Smoke me a kipper, I’ll be back for breakfast!

Step 1. You will need to catch your herrings; I caught mine in Tesco, of course. Well, the sea was a little stormy this week, and I don’t have a boat.

Step 2. Off with their heads, which will get used to make fish stock when I next need some. In the meantime, they live in the big freezer, along with the mackerel heads from an earlier episode of this journal.
I‘ve given up numbering the steps, as it was far too much faffing about. As I was gutting the herrings, I was pleased to find they were nicely full of roes, which I saved in the freezer, to be used in somthing tasty when I think what it will be. Perhaps I will smoke them lightly and put them in a taramasalata. That’s the only word with six As in it that I know, by the way.
Cutting along one side of the spine, almost all the way to the top of the fish, enabled me to open them out into the normal kipper shape. I’m going to have to remove the bones from any I try to serve to Mrs Walrus, of course, but these are not shop-style filleted kippers. I was going to leave the tails on, but it made them harder to fit on the racks. In big smoke houses, they use the tails to hang the herrings up for kippering, I believe. Having had fish fall down onto the smoking wood in a previous adventure, I did these beauties on racks. The racks are suspended  on hooks made from 2mm galvanized wire, quickly bent with a pair of pliers. At some point, I will make something that doesn’t have to hang over the edge of the smoking bin, as that lets quite a lot of smoke out.

I‘m not sure if you can see it very well in this shot, but smoke is escaping. This time, the wood was a blend of cherry, beech, and alder. I thought maybe the oak I used last time might be a bit too strong. Twenty minutes seemed like a suitable length of time to smoke for, and indeed, the wood ran out of smoke at about that point anyway.
Here we have kippers! They don’t look raw, and are waiting in the fridge for a suitable breakfast at which to serve them. I’ve been trying to remember how we used to heat them up for serving when I was young. I’m fairly sure a frying pan was involved, but then again, the microwave does a good job of warming smoked mackerel, so I might just use that.

The duck is not getting smoked…

When I was planning our Sunday dinner, I thought it might be interesting to smoke the duck breasts for added flavour. But, as I hadn’t done that before, I did an experiment on Saturday, with a chicken breast, to see whether I liked it.

This miniature galvanised dustbin is what I use for hot smoking. I bought it on eBay for a very reasonable price. Putting the smoking wood in the bottom and heating it on the lowest gas setting of the smallest burner produces plenty of smoke.
Here’s the set-up with a test chicken breast in it. The shelf is a cooling rack, again from eBay, and the hooks are made from 2mm galvanised garden wire. I put the bit of foil in to stop drips falling onto the wood, as burnt chicken juice is not a particularly pleasant flavour! The digital thermometer probe’s end is in the thickest part of the chicken breast.
Lid on, and light up! I kept an eye on the temperature, and turned the extractor fan right up to avoid setting off the smoke alarm. After about ten minutes, the volume of smoke escaping from the top of the dusbin was very much reduced, and at twelve minutes, the inside of the chicken had reached 55°C, so I turned the gas off. That’s supposed to be the right temperature for a nice pink duck breast, according to the internet. If you happen to be in America, it’s also, the internet says, dangerously undercooked. Since well-done duck is pretty much not worth eating, I ignore such warnings.
As you can see, the chicken is cooked, but still very pleasantly moist. The smoky coating on it was very strong tasting, and I think either a different smoke wood, or a lot less of it would have been better.

I was very pleased with the result, though. We decided not to use the smoker for our Sunday dinner, after all.
Here it is, with boiled new potatoes, steamed courgette and pak choi. The sauce has white wine, orange juice, and orange zest in it. The duck was delicious, as usual, and I really don’t think it needs any extra flavour.

[Gressingham Duck, feel free to advertise on this page!]