06 May 2009
We have just had a couple of really disappointing smoked meals. We had been sent a couple of Smoker Bags, which are made by SAVU in Finland, to try.
The concept is great: they are aluminium foil bags with a 3-ply system that supposedly keeps the smoke in the bag via a bottom layer in the bag that contains the hickory or alder wood chips.
Firstly, we tried the Smoker Bag for Poultry with hickory wood chips. We seasoned some chicken thighs and legs with sunflower oil, some salt and pepper and put them into the bags. We cooked them in the oven for 30 minutes and then took out the cooked chicken, eating them with some boiled new potatoes and steamed broccoli. The chicken did not taste at all smoked and our house smelt as though someone had lit a bonfire in it, albeit using pleasantly flavoured sweet hickory wood.
Today, we tried the Smoker Bag for Fish which was used alder wood chips. This time we cooked cod fillets. I did not season them at all this time as I was slightly concerned that maybe the seasoning had interfered with the smoke flavouring of the chicken legs, but added a smidgeon of milk. I cooked them in the oven for only 20 minutes. We served the "smoked" cod fillets with mashed potatoes with steamed mange tout and baby corn. While the house did not get smoked out, the end result was still a real disappointment with very little smokiness coming through into the end product.
Getting decently flavoured home-smoked food is really difficult. We are often asked for organic smoked paprika but find it hard to come by; actually, it seems impossible. The problem is the smoking process: you need to find an organically certified smokery that's willing to have a crack at smoking the paprika; then you need to find someone who's willing to take sufficient volume to make it commercially viable (around 500kg). There are no willing takers for either!
Anyway, it's given me an idea for a new spices blend that would bring together that smokiness without the need of a Smoker Bag or a barbecue. I'll use this as a way of explaining how we come up with new ideas (the good, the bad and the truly disgusting), but it may take a couple of weeks to finesse the blend itself.