[Sca-cooks] Smoked Meats in Northern Europe

Sandragood@aol.com Sandragood at aol.com
Mon Oct 9 08:38:59 PDT 2006

In a message dated 10/8/2006 9:22:45 P.M. Central Daylight Time,  
adamantius.magister at verizon.net writes:

I'm unsure of  the extent to which smoking was actually used all over  
period  Europe.  

There's that term again that everyone hates...;o)
The most common preservation techniques used in Europe were salting (either  
dry salted or brined) and pickling (wine and vinegar) sometimes in combination 
 with other spices.  For the most part they relied on simple  ingredients.  
Although we do know that sausages and hams were smoked as  well as fish.
Smoke contains alcohols, acids, and other substances which inhibit  bacterial 
activity.  Although the  main use was for preserving meats, there are records 
of smoked cheese in Celtic  lands.  Some non-European sources include smoked 
fruits  (China)  and smoked olives kept in oil (Arab).  A Chinese source has a 
technique for  smoking thin strips of pork that have been rubbed with crushed 
garlic and  marinated in vinegar.  Smoking was  usually, not always, used in 
conjunction with other methods.  Smoked hams were a combination of  salting or 
brining and smoking.  The  meat would be rubbed with salt or soaked in brine 
for several days.  The meat would then be hung in a chimney  or smoke room to 

nor can I recall any references to "if the meat be smoked do X",  as there 
are with, "If it be salt," or "if it be soused, do  Y".

Some of this may be the fact that salted or pickled meat requires  different 
preparation i.e. soaking salted meat to bleach (remove) the  salt from the 
meat.  In the example above, when referring to cooking  methods, it is more 
likely because the given method for salted meat gives  better results than for the 
fresh meat.  For example, you would get a more succulent piece of meat from 
boiling or  stewing salted meat compared to roasted salted meat.  This  is due 
to the fact that salting dries out the meat, even when brined.   As you know, 
boiling or stewing helps keep the meat moist while  cooking.  Smoked meat , 
unless salted, doesn't really require any  special preparation and could be used 
in place of fresh meat.  
When referring to condiments or spices, this may be a personal  preference of 
the cook, or the person for which he was cooking, or the  regional fad at the 
time.  I've seen French examples where they used  mustard on salted meats and 
another condiment for regular roasted meat in the  same recipe.  I think this 
has to do with flavor preferences.   Condiments were used to enhance a dish, 
and something that enhances a salted  dish might be overpowering to a regular 
dish.  Depending on the source, the  use of smoked meat may have been limited, 
thereby reducing the number of  references on how to serve it.  Depending on 
the region of the cookbook  would explain the lack of references in general, 
i.e. references being found in French or German sources and not in  English or 
Spanish, or coastal recipes vs. inland.

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