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 meat, fish 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.
I also added a slab of cheddar for some smoked cheese
Then make up your soldering iron smoker.
First get a soldering iron – £4.99 from ebid
Then get an empty baked bean can and make a hole in the side at the bottom
Then stick your soldering iron in the side
Half fill it with wood chips and this is where I differed from Tim as I put it in my barbeque
Plug it in and watch that baby smoke.
To keep the smoke in and to stop the rain getting in, I covered my barbecue
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.
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.
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.
It is now tucked away to mellow ready for Christmas.