Monday, December 29, 2008
There was a period of my life when peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were a staple. Then one day, around the age of fourteen, I had had enough. Overnight I went from a daily PB&J to eating them a handful of times ever since. About ten years ago the same thing happened with fresh salmon. I went from eating it several times a week to almost never.
Luckily, that wall that blocks fresh salmon has a door for smoked salmon. And Dr. L's version was a sweet holiday treat. I served it cold with a wedge of lime and Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Vintage Reserve 1996 at cellar temperature.
The secrets to Dr. L's excellent salmon, I am told, are fresh skinless salmon fillets from Costco and cherry hardwood logs in the Pitts and Spitts model U1830 smoker.
Fresh skinless salmon fillets (skin off allows maximum brine absorption).
Dark brown sugar
Black pepper corns
Red pepper flakes
1. Rinse salmon fillets in cold water; pat dry with paper towels.
2. In a saucepan, combine 1 cup of dark brown sugar, 1/4 cup of kosher salt, 4 cups of apple cider (100% natural) and slowly bring to a boil (make sure all solids (sugar and salt) are dissolved. Then add 2 cinnamon sticks, 2 bay leaves, 2 teaspoons of black peppercorns, 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds, 1.5 teaspoons of whole allspice, 6 springs of fresh thyme.
3. Chill brine until cold to the touch.
4. Submerge salmon fillet into chilled brine for 6-8 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
5. Remove fillets and place on wire rack on a cookie sheet. Put back in refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight. Some of the dry spices (peppercorns, allspice, bay leaves) will stick to the fillets.
6. Soak cherrywood logs in water for two hours prior to starting smoker.
7. Using damper, establish smoker temperature at 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
8. Smoke fillets for 1 hour; then chill overnight in refrigerator.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Ann's Christmas party was anchored by her enormous piano at one end of the house and an enormous bowl of Mrs. Longcope's punch at the other. Her brother, Robert, was kind enough to share the punch recipe with me.
4 bottles Mount Gay rum
4 bottles Bacardi rum
4 bottles Courvoisier
3 bottles lemon juice
2 cups peach brandy
and equal amount of Earl Grey tea
1 block of ice
As always, the punch was excellent, conversations flowed and the carols were a joy.