Why we're cooking in a smoker for markets and events
We agreed many years ago that I am generally right, although he continues to disagree with me about most things on principle and out of habit.
Things I've been right about include coming to Australia, moving to Tasmania (although it took me three years of attempting to persuade him and someone else ten minutes to finish the job), and having children, although the jury's still out on that one.
Turns out he is right about using his smoker to cook our gourmet sausages for the Spring events coming up here in Tasmania. Lucky us, we have a marquee at all of them, selling gourmet pork sausages in a roll with farm made relish to hungry and discerning punters. Yes, every weekend for the next six weeks I will smell of fried onion.
My husband raises the pigs, makes the sausages, packs them, delivers them to providores, sells them at the local farmers' market and now cooks them and sells them hot to diners. He likes to do everything himself. The only thing he doesn't do personally is impregnate the sows, although what do I know - what goes on in the paddock stays in the paddock.
He also made the smokers, all four of them, which now stand around our bush block like so many mute Ned Kelly costumes. We're on Mark Four now, and each one is bigger than the last. He's made them from barrels, steel boxes and old air compressors and he entertains himself by carving a pig face into the fire chamber. The latest is made from a double fridge he brought home from the tip. One day I'll push him too far and you'll find me swinging in there by the ankles in a fog of apple smoke.
Once he discovered the joy of smokers, he began smoking everything, co-opting my dinners and popping them in the smoker if he could. Any time I plan a roast, he volunteers to cook it in the smoker. He's smoked olives, cheese, fish he's caught in the river and fish he's bought from an everything-cheap-in-freezers shop. He's smoked ribs, roasts and snags.
The rest of the family got so fed up with the taste and scent of smoked food that I was adamantly against the smoking of sausages for commercial sale on our stall. I found it hard to believe that they'd have the same appeal as a barbecued banger, that women would turn their noses up at them and kids wouldn't like them. Smoking stuff is a man thing, as borne out by all the Facebook groups and programs about 'Man, Fire, Food' which he watches when he's not watching programs about tattooing. I thought we'd lose the female market.
I also found it hard to believe that the Council Food Hygiene Gestapo would allow him to cook something in a red hot tube of steel powered by wood fire. Turns out they will.
We trialled it at a small event. And guess what - it worked. The sausages cooked quickly and evenly without fuss, splitting, spitting or sticking. Since Oliver wasn't constantly turning them on a barbecue hot plate, he was free to do other things on the stall, like cook more onion or make me a Negroni - (in my dreams). With the addition of child labour and our daughter taking the money from customers while I looked after service, we served more sausages with greater alacrity than ever before and made a sum of money which raised all of our eyebrows. It would still make anyone with a proper job laugh their socks off but we were pleased and the daughter's orthodontic bills seemed momentarily more achievable.
More importantly, the 'smokey' flavour is pretty indiscernible and nobody batted an eyelid at it.
Now Oliver has got the whole process, lock, stock and smoking barrel passed by all the Council Gestapo and event organisers, and the upshot is that we'll be doing smoked sausages at the Tasmanian Craft Fair, Entally Estate Gardenfest, Woolmers Festival of Roses and everywhere else we can think of where we might make a killing with smoked sausages. Yes, smoked.
He was right. Smoking sausages works. It's faster, cleaner, easier, more entertaining and now he's got a sideline of making smokers for other men who aspire to smoke. About this, I was wrong. He hasn't rubbed it in, he's too nice for that. So I'm only eating a small dish of humble pie. Thankfully, it's baked, not smoked.
You can find our stall, Langdale Farm, at events across northern Tasmania including the Tasmanian Craft Fair, Entally Estate Gardenfest, Woolmers Festival of Roses and Agfest.
Out August 2018
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Apple Island Wife is available in e-book and paperback from August 2018.
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Fiona Stocker is an English author and freelance writer living in Tasmania.