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A Day in the Life of a Fish Smoker Part 2: The Rack

After the fish has been brined, Tyson rinses the excess salt and sugar off the salmon. Now comes the racking process: pretty simple except it is important to leave just enough room between the salmon pieces to prevent them sticking together during the smoking. This would be very simple if we didn’t have to stuff the smoker every time we smoke – so we try to squeeze every millimeter of space to accommodate as much fish as possible.

As the fish is racked, Tyson spices some and leaves others bare – our Traditional smoked salmon. The spices – Black Pepper and Coriander; Dill; and Cajun – are evenly sprinkled (or perhaps doused) over the salmon pieces. Once the salmon is sufficiently gussied up, the fish will chill in a constantly-circulating cooler. This creates a kippering affect, sealing in moisture and simultaneously fostering a thin bark around each slice.

salmon_rinsing

salmon rinsing

 

salmon racksalmon rack

salmon rack

salmon spice

 

salmon spicing trio
Atlantic Salmon, set to be smoked
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Smokehaus Recipe: Potatoes Au Gratin with Chorizo

Perfect for Easter (or any old time of the year), we spun a classic recipe, potatoes au gratin, with a Smokehaus twist: our own dry-cured chorizo. The subtle smokiness of the chorizo offsets but does not overpower the earthiness of the potatoes, and the flowery-buttery nature of Gruyere binds the casserole into a creamy, harmonious dish that is all at once bright, silky, and memorable. Oh – and incredibly rich. Speaking of Gruyere, we used a recent addition to our cheese case from Wisconsin: Roth Kase’s Grand Cru.

potatoesaugratinchorizo

Gratin Potatoes with Crispy Chorizo

Ingredients:

2-3 cloves garlic

1 tsp (or so) butter

3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes

3 cups heavy cream, or a milk/cream mixture if you’re squeamish

1 tsp (or so) olive oil

1 link dry-cured chorizo

2-3 medium shallots

1/2 lb Gruyere

Scant teaspoon sea/kosher salt

Black pepper

1-2 bay leaves

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Cut each clove of garlic in half and rub the raw ends evenly over a large casserole (or Gratin if you’re fancy) dish. Reserve the garlic for later. Next, butter the dish and set aside. I also like to shred the Gruyere about now, so I don’t have to worry about it later.

grated gruyere

Peel and slice the potatoes, making sure they are uniform. We cut ours in approximately 1/8 inch rounds, and this really did the trick. In a large, heavy saucepan, combine cream, salt, pepper, bay leaves, and squished-up garlic from the above – then add the potatoes and stir the concoction as best you can. Bring this up to a medium simmer, and once at this temperature, cook for 7-10 minutes or until the “sauce” slightly thickens and the potatoes become slightly flexible (but not soft). 

potatoesgarlic

sauceandpotatoes

While this is happening, skin the chorizo, then dice it into small chunks. Heat the olive oil in a medium pan on medium-high and saute the chorizo until it is crispy, 5-10 minutes. The goal is a crispy coating around a softer interior. When this is achieved, fish the chunks out with a slotted spoon but keep the oil in the skillet. Slice the shallots into rings and add them to the chorizo oil. Sauté for a few minutes, until soft but not crispy. Once again, remove the goodies with a slotted spoon. I suggest putting them in a white ramekin – the better to marvel over their jewel-toned transformation – but any old plate/dish/bowl will do. 

chorizoskinned

If you have completed the chorizo/shallot work, I bet your potatoes are ready at this point, I like to taste the cream sauce for salt. It should be flavorful but not quite salty enough; remember – the chorizo and Gruyere will amp this up.  Remove the pot from heat, and get ready to layer your casserole.  Round up all the ingredients and coral them around the buttered, garlic-ed casserole dish. Start with the potatoes; gently lay them (along with any tag-along sauce) evenly along the bottom of the dish. Next, sprinkle the shallots, then half the chorizo, then half the Gruyere. Next, spread the rest of the potatoes (gingerly) on top, then the rest of the chorizo. Remove the bay and any large hunks of garlic from the cream sauce, and then pour over the casserole. Coat with the remaining Gruyere, and bake, uncovered, in a preheated oven for 45 minutes to an hour.

shallottoss

potatoesaugratinprep

We are now at the most unpleasant stage in this recipe: you must let it rest for at least 15 minutes after you take it out of the oven. During this process, the chorizo oil will reabsorb into the potatoes and the whole shebang will solidify, enabling a perfect slice. I recommend leaving the kitchen at this point to make the process a little less excruciating. 

augrainplate

augratinmoneyshot

Serve on its own, with steamed vegetables, or … BERKSHIRE SMOKED HAM!

