I love to write about sugar and smoke, and had a nifty little blog going at one point. Then.... it all seemed to disappear into cyber space and I just gave up because I am not into forensic computering. Well guess what? I just found all those old posts I thought were gone. We'll be re releasing them on Throwback Thursdays, because that is what all the cool kids do. Until then I am going to tune up the keyboard and the mouse and keep the yakety yak on point about how Smoked Maple Syrup can change, your life, turbo charge your kitchen, supercharge your grill, and effectively undercoat the vehicle of your choice.
Peaches and Smoke
Serve three fresh ripe local peach slices interlaced with two thin wedges of the finest cloth aged Vermont cheddar you can find (Try Grafton Village Cheese Company's) and drizzle with 1/2 t Sugar Bob's Smoked Maple. Boom! and Done! A three ingredient masterpiece!
We spent a week on Nantucket with friends and family, going to the beach, going to town, generally going round and round. The blueberries were in, mostly protected by a weave of poison ivy. The blackberries were almost in but slim and sour pickings so far. Our big score was a bushel of hard shell clams, or quahogs, gathered off Madaket with our good friend Neil Paterson and his boat. We made chowder, pasta, and fritters. Neil owns and runs the island's premier stone yard and has top notch installation and fabrication crews from all round the world. If you need it and it is made of stone, he is your guy. He is also something of a business mentor to Sugar Bob, and his advice is always short, blunt, and sound. He is a guy who understands the value of service, both to his customers and to his community. He would do anything for a friend or stranger in need, and we threw him a pig roast as a thank you for his years of generosity. We fab up our pig roasters on site out of concrete block and steel, generally held together by gravity and good luck. We cook a pig for at least twelve hours and break it down and serve it up as pulled pork with, you guessed it, Smoked Maple Syrup barbeque sauce. Our sauce is both vinegar and tomato based. It is thin and tangy. It lets the meat speak and does not cling on and dominate like much of the glop you find at the chains and in the supermarket. It is, however, substantial enough to mark your meal as potential championship barbeque material. Ann has perfected the recipe over the years and I offer you a simple and regularized version of it here using as many one to one ratios as I can. You can use the Jumbo Number 10 can to make a large multi gallon batch for a whole hog roast, but I share this with you using a smaller 12 oz. can as my base unit. A perfect amount for several chickens, a shoulder or two, or half a dozen racks of ribs.
Smoked Maple Syrup Barbeque Sauce
1 12 oz. can tomato paste
1 can water
1 can cider vinegar
1 can diced onions
1 clove garlic
1 Tablespoon Harissa (North African pepper paste. You can also just use red pepper flakes)
1/4 (1/3 can) cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 can (or more!) Smoked Maple Syrup
Puree the onions, garlic, paste, vinegar, harissa, and water. Bring to a simmer in a pot over low heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. The sauce should be thin and somewhat runny, but will still burn if left unattended. Simmer for twenty minutes or so to cook out the onions. Remove from heat and add the remaining ingredients. You are done. This sauce will both marinate and dress. It can be used as a dipping sauce, or a ketchup type condiment. It is very simple, and is supposed to be very simple. Like the Smoked Maple Syrup that is it's secret ingredient, it will elevate your barbeque to a new level. We wish you the best.
Smoke is the spice with no body, no mass. It is one of the fundamental flavors and aromas in cooking, yet it is not packageable on its own. You can buy salt, sugar, and spices in their elemental form, but smoke is more ethereal, always hitching a ride on some other food. The taste of smoke tells us our food has been cooked or preserved, perhaps triggering an evolutionary “safe to eat” response, and most people love it. Bring it to the table and diners are ecstatic. Smoking or barbequeing your food is fun and rewarding, but the process can take hours and can seem laborious and epic in detail and focus. Smoked salt, smoked paprika, smoked peppers (Chipotle), and of course smoked meat (bacon) are a great way to deliver this smoky goodness to the table. Now add Smoked Maple Syrup to that culinary arsenal. The complex maple bouquet with its slightly caramelized sugars, and elegant notes of vanilla and malt, combine with the equally complex and mysterious phenols and flavonoids in wood smoke in triggering the “happy food response” we love to see in our dinner guests eyes. I know I am laying it on a little thick here, but the essence of smoke is as hard to describe as it is to capture.
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
In a heavy shallow roasting pan combine 1 pound Brussel Sprouts, ends trimmed and yellow leaves removed, 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and quartered, 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth, ¼ cup olive oil, salt and pepper, and 2 Tablespoons Smoked Maple Syrup. Cover with foil and roast in a quick 375F oven for 30 minutes, uncover, baste and finish cooking for an additional 15 minutes or until done.