Friday, November 27, 2009

Theme music

Hi all. I apologize for the complete and total lack of posting. I have actually been quite busy porkwise and otherwise. At a minimum, I owe posts on coppa, bresaola, ribs, and barbequed lamb. Standby for those.

In the meantime, I friend sent me this. I believe that everyone should have theme music. I would like for this to be mine and played everytime that I entered a room:


David

Monday, October 26, 2009

Not on my watch...

Climate chief Lord Stern: give up meat to save the planet


"People will need to consider turning vegetarian if the world is to conquer climate change, according to a leading authority on global warming..."

I love vegetables, I really do. Especially with pork. Who doesn't like spinach sautéed in bacon grease, or beans seasoned with tasso? Later in the article comes the revealing sentence:

"Lord Stern, who said that he was not a strict vegetarian himself..."

The old "Do as I say, not as I do".

David


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Saucisson Sec

I am still catching up on some posts. I'm going to call saucisson sec a failure. (See previous posts for additional detail here and here, and here). I made four sausages. During the curing process, two turned gray and two turned rosy pink. They were made from the same pork, ground and mixed together with the same seasonings, and cured in the same chamber. Go figure. I decided that, in the face of potential food poisoning, that safety took precedence over valor and discarded the gray ones.

I sampled the pink ones with some (brutally honest) friends. We all agreed that this sausage was intensely bland and tasted mostly like cured fat (lardo?). I will not be making this one again.

David

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Some Background

I am still catching up on my posts. Look for much more in the coming weeks.

I got interested in making sausage shortly after I started collecting old cookbooks. I found modern cookbooks to be boring and simplistic and was intrigued by a 1940's-era Joy of Cooking that my mother gave to me. The recipes in it did not call for cans of cream of mushroom soup or Kitchen Bouquet. They called for raw ingredients, fat and calories be damned. My kind of cooking.

I discovered that cookbooks (as a genre) really did not proliferate until the 1950's and 1960's. I found a few old cookbooks on my family's bookshelves, garage sales, and finally on eBay. The "Ah-Ha!" moment came when I bought an original second edition of The Picayune Creole Cookbook published in 1910. This book contains hundreds of recipes as they were prepared at the turn of the century. By today's standards, they are nutritionally and politically incorrect. Think lard. Rivers of sweet, flowing lard. There is even detailed instructions on how to make a pork barrel. I'll have to try it sooner or later. It would be worth it for conversation's sake alone.

Today, Louisiana is famous for our andouille, boudin, and tasso. In the pages of this book I found several other sausages that are no longer made and had to resurrect them. You may still see recipes for a sausage called Chaurice, but they bear almost no resemblance to the turn of the century version. I set out to try these nearly extinct recipes and managed to resurrect them for a small group of friends. I have yet to make one called Saucisse Creole because it calls for pork shoulder, veal shoulder, and a whole fillet mignon(!) - ground, seasoned, and stuffed into sheep casings.

Once I started making sausage, I was hooked. Nearly everthing I make is a thousand times better than store bought* (*My boudin is good, but I still haven't mastered it like the butcher shops out in the country like Mowata and Jerry Lee's). You could say I was an unofficial member of the Slow-Food movement.

I make over a dozen fresh sausages now. Curing is relatively new to me and I am still reading up on fermenting. I plan to build a makeshift smokehouse soon.

David

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Seattle!

I apologize for the lack of posts lately. I have several to make to get caught up. Two weekends ago I made a trip to Seattle with some college friends to see the LSU - Washington game. I have only been to the west coast a few times (San Diego/San Francisco), and never to the Pacific Northwest, to I was excited to take a culinary tour. We were only going to be there for three and a half days, with one being reserved for football, so I had to choose wisely.

My first choice was a no-brainer: Salumi Artisan Cured Meats

This is Mario Batali's father's restaurant/deli. I convinced my friends that it was in the best interests to wait 40 minutes in line for lunch. They were richly rewarded for their patience. We ended up sitting in a back room that resembled a large-ish closet. The good news was that the back room was adjacent to their curing chamber. The bad news was that when we asked to see it, they said that Health Dept. regulations would not allow them to give tours. However, the waitress did open the door enough so that we could see the where they cure two thousand meats at a time and snap a picture with the cell phone. I am highly envious of this setup.

