My Favorite Recipe is a new column where we ask America's Test Kitchen cooks, cast members, and luminaries about the recipes they can't stop cooking.
Sometimes the very best things about our favorite foods are the experiences we conflate them with. Whether it’s the cookies your grandma would bake just for the holidays, or the soup your parents would make when you were sick, it’s the memories of eating these special foods that make our love for them so special.
Adam Ried has been reviewing kitchen equipment on America's Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country since the shows’ first seasons, and it’s fair to say that he has made his fair share of special meals. But when it comes to his very favorite recipe, it’s all about the friends he made it for, and their spectacular reactions.
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Adam, what is your favorite ATK recipe?
My top choice is Andrew Janjigian’s Grill-Smoked Salmon. It’s perfect, it’s so good! It’s really simple, too.
Good friends of mine have Finnish and Swedish backgrounds, so they do a holiday smorgasbord every year. I, being a Scandi-wannabe, have insinuated myself into the process and often do some cooking for these holiday celebrations. So I saw this recipe, and I love anything smoked, so I agreed to cook this for about 20 or 30 people, and they just went wild. I lost track of the number of people who said it was the best salmon they had ever had, and I pretty much have to agree.
Grill-Smoked SalmonThere’s more to smoked salmon than the thin, glossy slices stacked on bagels. With a little time—and a sweet touch—we produced silky, smoky dinnertime fillets.
What makes this smoked salmon recipe different from others?
It sort of splits the difference between hot-smoked salmon, which has a seriously smoky flavor but a very cooked texture, and cold-smoked salmon which is like lox, which is more delicate in flavor but has an unbelievably silky texture. The Grill-Smoked Salmon recipe results in a salmon that’s right in the middle: a really smoky flavor but a silkier texture than straight-up hot-smoked salmon.
Are there any special techniques that help make this so delicious?
I think part of the secret is that you dry-cure the fish in a mixture of salt and sugar, then the salmon is cut into individual pieces and served that way, so that increases the surface area. So you get smoke not only on the top but also the sides of each serving, which is why it has such a nice smoky flavor.
I also remember that Andrew only opens the fence on the grill halfway, which means the fire stays a little cooler and the salmon can stay on the grill a little longer, which helps control the cooking and gives it a little bit of extra time with the smoke.