Posts Tagged 'smoker'

Smoked Trout Cups

There have finally been a few days dry enough for me to put my smoker out in front of the garage and have at the smoking. I will try to smoke almost anything! On this sunny morning I stoked the smoker with alder chips and I smoked 4 lamb shanks (more about them in a later post), a small pork tenderloin which I ate on sandwiches, and two fat trout. I admit, I “caught” the trout in the grocery store, but they were mighty tasty nonetheless. The first evening I shared the smoked trout with a friend, on crackers with cream cheese. The next morning I had it on a bagel. I decided to use the rest of the trout to make smoked trout salad, which I planned to have on crackers. Then I came upon these adorable little corn chip cups, called scoopers. I originally bought them to use with fresh salsa – the baked cups only have 3 grams of fat for 14 cups. Be sure you get the baked ones, though. The regular scoopers have a lot more fat.

At any rate, I proceeded to make the trout salad and fill the little cups. What a nice, easy, impressive little appetizer. I am going to experiment with more fillings for these little cups.

Smoked Trout Cups

4 ounces of smoked trout, bones and skin removed and chopped
2 Tablespoons finely chopped onion
½ teaspoon dried dill
2 Tablespoons non-fat sour cream
sea salt to taste
14 baked corn “scoops”

Mix trout, onion, dill, sour cream and salt thoroughly. Divide evenly among the scoops cups. Don’t fill the cups too far ahead of time; they get soggy.  You might also decorate each cup with a sprig of parley, sliver of radish or another garnish.  Makes 14 adorable and tasty smoked trout cups at just under 1 gram of fat/cup.


Spice-Coated Lamb Roast

I had a small, butterflied leg of lamb that was called “grill-ready” which is what I intended to do with it.  But the weather is back in the too hot zone, and I haven’t had the energy to take the gas cylinders to be filled. Besides, I think there are yellow jackets living in the compartment where the cylinder goes, and although it would be satisfying to light the grill and incinerate them, I don’t want to incur their wrath by replacing the cylinder.

So since I was smoking a large amount of pork tenderloin in the smoker Saturday, I thought that I might as well smoke the lamb, too.  I wanted to do something interesting with it, so I made a rub that vaguely resembles Tandoori (Indian spices in yogurt) and coated the lamb before smoking. This lamb was just fabulous. The outside was a little crisp (I ran it under the broiler) and flavorful without being mouth-burning hot. The inside was pink and juicy, with a lightly smoked flavor that was not overpowering. I smoked it over apple wood, which tends to be mild. And the lamb was so tender you could cut it with a fork.

Spiced lamb sliced

Spice-Coated Lamb Roast

1½ to 2 pounds lean boneless leg of lamb, trimmed of all visible fat
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon dried bread crumbs
3 Tablespoons non-fat yogurt
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons raisins
1 Tablespoon canola oil

In a small bowl, mix together the chili powder, garlic, coriander, cumin, and salt. In a food processor, process the bread crumbs, yogurt, lemon juice, raisins, and oil until smooth. Add the spice mixture and pulse several times to mix. Rub the mixture all over the leg of lamb. Smoke for 2½  to 3 hours (or according to your smoker’s instructions.)  I used plain water in the smoker’s water basin to keep the meat moist.  When I finished the smoking process, I thought the meat looked unattractive, so put it under the broiler for 5 minutes a side to crisp up the outside. This lamb is about 9 grams of fat for a 4 ounce serving.

spiced lamb whole

Variation: The recipe I referenced for the spice coating called for the lamb to be oven roasted, so here are the instructions for roasting it more traditionally.  Make the spice coating as above. Preheat the oven to 350. After coating the lamb, wrap it in aluminum foil and roast it for about an hour. Remove the lamb from the oven, open the foil, and spoon the spice mixture over the lamb. Return to the oven and cook, uncovered, for about 45 minutes more.

Smoked Trout Platter

There is a potluck today.  It’s hot – in the 90’s, although today might be 2 degrees cooler. Too hot to bake something interesting.  And you know everyone will be bringing salads and if they don’t feel creative, boxes of store-bought baked goods.  And did I mention it’s hot?  I am not fond of hot weather.  I like clouds.

