Smokin’ Hot…and Cold!
Smoked bacon. Smoked turkey. Smoked cheese. These days, if something will hold still long enough, someone is going to want to smoke it. And with good reason.
Food is delicious with a little smoke on it. With its growing popularity, your customers will appreciate your own smoked creations.
Luckily, the hows and whats of smoking are easy—with the right information. There are two ways to smoke food, hot and cold. In either case, you’ll want to use a deciduous hardwood due to their compact cell structure and the amazing smoke flavor. Among those hickory is the most common—though mesquite, pecan, cherry, peach and apple have equally passionate advocates. While in each method the food will be flavored by the wood smoke, the similarities end there.
Let’s tackle hot smoking first. Despite the name, low and slow is the mantra for this process. Utilizing a temperature ranging from 190-250 degrees F, and a cook time well over twice that of a conventional method, the meat or fish is in the same compartment/chamber with the heat and smoke source. Chicken is usually best at the high end of the temperature range while pork and beef do better lower. If you add some hours or days wrapped tightly or fully immersed in the fridge for a rub or marinade to flavor the meat before you hot smoke it, customers will beat a path to your door!
In cold smoking, the food is not actually cooking at all. With a temperature range of 90-120 degrees the risk for bacterial growth is high, therefore we strongly recommend only using cured or brined meats for this. But with the curing complete, cold smoking can saturate your food with flavor. If hot smoking is low and slow, cold smoking is that and then some. The meats can be smoked for hours or even days depending on your customers’ favor preferences. Or you could offer it a couple of different ways.
Cold smoking is ideal for salmon and cheese. Smoke is attracted to cool moist surfaces through Thermophoresis which is a force that moves particles from a warm to a cold surface. So with cold smoking you can really soak up the flavor with the right foods. There are any number of recipes for curing salmon, often using a combination of salt, sugar and citrus. As we’ve all seen over the past years, smoked cheeses like cheddar, swiss, gouda and mozzarella are enormously popular and even better, they’re almost made for cold smoking. The harder cheeses will take 3-4 hours, but you'll probably want to pull the mozzarella out after two.
There are a lot of options that are worth trying and your customers will appreciate the extra flavor. Smoked vegetables are wonderful for a side or a salad, adding a little extra smoke to cooked bacon, and we’ve even heard of cold smoking ice for adding a unique flavor to drinks. Really, once you start, there’s no end to what you can do.
So, do you want a hot or cold smoker to enhance your deli menu items? Each has their advantages and their ardent fans, but best of all, now you don’t have to pick. The new generation BKI® Combi-King® series of combination ovens
can tackle both hot and cold smoking. You can even retrofit our smoking unit into older Combi-King ovens with a USB port. So, lets get smokin’ and take your menu items to the next level. Talk to us today to learn more or set up a demonstration.
Frank Barrett-Mills, CEC ACF CFP CFSP
Director of Culinary Affairs and Training
Standex Cooking Solutions Group
Executive Chef in Residence
BKI Customer Service