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Smokehaus Recipe: Smoked Whitefish and Blue Cheese Pizza

I don’t know what took us so long to put our smoked Lake Superior whitefish on pizza – we certainly have tried every other Smokehaus goody this way. The whitefish is a perfect match for the blue cheese, as they are both somehow subtle and pungent at the same time, and neither seems to battle the other for a primary flavor position. The egg, while admittedly a little too far on-trend, is a beautiful garnish and adds a neutral flavor and a glamorous texture to the pizza. And let’s face it – there’s never too many eggs, especially in Smokehaus-land. We’ve adapted this recipe from the Cashel Blue website.

smoked whitefish and cheese

Cashel Blue Cheese and Smoked Lake Superior Whitefish Pizza

Ingredients:

1 8-10’’ pizza dough

Olive oil for drizzling

1/3 cup fresh spinach

1/3 cup smoked whitefish, de-boned, skinned, and flaked

2 oz Cashel blue, crumbled

1 large egg

Salt and pepper

Pecorino Romano for garnish

plated smoked whitefish pizza

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Roll out your pizza dough and set it to rest for 15 minutes or so. If you have a pizza stone, be sure to preheat it. We just use an inverted baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal, on which we also built the pizza. If using the pizza stone, build your pizza on a cornmeal-sprinkled peel.

Drizzle the dough with a little olive oil. Sprinkle with the spinach leaves, then the whitefish, and finally the Cashel blue. Create a small well in the center of these ingredients and crack your egg into it. Season the egg and the pizza with salt and pepper.

smoked whitefish pizza prep

smoked whitefish pizza prep

oven ready pizza

Place pizza in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. Garnish with shavings of Pecorino Romano. By the time you’re done shaving the cheese onto the pizza, it should be set and cool enough to cut.  Slice, eat, and rejoice.

rough cut pizza

smoked whitefish pizza beauty

 

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Smokehaus Recipe: Corned Beef Supper with Roasted Vegetables

Unlike most grocery store corned beef, our corned beef is fully cooked and ready to go. This means that you can rip off a chunk or two before you set it on the stove to boil, and it also means that it will not release the usual amount of tallowy scuzz that a raw product is prone to do. However, because it is already cooked, you must simmer it long enough to become tender. This recipe will also work for any old corned beef brisket: just follow the raw meat’s cooking guidelines.

corned beef supper

As my mother (the finest corned beef supper-cooker in the world) advised me, the most important thing to remember is timing: the vegetables and meat need to be ready at roughly the same time.

Smokehaus Corned Beef Supper with Roasted Vegetables 

Boiled Elements: 

1 corned beef brisket – 3-4#

3 med onions

4 stalks of celery

1/4 cup of pickling spice

5-7 cloves of garlic

1 head of cabbage – we use green, but napa, bok choi, or baby bok will work

salt and pepper to taste

Roasted Elements: 

5 carrots

2 turnips

3# small white or red potatoes (roughly 1 1/2 inch diameter – but fingerlings will do)

7-10 cloves of garlic

2-4 Tablespoons of olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Course-chop onions and celery and peel the garlic cloves. These will contribute to the flavor of the boil, creating a sort of court bouillon effect which will season the meat, steam the cabbage, and eventually reduce into a sauce. Combine them along with the pickling spice in large stockpot and add brisket. Submerge in water, and put the whole shebang on a high-temp burner. At this point, you may add the salt, but I like to wait an hour or two and taste what the broth is doing; the meat will lend (or leach out) salt, but probably not enough. Once the mixture is boiling, reduce the heat so the broth is at a lazy bubble.

The meat will need to bathe in this boil until it is tender – about 3 hours. You may need to add more water during this process. For the last 20 minutes of cooking, quarter the cabbage, add it on top of the boil, and cover the pot.