Then, to my rescue, the local grocery had whole trout on sale. Chubby, sleek trout with their heads on. I bought six of them.   I had the butcher remove their heads (“I’m decapitating” he said. “Tell the other trout not to look”).   I took off tails and fins at home and smoked the whole trout in my handy smoker.  I didn’t do anything special to them – no seasoning or brine. I smoked them over alder chips for 2½  hours.  Trout are actually rather fatty, so they grill and smoke well without getting dried out.  They have a distinctive flavor, too, that I didn’t want to mask.  I think next to steelhead, trout are my favorite fish.

Once the trout were done, I skinned them and took as many of the bones out as possible.  I find this easier to do once the fish is cooked, since the skin peels right off and the bones more or less lift out when you pull the spine out.  Then I wrapped them individually and put them in the refrigerator to chill.  This morning, I made a big platter of smoked trout – three of the fish (the rest I’ll use for other things) atop fresh leaf lettuce, with thinly sliced sweet onion, ripe tomatoes, and  cucumber, with lemons scattered about for those who want them.  Now this has the requisite Wow Factor to take to a potluck.  It actually looks more involved than it was to make (Remember, it’s hot).  It’s all in the presentation, sort of like accessorizing a basic dress.

trout smoked

This also follows my Principle of never making anything for a potluck that you don’t want to eat as leftovers.

To accompany the trout platter, I thought that most people would want to put their bit of trout on bread or crackers.  I bought some interesting dark bread and also cut up a baguette, toasting the slices to crisp them up.  I made two spreads to go with the trout. One was cream cheese and chives – put chives in the food processor to chop, then add an 8 ounce bar of low fat or non-fat cream cheese.  The second spread was a little more unconventional – blue cheese and sun dried tomatoes.

Blue Cheese and Sun Dried Tomato Spread

1 bar (8 ounces) fat free cream cheese
1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes (not oil pack)
1/3 cup reduced fat blue cheese
2 Tablespoons lemon juice

Place the sun dried tomatoes in a food processor and pulse several times to chop.  Add the remaining ingredients and process until fully blended. Refrigerate overnight to blend flavors. This has about 1 gram of fat/2 tablespoon serving.

trout bread plate

Smoked Pork Tenderloin with Sauerkraut and Apples

When I smoked the pork tenderloins a few days ago, I left one tenderloin out to use in a Bavarian-style main dish. Bavarian food is more filling and hearty than delicate. Pork is probably the single most important food in Bavaria, with potatoes running a close second. This is food for an early fall day when the air is crisp in the morning, and by dinner you want something a bit substantial.

I originally planned to cook the smoked tenderloin in beer and sauerkraut, hearkening back to the days when I was young, poor, and had never hear of fat grams – and cooked large, cheap fatty pork steaks in sauerkraut and beer for dinner, served with mashed potatoes. But I had already marinated the pork tenderloin in beer and herbs before smoking it, and I didn’t want beer flavor overwhelming the dish, since the pork had a nice flavor of its own. This experiment came out even better than I expected it to. I served it with plan boiled potatoes.

Smoked Pork Tenderloin with Sauerkraut and Apples

1 one pound smoked pork tenderloin
3 cups of good quality sauerkraut, drained
4 medium apples, peeled, cored, quartered, and sliced thinly (I used Gala apples, but any firm apple would do.)
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a medium bowl, mix sauerkraut, apples, and brown sugar together. Place 1/2 of sauerkraut mixture in a casserole that is long enough to hold the pork tenderloin. Place pork tenderloin on top of the sauerkraut mixture and cover with the remaining sauerkraut. Cover casserole and bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven, Slice pork tenderloin cross wise and serve over sauerkraut mixture. This makes 4 four ounce servings at about 4 grams of fat/serving.

The sauerkraut I used was an old-fashioned sauerkraut that was less tangy than most deli sauerkraut – almost a little sweet. I think that regular sauerkraut would work as well.

Beer Marinated Smoked Pork Tenderloin

I took the smoker out again to make pork tenderloin, a very versatile meat. I didn’t do anything elaborate with it, because I am going to use one tenderloin to make sandwiches for lunch, and the other as the main ingredient for a Bavarian main dish I’m planning later in the week. Smoked Pork tenderloin is leaner than most lunch meat (about 0.7 grams of fat/ounce), and it doesn’t have all the salt and preservatives of packaged lunch meats. And smoking is so easy to do – it sits in the smoker and cooks itself.