So what about the food? The food was fantastic.
Two of my friends opted for hot plates. One got Grandma Batali's Meatball Sandwich and the other got the braised pork sandwhich. My other friend and I each ordered a cold salumi plate with the optional olive, cheese, and bread upgrade. Figuring that I may not be in Seattle again for a while, I ordered the hot salumi plate as well. (Yeah, like I could eat two entrees, or in Italian, "due Secondi"). (See picture, left, clockwise, starting at 1 o'clock: Cold Salumi Plate (2x), Grandma Batali's Meatball Sandwich, Braised Pork Sandwich. Center: Hot Salumi Plate) Everything was incredible. The hand's-down consensus favorites were the Lemongrass-Coriander Salami and the Mole Salami. Everything else rocked.

David

Thursday, September 10, 2009

File under "WTF?"

I know that some folks have strong feelings about animals, but this is just silly. I do not hunt personally, but I know several people who do. Serious hunters have more knowledge and respect for the animals that they hunt than any activist.

One of my college roommates was a very serious hunter. He made one of the best sausages I have ever had with fresh venison and wild hog. He taught me more about respect for wildlife and butchering than anyone from PETA ever could.

David

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Quote of the Day

"A peasant becomes fond of his pig and is glad to salt away its pork. What is significant, and is so difficult for the urban stranger to understand, is that the two statements are connected by an 'and' not by a 'but'."

Nice one!

David

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Kentucky Barbeque

This is not pork-related, but it is barbeque, which makes it relevant in my book. Last week I broke my August inventory draw-down rule. Winn Dixie has "lamb shoulder chops" on sale. I summoned the butcher and talked him into selling me a whole front quarter (~8 lb) at the sale price.

I love lamb, but rarely buy it. I understand that it is available and more reasonable if you live somewhere with a large Jewish or Muslim community. New Orleans is heavily Catholic and awash in seafood. (I can get 12-16 count shrimp for $3.75/lb.) Lamb is just fairly uncommon in the groceries here and what they do have commands a premium. I always give lamb the Mediterranean treatment, with garlic, rosemary, and red wine.

I know that in Kentucky, barbeque means lamb. I have been wanting to try it for sometime. I am planning to barbeque the front quarter early this fall using an Owensboro-style baste:

Owensboro Barbeque Lamb Baste

1 C White Vinegar
1 C Water
1 C Amber Beer
1/4 Tabasco Worchestershire Sauce
2 TBS Granulated Garlic
1 TBS Dark Brown Sugar
1 TBS Kosher Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Rosemary
1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper

I will season the shoulder with a complimentary rub and barbeque the shoulder at 250 degrees for 6-8 hours, mopping with the baste hourly.

I can't wait!

David

Monday, August 24, 2009

Update - Coppa & Saucisson Sec

My apologies for the lack of posts lately. This is the time of year when my sausage making is at a minimum. The temperatures in Louisiana during July and August make it difficult to keep the house cool enough to work with meat for may extended period of time. Also, August and September are the height of hurricane season. Having lost two freezers-full of food to extended power loss in the past 5 years (Cindy and Katrina), I have adopted the practice of drawing down my inventory from June through September and then restocking once the weather breaks in October. Look for Bratwurst in October along with a bevy of other projects.

All that said, my coppe and saucisson sec are still plodding along in the curing box. I weighed the coppe today and they appear to be coming along nicely. The hot coppa has lost 26% of its weight and the traditional coppa has lost 32%. Both were cased and sprayed with M-EK-4 mold, but have minimal coverage. I'll give them a couple more weeks and check again. I'd like to get them to 35-38% before I pull them.

The saucisson sec is proving to be a nightmare (see previous posts). I made four saucisson at about 400g each. The one I cut two weeks ago has turned grayish along with one of the others. The remaining two are nice and rosy red. I'll post pictures for comparison. Hopefully, I'll be able to salvage these last two, but I am about to scratch this project off of my list.

