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Smokin', and I don't mean Bongin'


kurt
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Couldn't split the roof/smokehouse topic, so I'm starting a new one.

So, we got Chad who wins hands down on coolest smokehouse, me (currently smokehouse-less), and StevenT.

I favor Black Cherry; it's a nice delicate smoke that leaves an absolutely stellar crimson color to the meat. I've been experimenting w/walnut, but it's a very thick black smoke that'll almost make you sick if you smoke the meat too long. I've also been experimenting w/apple, but haven't found the right balance yet.

I am in the "sugar" school of rubs for my smoked meats. I've been mixing espresso powder into my rubs; it gives a nice nutty overtone to the smoke effect. Anyone else doing that?

How 'bout you guys? What woods do you favor? Got any particular rubs you like?

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Oh dear, this is a big subject. I'd like to get into discussing sausage as well (been making it since I was a tot) but let's keep this thread on smoke.

I've got 5 acres of walnuts, and a small fruit orchard with apples, plums, peachs, apricots, cherrys, figs and grapes. My neighbors are filbert farmers. The woods on my property include alder, wild cherry and a little pacific madrone in addition to all the useless douglas fir.

I've had ample opportunity to experiment with smoke and I've found that different meats go best with different woods.

Salmon:

If I'm cooking it fresh, I like the cedar plank method. The plank burns as the salmon cooks. The fish absorbs the flavors of the cedar board itself in addition to the flavor of the cedar smoke.

If I'm preserving the salmon, I find alder hard to beat, with apple a close second. Most any other wood is just too strong and overpowers the delicate flavors of the fish.

Chicken:

Plum cuttings are my hands-down favorite. In particular, I like the cuttings from one tree in particular. Unfortunately, I have no idea what variety of plum it is. It was already an old, established tree when I bought the place.

Beef:

Like Kurt, I like the wild black cherry cuttings. But I wouldn't describe the smoke as delicate. It's strong & hearty. A good pairing with beef. I haven't noticed that it imparts any more or less red color to the meat than any other smoke. Someone once told me that the red color was caused by carbon monoxide reacting with the meat. I have no idea if this is true or not.

Pork:

Hickory is the old standard and I find it hard to improve upon. But really, pork & smoke were simply made for each other. Pork is great with nearly any wood smoke. Filbert cuttings are excellent.

Lamb:

I need only say one word: grapevines.

Now, Kurt, about walnut. Woof! I mean really, walnut smoke is vile. I can't say that I've ever been tempted to put meat into walnut smoke. What meat have you used it with?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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I had an old Walnut burl that I cut a chunk out of, and had good luck w/gentle applications to some beef shortribs. When I used some other chunks off a neighbors tree, it was a definite wuuf. Not sure if it was the burl or what. Maybe that's why I've never heard anyone using; it tastes like crap, eh?

I had an old black cherry that I took down years ago; it was pretty damn old. It smelled like cherries when I'd split it, and it had a very burly cherry smell. All smoking imparts some amount of red to it, but this stuff just makes it go crimson. I've had excellent luck smoking entire turkeys w/it; they turn out looking like those weird red ducks you see hanging in the windows of SE Asian joints down on Argyle St. I've done a lot of different jerky's w/cherry w/great success.

Hickory & Pecan are hard to argue with; there's a reason there's so much imitation in the form of additives & bottled condiments.

Plum cuttings no the other hand, and grapevines, are out there. I've got access to grape; I'm gonna try that.

I've never been a cedar plank aficionado for fish; something about the cedar oil turns me off. Of course, the salmon & fish I try it on are old by the time they get to the midwest. Around here, fish is less about the recipe or preparation, and more about the fish; it's impossible to get fresh (hardly never <48, and absolutely never <24 hours).

Now, about the sausage thing; what cure, and where do you get it? How about casings? You use natural or collagen?

