My brand new copy of Charcuterie arrived in the mail yesterday, and immediately, I found myself in something of a dilemma:
Should bacon be hot or cold smoked?
What’s the difference, you ask? In a nutshell, both hot and cold smoking add smoke, but in hot smoking, the smoke is hot enough to cook your meat or whatever it is you want smoked, gently, whereas in cold smoking, the smoke is cooled off before being introduced to the smoke box.
Where was my dilemma? Ruhlman does advise cooks to hot-smoke their bacon, as this seems to be the traditional practice. However, I remembered that Alton Brown did an episode of Good Eats, called “Scrap Iron Chef,” on bacon making, and after re-watching it, I confirmed my suspicions; Alton recommends that bacon be cold smoked!
Two chefs I’ve learned so much from, and two chefs whose word I trust. What do I do?
So, is bacon cooked or not? Well, I had no idea where to turn, so, I went to the man himself, Michael Ruhlman, via Twitter.
Well, here are the responses I got:
So… Either way seems to work, although it was clear that Chef Ruhlman prefers his method. At this point, I was curious if Alton Brown would respond, after all of these mentions, and retweets of digs against his show.
After some waiting, The Scrap Iron Chef threw in his two cents:
And there you have it! Hot smoking seems to be the way to go! Stay tuned for some hands-on demonstrations!