This evening I have been thinking about smoked mackerel and have decided that next summer when we are at the Cottage I will have to make a smoked mackerel carbonara.
The smoker is not much more than a glorified biscuit tin, its bottom raised an inch or so off the ground, a small edge round the side to balance the rack on and a loosely fitting lid. There is a methylated spirit lighter that sits on the ground. The first priority is to make sure there is some methylated spirit in the garage, if there isn’t any there, take time out to swear violently and make a mental note to buy some when next in the village. Then kick yourself again and rembember that mental notes are never enough and take more time out to scribble down that same note to be positioned prominently in the kitchen so that it forms part of the shopping list for that next trip to the village.
If there is a plastic bottle of spirit fill up the lighter and light it. Place the smoker on top and sprinkle a handful of wood chippings on the bottom. It will start to give off smoke very quickly. Hopefully you will have cleaned off whatever gunk there is on the rack from last time, lay out the fillets of mackerel, put the rack in the smoker and cover with the lid. Leave for five minutes or so and check how it is doing.
If all has gone right then the small fillets should be more or less cooked and will be giving off their oil. If you are not sure, pick up a fillet, be careful, it will be hot, and gently pull it with your fingers, the flakes of flesh should just pull apart, although there should be some residual stickiness giving back a bit of resistance. Lick your fingers. If that fillet is ready remove the rest from the rack onto a plate.
They will good enough to eat as they are but could be substituted for bacon in a carbonara. Heat up a pan of boiling water. Pull the skin away from the fillets and discard. For the rest you will need a tub of thick cream into which you have strirred in an egg, salt pepper and some finely chopped parsley.
Once the water is boiling cook enough pasta for the number you are feeding. Once the pasta is done drain it quickly and return to the pan, add the cream and egg, the seasoning and the smoked mackerel fillets, stir gently together. The fillets will break apart as they are stirred so it will be an idea to keep a few to one side. Pour the pasta into a serving bowl and top with the reserved fillets some more seasoning. Serve and eat.
If we are eating this next summer I fancy listening along to The Unthanks.