Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cookin' & Smokin'

"While you all been sittin' round laughin' and jokin', we been in the kitchen cookin' & smokin'," Father of Food used to say. Ahh, but while smokin' and grillin' aren't 100% compatible with New York City apartment living, we do have some options. Stovetop smoked meat may not be quite as good as ribs smoked slowly on a grate propped up on two stacks of bricks over a charcoal fire in an oil drum split down its length and set up in a supermarket shopping cart in a parking lot somewhere in downtown Cleveland, but it ain't bad either.

Jill Santopietro did this great video for her New York Times series, Kitchen 4B, showing how to smoke ribs indoors in a wok, and I've tried it a few times now. The basic idea is to line a wok with long pieces of wide aluminum foil leaving plenty of excess hanging over, then put some wood chips in the bottom. I spray the wood chips with a little water for a long slow smoke. The wood chips are covered loosely with another piece of foil to catch the drips from the meat while allowing the smoke to filter up around the foil. Then one or two circular racks are fit in to hold up the food, another piece of foil is tented over the top, and then the loose ends of the two large strips of foil on the bottom are brought back and closed up over the whole package, and a lid is put on top to keep it all in. The heat is turned up on high to get the smoke going, and when you can smell the smoke, turn it down to medium or medium-low. Some things like fish can be smoked quickly in less than half an hour, and some meat can take two or three hours.

This was a thick naturally raised pork chop--about a pound and a half--from Tom Mylan's shop, The Meat Hook in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I rubbed it with a rub containing about tablespoon of salt, a teaspoon and a half of paprika, a clove of crushed garlic, and smaller amounts of pepper, cayenne, sage, and coriander, let it sit for about half a day (overnight would be even better), then smoked it for two hours in the wok.

Here's what it looks like with the lid off--

While you can smell the smoke, it doesn't fill the apartment with smoke in the way grilling a steak in the grill pan or under the broiler at high temperature might. At the end of two hours I turned off the heat, let the wok sit for a bit, turned on the kitchen fan and opened the foil--

The meat was 160 degrees F and moist--essentially done, but I wanted it softer, so I put it in a 200 F oven for another hour, and then finished it off in a cast iron grill pan under the broiler for a few minutes on each side to get the result visible in the top photo. The meat was tender, smokey, and tasty, just like it should be.


Family of Food said...

That looks great! Thanks for posting this terrific piece. I think we all learned something valuable. I made Grandma's knishes yeasterday and today. No posts, though, too much workin' not enough postin'.

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