Friday, April 15, 2011

Smoked Trout and Canadian Bacon

This is the fourth month of Charcutepalooza, and I'm still in the game. You know what I have to say about Charcutepalooza? I have now made all of these things that I always had plans for but hadn't yet gotten around to it. There is so much that I jump right into, but for some reason my plans for charcuterie had been more daunting than most of my endeavors. And let's hear it for Charcuterie, the guiding tome. You know what? I finally got my copy in the mail! Finally!

As a new comer to smoking, it took me a while before I compartmentalized smoking foods into those two simple categories: cold smoking and hot smoking. Cold smoking foods does not cook them, but imparts the smokey flavor, and as such it is important to use a curing salt because cold smoking invites bad bacteria as the temperatures are less than 100 degrees F. Hot smoking, however, utilizes higher temperatures (above 150 degrees F.) and thus cooks the food, while imparting the smoke flavor, and in my mind, it is not quite so important to use curing salt. (The book recommends using curing salt, or pink salt, in all cases unless you are hot smoking at 300 degrees F.)

Cold smoker.
Last summer, my father in law brought me a smoker. This was a Little Chief, with an electric element, and I later found out, a cold smoker. You know how I found out? I smoked some trout in it, and it took six hours, and it was still not done so I had to bake it off in the oven. I will definitely return to this smoker to make cold smoked salmon.

Hot smoker.
The trout that I cold smoked wasn't very smoky. I didn't brine it. I did it all wrong, but at least I cooked it fully. (This may be why jumping into meat curing isn't the brightest idea. You've got to have some bit of knowledge, and that's why Charcuterie, the book, is so great.) Undaunted, I pestered a friend to loan me his smoker that was stuffed in a storage space. He graciously delivered it to my house, seemingly shamed by it's neglect. (He will be repaid in Canadian bacon, I assure you.)

You wouldn't mind being paid in bacon, would you?
So, the second time around I got four whole trout, brined them a few hours and let them sit over night. It was a chilly night, about 33 degrees, and I locked the porch doors hoping rodents wouldn't get in. I then hot smoked it for almost two hours at 180 degrees with alder wood.  I used this Alton Brown recipe for the trout. There is one in Charcuterie (look under the recipe for trout rillettes--yum), but I didn't want to use pink salt, and didn't feel it was necessary for safety (because it was being hot smoked, and fully cooked at safe temperatures) or taste (this was a guess, but I was right). A little bit of knowledge and suddenly I'm a know it all, huh?

Can I talk about the pellicle for a second? Do you know how much I enjoy that word? I especially love how essential it is to smoking anything. The pellicle is formed when the once brined or cured meat is patted dry and allowed to completely dry, and get a little sticky, before smoking. I think the word sounds like oracle. And when my trout had sat over night in a nice chilled evening with a light breeze it formed a wonderful pellicle and I knew, as if it were an oracle of future goodness, that my trout would rule. Or maybe I was just smoking something. Regardless, I like that word. But dang, that trout did rule.

Oh, goodness.
Because I wasn't satisfied with just smoking fish, I opted to make Canadian bacon, too. I was able to order a local pork loin via my supermarket, which was convenient. Because I still had a big bag of that Morton's Tender Quick, I figured why not use it? So I followed a recipe on their site. It was very simple and not quite a brine, a rub that made it's own brine as it sat, much like making bacon. I let it cure for three days and then smoked it with hickory wood for almost three hours at 225 degrees, when the internal temperature reached 150 degrees. When I pulled it out, I felt immensely proud of myself! And, whoa nelly, it was freaking good! Four pounds of Canadian bacon is a boat load of the stuff, and let's be honest, I probably won't make this again any time soon. Although, wouldn't it make a super cool Christmas present along with some good maple syrup? With the rest of the bacon, I sliced it and put it in the freezer to pull out on special occasions.

Pickled green beans and pickled green tomatoes. 

I had some friends over for dinner last night, and I decided to make a few small plates with my smoked goods. It was all very simple and very tasty. Here's what happened.

Smoked Trout Dip

1/4 cup of cream cheese
1/4 cup plain yogurt
one to two whole smoked trout, depending on your tastes, skin removed
a tablespoon of capers

Let the cream cheese sit out and soften. Then add the yogurt and whip them together (I used a fork, then an immersion blender) until smooth. Add the flaked trout and capers and fold them in. Serve with crackers.

Canadian Bacon and Leek Frittata

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat a large cast iron pan with a small bit of olive oil to coat it. Saute a half of a cleaned large leek, sliced thinly, until wilted and golden. Remove leeks to a plate.

Can we squeeze a veggie in here?
Add a spot more oil, leaving pan on medium heat. Layer slices of Canadian bacon to cover the bottom of the pan. Add 6 eggs, beaten with a splash of milk or cream, and about 4 ounces of grated cheese (I used a nice sharp cheddar) and cook until the sides seem set but the center is still very wobbly. Put the pan in the oven for about ten or fifteen minutes, until the center seems set. Remove and let cool a bit.

Using a knife, cut around the edges and using a spatula check to see if the bottom is sticking. If all looks good, put a plate on the pan and invert, so that you have an upside-down canadian bacon pie when you're done. Serve slightly cooled with a bit of chives, in thin pie wedges. No forks needed.

After. Slightly 1950's Better Home and Gardens?


  1. Oh, that is some good looking food! I love smoking trout during trout season here in VT; it's a nice way to keep up with big catches, and it freezes well. Your Canadian bacon turned out great! Thanks for making me even MORE hungry :-)

  2. I would be happy to be paid in bacon. Let's trade :)

  3. Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiice. I might be interested in renting your cold smoker for a few days. I'll pay with salami, if that's OK.

  4. Amazing! I am so jealous of you and your smoking! My boyfriend and I have been obsessed with smoking foods for a long time, but have never had the guts to get the tools and do it. Your stuff looks so good though!

  5. It's too much goodness, I have to turn away!

  6. Mosaica - Cool! Now I know to make a bunch and freeze some. I wish I was catching it myself, that would be even sweeter. And thanks, making people even MORE hungry is high praise!

    Adventuresindinner - Watcha got? ; )

    Peter - That's more than okay. I'll even throw in delivery.

    Allison - Thanks for your jealousy! I know it's the good kind. Now go and smoke some meat!

    Denise - The light; it's blinding!

  7. Like Denise, I feel like there's so much yum on one page I can't take it!!! Well done on this challenge :)
    ps reading this reminded me we talked about getting together today. And it didn't happen. So let's do it soon, ok?!

  8. That Canadian bacon looks great! Too bad my Little Chief is just a cold smoker, because I want to try the Canadian Bacon now! ;)

  9. Leesie (seaslife)April 16, 2011 at 2:58 PM

    You are amazing, Julia. Your writing, pictures, and talent are jaw dropping and inspiring. ;0)

  10. Winnie - Aww, thanks! And: I know, I spaced! Let's!

    Jkb - I know! You could rig something up! So easy.

    Leesie - Leesie, you are too kind! Thank you! (psst. good work! I'll pay you later!) ; )

  11. Can I just climb into this post and live? Or at least take a nap after a leisurely picnic? This is all amazing, and yes, I could be paid in bacon anytime....