David

Friday, August 14, 2009

Advice Needed...

O.K. This Saucisson Sec is driving me nuts. According to Michael Ruhlman, this is supposed to be one of the easiest dry sausages to make. My first attempt was a total failure (see previous post). Thus far, my second attempt does not appear to be going well.

Yesterday it hit 18 days in the curing box. My hygrometer has held at a steady 55 degrees/68% rh throughout. I decided to pull one susage and weigh it. It had lost 34% of its weight. I thought that 40% was ideal, but that 34% would be sufficient, so I cut it open. It appears to be cured throughout and smells very good, but it is extremely soft and the interior is grainy. I opted not to taste it until I could get further input. I hung the two halves back in the curing box.

Here are my questions for anyone who cares to answer:
  1. Did I jump the gun on this first one and should I have waited for 40%?
  2. Can I continue to dry the one I cut and rasonable expect it to be edible?
  3. Is the soft/grainy interior a sign that I didn't tie it tight enough?
Any input would be greatly appreciated here. I have had good luck with whole muscles and really want to make some fermented sausages, but I think I need to get this one right first.

David

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Coppe - First Attempt

Nine days ago, I made my first attempt at curing coppe. Tonight I pulled them out of the cure, stuffed them in casings, and hung them out to dry (after a little mold spray). I had a fit trying to squeeze every last bit of air out of the casings. After 30 mintes, I said "Good Enough" and tied them up. If anyone has advice on how to improve this procedure, I'm all ears.

Here we have added two coppe (one hot, one traditional) to the Saucisson Sec. Happiness is a full curing box!

David

La Saucisse D’Or

I originally got interested in sausagemaking to prepare recipes for forgotten sausages I found in 100-year old cookbooks. Recently, while searching for lost recipes, I found this gem:
"Restaurants for the working classes in Paris have now-a-days resource to every species of invention to attract attention. One has just been opened in the Faubourg Montmartre, which promises a dinner of two courses and a desert to whoever writes, in a legible hand, the answer to a rebus offered every morning for solution by the dame de comptoir. Another, in the Faubourg St. Afftoine, hit on a still more strange expedient. He chose for his ensign a gigantic golden sausage, which he swung enticingly over the door of his restaurant, the words ‘A la saucisse d’or’, in huge gold letters blazing beneath. His salon was large, its white walls decorated by festoons of the tempting edible so highly appreciated on the other side of the Rhine, and in every fiftieth sausage a five-franc piece in gold. His principle was, that as his customers called for sausages, they should be cut off in regular rotation from the string, so artistically arranged around the dining hall. The result may be better imagined than described. The eager anxiety depicted on the countenance of every ouvrier as he nervously examined and finally ate the sausage, would have supplied a physlognomist with many good subjects for study. The expedient proved most remunerative to the proprietor, but the quarrels that ensued were of so serious a nature that the police have interfered, and the master of the establishment has received orders either to shut up his shop or to proceed on a less exciting system."
Scientific American, December 10, 1864

Sounds like a fun place, but I wonder if the sausage itself was any good.

David

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Big Green Egg (BGE)

For all of my years of barbequing, I have never had the opportunity to use a Big Green Egg (BGE). I learned how to cook "whole log" on my old smoker. Having mapped the temperatures of my grill at multiple points ((+/- 50 degrees!!!) and also experimented with insulating the grill, I can fully appreciate the insulating qualities of a ceramic grill. I like the idea of the BGE, and it has a cult-like following of advocates on the various barbeque forums. I also know that there are high-end Komodo-style cookers out there for the well-heeled (as though the BGE were cheap).

However, I was disappointed to find the new Bubba Keg on sale at Home Depot over the weekend. It appears to be a cheaply made imitation of the BGE. At $599, it appears to be a keg-shaped knock-off of the BGE aimed at helping promote the Bubba line of beverage holders.

