Category Archives: Smoked

Christmas 2013 – Homemade Cold Smoked Salmon

2013 has been a quiet year for blogging in GarysKitchen, and I have pretty much failed in adding content regularly but here’s a final hurrah with GarysKitchen countdown to Christmas 2013.

Compared to previous Christmases this years is going to be a simpler affair.  I am not going for the curing marathon that was 2011, or the faff of making my own Christmas Pudding, or even the anti supermarket feast that was 2012 (although there are some similarities).

Yes Christmas 2013 is going to be a simpler, slightly less extravagant and more stress free Christmas.

The menu is already designed, but will only be unveiled on the day, with each course being simple to prepare but hopefully very tasty.

As per last year I’ve ordered my turkey and other pork products from The Little Black Pig but I haven’t yet received it yet.

My fish has again come from Adam via ebay and his Brixham Seafood store.  This arrived on Wednesday and contained a whole side of salmon, a huge turbot, two giant skate wings, a couple of dover soles and fresh crab meat.

My vegetables were again bought from Rayleigh fruit and veg and I have also ordered some cream and eggs from my milk man.

My cheese and cured meats have come via Barcelona thanks to Sean and via Wales, via Rayleigh Market thanks to my Mum.

So as you can see there are some similarities to last years ASM Christmas.

So on with the preparations and this year I have decided to forgo the hugely successful Christmas Gravadlax, which by the way still comes in at fourth in a google search, for a homemade cold smoked salmon instead.

Readers will know that I love a bit of Heath Robinson style DIY cooking and I was inspired by Tim Haywards video on how to make smoked salmon at home via the use of a soldering iron.

I have adapted it slightly but the soldering iron principals remain the same.

So first cure your side of salmon – you can follow my gravadlax recipe here but only cure it for 12 hours and after you have cured wash off the cure mixture and leave it uncovered overnight in a fridge to form a pellicle.

For those of you who are interested, a pellicle is a skin or coating of proteins on the surface of meatfish or poultry, which allow smoke to better adhere the surface of the meat during the smoking process. Useful in all smoking applications and with any kind of animal protein, it is best used with fish where the flesh of, say, Salmon, forms a pellicle, the surface that will attract more smoke to adhere to it than would be the case if you had not used it. Without a pellicle; the fish would be inedibly dry from enough smoking to produce a tasty finished product. It is the pellicle which permits the transformation creating delectable Smoked salmon.

Here is my salmon already cured and pellicled.

cured side of salmon

I also added a slab of cheddar for some smoked cheese

Home smoked cheese too

Then make up your soldering iron smoker.

First get a soldering iron – £4.99 from ebid

My soldering iron

Then get an empty baked bean can and make a hole in the side at the bottom

Baked bean can

Then stick your soldering iron in the side

Ready to smoke

Half fill it with wood chips and this is where I differed from Tim as I put it in my barbeque

In the bbq

Plug it in and watch that baby smoke.

See the smoke?

To keep the smoke in and to stop the rain getting in, I covered my barbecue

All tucked in

Then leave it for about 5 hours for the cheese and 12 hours for the salmon.

Now here’s a tip. My curiosity got the better of me so I checked to see how things were smoking and noticed that I needed to top up my wood chips, so it is worth keeping an eye on things.

I regularly checked it and to be honest there wasn’t a lot of smoke being generated but it really did smell smoky and after about 5 hours I checked the cheese and it was done and was well smoky.  Here’s a photo but you need to smell it to appreciate the smokiness, as it hasn’t taken on a lot of colour.

smoked cheese

Its a bit harsh at the moment, although son of GarysKitchen raved about it (notice the corner missing), so I am going to leave it to mellow and take on a softer smoky flavour.

The salmon took a bit longer…. but it was worth the wait.

perfectly smoked salmon

After 12 hours of smoking, and again there didn’t seem to be a lot of smoke produced, the salmon was really smoky and had taken on a really nice colour.

