Experiments with smoked vegetables

Smoked Beets

Smoked Beets at left with fermented beets, pickled scapes, fried caraway seeds

The other night I fired up the Weber Bullet in the usual way, loaded some nice applewood… then, instead of a brisket or turkey on the lower rack I put in vegetables. And on the top, a tray of maple syrup. The results were interesting.

I’d heard about the beet that’s carved table side at Agern in NYC, and this was more an homage rather than an actual recreation (especially since I haven’t eaten there, though I’ve been to the Northern Food Hall next door). There, the beet is encased in an egg white crust that is cracked open for the diner. The *smoked beets are combined with raw, pickled (I assume sweet and sour) and *fermented beets and dolloped with *fried caraway seeds and scrapings of fresh horseradish. I only had the * items, but I added some pickled scapes which I expect contributed a similar flavor balance.

The verdict? Like I said, “interesting”. The smoked beets were tart yet retained a raw taste (in a good way). Not surprising since roasted beets get up to 400 degrees and the inside of the smoker isn’t close to that. The flavors of the individual items didn’t really come together as a cohesive whole. Guess I will have to force myself to go to Agern and try the real thing.

Smoked Brussels Sprouts

Smoked Brussels sprouts with smoked maple syrup

Then, on to smoked Brussels sprouts. Braising these with bacon for a smoky flavor is currently a thing, so why not just eliminate the middleman and actually smoke them? And I wanted to toss them with smoked maple syrup which I’d made by letting some good Grade B spend time in a flat aluminum pan on the top, as well as a bit of butter.

Again, interesting. With smoked meats, the bitterness of the smoke flavor is usually balanced by fat. No such luck here. These items were bitter but by no means inedible. I’ll happily use them as garnishes rather than complete courses.

The smoked maple syrup? It’s okay and I will use it in small doses for some cheese grits, maybe. I have no doubt I could have gotten the same effect with some Liquid Smoke. If we don’t experiment with smoked vegetables and other new concepts, we don’t evolve. But next time I’m sticking to brisket (with maybe a few veggies… eggplant?… around the edges).

NEW TO BURNT MY FINGERS? As you’ll soon discover, we’re  little obsessive about slow cooking over wood and coals. My original brisket recipe is as good a place to start as any.

This entry was posted in Cooking and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.