Komodo-style cookers work by allowing the cook to control the airflow and therefore the burn of the fire. They are aloso well-insulated to allow tight temperature control. The Bubba Keg appears to be loosely constructed, which would interfere with fire control. While I can admit that I have not had the opportunity to cook on either the BGE or the Bubba, my experience has let me to believe that the BGE is worth the extra $150.

David

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Saussison Sec

Monday night I made Michael Ruhlman's Saussisson Sec. This is actually my second attempt. When I first got interested in curing, I was operating under the delusion that my attic could serve as a curing chamber during the dead of winter. I made some Saussison Sec and hung it in my attic. After 18 days I had a fossilized casing with a perfectly raw center. I decided that it was better to chalk it up as a learning experience and discard it.

This failure ultimately led me to purchase the wine fridge that I use as a curing box now. It works quite well because, unlike a traditional refrigerator, wine fridges do not dehumidify the air when cooling. This helps preserve the corks. I bought a hygrometer, and I get fairly stable readings of 55 degrees and 68 relative humidity. The temperature can be adjusted as low as 50 and as high as 65 degrees. I have successfully made pancetta, bresaola, and lonzino in the wine fridge. I intend to try my hand at salume in the near future.

The picture above is the new batch of Saucisson Sec. I am hopeful that I will get better results than last time. I'll post updates.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

If I could just figure out what to do with the squeal.

In Louisiana, we have an expression that you can "eat everything on a pig but the squeal". This morning, I was flipping through the Sunday paper when I saw that Rouse's had Boston Butts on sale for $0.87/lb. After a second cup of coffee and short trip to the store to buy two shoulders (16 lb worth), I started several projects that I have had in the queue:
  1. Following the instructions on Jason's Cured Meats Blog, I harvested two coppe. I will put them down to cure later tonight.
  2. I set aside one shoulder to make Saussisson Sec, per Michael Ruhlman's instructions in his excellent Charcuterie. I might as well make them tonight also. (Happiness is a full curing box, right?)
  3. I trimmed the fat caps from both shoulders to render lard for my version of Pommes Anna. My version layers russet and sweet potatoes with lard, seasoned with paprika, garlic, cayenne, and salt.
  4. I took the other shoulder and seasoned it with a spice rub. As I write this, it is one cooking over a small hickory fire at exactily 250 degrees. It will be ready for pulled pork sandwiches tonight. I guess I better hurry up and make some slaw!
Not too shabby for a Sunday afternoon. Reports to follow...

David

Monday, July 20, 2009

Project: The Mini-Smokehouse

For years, I have joked with my friends that I would never consider myself successful until I owned a barbeque pit that had a trailer hitch and turn signals. Anything made by Klose will do. (Check out the Paul Kirk model!).

Prior to Hurricane Katrina, I owned a small log-burner that served me well (pictured left, R.I.P. old friend). I kept a good stash of wood (oak, hickory, pecan, persimmon, and fig) and barbequed often. A week in Katrina's salty floodwaters ruined my pit and, to date, I have not replaced it. Someday I will do so.

In the meantime, I have been using a Weber Kettle as a grill, but have been limited in my ability to smoke. I got the idea of builing a small smokehouse that uses the Weber as the "firebox". It will be much easier to explain by taking a few pictures, but suffice it to say that I had a metal shop make a tray that will fit the Weber in place of the lid. I will need to build a small box on top of the tray. I intend to use it this Fall to smoke sausage and bacon. I better get to work finding some more wood to cure.

David

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Jambon a la ya-ya

In Louisiana, we use pork in everything (and that's a good thing!). According to John Folse, the word Jambalaya comes from the colloquialism "Jambon a la ya-ya", "Jambon" being French for pork and "Ya-ya" from an African Bantu word for rice. Jambalaya is derived from the Spanish dish paella. There are two basic styles of jambalaya, Cajun and Creole. If you travel the Louisiana countryside, you are not likely to find tomatoes, bell pepper, or celery in the jambalaya. The Cajuns call this "brown" jambalaya. Cajun jambalaya is generally made with chicken or pork with sausage and onions. In New Orleans, jambalaya almost always contains seafood, onion, bell pepper, celery (known as "The Trinity") and tomatoes. This is known as Creole, or "red", jambalaya. Creole jambalaya often has shrimp or crawfish instead of chicken. The debate over whether red or brown jambalaya is "real" jambalaya rages on. I generally prefer the Cajun style, but am perfectly happy with either one.

