Smoking Salmon

Smoked salmon is one of my favorite foods. A luxury, truly. But, it’s much more reasonable when you can smoke it yourself. Salmon prices are at $8.99 a pound at Costco right now, which is a couple bucks more than I’m used to. Still worth it.

I’m using the same recipe I always use, with a bit over 5 lbs of salmon. This salmon was packed a couple days ago, unusually. Normally the Costco salmon on display is all packed the same day. It must sell out quickly, it is always beautiful. This fish still had a sell by day 4 days in the future, though. And it still looked beautiful. There was little liquid in the tray, the fillets were spotless… And they were $1 less per pound than the same day-packed stuff. Unpackaging the salmon, I sniffed for any unexpected scents, and looked for any defects with the fish. I found none.

2000: Fish went into brine.

0840: Fish began drying.

1120: Fish is on the smoker at 120℉.

1530: Took fish off the smoker. It was actually at between 150℉ and 165℉, so definitely hotter than I intended… I should check at less than an hour next time.

The fish tastes great, right now, despite the temperature going too high. Time will tell if it lasts in the freezer and fridge as well as cooler fish. Visually, it looks more cooked, with some of the edges being quite dark, compared to usual. Still, tastes great, and is as most as I’m used to. My guess is, this extra temperature didn’t harm the fish at all.

Trying Out Beef Jerky

My brother-in-law gave me a taste of some of his homemade beef jerky a couple weekends ago, and it was fantastic! Apparently it was also easy to make. Easy, delicious, I’m gonna try it! He used a dehydrator, but I plan to use a smoker to keep my wife’s dehydrator from getting strong flavors stuck in it.

Jason’s Recommended Starting Recipe

I got a 2.5 lbs bottom round steak, sliced it thin, then started it in the marinade below at 2130. I plan to marinade for over 12 hours, then smoke the slices at 175℉ for 4 hours or so.

1 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder

I intended to use 1 Tbsp of paprika as in the recipe, and purposely left out the brown sugar for the first time.

1450: I dried the meat slices on paper towel, then put it on the smoker. The smoke holes are fully open to increase air flow and aid drying (not sure if this will really make a difference), the water pan is not even in the smoker, and the wood is hickory.

I’ll keep hickory in there for the first two hours, at least, then I suspect the meat will be as smoky as it can get. After that, I’m using the smoker like a low temperature oven.

That’s really why this method should be comprable to the recipe’s oven method. This is an electric smoker, and it can maintain temperatures up to 275℉, so 175℉ will not be a problem. Plus, the exhaust goes directly outside, so the house doesn’t smell like Worcestershire sauce for a week.

The meat took up all the smoker rack space except half of the bottom one. I’m pretty happy with how thin I got it.

1900: jerky is done! Final weight is only 11 oz! It is down to 27% of original weight.

I’ll freeze half.

The result should cost $1.59 per ounce, just in meat cost, since the original meat was $7 per pound. Normally jerky is $2.50 per ounce. While $1 per ounce is a good mark-up (and of course they aren’t buying their meat from the supermarket), it’s not preposterous. Meat seriously shrinks from water loss.

Changes for next time – maybe more flavorful if possible. Less spicy for sure (this is probably too spicy for Sarah). More spices though, and maybe a little salt. Same thickness cut I think – as thin as I could get it with the knife while being consistent.

Brisket and Salmon Again

I ran out of brisket too quickly last time…  It makes a fantastic sandwich with Philly Cream Cheese (strangely enough).  Then I eat a bunch of salmon on bagels, with Philly Cream Cheese…  The discovery that it’s the right cheese for both sandwiches has made shopping easier.

The brisket is 15.5 lbs, $2.99 per pound.  Salmon is 6 lbs, didn’t get the price before tossing the package.  We have to move in July and I hope I can keep up this hobby at the next stop in life.

1700 30 Dec: Fish begins brining.

2120: Brisket is on the smoker at 225℉, vent half open, fat cap up.  Next temp check should be 8 hours from now at 0520.  Used 4 Tbsp salt, 4 Tbsp pepper, 2 Tbsp garlic powder on the brisket.  I forgot to put water in the tray…  Let’s see what happens.

0520: 163 and 162, next check 0720

0720: 176 and 173…  I missed the crutch temp, but things seem to be proceeding well…  I cranked up the temp to 250.

0920: 193 and 188, smelling real good now…

0940: Fish started drying.

1040: 200 and 201.

1140: 207 and 204.  Close enough!  Meat came off, and I cleaned up the grates to put the fish on.

1210: Fish is on at 120.

1610: Fish is done, right on time.  Final temps were just above 140.

Everything was great, some of the skinny parts of the flat were dry, but not much…  The bark was fantastic.  Crisp, flavorful…  Some parts of the flat were more like roast beef than the brisket normally is.  I think I should try it unwrapped again, but maybe trim less fat on the flat and turn the temp up an hour sooner and see what changes.  Right now though, wrapped seems the way to go.

The water tray was almost full with grease by the end, I think next time I’ll put water in, but don’t think it makes a difference.

Brisket and Salmon!


Just got married, just got honeymooned, just got back to work…  Time for some food!

17 lbs brisket, $61, 6 lbs salmon $9 per pound.  Using the same recipe as usual.

2120: Brisket went on the smoker.  4.5 Tbsp salt, 4.5 Tbsp pepper, 2.25 Tbsp garlic powder.

2200: Fish is brining.

0530: Brisket at 165 and 166.  Crutched it, and turned temperature up to 250.  Also, moved fish to drying.

0845: Brisket at 202 and 189.

0930: Took the flat off, it was done, at 208.

1130: I’ve checked the point temperature periodically this whole time, and it has slowly risen to 201.  I’ll take it off after making coffee.

1145: Point was at 201, close enough, took it off then cleaned the smoker grates and water tray, and removed and chunks.  Set it to reheat to 120.

1230: Fish is on!

1630: All done, delicious.

Next time I need to make sure I slice across the grain.  I mistook the direction of the grain in some of the brisket, I need to double check that next time.  Otherwise I think it all turned out fantastically.

Brisket Numero Quatro

Well, there’s the possibility that the brisket I did last weekend won’t be enough meat…  And there’s the fact that I can get another one done in time…  So I’m making another brisket!  We’ll just try for a repeat performance…

14.1 lbs of brisket at $3.99 a pound…

1045, 21 Jul: Brisket went on, fat cap up, 225℉.  I should check the temperature after 8 hours, at 0645.

0900, 22 Jul: The flat passed 166℉ a couple hours ago, but the point was only at 162℉.  Now, the flat is at about 175℉, while the point is at 165℉…  I wrapped it and increased the smoker temperature to 250℉.  This step took a little longer than last time, but then I was doing to finish up further ahead of the party than I wanted anyway, so the timing should be ok.  After wrapping I kept the fat cap on top.

1200 or so: Brisket got up to temperature, the lean got there first by about 30 minutes.

The party was fantastic!  We had a great time with all the friends that showed up.  We ate almost all of both briskets, leaving only a small container in the end.  I’m very glad I smoked this second one.