When the meat has been lazy-bubbling for an hour and a half or so, start the vegetables.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Peel and course-chop the carrots and turnips. The goal is to get all the vegetables to cook at the same time, so just make sure they are consistent sizes. Scrub your potatoes and leave them whole. Crush the garlic with a flattened knife. In a large mixing bowl or in your baking dish, combine all the vegetables with enough olive oil to lightly coat them. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

corned beef supper prep

corned beef supper prep

veggie prep

Dump this mixture on a lipped baking sheet or in a roasting pan and pop it in the oven. After 20 minutes of roasting, use a spatula to upset the vegetables – this will allow more complete caramelization. Use this agitation method throughout the the roasting process. The vegetables should take 45 minutes to an hour to roast – they should be soft and caramelized when done.

roasted veggies

When the meat and cabbage is tender, remove them to a large serving platter and tent with foil. Strain the broth through a mesh strainer into a pitcher (we used a mason jar): adjust salt and pepper to taste – now you’ve got sauce! Discard the aromatics.
Serve the vegetables and meat together and adorn with your brothy sauce. Real good with lager and blueberry cobbler (but what isn’t?). If you have leftovers, you’re in luck: corned beef hash in the morning!

corned beef supper

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Catering is us

We have been working hard on a catering menu these days: our goal is to offer trouble-free platters as well as carefully composed appetizers or “bites.” Smokehaus food is unique, delicious, and beautiful – making it ideally suited for events. Our approach is to keep it simple and let the food speak for itself. After all, no amount of saucing or shaping can torture our stuff into anything better than what it already is: elegant, straightforward, and irresistible.
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Goodbye January, Hello Love

We had a marvelous December here at the Smokehaus – but neglected our
blog in the flurry. No longer: check back to catch news, special
limited-quantity gift boxes, and recipes galore.

For February, we’ve put together a sweet little gift box in honor of a dwindling cold snap, Valentine’s Day, and a terrific crop of Pepperoni. Click here to get a closer look.

 

 

 Thanks for a wonderful holiday season, everybody. We plan to keep the good times rolling!

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Introducing …

We have officially become fancy. After years of cardboard and stickers, we have made a great leap forward and now offer beautiful wood-burned wooden crates, which come standard with our Salami Gift Box and are straight-up for sale in the Duluth storefront.

 The crates are hinged; perfect for that cassette tape collection, spare socks, or, as one of our regular customers announced, “shotgun shells.”
We like them for smoked fish and salami. I bet you all will, too.

All of our delightful platters and bites on our new catering menu will include one of these cute little keepsakes, as well!

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April’s Sweet Potato Hash

Crispy, sweet, soft, and savory – if you treat a sweet potato right, you get results. And by “right,” I mean adding Smokehaus bacon and fried sage. April came up with this recipe recently in what can only be considered a fit of genius. Try it on Thanksgiving, on Christmas, or on any given weekend with a couple of poached eggs. 

Aprils Sweet Potato Hash

Ingredients:

3 medium-large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” cubes

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp butter

1 medium yellow onion, small-diced

¼ lb bacon, cut into small cubes

1 bunch of fresh sage

Kosher salt, to taste

Fresh-ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil. Once boiling, add the sweet potatoes and cook until just fork-tender, but not soft. Heat 1 Tbsp of the oil in a large, heavy skillet on medium. Add the sage and fry, gently flipping over, until it is crisp (this won’t take long – about 3-5 minutes). Remove the crispy sage to a plate and, while still warm, sprinkle with a little salt.

In the same skillet, add the bacon and onion and cook until the onion is soft, about 10 minutes. Remove mixture and drain off most of the bacon fat, but leave a teaspoon or so to flavor the potatoes. Add the butter, and once melted, add the sweet potatoes in an even layer.

Allow the sweet potatoes to brown on one side and then re-incorporate the onions and bacon. Cook all the ingredients until desired crispiness is reached with the potatoes. Salt and pepper to taste and garnish with the fried sage.

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Duluth Maple Pumpkin Pie

We use Duluth maple syrup in this pumpkin pie recipe – it is harvested right up the hill by one of our salmon fisherman, Dave Rogotzke, and his wife and children. The addition of maple syrup gives the pie a mellow sweetness, and the fresh ginger and black pepper really make it sing.

Duluth Maple Pumpkin Pie

1 9” Flaky Pie crust

2 large eggs

15 ounces pumpkin puree

2 cups of heavy cream

½ cup of locally-made maple syrup

¾ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp grated fresh ginger

Pinch of ground nutmeg

Pinch of ground cloves

Pinch of fresh-ground black pepper

½ tsp kosher salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, adjusting an oven rack to the lowest position.

Whisk together all the ingredients with 1 cup of the cream.  Pour the mixture into the crust and bake on the lowest oven rack, on a baking sheet, for 60-70 minutes or until the center is set.

Remove from oven and let cool completely before serving – overnight is optimal. To serve, whip the remaining cup of cream (add sugar, if desired) and give the slices a dollop.