This weekend I pulled out my 5 gallon cast iron kettle to make a pork and sausage jambalya (aka "brown") for the extended family. It has taken me several years to master the technique to produce a good brown jambalaya. Cooking in a kettle presents its own challenges, in addition to learning to moderate the 200,000 btu propane burner that I use with it. I always get compliments on my jambalaya, but being the perfectionist that I am, I usually expect more from myself. This weekend was as close as I have come to perfection.
Let me describe how I did it:

Ingredients:

8 lbs Boston Butt, cut into golfball size pieces
3.5 lbs smoked pork sausage, cut into 1/2" slices
3 lbs Vidalia Onions, diced (or other sweet onion, such as Texas Sweet)
6 lbs long grain rice (extra long if you can find it)
4 quarts of chicken stock
2 quarts of water
1 bell pepper, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 cup Italian parsely, chopped
1/2 cup Bacon grease
(Creole Seasonings) Black Pepper, Kosher Salt, Cayenne pepper, Chili pepper, Granulated garlic, Oregano, Thyme, and Paprika to taste.

Heat cast iron pot over high heat until smoking. Add bacon grease and stir quickly with a metal paddle to coat the sides of the pot. Add the Boston Butt and use the paddle to spread the meat ot in the pot. The meat will stick. Wait until it releases (about 2-3 minutes) then use the paddle to turn the meat. At this point, the meat will start giving off a good amount of liquid. Add the sausage. Stir frequently, but not constantly, speading the meat ot each time. The idea is to cook off the liquid, render the fat, and brown the meat and sausage without burning the whole works. As the liquid reduces, you have to reduce the temperature to prevent burning.

As the meat gets brown, a "fond" develops on the sides of the pot. This is all of the porky goodness that sticks to the sides of the pot. Do not burn the fond. When the meat is thoroughly browned, turn off the fire and remove the meat to a large bowl using a skimmer leaving the rendered pork fat and bacon grease. Set the bowl aside.

Turn the fire back up to medium and add the onions. Use the paddle to stir vigorously. As the onions start to sweat, the fond will break free and dissolve into a brownish liquid. This is a good sign. Moderate the fire as needed to cook the onions down. The onions are done when the onions and fond have an almost caramel-like appearance. Add the meat back in and toss with the paddle.

Add all remaining ingredients except rice. Season the pot fairly heavily. Taste the meat, veg, stock mix, remembering that 6 lbs of rice will soak up a lot of it. Once you are satisfied, increase the heat to bring the pot to a boil. Use the paddle to scrape the sides of the pot to ensure that all of the fond has been released. Reduce the heat to low and put a lid on it. After 20 minutes, turn the heat back up to high for 60 seconds and then turn it off. Do not lift the lid. Allow the pot to rest covered for 20-30 minutes.

Remove the cover and gently fluff the rice with the paddle. Serve with hot sauce and crusty french bread.

David

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Bit Off-Topic, but...

I mentioned in a earlier post that I am reading Fat. This is a fantastic book for anyone who just enjoys food. The first section is devoted solely to butter. After being fully indoctrinated into the joys of butter, I went down to the local Whole Foods to browse their butter selections. Lo' and behold! I found the mother of all butters on their shelves:


Parmigiano Reggiano Butter! OK, so it is $5 for a half pound, but it may be the best butter I have ever had. Sweet. Creamy. Awesome.

Read the book. Eat butter.

David

(P.S. I have just started the section on Pork Fat. Standby for more updates.)

Guanciale Review

Sorry folks, I fell a bit behind on posting. Last week I finally gave in and pulled the guanciale from the curing box. I can't say that I am disappointed, but it is not what I was expecting. It has a very rich pork and salt taste. It has almost no hint of herbs or pepper. My first taste was a slice that I pan-fried. It tasted almost exactly, but not quite like cracklin'.

