And the beginning of a new segment all about smoking meats and other fun food items…
After three years of Portland summers (which consist of LOTS of outdoor barbecuing and dining) we decided it was time to buy a smoker. A smoker was something I didn’t quite understand, nor did I think was a necessary addition to our backyard kitchen and thus needed lots of evidence to support the decision to buy one… at first. I have since learned (in only 3 days of owning said smoker) that smokers are the coolest! They do something truly magical to the flavor of what would typically be ordinary grilled items. Our first smoking session impressed me so much that I now daydream about what we can smoke up next… mmmm.
(ohhhh, ahhh, isn’t she pretty)
Day 1: Put together smoker and go grocery shopping.
The menu: An entire chicken (dry rubbed) and smoked for 6 hours. Salmon (recipe below). Almonds (just seeing what would happen). Potatoes (why not). Zucchini (for some green). Strawberries (don’t ask). We pretty much put whatever we had lying around on the smoker as an experiment.
The chicken came out soooooo amazing, tender and juicy! But it was the Salmon that impressed me more so I decided to make it again last night.
Day 2: It was pouring rain, so we couldn’t use the smoker ☹
Day 3: (last night) Salmon marinated in lemon, dill & Dijon. (see below)
Since I am also a big foodie and love to cook and take pictures of my food, I’m thinking there may be lots of “What did I Smoke Today” posts on the blog in the near future. So get excited for lots of new recipes and ideas for smokin’ up some deliciousness. That is if you do own a smoker. If you don’t, perhaps by the end of the summer I may have convinced you that you need to go get one.
For the first edition of “What did I Smoke Today?”
(Well, I actually smoked it last night, but I like the sound of “today” better)
paired with 2006 Mazzocco Chardonnay Stuhlmuller Reserve
- 2 fillets Wild Chinook Salmon
For the marinade:
- Zest of a lemon
- Juice of a lemon
- A large tablespoon of “good” Dijon Mustard (I just like pretending I am Ina Garden by using the term “good” when I am cooking… but whatever kind you have on hand will do)
- A couple tablespoons “good” Olive Oil (okay I’ll stop)
- A couple tablespoons fresh chopped dill (more or less, depending on how much you like the flavor of dill)
- Salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
Directions: Combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl. Transfer to a deep dish with the Salmon. Cover and marinate in fridge for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
In the meantime give your smoker 15 minutes to turn on and warm up.
For this particular occasion I used Mesquite smoke chips. In case you were curious.
Transfer Salmon to smoker, skin side down. Cover smoker. Let cook for 2 hours. Depending on the thickness of your Salmon it could take more or less time so get yourself a little test bite when you think it may be done.
As a side, wrap up a few pieces of asparagus in pancetta and drizzle with a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper.
Warm up the grill; place the asparagus on your grill and let cook for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally.
This is one of my favorite quick and easy side dishes.
*Enjoy with your favorite smokey Pinot Noir or full-bodied Chardonnay.
For myself, I opted for a full-bodied Chardonnay because it is summer and I love to drink lots of white wine when its warm outside… plus I am pretty low in the Pinot department.
What? No Pinot? Yes I do live in Oregon and no I don’t own a lot of Pinot. Funny how that works.
Notes on the meal:
You may think that the Salmon would actually taste very smokey, which could be a turn off… but no! It was super well balanced and super moist. The Dijon and lemon stand out a bit but the smoke balanced the flavors out nicely. The Salmon itself was so tender and almost buttery! My problem with most “grilled” Salmon is that it tends to get rough and overcooked, so my new favorite way to make outdoor Salmon is the smoker for sure!
Notes on the wine:
2006 Mazzocco Chardonnay, Stuhlmuller Reserve, Alexander Valley
I bought this wine on a trip to Sonoma last fall. We went to this winery specifically for their Zinfandel’s (of which they have over a dozen different Zin’s… geez) but I ended up falling in love with their Chardonnay (of which they make, I think, just one). I chose this wine because I thought it could stand up to the flavors of the Smoked Salmon, and it did just that. The light oak flavors in the wine married well with the mesquite flavors of the Salmon and it had a rich butteriness to it that really complimented the butteriness of the Salmon. In addition the wine had some pretty herbal notes with a touch of pear and green apple. Rich fruit, full-bodied, good butter and oak = Awesome with the Salmon. Yum!
Stay tuned for more of “What did I smoke Today”