I cant quite believe that the last entry here was back in January. I had high hopes for a summer of smoking self-discovery, but the weather has not been grill friendly. There are a couple of episodes that have gone undocumented of course, such as a semi-successful attempt at Makro’s “meaty belly ribs”. But I thought that seeing as we’re heading towards Autumn something a bit gamey would be appropriate. Enter my brother in law, dab hand with a twelve gauge and scourge of cotton-tailed lagomorphs across the land. It has to be said that rabbit isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and its not a meat that springs immediately to mind when you think of hot smoking. I wasn’t really sure how this would turn out, but was quite prepared to have a go.
Thankfully my brother in law had gutted and skinned the rabbits, so all that we had to do was tidy them up and apply a coating. We tried a few different things; a pre-prepared wet marinade, as well as a dry rub I’d prepared. We also wrapped one of the carcasses in unsmoked bacon to see if it made a discernible difference. The dry rub was as follows:
2 tbsp. paprika
1 tbsp. soft brown sugar
1 tbsp. white sugar
1 tbsp. coarse salt
1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
I’ve read a lot about how rabbit should be cooked, and most of the wisdom suggests at least a couple of hours at around 220C. We gave them an hour and a half at between 210C and 240C. I’d used briquettes on the previous couple of cooks, but decided to try the restaurant grade charcoal I bought at the beginning of the summer. It burned hot and even and seemed to me to do a better job than the briquettes. I used lumps of apple wood for smoke. So how did it turn out?
Pretty fantastic really. The rub gave it a nice amount of seasoning with just the right amount of kick from the cayenne. The meat was tender and pulled off the bone fairly easily. I think with more time it may have been even better. The pleasant surprise here was the bacon. Just ordinary supermarket bacon, but it had taken on some of the rub and lots of the smoke and was absolutely delicious.
Whenever I light the grill I feel an overwhelming need to get as much out of it as possible while it’s lit. So, yes, our old friend hot smoked salmon makes yet another appearance. Four portion sized fillets were brined overnight in a brine comprising of 50g of salt and 50g of soft brown sugar dissolved in a litre of tepid water. I then dried the fillets off and sprinkled them liberally with soft brown sugar. I would ordinarily have used honey, but I didn’t have any. The sugar will dissolve into a syrup on the surface of the salmon, and act as a glue for whatever you want to coat it with. I went for mustard seeds, lots of ground black pepper and a dusting of cayenne for heat. Here’s the before shot:
And after 45 mins in the smoker:
No, my smoker doesn’t turn salmon into sausages. Two of the fillets went home with my brother in law, and I threw some fairly ordinary pork sausages in along with the salmon. They turned out very nice, with a subtle smoky flavour. The salmon, as always, is delicious. Part of the reason I always make some is so that if the main reason for the burn (in this case the rabbit) is a disaster, then I’ll have something to show for it. All in all a very pleasant evening’s work.