Chris Swales and Kirstan Horn have been curing and smoking salmon and other artisan specialities since 2004. They worked the kilns at River Farm Smokery in Bottisham for 10 years before building their own smokehouse in Exning, Suffolk in 2014 – Chapel & Swan. There are now two brick-kiln smokehouses in the village, located at the junction of Chapel Street and Swan Lane, and these are run by a specially trained team of just seven people. One site is purely for cold smoked salmon and haddock, the other is for hot smoked specialities, where product is cooked and smoked simultaneously.
All salmon is from lean Superior-Grade young fish. Curing the fish in a strong brine draws out the water from the raw ingredient, firming it up and preserving its life.
Our brick kilns are hand built and have naturally blackened over the years. This tempering of the kilns over time gives our salmon its richly smoky flavour. Here the salmon is air-drying in the kiln before smoking. Chapel & Swan is one of the very few accredited UK smokehouses to work exclusively in the traditional material of brick.
The fuel in our kilns is made from pure Black Forest oak. The oak is chipped very fine to smoulder gently overnight.
Chris loads the fireboxes with oak. A fan draws the smoke in through the long flues, cooling as it goes, and spins the smoke round the kiln. This ‘cold-smokes’ the fillets evenly in the air stream.
Our hot smoking expert Ian loads salmon into the Swan Lane kiln to be cooked and smoked. The cook is long and slow – at least 5 hours – to keep the fish succulent and flavoursome.
Critical temperature is monitored and logged throughout the process, making sure our product is perfectly cooked.