50 CALF News • August | September 2020 • GRILL GR H O T O F F T H E A C A L F N E W S B B Q P A R T Y REMEMBERING JOE ' S SMOKED FEAST W hen we think back to old family memories and experiences, our thoughts often gravitate to places, people and food. For many of us, we can easily picture that special family camping spot in the forest with the campfire burning, and the sights, sounds and sensations of cooking out. Over time, the people and places may change but we always have the memories, and we can pass some of these down to new generations. Recipes, for example, are a great way to connect the past with the present and future, and to rekindle some of those memories from years past. Our family recently lost a beloved cousin, Joe Hennessy Jr. Cousin Joe grew up in Indiana, and he and Cousin Shirley moved to Phoenix when they retired. In the midst of going through a number of his newspaper clippings, we came across a 1982 article from the South Bend Tribune titled “Salmon Catch Inspires Smoked Fish Expertise.” It was a story about Joe’s passion for cooking, specifically a smoked salmon he was excited about. Joe became interested in cooking while volunteering with the Boy Scouts. Joe’s five sons were all involved in Scouting By James Coope Contributing Editor and, as a volunteer, Joe was able to par- ticipate in the experience. Joe would join them on camping trips where he grew tired of watching them eat ready-made meals around a campfire. Realizing that cooking was such an important part of the camping experience, Joe encouraged them to think differently about what they ate while on their excursions. I have my own fond memories of catching and cooking fish on camping trips in my younger days – the thrill of catching something in order to eat, cleaning the fish streamside and then wrapping them in foil and cooking them over an open fire. It’s a way of life that fewer and fewer people will ever experi- ence. Joe’s boys caught on and had fun with it, and Joe and the entire family had a new hobby in the kitchen and out on the grill and the smoker. Joe had some favorites that he pre- pared, but in the Tribune article, he talked about his smoked salmon recipe. Joe recalled how the really fun part of smok- ing salmon was the catching part, and the family road trips and adventures to new places. In this case, Joe shared how they netted 14 salmon on a trip to Michigan, each weighing 20 pounds. That’s no small order, and one can only imagine the memories from that adventure. Joe described how he carefully prepares the salmon once he’s home (he prefers to smoke Chinook salmon and how it is best not to freeze the salmon before preparing). After cleaning and filleting the salmon, Joe would refrigerate it in a brine overnight. It is important to wash the the brine off the salmon before the next step, which is to put the salmon on a baking sheet in a 350-degree oven. I’ve always used my smoker for the cooking part, so Joe’s process is a bit different, cooking the fish in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes. After cooking the salmon in the oven, it is transferred to the smoker, where it will smoke at a low temperature for up to three hours. During that time, the salmon will take on a golden color, which is when it really gains its flavor. Joe’s pref- erence was to use hickory in the smoker, which has a sweet but strong flavor. The smell of hickory smoke on a backyard porch is truly one of life’s pleasures. Joe would refrigerate the salmon after taking it out of the smoker. He served it as is, or occasionally as an appetizer with a special sauce – horseradish whipped cream. Imagine how that combination would taste – the sweet and smoky salmon with the spicy horseradish. And who doesn’t like a little whipped cream? We certainly wish we could have another chance to enjoy this with Joe, but thanks to his recipe being preserved, we can sure enjoy his smoked salmon creation and his company for genera- tions to come. Recipes are indeed an important link to our past. Whether it is waking up to the smell of freshly baked bread in the kitchen or the smell of hickory smoke on the back porch on a hot summer day, family recipes connect us to remind us of friends and family, places and expe- riences. It’s important to re-live these experiences and share them with new generations, creating memories to cher- ish forever. 