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Vintage cooking, contemporary method

By: Reading Time: 3 Minutes

Sometimes gastronomy behaves like the fashion industry: more and more trends in less and less time. And then, there are things that become timeless. Such as vintage fashion. Or smoking food. But what is behind the trend of re-energizing an apparently old method of preserving?

As said, smoking used to be used primarily to preserve food. In times of cold storage and blast chillers, however, this is no longer necessary. Now smoking is mainly used to intensify colour, smell and taste. And also to change the texture of the food. It is so nice to see this richness in Pulled Pork, which looks like a brown stone after eight hours and more of grilling and smoking, but falls apart juicily and tenderly after just one touch of a fork. The intense, smoky aroma is created during hot smoking between 60 and 120 °C. In order to get to the right temperature, a heat source in the smoking chamber is needed in addition to the smoker wood. This must be available independently of the smoking process.

Then there is intensive, dry hot smoking at 80 °C. This is referred to as frying and leads to high water loss and stronger flavour development. In the past, the process was carried out by wood fires; modern smoking ovens work with gas or electricity. And the latest trend is smoking in the intelligent combi-steamer, which can produce an even stronger aroma with five pre-smoking stages. More on this later.

What else can be put in the oven? To make a long story short: everything. Fish, meat, fruit, vegetables, cheese, tea, tofu, sweet potatoes. Even beer is sometimes made from smoked hops. Fir-smoked trout, Cheesy Moink Balls (the favourite when you need a base for beer), spare ribs, shortribs (two classics), pastrami (for the legendary sandwiches) and of course salmon, duck breast and chicken. Smoked food even goes to dessert: have you ever tried smoked advocaat over sorbet? Or even smoked ice cream with cold-stirred cranberries. This sounds paradoxical, but in the mouth it develops an extraordinary aroma that you cannot identify at first glance leading to a further taste and need another one and another spoon. For all those who are now experiencing mouth watering anticipation, the recipe is below. It’s clear that there are no limits to your imagination, your taste buds are more likely to go numb before you get there. But always remember: Shit in, shit out. Even the best smoke flavour does not turn a chicken into a pheasant.

Smoked vegetable in combi oven

Image: aprilante AdobeStock

How is aroma created? Through the smoking wood, which is almost a science in itself. Because the spectrum ranges from maple to cedar wood. Hay, fir, laurel and rosemary are equally suitable. The mild, slightly sweetish aroma of maple, for example, refines poultry. Hickory with a very strong aroma is particularly suitable for beef, pork and lamb. Rather smoke something with fish or seafood? Then apple, alder or red cedar are suitable. But you don’t have to learn everything by trial and error, as exciting as this can be, on the packaging of the smoked chips it will often says exactly what is suitable for what. But even then, the creativity of blending these ideas and enjoying the results will soon have you hooked.

Tasting works best when you can concentrate fully on the taste and do not have to worry about the right temperature and smoke. This is where an intelligent combi-steamer helps. For example, you can connect the so-called VarioSmoker to the iCombi Pro from RATIONAL. This is a metal smoking box that is filled with the desired wood or other smoking material and placed in the combi-steamer. Just connect the VarioSmoker to the combi-steamer via a USB cable and the display will automatically show different, intelligent cooking paths. Select the desired one and off you go. If different results are desired, the cooking path can be adjusted accordingly. For example with pre-smokers. The ice cream was also smoked in an iCombi Pro. Only one thing remains to be done: Good luck!

smoking smoked Ice cream VarioSmoker RATIONAL

Image: Anke Sommer, Rational AG

The recipe: Smoked ice cream

For approx. 600 ml ice cream

  • 260 g cream
    260 g milk
    60 g sugar
    100 g egg yolk
    5 g vanilla sugar

For smoking:

  • 50 g apple wood shavings


  • 20 g ginger paste
  • 15 g honey

Smoke the cream in the combi steamer iCombi Pro for 30 minutes with the smoking setting. Add milk, sugar, egg yolk and vanilla sugar, mix well and then vacuum in a bag. Steam for 20 min in the iCombi Pro at 82° C. Let cool down. As usual, freeze the mixture in a sorbetière to a firm cream. Serve with gingerbread biscuit and cold-stirred cranberries.

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