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Originally posted by Les

ain't nothing better than road kill smoked with .4 treated deck 4"x4"s. imparts a nice green tinge and a certain tang in the meat, after it burns the hair off. sometimes you get lucky and it leaves a patina on the hide.

Yeah...and it kills off any parasites also. Nuthin' worse than a nice tender bite of asphalt-browned 'coon with worms in it. Kinda detracts from the perfect criss-cross tire marks we all work so hard to achieve.
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Originally posted by Les

ain't nothing better than road kill smoked with .4 treated deck 4"x4"s. imparts a nice green tinge and a certain tang in the meat, after it burns the hair off. sometimes you get lucky and it leaves a patina on the hide.

Well, that answers a few questions about Les.

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Question for you cherry users---

I do a fair amount of smoking. I've tried pecan, and find the flavor similar to hickory but milder. Being in Arkansas, the predominant wood used here is hickory. Personally, I love it, but I'd like to branch out. (Pardon the pun.)

I have some wild cherry sections I split from a tree I had to remove. I have been afraid to try it for fear of ruining a perfectly innocent bunch of pork. The color of the wood itself is decidedly orange-y, at least the heartwood is. Anyone have any experience with it, or know how it differs from "real" cherry?

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Originally posted by AHI in AR

. . . I have some wild cherry sections I split from a tree I had to remove. I have been afraid to try it for fear of ruining a perfectly innocent bunch of pork. The color of the wood itself is decidedly orange-y, at least the heartwood is. Anyone have any experience with it, or know how it differs from "real" cherry?

The smoke from my wild cherrys is just about the same as the smoke from my cultivated ones. But I suspect that wild cherries in Oregon are different from those in Arkansas. The ones up here produce vast quantities of small black fruit that's powerfully sweet. The heartwood is brownish-orange. If yours are similar, give it a try. If it doesn't work, at least the dog will have a feast.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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We have two varieties of wild cherry in Mich. My grandson, who is studying Horticulture, showed me that a couple of weeks ago. After six decades plus of thinking I knew trees! One is nearly always white with red streaks and the other is red with white streaks. The branch wood is nearly always the same appearance. The fruit is astringent. I guess that technically they are the same, but affected by enviornment: sandy soil vs till soil. Very few smokers use either around here. Apple wood and cultivated tart cherry is the preferred.

I had an uncle that used maple sawdust and corncobs. tasted good. Had another uncle that used witch hazel and dried willow twigs.

They had a distinctive bitter aftertast with fish. Mostly my family smoked fish and venison.

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  • 1 month later...

I know this thread is deceased, but I can't help it - I'm just so proud of myself.!!

My wife was feeling a bit homesick, so on a whim we made a batch of Transylvanian suasage. We also started a nice big ham, but that won't be ready for a few weeks. Now if only I had a smokehouse like Chad's.......

2179997412_c582340fd1.jpg?v=0

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Originally posted by Brad Manor

I know this thread is deceased, but I can't help it - I'm just so proud of myself.!!

My wife was feeling a bit homesick, so on a whim we made a batch of Transylvanian suasage. We also started a nice big ham, but that won't be ready for a few weeks. Now if only I had a smokehouse like Chad's.......

That's a fine looking batch of sausage. Makes me hungry just looking at it.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Just pick a day Les, and I'll be there. That is a lot of sausage for just my wife and I - about 60' in total, roughly 40lbs of meat. If we don't give some away, the dog will be getting fatter.

Kurt - As is the case with most Eastern European recipes: there's no science involved with this stuff, it is very simple. We used 2 pork legs (about 40 lbs of meat once the skin and bones are gone), about a pound and a half of fresh garlic, lots of paprika, and a few handfuls of salt and pepper. The traditional method to be sure everything is right prior to stuffing the casings is to scoop a bit out and taste it, then make adjustments as necessary. I let my wife have the honours - no freakin' way am I going to pop a handful of raw pork in my mouth!

-Brad

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