Using Planking on Smoked Cocktails
The Barbecue has represented over the years only the last of my great passions in the gastronomic field, although probably the largest and the longest. In the years prior to this phase, I have now spread out a bit among all the areas related to tasting, even more than the kitchen itself. Among these, mixed drinking was one of those passenger loves, which lasted much less than others but which, as often happens in these cases, was one of the most intense, those that, years after, you remember with greater nostalgia and more regrets for not having studied it as much as it probably would have deserved. As happened to me with all the others, my passion for cocktails also brought in my bookcase several texts and in my background months of testing for Sunday aperitifs with friends but objectively too little to be able to say to master the art. This, like all the other experiences, however, contributed to influence the following ones, in a single gigantic gastronomic melting pot. You could have examples of this in the recurring theme of the aperitif in my posts, such as the ones on Cocktails Affumicati, Smoked Almonds, Cracklings and many more.
Any unripe love, however, can never be said completely dormant, bringing like an unfinished project, to inevitable and periodic backfires. The last one was a short time ago when an American friend posted a video of the moment of choosing the order from the menu in one of those extremely elegant and formal Steakhouse that you could see for example in New York city. During the reproduction, the waiter was filmed during the preparation of a cocktail in a low tumbler, typical alcohol preamble of the chic American dinners, on a trolley placed in front of the table, therefore very visible. The waiter used a wooden plate as a complementary element to the preparation, just what enough to inflame my passion again. I have documented a bit and it came out something really interesting: it is a practice far from innovative, rather well established and that follows precise modalities, which we will then try.
What we’re talking about
Let’s start with a brief illustration of the planking technique, referable to the American Indians, in particular the Salish, who lived in the north west of the country. As you well know, the Indians are a nomadic population, which then moved their settlement according to the time of year. In those areas before the migration to the south in view of the winter cold, these populations used to catch the salmon that in that season were going up the rivers for breeding, to clean them from the innards and work them as baffles in order to use them as a form of subsistence in the transfer, during which they could not hunt. The experience taught them to nail the baffles on the boards taken from fallen trees (among which the Red Cedars abounded in those areas) and place them around a fire to make them smoke, greatly prolonged the conservation of fish. Today the same principle is taken in a gastronomic sense using small wooden plates, on which to put the food in direct cooking with closed lid.
Why it should work
That of planking is a particular form of smoking, which must be kept very light so to not incur the risk of over-smoking, a real risk for all too fast and intense smoke supply practices. Anyway the real peculiarity does not lie in this, but in the characteristic to use for this purpose woods particularly rich in essential oils such as the Cedar, which goes up on the surface in the presence of heat, joining the juices of cooking food (that’s why the typical recipes are based on Salmon or other fatty fish) and to the notes of smoke creating a very distinctive union. The use of planking in the creation of smoked cocktails is based on the concept of putting in smoke on the wood planks spices, aromatic herbs and citrus, ie elements very rich in essential oils, and then add them to the liquid part.
Testing the Gin Smoking
We will apply the method seen on many bartender sites (without K this time: D) Americans on a possible variant of the Mediterranean Gin Tonic. The process involves rinsing a tumbler glass with water and then storing it in the freezer for 15 minutes. This will help to accentuate the smoked sensation by binding the smoke very easily with the water component. A cedar plate is then moistened and buffered. With a torch a fixed point of the plate is flamed and when the flame is ignited, it’s been extinguished, and put on the spot some Timut’s pepper grains been crudely coarsely crushed with the back of a spoon, some curls of lemon and orange peel and a sprig of rosemary previously rubbed on the same plank. With the iced glass, cover everything immediately and wait a few minutes. Finally, the cocktail is composed by filling the tumbler with what has been smoked on the plate and adding ice and the canons 4 cl. of Gin and 10 cl. of Tonic Water.
Smoke was there. It is clearly and exclusively on the nose, pleasant, never covering and yet very persistent. When we finished drinking the Gin Tonic, our fingers continued to remind us of the experience for a few tens of minutes. But do not think about over-smoking, it was definitely a very pleasant sensation. Certainly the planking turned out to be an interesting added value, absolutely to be experimented on other cocktails and long drinks. The limit is only that of imagination. Which one would you like to experience it first?