Nice and smoky

It is now tucked away to mellow ready for Christmas.

Perfectly smoked salmon

It’s official, it’s barbecue season!

Yes folks the summer is here which means it is officially BBQ season – well it was reasonably nice today so I was itching to try out the new toy.

After this weekends purchase of the Dancook 1400, I was raring to go, so with the bank holiday sunshine beaming brightly I sparked up the barbie.

This took a slightly different approach than previous grills in that I placed the fire lighters (non of that nasty liquid on my food) in the base of the BBQ.

The first light

You then light them

ready to go

and then place a rack on top and then add the charcoal

We have fire

This method was brilliant and the coals were white hot in no time.


Now as all you BBQ aficionados will know the secret to good barbecue is indirect grilling.  Now I will not go into indirect grilling in detail as the internet is awash with information but instead will recommend some excellent websites.

First Amazing Ribs the ultimate BBQ site.

Next the Smoke Ring

and finally BBQ Pit Boys is worth a mention

all of these sites have loads of information on the joys of BBQ.

So I set up my indirect grill and was ready to go…

Indirect grilling

Well I had been preparing earlier as the secret to any good barbecue is the rub or marinade.

I decided to really test the new toy by cooking a half shoulder of lamb.  This is a real test for any barbecue as shoulder is fatty and needs to be cooked ‘low and slow’.  But undeterred I prepared my lamb by trimming most of the fat off and adding my rub.

Here is my rub mix

La Chinata Paprika

Fresh grated ginger

Grated garlic

Grated lemon zest

Cumin seeds

Chopped chipotle chilli

Sea salt

This mix was ground into a thick paste and smeared all over the lamb and left to marinade for a few hours.

Lamb rub

So I was now ready to grill and wanted to see how much heat the barbie was chucking out.

260 degrees

As you can see my new toy was packing 260 degrees, which was way too hot to cook the lamb so I cheated. I chucked the lamb on for about 30 minutes to create a nice bark and then popped it into a low oven to finish.


After the lamb had taken on a nice dark colour and a nice spice bark had been created it was time to do my roasted butternut squash and peppers.


Ready for roasting

Now a Barbie isn’t a Barbie without sausages, so I chucked on some good quality pork sausages, checked the temperature (getting lower now at a nice 180 degrees), put the lid on and sat back to let it do it’s stuff.

A nice 180


Now as well as some indirect grilling I also wanted to try some direct, so filleted a nice large mackerel and marinaded it in some lime, soy, ginger and chili.

When the peppers were roasted and the sausages cooked it was time to test the direct approach – no photo’s I’m afraid.

Finally, and really giving my new toy a good test drive, it was pizza time!

I had made some pizza dough using my world famous bread recipe and used recipes tried and tested in my all italian post.

I needed to crank up the heat so added a bit more charcoal and was ready to make pizza.

I didn’t have a pizza stone so used my paella dish and chucked on my pizzas.


They turned out pretty good and had a nice crispy baked base.

So here is the finished food.

Roasted Peppers with balsamic vinegar

Roasted Peppers and Balsamic

A meat fest

Meat fest




Pizza 2

and finally there was even enough coals to spark up the shisha pipe – strawberry.

Hubble Bubble

A great start to what I hope will be a long and enjoyable barbecue season.

A year in the life of GarysKitchen

It has been just over a year since I started blogging about GarysKitchen.

I first posted, the now infamous Baking with Maeve Sticky Apple Cake post, on the 30 October 2011 and over the last year we have experienced many highs and and some lows in GarysKitchen.

So in true anniversary style here are some site statistics and a look back on some of the posts from the past year.

This is my 81st post  with 18 categories and 55 tags.

I have had 3400 views with 85 comments – So GarysKitchen is not quite an internet phenomenon.

December 2011 was my busiest month with 616 views and my busiest day was the 24 December 2011 with my Christmas Roulade and LornasKitchen Christmas Cake  drawing in a massive 67 views!

