Smoked food is the hottest food trend on the block these days! According to celebrity chef and Top Chef All-Stars winner, Richard Blais you’ll find smoked food everywhere “from fine dining restaurants, all the way to mom and pop local shops”. If you’re looking to try a few different smoked food recipes in the comfort of your own home and at an affordable cost, you’re in luck! Chef Richard Blais was kind enough to join me for an interview recently to dish on his favorite smoked food, recipes using Boar’s Head Black Forest Beechwood Smoked Ham, the secret to achieving different smoked flavors using various wood chips and much more.
Candace Rose: How do food trends develop and become established?
Richard Blais: “How do they develop and get established? Not so sure. I just know really what is on trend. Today we’re talking about the trend of smoked foods. You’ll find from fine dining restaurants, all the way to mom and pop local shops – smoked food items, whether it’s meat and vegetables all over a menu. Specifically today I’m talking about a new product – Boar’s Head Black Forest Beechwood Smoked Ham, which uses beechwood. As a creative chef and someone who has been around the block once or twice, I had not cooked with beechwood until this project. It’s a wood from Europe (specifically, Germany) for this product and it really instills this clean flavor that doesn’t leave you with a bitter aftertaste like a lot of long smoked foods can.
We’re also talking about how you can use a product like this in some easy to make every day foods to take your food to the next level and give them that trendy smoked flavor. One of the dishes is right here, this is my version of a chef salad, but I’m using kale because kale is still cool. A lot of people think that the trend is over, but I’m here to declare that kale is still king. Here we have the beechwood smoked ham with kale, some dates, chickpeas, Jack cheese, it’s got a nice spice, sweet sour note to it.
One of my wife’s favorite dishes is the whole wheat spaghetti with broccoli topped pesto. We’ve replaced a lot of the basil in a traditional pesto with broccoli topped. It makes it a lot more nutritious, it gives it a great character and texture to the dish.
My kids favorite food of the moment is fried rice. They’re eating two and three times a week. This in front of me (please see video above for details) is a version of pork fried rice where I’ve replaced beechwood smoked ham with pork and it’s got all those traditional dynamic flavors of fried rice, ginger, soy, some chili, chock full of vegetables. It’s super healthy for your family.
One of my favorite dishes is cassoulet. It’s a one pot stew, it’s a casserole. It’s got chillies in it, it’s got peppers, raisins, beechwood smoked ham and peppers, a really sort of hearty meal.
Last, but not least, breakfast is one of my all time favorite meals – breakfast for dinner? I’m okay with that! The omelette – we’ve fused two classic French dishes, French onion soup with a three egg omelette. We have caramelized onions, melted cheese coming together with that Beechwood Smoked Ham to create breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner whenever you want.”
Candace Rose: Is it necessary to have an at-home smoker or barbecue in order to get the smoked flavor desired?
Richard Blais: “The interesting thing about these dishes is that’s what we’re doing without spending the time outside on the grill. Certainly you can do that, and I encourage people to get out on the grill, but if you use a product like the Beechwood Smoked Ham here, you can get that smoky flavor in your every day meals just using a little bit of it as well.”
Candace Rose: What wood chips bring out flavors when smoking foods?
Richard Blais: “The interesting thing about wood chips is here we’re using beechwood because the ham is flavored with beechwood, but think of your grilling and what wood you use as what type of oil you’re going to use to cook with as well. Whatever wood chip you use is going to give you a different flavor, so beechwood here; my restaurants in the South East – they might use hickory or oak; my restaurants on the West Coast are cooking with almond wood, juniper wood, olive wood. So really choosing that wood is just going to take your food and make it a little bit more signature to your personal style.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share with us?
Richard Blais: “If people want tips and they want to know more about these recipes, they can go to Boarshead.com. If they want to follow me on my adventures, they can go to RichardBlais.net or they can follow me @RichardBlais across all social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).