As I’m sure many of you do, I love reading cookery books, I’m not an experimental cook by any means – I want to see a photo, my mouth water, I cook it and eat it. So when I came across this book, The Gentle Art of Preserving by Katie & Giancarlo Caldesi I couldn’t wait to give it a go.
So I made an arrangement to spend the day cooking with my dad. We decided that smoking mackerel out of the Caldesi book was a simple place to start, while we were at it we smoke some garlic bulbs. Seeing as we had the day, we decided to make some loaves of bread. Good job we started early.
The mackerel were gutted and filetted by the fish man at Taylor’s Farm in Lathom near Ormskirk. (I’m not Hugh Fearnely Whittingstall, I don’t know the fishmonger by name). They were super fresh. Although I also had a couple in my freezer from the cheap section at Tesco so it’ll be interesting to make a comparison.
The smoker we used was from Lakeland an impulse buy from a couple of years ago when our wonderful weekend away in Windermere was scuppered by …….., well it just was. Ask me and I’ll tell you, but I can’t write it down.So we nipped over to Lakeland and blew our B&B money on some foodie treats. It’s a Nordicware Kettle Smoker, not available from Lakeland anymore but sold here on Amazon.
We covered our mackerel in a layer of sea salt. (we used salt). Then, what with it being chilly, we covered it and put it outside on the garden bench. High tech.
Before moving on, the skin has to firm up somewhat, the recipe says about 20 minutes, we found it took a little longer, but considering we didn’t really know what we were looking for and got tired of poking it, we could have been wrong.
After washng the salt off and patting it dry, the mackerel had then to be left to form a pellicle. This is a skin that forms over the fish. It’s good if the fish can be left outside to form this and again, we weren’t really sure what we were looking for. We covered the bowl in a piece of netting that I found in the garage that turned out to be something to do with washing clothes. It became obvious when the pellicle formed with a visible sheen over the mackerel, and then we were ready to go.
See the sheen – that’s the pellicle (word of the day)
The fish was smoked for 15-20 minutes over Jack Daniels Whiskey chips, the temperature at around 140 degrees. The smoker has a thermometer so it’s very easily controlled.
It was wonderful, obviously the most expensive and labour intensive smoked mackerel I’ve had in my life but also the best ever. While warm it melted in the mouth and then reheated with a salad and bread it was still more moooorish with every bite.
We even peppered some of them – get us!
So, if you’re every stuck in Windermere, feeling bitter about your lot in life, and you have some money burning a hole in your pocket, you couldn’t do much better than invest in a smoker.
I’ll be back to wool next time!