Wednesday, June 06, 2001

Smoked spuds are decade-old delicacy

        Except for maybe ice cream, smoke tastes good in just about everything — meat, chicken, fish, potato chips. So why not smoke whole potatoes — the kind you eat with sour cream and chives? Actually, Cincinnati might have been ahead on this one. Some innovator thought of smoking potatoes more than a decade ago.

        Greg Langen of Langen Meats in White Oak doesn't claim to be the first and only potato-smoker in town. But he's been selling smoked potatoes about 10 years — and selling quite a few.

        “The first year, we sold about 10,000 smoked potatoes,” says Mr. Langen, a third-generation meat retailer who runs three family stores with brother, Jim, and partner, Nick Ruther. “We stopped counting after that.”

        To smoke the potatoes, Mr. Langen uses a pressure cooker-smoker gizmo loaded with hickory chips. He uses the same equipment to smoke and cook baby-back ribs.

        Langen's smoked potatoes have a delicate hickory flavor — not too strong, but smokey enough you can pass on the bacon bits.

        The smoked potatoes are fully cooked. Mr. Langen suggests reheating the spuds about 30 minutes at the edge of a hot grill or four minutes in the microwave. Langen's smoked potatoes cost 50 cents each and will keep up to a week refrigerated.

        “You're not going to find anything like this at the supermarket,” he says.

        A true meat-cutter to the bone, Mr. Langen's favorite way to eat smoked potatoes is “with a grilled New York strip steak and nice tossed salad.”

       Langen Meats: 5855 Cheviot Road, White Oak, 385-3794; 215 E. Pearl St., Batesville, Ind., (812) 934-2324, and 1170 Harrison Ave., Harrison, 367-6600.

— Chuck Martin


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