I bought Nick a Polyscience smoking gun from Williams Sonoma last year and it’s proven to be an excellent tool for cold smoking. So far, we have only experimented with making smoked ice cream and smoked mussels — both were excellent.
Nick’s creative skills in the kitchen are similar to a curious mad scientist. One day after working on a Saturday, I came home to open the fridge and see what he calls “pickle jello” in the refrigerator. We had previously discussed somehow making smoked ice cream and from here, he took it to a whole different level by creating a bite size “cuban sandwich” — one of his best culinary moments yet.
To make the ice cream, you start with your basic ice cream mixture. I used this recipe for the base:
2 cups full-fat milk
2 cups thickened / heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1. Heat the milk, cream, and half of the sugar in a saucepan until it’s just below the boiling point and starts to bubble.
2. Whisk together the other half of the sugar, vanilla and egg in a bowl to a ribbon stage.
3. Still whisking, pour the cream mixture into the egg mixture and pour this back into the cleaned-out pan and cook till a velvety custard
4. When it’s thickened, take it off the heat.
5. Pour into a bowl over another bowl of ice and let it cool or you can stir to help it cool faster.
We created a contraption using a styrofoam box that I received when a customer of mine brought me fish from his family’s wholesale fish market. We cut a hole in the lid big enough so the hose of the smoking gun fit and would not let any smoke seep out. We then poured the ice cream into a flat pan to create as much surface area as possible, placed it into the box, and closed the lid. We stuck the hose into the hole and recharged the smoker 4 times, letting the smoke sit for 5 minutes each time. Once we felt the smoke flavor had penetrated the ice cream base mixture sufficiently, we churned it in our ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions (for about 30 minutes) and then froze it overnight.
Cuban sandwich components listed from bottom to top for assembly:
Bread: Briefly soak a small square of bread into a beaten egg mixture and lightly saute in a hot pan until crisp and browned. (It’s like making french toast.)
Pickle jello: Take pickle juice from a jar of dill pickles and add gelatin (see instructions for ratios on gelatin box). We made a whole batch of pickle jello but only used a few squares for the Cuban sandwiches.
Smoked Ice cream (recipe above)
Cilantro-jalapeno syrup: Bring 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water to a boil, add 2 chopped jalapenos, and a few cilantro sprigs. Let sit for 30 minutes and strain. Then refrigerate.
Cilantro leaf for garnish