Sunday

Boil a Kettle, Chop an Onion: Smoked Halloumi

Previously on BAK,CAO:
http://grilly.blogspot.co.uk/2010/04/boil-kettle-chop-onion-veggie-carbonara.html
http://grilly.blogspot.co.uk/2009/10/boil-kettle-chop-onion-melinzana-and.html

Halloumi is often considered a veggie treat, akin to bacon. So I've been playing around with my (birthday present) smoker on and off this year

So I've been a bit experimental this morning; I've tried to smoke halloumi a few times, and it's just not been as delicious as it was in my head. So today I thought I'd try a couple of variations to see if i could get the balance right.

Usually, I would dry fry halloumi in a pre-heated pan until browned, to get it just so tasty and chewy. When I've smoked halloumi in the past, the smoking cooks it, but hasn't got the texture right. So this time, I took a large piece of halloumi (225g cypressa), and cut it in half. One half went in the (stove-top) smoker sliced and the other went in whole. I smoked it for about 10 minutes with 2 spoonfuls of hickory chips.

When it came out it looked like this:
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The large piece seemed to have a different look to the sliced pieces.

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At this point, I tried the pre-sliced halloumi, and I don't know what I did differently, but it was already very nice. Maybe I'd just got the timing right for the quantity of material in the smoker; the guidelines seem to suggest about 25 minutes for 500g, so perhaps I'd just overdone it in the past.

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Slicing open the large block of H, I was delighted to find it as I expected: a lovely coating of smokyness, which permeated the flavour, edible, but still really uncooked in the middle. So I got a frying pan going, and threw a couple of slices in. I also put in the pre-sliced H, just for comparison.

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They both cooked nicely, the coated H gaining it's usual patchy brown pattern, and the pre-sliced H going an even darker colour.

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The end result is that briefly smoking the whole block of H and then pan frying it as per usual just adds the lovely delicate smokiness without being overpowering or too different to how it should be. But actually, I think I've finally got the balance right for smoking it pre-sliced too, because that was very nice in it's own way.

So in future I think I'll more readily throw whole foods into the smoker, then slice them up and cook them as normal. An extra stage to add for special occasions. I guess experimentation is key. I've probably been over-smoking everything, leading to tough food that tastes like bonfire night.
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