Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Dutch Oven Seafood Feast, Part 1 - Smoking Salmon

A long time ago, I was surfin’ the ‘net, looking for some Dutch oven ideas, and I came across one called outdoorcooking.com.  One of the blog postings was all about smoking salmon in a Dutch oven.  When I first saw that I had one of those Sit-Back-And-Slap-Your-Forehead moments.  I knew that someday, I would try it.

This last weekend, I did.  In fact, I tried a couple of seafood dishes that had been stacking up in my queue.  Even though I cooked them simultaneously, I’ll write about them separately.

Now, not only was I trying out two dishes that I had never before tried, I was also trying a technique I had never even seen before.  Add to that the other dish was mussels, which I had no experience with, either, and my confusion and stress levels were high enough.

Then, to make matters worse, I invited my neighbors over!  What was I thinking? Didn’t I say, “Never cook a first time dish for friends”?  Yeah, well, I don’t take my advice, either.

So, I liked this guy’s idea for putting the chips under aluminum foil and a grill. But what if, I thought, you need to add more chips?  This was my idea:  Inside a larger Dutch oven, put a smaller Dutch oven lid, inverted, on a lid stand.  Chips go below, salmon on the lid, larger lid on top, propped open...   Boom.  Dutch oven smoker.

...But I had no idea if it would work.  Would it get hot enough to smolder the chips?  Would it be too hot so as to fast cook the salmon? I had no idea.

Dutch Oven Smoked Salmon

14” Deep Dutch oven
10” Dutch oven lid, with a lid stand

40 + coals below

  • 1 Salmon piece (~8 oz) per serving (I did about 7)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Any herbs you like (I used Thyme)
  • 1 Lemon

  • Smoking chips

I started by lighting up some coals.  I wanted to try out the setup, before I actually put the salmon on, to see if it would smoke.  I put the 14” on a monster boatload of coals.  I gave a rough count, and it was about 45.  I scattered a layer of dry smoking chips  (I used applewood) on the bottom.  On top of that, I put an oven thermometer.  I wanted to be able to monitor things.

I have a bent piece of wire, about ⅛ of an inch in diameter. I hooked that over the edge, and put the lid on. That raised the lid enough to vent.  I set that aside, and checked the temperature from time to time.

In the meantime, I prepared the salmon.  I trimmed off the skin, and shook some salt, pepper and herbs on each piece, both sides.  I left that to sit.

It took a while to heat up the Dutch oven, but once it did, I was very pleased to see smoke pouring out when I went to check it. The interior temperature was about 250, so that was also perfect for smoking. I put the lid stand in the middle of the Dutch oven, and put the lid on the stand, inverted.  I put the salmon on the resultant platform, and set the lid back on. Just to be sure I did it right, I put a short-stemmed meat thermometer in one of the thicker parts of salmon. I also left the oven thermometer in.

From that point on, I just checked the smoke, the temperatures, and the salmon every 30-40 minutes. It fluctuated as high as 350 and as low as 200. I tried to keep it lower. I did add coals, but after a while, I found it wasn’t as necessary to keep as many on to maintain good temperatures or smoke.  I did add some chips at one point because I saw it not smoking as much.  I just sprinkled them in through the gap between the lid and the wall of the 14”.

Finally, after about 2 hours, the meat temperature read about 170.  It was done!  And I served it up on the rice in part 2 of this writeup.

It was really, really, really delicious.


Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including MarkHansenMusic.com and his MoBoy blog.

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