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Savouring smoke

JAN BILTON
Last updated 07:54 24/05/2012
venison
JAN BILTON

Winter warmer: Roasted venison with smoked garlic

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A taste of smoke in Kiwi cuisine is often associated with barbecuing. However, there are several ingredients that add a subtle smoky hint to meals that provide that "wow" factor.

Paprika is a spice made from ground capsicum. Commercial paprika comes from Spain, Hungary, South America and California. Most varieties without chilli have a mild flavour, but some Spanish versions have a distinct smokey flavour – the capsicums are dried by slowly smoking them over oak.

Smoked paprika can be used in most dishes that call for plain paprika.

Smoked garlic is a seasonal product, and now is the time to experiment in the kitchen. Marlborough garlic and shallot growers Gaye and John Murphy have just introduced their Wholly Smoke Garlic to selected supermarkets nationwide.

The garlic has been smoked over manuka and herbs that impart a subtle, sweet, nutty flavour. For best results, smoked garlic should be stored in a covered container in a cool place or the refrigerator.

Lapsang souchong is not only a strong distinctive tea to be enjoyed at breakfast with bacon and eggs. When used as the main ingredient for smoking fish, chicken, cheese or vegetables, its aromas permeate the food quickly, adding interesting nuances. The leaves are smoke-dried on bamboo trays over pinewood fires to develop its characteristic flavours. A little smoke goes a long way.

Smoked chicken is a favourite with Kiwis. To make your own, a whole chicken requires about four hours at 110 degrees Celsius in a smoker. Portable smokers are inexpensive and can be used outside, preventing strong aromas permeating the house.

Alternatively, you can buy smoked chicken from your butcher or supermarket.

Butter chicken prepared with smoked meat is divine.

ROASTED VENISON WITH SMOKED GARLIC

I used a boneless venison roast from Silver Fern Farms.

1 bulb smoked garlic

3 shallots, sliced

3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

400 to 500g boneless venison roast

2 sprigs thyme

1 each: green, red pepper (capsicums), seeded and thickly sliced

Jus: 1 cup good beef stock

1/4 cup red wine

1 clove smoked garlic, crushed

1 tsp thyme leavesPreheat the oven to 200C.

Remove the cloves from the garlic bulb and peel. Combine in a small roasting pan with the shallots, 1 Tbsp of the olive oil and freshly ground black pepper. Place in the oven for 5 minutes.

Brush the venison with olive oil. Sprinkle with black pepper and thyme leaves. Place the venison on the garlic and shallots and roast for 15 minutes. Add peppers. Continue to roast for 10 minutes. Remove, cover with foil and rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Meanwhile, rapidly boil the ingredients for the jus until reduced by half. Strain and serve with the venison. Serves 3 to 4.

FETA & SMOKED PAPRIKA BRUSCHETTA

Croutons: 1 baguette

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tsp smoked paprika

Topping: 150g feta cheese, crumbled

8 pitted black olives, diced

2 Tbsp capers, rinsed and drained

1 small avocado, sliced

1 large red roasted capsicum, thinly sliced

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Freshly ground black pepper to tastePreheat the grill to high. Cut the bread diagonally into 8 lengths. Combine the olive oil and garlic.

Brush both sides of the bread. Lightly toast one side under the grill. Turn the slices over and sprinkle the top with the paprika. Grill for 1 minute.

Top the croutons with the remaining ingredients in the order listed.

Excellent served as a snack or with soup. Makes 8.

SMOKED MUSHROOMS

Use a portable smoker or a wok. The flavour of smoked mushrooms is quite strong.

Use 1 or 2 smoked mushrooms in a stir-fry or pasta dish, on pizzas or in stews. For added flavour, add a smoked mushroom to any dish using mushrooms.

The smoked mushrooms may be refrigerated for up to 2 days or wrapped individually in plastic film and frozen for up to 3 months.

6 medium portabello mushrooms

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, crushed

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

3/4 cup lapsang souchong teaRemove the stems from the mushrooms. Combine the oil, garlic and black pepper. Brush over the mushrooms.

Line a wok with a double layer of foil. Sprinkle the tea leaves evenly over the base.

Place a wire rack over the top. Cover and heat on medium-low until a little smoke rises. Place the mushrooms on the rack, rib sides up.

Cover and cook for five minutes on medium low. Turn the mushrooms over and continue to cook for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the strength of flavour you prefer.

Remove from the rack and cool. Makes 6.

SMOKED CHICKEN STROGANOFF

350g skinned and boned smoked chicken

50g butter

1 large onion, sliced

1 smoked mushroom (see recipe), sliced thinly

250g mushrooms, sliced thinly

1/2 tsp dried tarragon

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup light sour cream

Break the chicken into large chunks.

Melt the butter in a large non-stick frying pan. Saute the onion until softened.

Add the mushrooms and cook until soft, stirring occasionally.

Add the chicken and heat through on a low temperature. Season.

Stir in the sour cream. Do not boil or the liquid may curdle.

Great garnished with fresh herbs and black pepper.

Serve on pasta or rice. Serves 4.

Copyright Jan Bilton

- The Marlborough Express

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