My most popular posts have been Christmas Piccalilli and although this is a year old it is even popular today and this is followed by my take on Jamie’s Empire Chicken with Christmas Chorizo and other cured products coming in third.

My highest ranking google search is again Christmas Piccalilli ranked at number 3 on the google search page followed closely by Christmas Gravadlax coming in at number 4 so I am hoping for some extra views in the run up to Christmas 2012.

So what have been the highs of a year in GarysKitchen?

It has to start with GarysKitchen foray into charcuterie and all that is cured and the success that was my home made palma ham

This success was balanced with my not so successful attempts at curing my own chorizo and the passing of a friend post provided the gory detail.

How could I not mention the friend of GarysKitchen, the culinary rapper Action Bronson, who I stumbled upon in November 2011 with the music and food post.  I wondered how Action had been getting on and by the look of him in this photo, life has been good.

November 2011 also saw some other contributors to GarysKitchen with LornasKitchen Christmas Cake and Thanksgiving in DeenasKitchen

December 2011 saw GarysKitchen step up a gear, kick started with an attempt at making cheese, which despite some strange moulds turned out pretty good

and culminating in the Christmas Feast

January was quieter with only the Lakeside Darts cheering up the doom and gloom

February saw GarysKitchen have another bash at bacon, this time the rasher type producing this wonderful bacon butty

March saw some Birthday treats with a birthday breakfast and a birthday cake

April saw GarysKitchen venture into smoking, not 20 fags, but smoking fish and a go at Hot Cross Buns with May producing the ultimate burger

and also a first go at making homemade pasta and the highly popular (well in our house anyway) homemade pizza’s

June saw some more birthday action with a contribution from Son of GarysKitchen  GF and the birthday pugs

and cooking up a honk of pork for an 80th Birthday Party

July saw GarysKitchen, Mrs GarysKitchen and YA YA head off for their annual jaunt to Benicassim and August saw another Baking Session with Maeve with the classic evil lick image

It was All quiet in the GarysKitchen in September due to a nasty bout of summer cold lurgy but October has seen some renewed action with the Christmas 2012 plans kicking off with Talking Turkey 

Here are some of my favourite posts from 2012 and what a year it has been in GarysKitchen and of course you can’t mention 2012 without mentioning the olympic Games so here is my Super Saturday Paella as a final reminder.

Keep reading GarysKitchen to see what will happen in 2013.

Cookin’ up a ‘honk of pork’ for an 80th Birthday Party

It has been a very busy time in GarysKitchen preparing for my father-in-law’s surprise 80th Birthday Party.

With 22 family members attending the birthday bash, GarysKitchen has been cooking up a storm and unfortunately hasn’t had the time to blog but relative calm has now returned, so here’s the food story for Bill’s Egyptian Birthday….

Cooking (or should I say catering) for such a large group of people, particularly GarysKitchen hungry lot, is quite a task and the first task was to compile a menu.

I’ve been inspired recently by Diners, Drive ins and Dives or Triple D as referred to by the host Guy Fieri and have seen a number of recipes for ‘pulled pork’ so I decided to have a go myself.

First the pork itself.  On Triple D the cut of pork used is referred to as a Pork Butt.  Now in the UK we don’t have such a joint of pork so I needed to find out exactly what the heck a Pork Butt was…A quick google identified that Pork Butt is also referred to as a Boston Butt is a cut of pork that comes from the upper part of the shoulder from the front leg and may contain the blade bone.

Armed with this information I needed to buy the meat?  Where do you usually buy your meat from? A local butcher or the supermarket? or Ebay?  You can get everything on Ebay so a quick all category search identified a potential pork supplier and with my specific requirements in hand I put my request in for a Pork Butt.

A very speedy response later and my request for a pork butt was sorted – So sorted that I decided to buy two!

