Smoked foods are generally associated with barbecue and thus with summer. What you may not know is there are two types of smoking: hot and cold. The difference between the two is that hot smoking cooks the food - as is done in barbecue - whereas cold smoking only imparts smoky flavor to the food, leaving it raw to be prepared as you see fit. Cold smoking can be done outdoors and indoors, but since outdoor conditions make controlling the temperature of the smoke difficult, we're focusing on indoor methods that can be used year-round.
The ideal temperature for cold smoking is between 70ºF and 80ºF; however, heartier meats such as pork, lamb, chicken and venison can be taken to 100ºF without beginning the cooking process.
Since they are smoked for a long period of time at low temperatures, only meats that have been fermented, salted or cured - to prevent bacteria from forming - should be cold smoked. The high salt content of a traditional brine makes it an easy method for salting meat before it's smoked.
Cold-smoking chambers are typically built with long tubes and pipes that allow the hot smoke from the heated wood chips to be cooled before reaching the food. This principle can be achieved inexpensively at home on your stove top.
Place soaked wood chips in a deep metal pan, cover with foil and heat on the stove top until smoke forms. Carefully remove the foil and place a perforated, ice-filled pan over the smoking wood chips, followed by a perforated pan with the meat in it. Reduce the heat to low and allow the meat to smoke for up to four hours. Periodically check the heat of the top pan with an instant-read thermometer. If the temperature approaches 100ºF, add more ice or remove the pan from the heat and allow meat to sit in the residual smoke.
If you're looking for a still-simpler method, consider cheating. Heat the soaked wood chips on the stove top in a metal pan. Place a cooling rack or perforated pan on top, add the meat, cover and remove from the heat. Smoke the meat for only 15 minutes. This will impart a much lighter smoky flavor than the other two methods, but it is quick and easy.
Cassy Vires is the owner and chef of Home Wine Kitchen. She received her culinary training in Houston and has a knack for reimagining classic dishes.
Cold-Smoked Pork Tenderloin with Bourbon-Maple Glaze
Serves | 4 |
- 2 cups apple cider
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup kosher salt
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar
- 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 cups ice
- 2 pork tenderloins, 1 lb each, cleaned
- 2 cups apple wood chips, soaked in cold water for 30 minutes
- 2 cups ice
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 4 oz bourbon
- 2 oz dark molasses
- 10 oz maple syrup, grade B
- 1 tsp light brown sugar
| Preparation - Brine | Combine the cider, water, salt, sugar and cinnamon in a medium pan and bring to a boil. Cook until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Add the ice and refrigerate until cold.
| Preparation - Cold-Smoked Pork | Pour the brine over the pork and refrigerate for no less than 1 hour and no more than 8 hours. Remove pork from the brine, plate and set on the counter until brine has evaporated. Cold smoke the tenderloins using the wood chips and ice, employing whichever technique works best for you. Once the tenderloins have been cold smoked, they can be either immediately cooked or refrigerated for up to 2 days before cooking.
To cook, preheat the oven to 400ºF. Season the tenderloins generously with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high and sear the pork on all sides. Transfer to the oven, and roast to desired doneness. Remove pork from the oven and rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
| Preparation - Glaze | Combine all ingredients in a small pan and bring to a boil. Stir until sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and keep warm until ready to serve.
| To Serve | Place tenderloins on a serving platter, slice and drizzle with glaze. Serve with roasted brussels sprouts and mashed sweet potatoes.