Smoking is good for you

PUBLISHED: 12:52 13 July 2009 | UPDATED: 15:29 20 February 2013

Bings Heath Smokery

Bings Heath Smokery

From salmon to goose, Christmas fare takes on a new flavour when it's from Shropshire's Bings Heath Smokery.

From salmon to goose, Christmas fare takes on a new flavour when it's from Shropshire's Bings Heath Smokery.


You can pop along to Harrod's to buy Bings Heath Smokery products but they are also sold in many places in Shropshire and the West Midlands


About nine years ago, Alan and Shirley Ball decided they wanted to work in a smoke filled room. Not, you understand, the sort of place where the fate of prime ministers is decided but rather a traditional smoke house.
Smoking, as we all know, has been around a long time. Originally, it was used as a means of preserving food - most often (heavily salted) fish. As the transport infrastructure developed and it became possible to move perishable food quickly, the smoking process changed. Fish was now smoked more mildly to enhance the flavour and minimal salt was added - the kipper being the most popular example.
About 50 years ago, there was another major change in the smoking process with the introduction of fan-blown smoking kilns, which reduce the smoking time. These days, such equipment is computer controlled and needs little human input.
Traditional smokeries are dying out and now mostly exist only in Scotland and in parts of some countries such as Norway. They are certainly rare in the south of the UK.
This did not put off Alan and Shirley. They were not deterred by their lack of experience or the paucity of books on the subject. Instead, they built a smokery of a unique design and began experimenting. Their friends were used as 'guinea pigs' to assess the results of their efforts. Eventually, they perfected the process and were able to establish Bings Heath Smokery. Alan says: "We use a slow burning fire of oak chips to get that traditional moist taste and flavour of smoked food. We sometimes add juniper and other herbs to enhance the flavour."
There's nothing artificial at Bings Heath Smokery - no colourings, flavourings or preservatives. Alan and Shirley use only natural sea salts and the oak smoke. They select the finest foods for smoking to guarantee the best flavours. Traditionalists they may be but Alan and Shirley are not Luddites. Alan says: "We do use some modern equipment. Weight control, refrigeration and the vacuum packaging are all done using the latest equipment."
Bings Heath Smokery supplies a range of smoked foods - fish, meat, poultry, game and vegetables. You can have smoked tuna, trout, cod, eel, kippers and mackerel. Smoked salmon comes in many varieties: as gravlax, flavoured with dill, pepper or honey and lemon, wild salmon, and as sliced or whole sides.
In the game section, there's smoked guineafowl, partridge, pheasant, quail, venison and woodcock. Smoked chicken is available whole or as breasts and there's poussin, turkey, goose and duck. Beef, pork, lamb, bacon, ham and even buffalo are also offered smoked.
You can pop along to Harrod's to buy Bings Heath Smokery products but they are also sold in many places in Shropshire and the West Midlands. Alan is regularly seen at local food festivals and there's also the option of purchasing online from the Bings Heath Smokery website.
Alan and Shirley also have a range of 10 hampers featuring their smoked products and local produce. You can choose from the self-explanatory Christmas Cracker to the weighty Director's Choice.
To help customers serve smoked food, Alan and Shirley produced a book entitled:The Bings Heath Stand Alone Celebrity Recipe Book. All profits from sales of this book are donated to the Symptomatic Breast Care Trust Fund at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.
If you have some pumpkin left over after Hallowe'en, try the recipe below which is taken from their book.

Bings Heath Smokery
Greenfields
Bings Heath
Astley
Shrewsbury
Tel: 01939 250 141
Email: info@bingsheathsmokery.co.uk
www.bingsheathsmokery.co.uk

Bings Heath Pumpkin, Smoked Haddock and Lime Soup
by Sophie Grigson

Serves four to six
Ingredients
1 onion
500g pumpkin, peeled and deseeded - roughly chopped
1 medium hot or hot red chilli - deseeded and sliced
1 bouquet garni (sprig of thyme, rosemary, parsley and bay leaf tied together with string)
300g Bings Heath undyed smoked haddock fillet
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 limes, juiced
250ml coconut milk
1 lime zest
Salt and pepper to taste

Method
Mix the onion, pumpkin, chilli, bouquet garni and oil in a large pan. Sweat over a low heat, cover for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice.
Place the haddock in a shallow dish and cover with boiling water. Leave for five minutes then pour the water off into a measuring jug. If necessary, add more water to bring the level up to 450ml (3/4 pint).
Flake the haddock, discarding the skin and bones.
Add the flaked haddock to the pan, together with the soaking water, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce and simmer for a further five to eight minutes.
Draw off the heat, liquidise in two batches, and then return to the pan with the lime juice and coconut milk.
Reheat without boiling.
Taste and adjust seasoning and serve, sprinkled with grated lime zest, coriander and spring onions.

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