Spotlight On: Smoking Meat in-house

The quaint smokehouses of days gone by have been replaced by streamlined, high-tech and futuristic looking appliances, but the low’n’slow method of cooking meat is making a serious comeback, and bakers are adding home-smoked meats to their menus with great success.

The process of smoking meat results in a final product that is more tender and flavourful than other cooking methods. This is because the “low and slow” technique breaks down collagen (a protein found in muscle tissue which contributes to toughness in meat) and also melts the fat through the tender meat. The scent from the smoke also contributes to the flavour and can be further enhanced with the use of different wood varieties—much like the wood of a barrel used to produce wine or whisky contributes to the product’s flavour profile.

Flour and Chocolate’s Lachlan Scott says adding smoked meats to the popular Brisbane bakery’s repertoire last year has improved the quality of the products they offer.

While the original Morningside store had limited space available, Lachlan says smoking meat was always something he wanted to do at the larger Northgate store.

“I was very happy to nab a chef that I’ve known for quite some time who is quite well known for his smoking,” he says.

“He started with us last year and when he started we installed two smokers and we’ve been smoking our own meats ever since.

“We use that to really push up the quality of the sandwiches we offer instore and more recently we started doing pies. I managed to get my hands on a pie press that I used when I was an apprentice 25 years ago and we had it all refurbished and from that we’ve created a smoked brisket pie.”

Week-to-week, Flour & Chocolate add new items to the menu and have two full time chefs creating sandwiches and the meat for the pies, playing around with different smoked meats regularly.

Describing smoking meat as “full on”, Lachlan says the process generally takes 10-12 hours all up.

“Normally we get the brisket in and then we prepare them and have them in the fridge the day before and they’re ready to rock and roll so the minute he [the chef] walks in the next morning the smokers are up and rolling and we’ve got them in there,” he says.

“And then often our second chef will pull them off—because he finishes later—so yeah, it takes 10-12 hours generally.”

Although it’s a trend that’s taking off around Australia, for Lachlan introducing smoked meats wasn’t a matter of following the crowd.

“We do it because we’re passionate about creating flavour profiles and creating that from the ground up,” he says.

“Really, it was an organic move to the next phase that we’re doing. And we’re continuing to evolve and grow that side of our bakery. The sandwich section is something that has really taken off.”

Flour and Chocolate is set to open a third store in Redcliffe after Easter, and Lachlan says he hopes to increase the production of smoked meats to be able to supply the new location.

“Once again Redcliffe is very similar to Morningside and is constrained in size, and we’re hoping to be able to supply our meat fresh to Redcliffe every day to push up that production out there and we’re hoping to do the same at Morningside down the track—to be able to supply them more and more.”

A guide to wood and meat flavour profiles

Woods like oak, hickory, maple and mesquite are ideal for smoking heavier meats like beef and pork, while pecan, apple, alder and cherry compliments lighter meats like fish and poultry. However, just like using spices to add flavour to food, you can experiment by adding small amounts of different woods to accent flavours.

Hickory

Hickory is an excellent choice for all red meats and poultry, but is the perfect accompaniment for bacon and pork with its sweet, hearty, pungent and bacon-like flavour.

Characteristics: Sweet and strong

Burns: Hot and slow

Best for smoking: Large cuts of meat (ribs, shoulders)

Pecan

Spotlight On: Smoking Meat in-house

Pecan produces a similar taste to hickory, but more subtle and ideal for smoking at low heats. Pecan pairs well with poultry, lamb, fish and cheeses.

Characteristics: Sweet, fruity, nutty

Burns: Slow and cool

Best for smoking: Briskets, roasts, ribs

Mesquite

A true Texan barbeque flavour, mesquite wood is strong and potent and best used carefully and in small doses so as to not overwhelm the meat.

Characteristics: Strong and smoky

Burns: Hot and fast

Best for smoking: Beef and vegetables

Alder

Spotlight On: Smoking Meat in-house

Alder produces a light and sweet smoke that best compliments fish.

Characteristics: Light, sweet and delicate

Burns: Cool and medium-length

Best for smoking: Fish, chicken, pork

Oak

Spotlight On: Smoking Meat in-house

Oak is an ideal starter wood if you’re new to smoking, producing a medium-heavy flavour without being overpowering.

Characteristics: Medium-heavy

Burns: Hot and slow

Best for smoking: Lamb and beef, brisket, sausages

Maple

Maple is on the lighter side, and the sweetest of the heavy woods.

Characteristics: Sweet, light and mild

Burns: Hot and slow

Best for smoking: Poultry, pork, game birds, ham, bacon

Apple

Spotlight On: Smoking Meat in-house

Fruity, sweet and mellow, apple wood produces a mild smoked flavour and is good for smaller cuts like chicken, quail, and other game birds.

Characteristics: Sweet, light, mild, fruity

Burns: Hot and slow

Best for smoking: Poultry, pork, game birds


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