Back in 1979, I was the executive sous chef at The Carlyle hotel. One afternoon a young fellow appeared in the kitchen carrying a small, brown carton labeled “Peter’s Smoked Trout.” The bearer of the box, Peter Heineman, had set up a makeshift smokehouse behind his parents’ Purchase home and was pedaling his product door-to-door to upscale establishments. I was hooked and am still relishing the succulent and mild offspring of those fillets today.
Mt. Kisco Smokehouse is the direct descendant of Heineman’s backyard business. He ultimately expanded his line, changed the name to Homarus, relocated to Mount Kisco, and had the good fortune to hire the three Hurtado brothers where they learned their craft, opening their own business in 2000 after Homarus closed.
William (a 34-year veteran), Harold, and Hernan Hurtado are still successfully smoking the sturgeon, sable, white fish, and tuna as they always have, but, by far, the backbone of the business is their highly regarded smoked salmon.
They make two styles and each take at least eight days to produce. Nova is wet-cured in a brine of salt, sugar, and secret spices. This style suits those who like a mellower, smoother taste and texture. The Scotch is dry-cured with a rub of the same ingredients. It’s smokier and leaner and the brothers tell me that it is the preferred style of sushi chefs and European expats. Both versions are smoked over hickory, and in an average week they can process up to 2,000 pounds.
The Hurtados also pride themselves on being hand-slicing experts. You can witness their knife-wielding prowess when you visit the smokehouse and place your order; in fact the whole operation is visible right behind the display counter.
You can also find house-made salads, three styles of herring, party platters, a great lineup of cheeses, and Good Bread Bakery loaves from Port Chester. There’s also a serve-yourself barrel of excellent olives, capers, and more.
Although high-end retailers do carry a few of their products, a visit to the Smokehouse is part of the olfactory experience. As the Hurtados like to say, “We’re smokin!”