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.