Beer Marinated Smoked Pork Tenderloin

2 one pound pork tenderloins (this tends to be what comes in a package)
1 bottle of beer or ale
1 teaspoon dried savory
1 teaspoon dried chervil (I think thyme would do as well)

Trim all fat from pork tenderloins. Put beer, savory, and chervil in a gallon zip top plastic bag. Add pork tenderloins and seal bag, making sure that tenderloins are covered in marinade. Refrigerate for about 2 hours, turning occasionally. Following the directions on your smoker, smoke for 2 1/2 hours. I poured the marinade into the drip pan and added water to it, then smoked the pork over alder wood.

I also smoked mushrooms and eggplant with the pork to use in other dishes. No sense running the smoker half empty.

The fat gram/serving depends on how much you eat. I had 5 ounces for dinner, for about 3.5 grams of fat.

Smoked Cornish Hen with Blueberry Barbecue Sauce

I have a smoker – a useful item when it is hot and you want to make something interesting without heating up the kitchen.   It is an electric smoker, which I purchased because it seemed safer than my old charcoal smoker in this fire-prone region.  You soak wood chips in water – I used apple wood this time – and then place them around the electric elements before plugging in the smoker. The beauty of a smoker is that you can get that smoke-penetrating-the-meat flavor without the added salt that most commercial smoked products have.  It is also inherently a low-fat way of cooking. Any small amounts of remaining fat drip into the water pan below the racks.  I have smoked fish, leg of lamb, pork tenderloin, turkey, and later this year I plan to smoke a duck.

Given that it was a record-breaking 103, I decided to smoke a couple of Cornish hens that I was planning originally to bake.  I did not marinate or brine them, although I have marinated smoker-bound meats in everything from beer and wine to orange juice. I planned to make a hearty barbecue sauce, and I thought that the flavor of the marinade would be overwhelmed by the sauce. So I just cut them in half, took off the skins and fat, and put them in the smoker, filling the water pan that sits below the racks with a mixture of water and leftover wine.  I smoked them for about 2 1/2 hours. (You could also smoke them with the skins on, but it is sometimes harder to remove the skins after smoking.)

What you see on the rack below the hens are mushrooms.  I like to fully use the smoker space, so I usually tuck mushrooms or other smokable vegetables like eggplant around the main course.  Smoked mushrooms are good on sandwiches, and in salads and pilafs.

The smoked hens develop a beautiful color.  I used to think that Cornish hens were very high fat, and with skin on, they are a higher fat entrée.  But without skins, a half of a hen, the usual serving size, only has 4 grams of fat.

I am somewhat obsessed with blueberries. At this time of year, I buy them by the pound and try to work them into everything. The barbecue sauce originally came from Eating Well, another magazine you should consider reading. I left the jalapeno peppers out because I didn’t want a very spicy sauce, but added a little black pepper for some warmth.  This makes a fairly assertive barbecue sauce.

Blueberry-Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

1 Tablespoon of Canola Oil
1 small red onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 cup bourbon (confession: I didn’t have any bourbon so I used Southern Comfort)
2 cups fresh or frozen (unthawed) blueberries
1/2 cup ketchup
1/3 cup cider vinegar
2 Tablespoon of brown sugar
1 Tablespoon of molasses
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
a few grinds of black pepper

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat (In retrospect, I would have used a non-stick pan).  Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden (about 3 minutes).  Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.  Add bourbon. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil, cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in blueberries, ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, molasses, allspice, and black pepper.  Return to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until thickened, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.  This makes 2 cups.  They list the serving size as 1 Tablespoon, and 0 grams of fat/serving.  Realistically, you’d use more than this on your entrée.  I think I used about 1/4 cup.  This would make it about 2 grams of fat/serving.

And what is underneath the hens: a quick pilaf of brown and wild rice mix to which I added chopped up smoked mushrooms, green onions, and a handful of dried blueberries.  I estimate that the whole entrée had 8 grams of fat, including 1/2 hen, a cup of pilaf, and 1/4 cup of sauce.  I took the pilaf the next day for lunch with some chopped Cornish hen mixed in.


I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

More about me.

AddThis Feed Button

Follow me on Twitter