Well, my original plan was to smoke some salmon. You can't really cold smoke anything in an ECB (or, if you can, you are a better man than I) but it sure seemed like I ought to be able to do a better job with salmon in the smoker than on the grill. So, I headed to the grocery store. Well, as it turned out, the local natural and organic grocery store didn't have any salmon. Harumph. However, they did have steelhead trout! Huzzah!
This was my first attempt cooking steelhead and I'm definitely going back for more. The advantage of steelhead over salmon is that it's much, much cheaper. Or, at least it is here in Montana where you can just pull the lil' buggers out of the water if you know what you are doing (I don't).
The downside is that there are a lot more pin bones. So, you can either spend some time with pliers and pull them all out beforehand or just warn folks when they are eating that there are going to be bones. Other than that, though, it's all WIN with steelhead.
If I recall, I brined these fillets in a combination of salt water and dill. Then I took them out of the brine and let them sit at room temperature for an hour or so. Typically you do this so you get a little bit of a salty crust on the outside of the fish. I then got my smoker maintaining around 200 degrees and smoked the trout until it hit 145F internal temperature.
I don't have any pictures of the bratwurst that I had on the top rack of the smoker, but they really helped out the trout. Dripping fatty goodness and some of the really spicy rub that I put on the bratwurst. Yum. Anyway, check out the picture.
If I can dig up the bratwurst pictures, I'll post them here at a later date. Now, get out there and get smoking.... or, at least eating.
Some of my in-laws were visiting and we wanted to make something more on the healthy side. And, by that I mean, I didn't want to stay up all night making a pork butt. So, the original idea was smoked salmon and chicken. I had never actually smoked fish before and I was eager to do so. Also, I wanted to try and smoke a chicken at "normal" temp (225F) and then finish it on the grill to see if I could get the skin as crispy as I wanted it.
Well, the Good Food Store didn't have any salmon, if you can believe that. However, what they did have was Steelhead Trout. The good news with that is that Steelhead is a fraction of the cost of Salmon. At least here in Montana it is. The bad news is that it has quite a few more bones so you have to either a) remove all the pin bones with pliers or b) tell folks to chew carefully. I did a little from column A and a little from column B.
I made a brine for my Steelhead and let it soak overnight. I've since done some reading and I think really only 1-2 hours is necessary. Then you should let it dry out for at least an hour. This helps it to develop a sort of tougher outer layer.
Now, I would love to cold smoke some fish at 90F but that just isn't possible in an ECB. (Although, if you've figured it out, please let me know. I've tried to do cheese at low temps before and it ends up just tasting like black charcoal.) So, I smoked at my normal temp of 225F and I pulled the fish when it was done. I don't remember what internal temp that was, but I bet if you google "salmon temperature" (yeah, I know this is Steelhead) you will find out when you should pull it.
I pulled the chicken at 150F and then I moved it inside of the rib rack to my grill where I crisped up the skin. Here's the photos.
Finally got the skin nice and crispy!
Pretty much like Salmon, only at half the cost.