I’ve been into BBQ’ing since I learned to play with matches and roasted my first hot dog over an open flame on my moms bbq in our backyard. I still remember that day, I burned the hot dog to a crisp, but I liked the crunchiness, it tasted good. What did I know? I was only a kid.. I’ve learned a lot since then…
I love to BBQ/Grill/Charcoal/whatever you want to call it, I think it’s some kind of neanderthal trait in our DNA that makes us desire to cook meats over an open flame…. it’s a lust for fire that seems to always mesmorize us so much when we’re sitting around a campfire at night staring at the dancing flames.
As we all know there’a a lot more to BBQ’ing then just slapping some raw meat on top of some burning coals. There’s direct and indirect cooking, there’s charcoal types, gas and propane and then there’s smoking...
Smoking meats is a different and very unique way to cook meats and create incredible flavors.
There’s a saying that must always be followed when smoking meats – do it LOW and SLOW. That means smoke the meats on a very low heat (150-250 degrees at the most).
I have an electric smoker box (pictured to the left) that works ok but I’d prefer the big green egg.
Last weekend I made some smoked salmon using the following recipe for brining.
1 cup kosher salt
½ cup sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp crushed black peppercorns
2 large salmon fillets (pin bones removed)
In a bowl, mix together salt, sugar, brown sugar and peppercorns. Spread extra-wide aluminum foil a little longer than the length of the fish and top with an equally long layer of plastic wrap. Sprinkle 1/3 of the rub onto the plastic. Lay 1 side of the fish skin down onto the rub. Sprinkle 1/3 of the rub onto the flesh of the salmon. Place second side of salmon, flesh down onto the first side. Use the remaining rub to cover the skin on the top piece. Fold plastic over to cover then close edges of foil together and crimp tightly around the fish.
Place wrapped fish onto a plank or sheet pan and top with another plank or pan. Weigh with a heavy phone book or a brick or two and refrigerate for 12 hours. Flip the fish over and refrigerate another 12 hours. Some juice will leak out during the process so make sure there’s a place for the runoff to gather.
Unwrap fish and rinse off the cure with cold water. Pat salmon with paper towels then place in a cool, dry place (not the refrigerator) until the surface of the fish is dry and matte-like, 1 to 3 hours depending on humidity. A fan may be used to speed the process.
Smoke fish over smoldering hardwood chips or sawdust, keeping the temperature inside the smoker between 150 degrees F and 160 degrees F until the thickest part of the fish registers 150 degrees. Serve immediately or cool to room temperature, wrap tightly and refrigerate for up to 3 days.