"There was a property near where I grew up in Johnson, New York, that I went to once with my dad," says Llewellyn. "Being the middle child of seven kids, one-on-one occasions like that were rare. I also remember it because it was the first (and only) time I'd sourced my own maple syrup. Or maybe it sticks in my mind because it was the first time I got stitches, when the farm-owner's son covered a rock with snow and pegged it at my head during a snowball fight. We'd tapped the swelling trees the day before, so we'd returned to fill a massive drum with maple water that we then placed on top of a fire and left to simmer away until all that was left was the rich, thick syrup. This can take hours, even days, which is why we were having a snowball fight. I know a lot of you won't bother or may not be able to smoke your maple syrup, but whatever you do, please use the real deal. Don't buy imitation maple syrup because it's cheaper. It's cheap because it's crap. This syrup is brilliant with fried chicken, and drizzled over waffles and vanilla ice-cream." Makes about 1 litre.
- 1 litre (4 cups) Canadian maple syrup
- 250 gm oak food-grade woodchips (never use chunks or pellets)
- 1Pour maple syrup into an enamel baking dish (not a metal one, because it will contort). Place the dish on a barbecue with a lid, leaving enough space to house a black cast-iron pan. Place a cast-iron pan on the stovetop until ridiculously hot (roughly 5 minutes on full heat). When the cast-iron pan is at smelting temperature, cover the base with at least 1cm depth of oak chips and leave until the chips start to smoulder and smoke (it’s almost instantaneous) – they should never ignite. Move the pan to the barbecue carefully, then close the lid and leave to smoke. If the chips are still smoking after at least 20 minutes, let them go until they have finished. Pour the smoked syrup into a sterile jar and seal well. The syrup will keep indefinitely in a cool dark place.
Note This recipe is from Fried Chicken & Friends ($49.99, hbk) by Gregory Llewellyn and Naomi Hart, published by Murdoch Books and has been reproduced with minor GT style changes.