So when my couriered package of meat arrived I was really excited to see what a pork butt really looked like. Opening the package was better than Christmas and inside were two lovely looking joints of pork and a bonus bbq sauce – nice touch.

Now the pork looked fantastic but on closer inspection I am not sure I actually got a Pork Butt.

Here it is… If there are any Pork Butt experts out there who could let me know if this is a pork or boston butt or another cut, I would be most grateful?

I actually don’t think it is a Pork Butt but nevertheless this was a fantastic joint of pork and I can recommend my supplier GigPig.

So onto a recipe for my faux pork butt. I wanted to smoke it but realised that I wouldn’t have the time, or perhaps the equipment, for a full smoke so decided to go half and half – smoke it and then slow roast in in the oven.

Again to google to find some handy recipes and I came across this blog called Adventures in Barbecue where someone else had very similar ideas. This led me to another site called amazingribs where a chap called meathead explained the chemistry of smoking and other such wonders such as brining in intricate detail.

I decided against the brining option, although I was really tempted, and decided on a straight rub, smoke and roast approach.

First to the rub – I went for a BBQ spice rub with added fennel seeds and harissa spice for that Egyptian feel

Then I rubbed it in and wrapped in clingfilm and left over night

All wrapped up

After a night in the fridge my pork was ready for a good smoke.

So I sparked up old faithful barbecue, added my woodchips and put my pork on for a long smoke.

Now this, I’m afraid is where the cooking stepped up a notch and I really didn’t have any time to take any photo’s until I hit the finish line.

But before I show the final spread here is Bill’s Egyptian Party Menu

Smoked Faux Pork Butt

Harissa Lamb Kebabs

Home Smoked Mackerel

Fatoush Salad

Jewelled Pearl Barley Couscous

Grilled Salad


Baba Ganoush

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus


Green Olive Tapanade

Minted Jersey Royals

Hand Made Pitta Bread

Then of course there was the desserts.  As you can see by the photo we had three, well four really, desserts:

GarysKitchen Apricot and Pistachio Birthday Cake and homemade Cheesecake and Blackberry Ice Creams (not shown)

LindasKitchen Strawberry Trifle

Chris’sKitchen Profiteroles

Here’s a close up photo of the birthday cake

All in all a good party but GarysKitchen won’t be rushing to cook for 22 people again in a hurry.

Holy Smoke…Home Hot Smoked Salmon

I have been wanting to try home smoking for ages and this Christmas received a pack of Cameron’s Hickory Chips from GarysKitchen’s sister-in-law.  Despite the name, I decided to give them a go and tried out some hot smoked salmon.

I had my smoking chips, now I just needed to construct my home made smoker.  After a bit of googling I found out that with a bit of Heath Robinson construction  techniques I could cobble together a smoker using a large pan, a barbecue grill and an old non stick tray.

So onto my salmon.  I bought a side of salmon, skinned it and checked for bones and then gave it a splash of vodka and grated some lime zest over it.

I left it for about 15 minutes and the knocked up a simple cure of 1part of salt to 2 parts brown sugar and put this all over the salmon, wrapped it in cling film and stuck it in the fridge for about 3 – 4 hours.

After 3 or 4 hours, remove the salmon and wash off all the cure and pat dry.  It will be firmer and a nice colour.

Now ready for the smoking.

I sprinkled some raw rice into the bottom of my pan and then added my smoking chips. 

Then turn up the heat high and wait for it to start smoking.  Mix it up when you see the first signs of smoking so all the rice and chips start smoking.

Get the salmon ready

As soon as you get some smoke build up, get your salmon in and get your lid on. Quick! Otherwise you are likely smoke out your house.  Even with my makeshift lid on it was still smoking so open the windows and get the extractor on.

I left the salmon smoking for about 20 minutes, although it could have probably have done with slightly less time, so I’d go for 15 minutes next time.

So after all my efforts this is what I turned out.

It was really good, had a really nice smoky flavour but was still soft and subtle – try it!