Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cooked Coppa: Fauxppa?

Traditional Coppa is an Italian dry-cured and air-dried ham-style whole muscle that is thinly sliced and enjoyed by itself or perhaps on a sandwich. The muscle is traditionally located in the neck, starting in the shoulder and running to the head. The term coppa actually means nape in Italian. When I ordered a whole skin-on shoulder I was excited to find the coppa muscle almost entirely in-tact. I hopped on the chance to make a version I had recently learned about, but unlike the traditional method, this one uses a brine instead of a dry-cure and is slowly poached instead of air-dried. Otherwise, all of the techniques are the same.

The shoulder I received was larger than a typical commodity shoulder that arrives two in a vac-packed bag. This was again from Slagel Family Farms and included the front end of the rib cage and the neck bone. The piece I would trim out for this coppa would include the butt end of the loin.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sausage Porn, old enticing photos!

One of my favorite things from my brief stint in culinary school was the option to take electives. While most college students find this a fun benefit, it was exceedingly so for me in culinary school (as if tennis didn't measure up during my B.A.!). Some of my favorites included Fermentation, Cheese Making and Cuisines of China. But without question my favorite was Chef Pierre's Sausage Making Class. This was an evening class and it led up to the holiday break. It was one night a week and we made some damn good encased meats. Each class we made 2-3 types of sausage per pair of students. I took my camera in one class towards the end of the quarter. Here are some noteworthy photos!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Lardo, my first attempt!

I vaguely remember the first time I heard of lardo. I was familiar with Lard, but why add the O at the end? It was a Mario Batali show he used to do with a friend of his. They were visiting an area known for their lardo production. It featured the large stone "boxes" that held the salt cure. Big fat chunks of the fat off of the back of the hogs would cure in them for months before they were removed. I will admit it sounded pretty weird, but tasty. I finally got to try some a few years later here in Chicago, but for some reason I don't recall where it was. I liked it, a lot. Salty, some herb, and lots of porkiness.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Duck "Proscuitto"/Ham/Dry-cured breast.

One of the first recipes I tackled in the earlier part of the last decade was the duck "proscuitto" from the Charcuterie book. My first attempt was nice, but not great. It was rather salty in taste and a bit chewy in texture. I would later realize that this was from over curing the rather small breasts that I was barely able to find back then. I had only attempted this recipe one other time since then, while I was still in culinary school several years ago. Some of my classmates really enjoyed it and others found it much like I had found the first attempts, too salty and with a bizarre texture, though I had actually improved the latest batch since the earlier pieces. So when I first jumped on this Charcutepalooza endeavor I was excited to see that the only challenge I had missed, was a familiar one, the wonderful Duck Proscuitto. Since I was a late-comer we were required to complete this challenge sometime before the end of the Year of Meat.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Fermented Sausage Challenge, Finocchiona

Growing up I would say I knew of 3 sausages: Hot Dogs (of the Oscar Mayer type), Polish Sausage/Kielbasa (again of the Eckrich/Oscar Mayer type) and Salami. A bit later came Bratwurst. I will admit I knew of Bologna, but never really got into it. That is still the case. Many years later I have really gotten into encased meats, and even the un-cased ones. I received my KitchenAid grinder attachment for Christmas in 2002 and began making my own. Then it was mostly different versions of brats. In 2005 I picked up Charcuterie and made several of the recipes over then next few months. Some were successes (breakfast, brat) and others not so much (peperone, chorizo). Since then I would say that I have down the fresh sausage techniques and could even judge a sausage just on the recipe alone. What I have failed to master thus far has been the fermented sausages. So when I saw the new challenge for Charcutepalooza, I decided to tackle a fermented sausage once again.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Brined, Rubbed & Smoked Pork Rack

It might be funny to announce that about eight or nine years ago I gave up on eating pork (I should note that this excluded bacon and ham). It was the chops, shoulder steaks and other boring, white, dry and tasteless stuff. It wasn't any political move, a statement or anything of that nature. I had simply had enough of the crap. It was never juicy, tasty or good when unadorned. My mother was a busy woman and had never put much effort into going beyond the basic stuff that her mother had done: salt, pepper and a bottled sauce (A1 my favorite, BBQ, etc). But in 2003 I gained my first education on what CAN be done with pork. I saw marinades, brines and aggressive seasoning bring an aspect to the other, more boring white meat, that I had not experienced. The following year I spent most of a year in Western France and got to experience even more ways of treating this fabulous meat to give me an even larger repertoire of tastiness.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Drinking is Getting Hard: Hard Cider pt. 2

This past week marked the point at which, based on my readings, it seemed safe to bottle the 5.5 gallons of Hard Apple Ciders I started at the end of last year (original post). The first three I made were from an organic cider out of Michigan that I had purchased at Whole Foods here in Chicago. I started these the last week of October, first week of November and the end of November. In the photo below they are the three on the right. I didn't add anything to the first one, but to the second, I added the sediment from another hard cider, and third was sediment from a Belgian Gueuze. As you can see, they are also the clearest of the 6. The remaining three versions were made from ciders purchased at Chicago's Green City Market. They were started the first week of December. The furthest left was from Grandpa's Mill, while the inner two left were from Seedling Farms. They have not cleared up as much as the other 3, though they are about a month behind in the process. I added some sediment to one of the Seedling batches. To understand why sediment was added, refer to the original post.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Corning Beef for Pastrami

Once again a post has come about by the graces of a little free-time, a great source for local and natural meats and some nudging from that large group of fellow Charcutepalooza participants. And by a happy coincidence I was able to use a fresh beef brisket I had ordered from Slagel Farms for the third challenge of the Year of Meat. March’s challenge was to corn some beef. The verb to corn simply means to preserve with salt. It comes from the fact that the best salt to do this with in the past was a course grained salt that at some point actually looked a bit like corn.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Basic Dry Cure, Asian Bacon

The Basic Dry Cure was one of the first recipes out of Charcuterie that I attacked once I placed my first order for curing salts and such from Butcher & Packer in Detroit, back in 2006. Since then I have made "bacon" many times. Lately I started doing variations of flavoring along with the basic dry cure. The largest variety I tried was back in the jowl post. So when the challenge was posted last month I decided that I would try to improve upon some of those ideas. We talked about which one showed the most potential for deliciousness and have it still be fairly easy for some of our readers to be able to replicate themselves at home. So we decided to have another go at an Asian Bacon.

Charcutepalooza: The Year of Meat, a needed nudge.

Having been in a motorcycle accident that has caused regular discomfort to my leg, spending additional time standing about in a kitchen outside of work hasn't sounded fun, lately. Add to that a new job that has me working evenings--the part of the day I had dedicated to my blog-work--and it seems clear why our posts have been few and far between. But for some reason, when a couple eager-beaver bloggers get together and create an outlet for the sharing of ideas, concerns, sources and experiences all based on Charcuterie, I can't walk away (pun intended). That outlet has become Charcutepalooza. Organized by Mrs. Wheelbarrow (Cathy) and The Yummy Mummy (Kim), it has grown from an idea to get fellow bloggers to try their hand at homemade charcuterie to a group of bloggers nearing 300 total (the list of them is here) all wanting to try it out and share their experiences on their various blogs. The daily banter can be found on Twitter using the hash tag #charcutepalooza