The Culinary Art of Smoking
While smoking meats and cheeses was once expensive, involving specialized equipment, in recent years it has become much more affordable to the average cook. Inexpensive but reliable smoking equipment has coincided with the perfection of smoking techniques, and today anyone with the right equipment can learn how to make delicious, flavorful smoked foods.
Which Foods Smoke Best?
In general, smoking works best with savory foods such as meat, seafood and cheese. Pork products are especially receptive to smoking including ham, sausage and bacon. Seafood and fish can also be enhanced by smoking, as is the case of smoked salmon or lox.
Hard and soft cheeses can also be smoked. Gruyere and cheddar are common choices, but almost any type of cheese can spend time in the smoker to give it added flavor. Even delicate cheeses like Brie and ricotta are sometimes smoked, though they need to be handled with more care than their hard counterparts.
Hot vs. Cold Smoking
Food may be smoked in either a hot environment or a cold one. Hot smoking usually results in more moist and tender food, making it ideal for ribs, beefsteaks and other types of meat that are going to be eaten as a filet or entree. Cold smoking, on the other hand, results in dryer meat. It is ideal for bacon, sausage, salami and cold cuts such as prosciutto.
Cold smoking is also the preferred method for more delicate foods. Seafood and cheese should almost always be cold smoked to help preserve their more subtle flavors.
Try It for Yourself
If you are interested in smoking your own foods, check out the infographic below to find out more about how to get started!