The Shin in its most Bucolic Version
The world of smoking has always fascinated me so much, you know very well. I like the thousand nuances that food can take through the different essence of smoke, just as it makes me crazy about everything that is due to the art of cold smoking. But there is an expression of this magical way where I admit to being a step back, in which I have less experience: smoking in hay. Surely it is a practice certainly closer to the culture of my friends MIG than me. Despite this, it has always fascinated me, perhaps because of its rural nature that it shares so much with the barbecue philosophy. I had even realized this video recipe about this subject but I can not honestly claim to know all its facets.
That’s why I like experimenting. To learn every day and try to be a better griller than I was yesterday. Today is the day when I want to play with hay. What I want to try is smoking with hay, inside a dutch oven. If I think of a dish combined with this technique I imagine a peasant dish, such as a shank. But not pork. I want a more neutral and delicate meat like Veal and I’ll put it in a brine from the night before in apple cider. Then proceed to brown it superficially in direct cooking, with a Mediterranean rub such as Don Marco’s Dancing Sirtaki and finally to complete the cooking in the mix of hay and spices for beef by Axtschlag.
1 Veal Shank
75 cl of Apple Cider
1,5 Lt. of Still Water
1 glass of ready to use brine Oakridge Game Changer
2 spoons of Don Marco’s Dancing Sirtaki Rub
1 pack of Axtschlag Herbs for Meat
The shin is wrapped externally by a membrane that I generally tend to take off when I indirect cook it in the pork version: objectively the shank is much nicer without but in this case I prefer to leave it. We will mistreat the shin a little during cooking and the membrane will help us to maintain its structure. In addition, the high heat will slowly make it up until it practically disappears.
Veal Shank in the Hay
Flavored with Cider and Spices
The particularity of our brine is that it will be mainly realized starting from the Apple Cider, using the entire content of a 75 cl bottle. To this we will add an infusion on the same style as the one we used in the recipe of Smoked Ham: in a couple of glasses of water brought to a boil in a saucepan, pour two teaspoons of the aromatic mixture contained in the packaging of Herbs for Meat, destined to be added to the hay and let infuse for five minutes. It is a very special blend that in addition to sage and various herbs also contains peppers for a combination in some ways unsettling but that spot on.
After five minutes add the cider, the infusion and the remaining water that we had left previously in the fridge to make it cool. Finally, add the glass of Game Changer (or alternatively a quantity of salt equal to 5% of the liquid) and pour the whole into a container with the shin.
If you want to save cider and/or Game Changer, reduce the amount of brine in proportion and pour it into a large frost bag with the shin, crushing the bag while you seal it to remove the air: in this way the little brine will come into contact with all the surface of the meat and it will need much less.
Once left the shank in brine all night long, let’s go on with a quick rinse and the application of the rub on all the surface.
In a kettle we put a quantity of briquettes in central set up needed to obtain a moderate heat, approximately 3/4 of chimney with the vents half open, in a kettle 57. Let’s proceed to the direct cooking with closed lid, slowly, without rushing and turning on the shank periodically. You will see with the naked eye at every passage that the outer membrane will tend to brown excessively and to withdraw gradually until practically disappearing.
The shin will instead acquire a golden and inviting appearance and a compact shape.
When the shin has assumed a beautiful homogeneous color, we remove it from the kettle, we place it in the middle of the dutch oven inside which we have placed a handful of hay mixed with the aromatic herbs contained in the Herbs for Meat pack and close the lid.
Move half the hot coal of the kettle to the side of the grill, place the dutch oven on top of the remaining ones and then replace them over the lid.
We close the kettle and let the heat do the rest. Soon you will see smoke coming out not particularly intense but constant. Continue cooking until it reaches 74° C in the heart, 84 if you like it particularly yielding.
I strongly recommend not exceeding 30-40 minutes of smoking, at the limit if you have not yet reached the target temperature, remove the unburnt hay from the dutch oven to continue cooking.
If you think that smoking with hay is delicate, you are really wrong. The hay gives a very distinctive note and that must like. Perhaps it is exaggerated to call it pungent but certainly it is quite characterizing. The smoke in the dutch oven then accentuates the feeling, much more than what happened with the basket cooking. Finally, this specific aromatic mix confirmed the perception felt during the infusion, giving the shin a very particular spicy aftertaste. The whole is a dish that does not leave indifferent, the classic preparation that one hates or loves. The combination with a steaming polenta and a full body red wine is almost obligatory.
Personally smoking with hay intrigues me, a bit like all the expressions of smoking on food. Would you like to try it?
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