I first gave up about ten years ago, but not for long, followed by a few more attempts finally taking my last drag well over three years ago now, with no real slips other than drunken nostalgia with old friends.
Still this isn’t about Benson, Hedges or Capstan. Rather the subtle taste and aroma imbued to prime cuts of pork by smouldering seasoned apple and plum wood in a traditionally built smoker.
As I mentioned in my last post we reduced our pig number by two, a task that is done here on the farm with the assistance of local butcher. Minimal stress and quick thanks to a recently purchased captive bolt stunner.
I have to say that our butcher is old school and it is a skill that I would like to learn more about, if only to have more control over the cuts, sadly back bacon and chops are not common in Poland, although we did manage to get him to string together a good couple of loops of English breakfast sausages from our recipe, so we are one step closer to a ‘Full English’
Not that I don’t like continental style belly bacon, truth be told it’s probably my preference now, now that I have learnt how to dry cure and smoke it myself.
So having salted the belly for a few days, dry curing, along with several hams which then went into a wet cure marinade, it was time to fire up the smoker.
Luckily for us we have become friends with Witold who recently built an ‘Ognisko’ less than 300 meters from our house. He uses the area as a venue for his company Explore Adventure. We actually first met as I was trespassing on his land, nosing around trying to work out what was been built, when I bumped into him and hurriedly went into my speech about not speaking Polish. Imagine my surprise when he answered in English! Since then we have become friends and as well as building a few tables for him for his first function Gosia has also found herself waitressing and preparing food for several parties on team building weekends.
With such a setup available to us we would be silly to try and do the smoking anywhere else and so with a tractor box full of hams and bacons I made my way across the fields to a smokers paradise. Admittedly I had to make a few alterations to the chimney stack, adding a few brackets so we could insert sticks to suspend the meats, but it was easily done and by early evening we had lit the fire and started the process.
Technically this was a cold smoking process as the temperature in the stack never got above 40 or 50 C (100 – 120F) so it was key to not really burn the wood but rather let it smoulder, thankfully a series of vents allowed us to achieve this fairly easily, although after watching over the process for two or three hours as the night drew in we stacked up the fuel and retired for the night.
I’d guess that the meat was probably in smoke for six or seven hours in total and we could probably make some adjustments for the future, but all in all it worked well and the bacon and ham are the best I have ever tasted and if you don’t believe me then just pop in for a breakfast one day or maybe a ham sandwich, with English mustard!