock!) but in addition to videos, found this UK book very useful - immense detail and covers eveything - recipes too

Smoking, Curing and Drying: the Complete Guide for Meat and Fish, Turan T Turan

https://www.amazon.fr/Smoking-Curing-Drying-Complete-Guide/dp/1845435613

Smoked garlic’s rather good and in the summer smoked chicken breast to make a S African smoked chicken and avo salad (also may be an economical way to practice smoking duck breast). One of our local poulterers (un volailler?) makes duck sausage and you’ve made me think about smoking some of that

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That was what we found with our first batch - the aiglefin was a bit thin and that contributed to it being slightly cooked although it was cold smoked. We were very surprised how good the (much thicker) coley turned out to be…

Thanks Mark - I shall have a look for that. I think I’ll be doing most of any smoking in the summer (is that what you mainly do?) but I am very happy to pursue it further and take up any suggestions!

I think smoked garlic feels autumnal, also smoked sanglier, but on the subject of smoked veg, how about trying smoking butternut or potimarron? And perhaps smoked oysters at Christmas?

We smoke eggs….in fact if we’ve got the smoker lit then we smoke anything and everything! Eggs you have to be careful or they go too rubbery, but smoked eggs are great in all sorts of recipes. Cheese was a disappointment, but might have been the wrong cheese to try, and forgot about trying it again.

We have a surfeit of butternut at the moment so that could well be worth trying, thank you @DrMarkH !
Are you talking about hot smoking or cold smoking there? Also, since I got into this by reading Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, he talks about damp being the enemy of smoking because it does something weird to the flavour, so I assumed that we’d only really be able to do smoking when the weather was reasonably warm. It sounds like that isn’t your experience?

Interesting about smoked eggs and cheese @JaneJones ! I’ll have to give that a go and of course I (normally) love smoked cheese. Again, is that hot or cold smoking?

Thank you so much, both of you, for your input. I really appreciate it :smiley:

Autumn in SW France is a lot less damp than in SW England, so I can’t really comment on Hugh FW’s experience, but squash is so plentiful you can experiment freely. Looking online I see lots of hot smoked squash recipes, with lots of variations in cooking times, but of course butternuts can vary so much in size. Cooking themometer recommended… however, another route might be to cold smoke the squash and then cook it in your usual way in the oven . My two favourite roast squash recipes are diced or sliced and coated in either duck fat and sage leaves, or a mixture of harissa and olive oil.

I’m not a such a big smoked cheese fan, because most of the ones I’ve had have been German Rauchenkase. OTOH I always enjoyed smoked Lancashire and Wensleydale on the rare occasions I came across them. Apropos which can anyone recommend a French cheese that’s similar to those two - Cantal Jeune and Entre-Deux are for me the closest to English cheeses, so I’d love to learn of others.

Thanks for that, Mark! I shall continue the experiments :smiley:

Re cheeses - I’ve never so far come across a crumbly cheese here (equivalent to e.g. Wensleydale or Cheshire) so I too would be interested if anyone else has… Roquefort is of course crumbly in a way but that’s something else altogether :rofl:

Dont the Germans smoke a lot with pine that I really dont like. Oak smoked chicken on the other hand. Yum

I’ve been using a mixture of beech and alder for my first few experiments and that seems good so far. Chicken is well ahead of me but I may get there eventually :rofl:

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We use a 80/20 mix of Hêtre & Olivier. Tuna, eels, pike, chicken breasts, wild mushrooms, cheeses and oysters are amongst the norm for us.

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That’s interesting, @Le-Dolly . I was wondering - how do you source your sawdust (if that’s what you are using?)

We have lots of butternut. If you harden them, they will keep for about 8 to 10 months. We mainly use them in the winter months (such as they are :slightly_smiling_face:) for soups and rissotto. Haven’t tried smoking yet, but I made some bacon a few weeks ago, and it wasn’t half bad. The recipie needs tweaking a bit, but the secret is a sous vide machine to package the pork with the salt/herb mix to enhance and speed up the curing process. Cost €10 on leboncoin.

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Thanks for the tip, @hairbear - I use a sous vide machine a lot in packaging things for the freezer so will give that a go before smoking any meat.

We keep squash for months after hardening them off too but nust say that most recipes I have tried using them stray into what I think of as the “worthy” category. Very nutritious but not terribly interesting! That’s why I thought I might take up @DrMarkH 's smoking suggestion for squash :smiley:

Would love to hear more details about this, this is the one thing I really want to try!

Oh and I LOVE smoked oysters, they are a staple apero thing in a tin in Oz but never found them here!

I used a technique and recipie at

I found this on a website that @Fleur posted about, with regard to making a traditional english roast ham.
I think that you need to add 50% more time for curing, and use less sugar. I used 5cm thick pieces of pork. After curing and drying, you can then repackage using sous vide and freeze.

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