A slab of Salmon, some Applewood chips, a six pack and a cigar makes for a wonderful Friday night. The newly acquired Little Chief Smoker has a job to do and the sooner the better. Smoked Salmon is an excellent appetizer and making it out back near the mancave garage creates an aroma that drives the neighbors crazy. This recipe will includes overnight ‘brining’ as well as smoking time. Not only will there be fish smoked, but also pork, beef, poultry and possibly some sort of cheeses sooner or later.
Use a large bowl to make the ‘brine’ mixture. Combine¼ cup salt, ¼ cup sugar, ¼ cup brown sugar and ¼ cup jack Daniels Bourbon. Line a lipped cookie sheet with extra-wide aluminum foil a bit larger than the fish and top with an equally large size sheet of plastic wrap. Be sure to pull any additional bones from the Salmon flesh before beginning so not to choke out your guests later. Spoon some of the ‘brine’ mix onto the plastic and lay one Salmon fillet skin side down on mixture. Next, spoon some of the ‘brine’ onto the pink flesh and top with the other fillet flesh to flesh. Now, spread remaining ‘brine’ onto top skin and fold plastic over to cover. Crimp the edges of foil together and seal tightly around the fish.
Top wrapped Salmon with another cookie sheet, weigh down with a brick or two and refrigerate overnight. Flipping at some point in the evening at gonna hurt either. Juices will leak out during this process so make sure you use that lipped cookie sheet to start.
Unwrap fish and rinse off the ‘brine’ with cold water, pat Salmon down with paper towels and place in a cool, dry place till the fish surface is dry. Probably a couple hours depending on humidity. If need be, use a small fan to speed up the process.
Set the smoker onto a stable metal (BBQ side table) or concrete surface and plug into a nearby electric outlet. Soak your Applewood or Hickory or Cherrywood chips in a beer pitcher full of water. Prep the smoker grates with a bit of olive oil to avoid the fish from sticking and be sure the bottom tray of the smoker has a sheet of foil for easy clean up later. Place the Salmon onto the grates, fill the smoker tray with soaked chips and close the bastard tight. Only thing that gets opened is the smoker tray when smoke dies out to add new chips, otherwise this stays shut for at least 3 hours. If the smoker comes with a thermometer, try for 195ºF. After 3 hours, check internal temp of fish and pray for 150ºF.
After complete, set on a plate and allow to cool. Flake with a fork and serve with good crackers, capers and cream cheese. Steve Miller must have been talking about Smoked Salmon, beers and cigars when he sang, “I’m a picker, I’m a grinner, I’m a lover and I’m a sinner, playin’ my music in the sun. I’m a joker, I’m a smoker, I’m a mid-night toker, I get my lovin’ on the run, Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh”. Admit it, you were just singing out loud. Either way, this fish flakes nicely and the smoke flavor is absolutely amazing. Other types of fish that are great smoked include Trout, Whitefish, Sturgeon, and Halibut.
Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em and don’t forget your bib.