According to Smoky
Welcome to According to Smoky. Here you will find the latest and greatest from C. Clark "Smoky" Hale notable 'baster', author, publisher, television star in both the barbecue and 'the real' world. And yes, he is a real person and not the webmaster.
Smoky will be offering his talents, techniques and secrets discovered over the last 150 years, or so. He will be to the point, pull no punches and if you suffer through the process, you will become a much better outdoor cook, turning out masterpiece meals for friends and family alike.
In this column, Smoky discussing some of the questions you must ask yourself the essence of ‘Smokin’ . . . . . take notes!
So, with no further adieu, we turn the mike to Smoky. You're on Smoky . . . . .
Part 2C. Clark “Smoky” Hale
Let's Get Started...
Analyze the preparation steps, one at time, i.e. sauteing vegetables, to assure that the preparation is appropriate for your vision of the finished product. Begin to assemble ingredients and tools for the cooking step.
The final product will be the result of cooking, tasting, adjusting, tasting, refining and tasting. Keep notes of each addition.
Understanding Herbs and Spices
To build good recipes, one needs to be intimately acquainted with various seasonings in their various forms. Not only their fresh flavor, but also their cooking characteristics. Some herbs and spices can handle high temperatures and longer periods of cooking. Some should be added at the beginning but refreshed at the end. Others should only be added in the last few moments. Some are basic to most recipes, others are used in small quantities for highlights or nuances. They can be divided roughly into tiers.
First tier seasoners include vegetables such as fresh celery, dried celery or celery seed (which do not really come from the celery plant.) Carrots, fresh, dried or powdered can add color and subtle flavor. Green peppers, fresh, dried or ground contribute their distinct flavors. And fresh parsley fits in easily. Tomatoes, in their various forms, can also be included. These seasoners also do not make strong statements except for rare circumstances but contribute to the body of flavor.
In the second tier are Garlic and onion. These basic flavors, essential in barbecuing and grilling, can be used fresh, dried and flaked or dried and ground, but in each embodiment they have distinct differences in taste and effect. But understand that different fresh onions and garlic varieties have substantially different flavors. Sometimes fresh and dried are used in conjunction. Minced garlic in oil and onion juice are very close to fresh. Except for special purposes where strong garlic flavor is essential to the dish, these form a quiet flavor base. Shallots give a distinct flavor, but are much like mild garlic.
Third tier seasonings begin to be more volatile and pungent. They should be kept refrigerated except for small quantities that are quickly used. Bay leaf, fresh, dried or ground and thyme, fresh, dried or ground are potent. Bay leaf can stand longer cooking periods, thyme will need to be brightened at the end. Thyme has an amazing ability to mix with and seem to enhance other flavors.
I include in this tier, oregano, marjoram, cardamom, ground coriander, dill, paprika, mustard powder, sage, basil, rosemary, tarragon, turmeric, mace and scallions.
In the fourth tier are those spices and herbs which are distinctly unique and, therefore, are normally used in small amounts. Included are allspice, anise, black pepper, caraway seed, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, fennel, ginger and nutmeg. Saffron contributes color more than flavor. Except for the closeness of anise and fennel, none of these have any reasonable substitutes.
Chiles, hot peppers, run the spectrum in flavor and heat. As to flavor, perhaps the Jalapeno is most distinctive and when smoked becomes the chipotle which would rank in the fourth tier. Commercial chili powders are usually a mixture of Anaheim and ancho or New Mexican and ancho with paprika for color, onion, garlic, cumin and oregano. Each is distinct. Remember, it is always easier to add more heat than to remove it. Horse radish and ground mustard are also sources of heat and both are distinctive from the action of capsicum. The heat dissipates with age so they should be used fresh.
Prepared mixtures, such as Worcestershire, soy and teriyaki sauce vary substantially from brand to brand. I would not use flavorings such as A-1 Steak Sauce, Kitchen Bouquet, etc., because it is so easy to duplicate or approximate their flavors with real economy. But it will immensely improve your ability to taste if you work to reproduce the flavor of commercial sauces or seasonings.
Having the beginnings of comprehension of the various sources of flavors and aroma, we must then learn their reactions to heat, time and each other. Some will seem to strengthen, some will fade and some will change. So it is instructive to taste a mixture before heating, during heating and after heating; when freshly mixed and a day later. These exercises, too, will sharpen your awareness of individual seasonings. This awareness, the cataloging of flavors and aromas in the palate of your mind, will heighten your pleasure in cooking and eating and fire up the creativity lurking latent in your brain.
C. Clark Hale
8168 Hwy 98 E.
McComb, MS 39648
Smoky's 5th basic position for really great barbecue'n.
Return to Smoky's Columns
'According to Smoky' is © by C. Clark Hale
who is solely responsible for its content. Comments
should be addresses to firstname.lastname@example.org