File this in the “what the hay?” category: using smoldering hay to smoke food. (Indoors, no less.)
Apparently, hay-smoked food is all the rage amongst au courant chefs—who, according to today’s article by Jim Shahin in the Washington Post, have used hay to smoke everything from potatoes to quail eggs. The process purportedly can be done in a pot right inside one’s kitchen. And the flavor? Describing hay-smoked sweetbreads and gnocchi made from hay-smoked potatoes, Shahin writes,
“The smoky flavor is evident but not overwhelming; at once rustic and elegant, its earthy fragrance calls to mind a farm field in the autumn dusk.”
Lucky me, the kind of farm that immediately sprang to mind was a dairy (my aunt and uncle had one when I was growing up)—its fields replete with the fragrance of their bovine occupants. While I always thought the cows were great, needless to say, conjuring the olfactory image of a farm field didn’t quite work for me.
However, I’m guessing it’s a hay field Shahin is after. (Call me psychic.) In that case, I can certainly imagine that a quiet overtone of hay-smoke flavor could transport me right into an open field bathed in amber light, where specks of hay dust dance in the sun’s fading rays as ripe grass billows in the gentle breeze, quietly shushing, ushering the evening in.
(Can you tell I’d like to have a farm someday?)
Anyhow, I’m looking forward to trying my first hay-smoked dish! However, given that my smoke alarm goes off if I even think about broiling something, I’m going to have to leave this particular cooking technique to the pros for now—or to any Veggie Quest reader intrepid enough to try Shahin’s step-by-step recipe for Hay-Smoked Mashed Potatoes and report back.
So, who’s up for smoking grass—in a pot with some potatoes, that is?