Today’s Meatless Monday post is an attempt to show the things you can take time over to enjoy if you’re not eating meat, to craft and flavour with consideration and attention. To make meals that evoke envy, not pity. Home-smoked feta!
Smoking is absolutely not a technique that should be reserved for meat. Consider the meatless options – all kinds of cheeses, that goes without saying, but also garlic, butter, oils, lemons (cocktails!), chillies, spices, even ice cubes. There are more.
The possibilities for cheese are immense, as you would already know if you had read my recent guide to cold-smoking halloumi cheese! Please refer to that post if you would like a full description of how to get the best out of your smoker (I recommend the ProQ Cold Smoke Generator), and how best to approach flavouring cheese.
One thing I will say about smoking feta specifically, is that the better the cheese is at the beginning, the better it will be at the end. Smoking definitely does improve a dull cheese, but having tried a few different types of feta of varying quality, I can unequivocally say that the better the cheese was, the more transcendent the result. A particularly beautiful piece of barrel-aged feta was one of the most delicious things I had ever tasted after it had come out of the smoker. In my opinion, the smoky flavour does not obscure the complex flavours of the cheese, rather it highlights and builds on what is already there. If you would like more specific advice on choosing your feta, please see an earlier post of mine in which I address this very important (!) matter in full.
This cheese is absolutely wonderful when smoked. The pure white of the cheese juxtaposes beautifully with the golden flushes of the smoke. The salty tang of the feta strikes a mouthwatering contrast with the meaty infused flavour. It is a taste sensation.
If you are vegetarian, adding a little smoked feta (especially one you crafted yourself) to a dish can be as uplifting to the flavour as the meat-eater’s staple, bacon. Lots of similar flavours going on there. Macaroni and cheese with smoked feta? Yes. A healthy, crunchy salad with this flavour-bomb crumbled over. Hell yes. And coming up soon, a recipe for healthy, baked jalapeño poppers stuffed with smoked feta, cream cheese and chipotle chilli. NOM!