Confession: I’ve been binge-watching Food Network Channel! I love the home-comfort food rustled up on The Pioneer Woman (I want Ree’s life!), and the disbelief of portion sizes in Man vs Food. But recently, after watching Jamie Oliver smoking some trout, I decided I wanted to have a go at smoking food too. For Christmas I received a Cameron Mini Stovetop Smoker, and I was finally ready to use it!
Home food smoking has become really popular – no doubt due to programs like Jamie and Masterchef. One of the oldest food preservation methods, smoking has something timeless and universal about it. From a bit of smoked gammon to a nice fillet of smoked trout, it adds a decadent flavour and a mystique to the food.
With a 10-year warranty the Cameron Mini Stovetop Smoker kit provides base, rack, drip tray and cover with two different types of wood chips to experiment with. The fundamentals of smoking are simple. Place some wood chips of your choice in the base, then cover with the drip try.
Then place the food on the rack (some meat or fish, etc.) and then place on the stove top and heat on a medium flame.
Cover and seal with the lid and wait the requisite time.
I found it good to take the food off the flame and let the smoke continue its work for a bit longer in a sort of cooling cycle. This worked well with salmon fillets and oak wood chips.
Allow the smoke to penetrate over a longer period for a stronger flavour.
Wood and Flavour
The type of wood you use will affect the final flavour of the food. Oak chips are a classic mellow choice for inexperienced smokers and they are a good all-rounder. Hickory wood on the other hand provides a strong, American bacon strip flavour, and this can work well to enhance pork. Another example is apple wood, which is sweet and light and enhances the delicate flavours of chicken and fish. For the more experienced, Mesquite is the most powerfully flavoured wood and excellent for red meat such as venison, beef and some stronger-flavoured game birds.
Wood chips are easy to purchase, being available online and in camping shops, hobby stores and even in the Waitrose cook store. However, if you feel like a change you can use some loose tea leaves or a small handful of hay from the pet shop (hay works well with lamb).
Home smoking is relatively simple if you follow the basic rules. Be careful that hot smoking does not overcook the food. You must strike a balance between the thickness of the piece of food and the flavour that you want to attain. The mini stovetop smoker is dishwasher safe and easy to clean.
Fancy trying it too? To purchase your own smoker, mine was bought from Sous Chef and they currently have the item on offer!