Two days later, I made Spaghetti alla Carbonara with it. This came out startlingly good. I had it for dinner and leftovers for breakfast (Hey, its just eggs, bacon, and cheese with pasta, right?).

I sliced most of it very thinly, saving a few 1/2" slabs just in case. I forgot to take pictures until after I had vaccum sealed it all up.

Overall I like the final product, but I learned a few lessons for next time:

1. Get a smaller jowl. The jowl I had was 4 1/2 lbs. Most recipes that I have call for 2 jowls totalling 3 lbs. I think that this one had a higher fat-to-meat ratio than most.

2. Use more herbs and pepper to impart more flavor. If I want cracklin' I can make cracklin'.

As I write this I am finishing off my excellent lonzino and a bottle of wine. Good livin'.

David

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Barbeque on the Road

When I am not making sausage or barbequing myself, I enjoy sampling OPP (Other People's Pork). I especially like any and all forms of barbeque. I have put together a list of barbeque joints that I have eaten at personally and would reccomend to you. Keep in mind that this is not a comprehensive list of the places I have sampled, just the one's I'd recommend if you are in the area. They are predominantly "mom-and-pop" places, with a few small franchises included. I also have listed a dish I'd recommend at each place.

Here we go (In no particular order):

Dreamland Barbeque: Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Spare Ribs with White Bread
(Highly Recommended)

Dreamland Barbeque: Mobile, Alabama
Spare Ribs, Coleslaw, and White Bread

Hillbilly BBQ: New Orleans, Louisiana
Pulled Pork, Ribs, Beans, Cole Slaw

The Joint: New Orleans, Louisiana
Pulled Pork, Beans, Slaw

Whole Hog Café: New Orleans, Louisiana
Pulled Pork, Pulled Chicken

Mrs. Hyster's, New Orleans, Louisiana
Spare Ribs, Coleslaw, Beans, Roll

Walker's Barbeque, New Orleans, LA
Cochon de Lait Poorboy!
(Highly Recommended)

Bowie Junction, Raceland, LA
Brisket, Sliced Pork, Smoked Sausage

Country Tavern, Shreveport, Louisiana
Spare Ribs, Brisket, Beans, and Coleslaw

Arthur Bryant's: Kansas City, Missouri
Burnt Ends Sandwich and Beans

Gates and Sons: Kansas City, Missouri
Spare Ribs, Coleslaw, Beans
(Highly Recommended)

Charles Vergos Rendezvous: Memphis, Tennessee
Loinback Ribs, Coleslaw, Beans, and Rolls

Corky's Bar-B-Q: Memphis, Tennessee
Spare Ribs, Coleslaw, Beans, and Rolls

Cozy Corner: Memphis, Tennessee
Spare Ribs, Sausage, Barbequed Bologna, Beans, Coleslaw
(Highly Recommended)

Interstate Bar-B-Q: Memphis, Tennessee
Chopped Pork Sandwich and Beans

Neely's Bar-B-Q: Memphis, Tennessee
Chopped Pork Sandwich and Beans

Big Daddy's: El Paso, Texas
Beef Ribs, Brisket, and Hot Links

I hope you have a chance to try a few of these in your travels.
David

Friday, June 19, 2009

My Butcher Can Beat Up your Butcher

I have not posted too much about my pork projects here yet. I have been very busy since I launched this site, and my curing chamber (a.k.a. "the wine fridge") has been full. I am making Guanciale for the first time. For the uninitiated, guanciale is a Roman-style bacon made from hog jowls. The first big obstacle to overcome is to find hog jowls. They are nowhere to be found in today's modern grocery store. If you do find them, they have been cured and smoked. I have had more so-called "butchers" at grocery stores look at me like I am nuts when I ask for specialty cuts; such as jowls, fat back, or bones.

Recently, Chef and Restauranteur, Donald Link opened Cochon Butcher here in New Orleans. These guys run an impressive operation. I was most impressed when I ordered jowls and they came in a 4 1/2 lbs. Most of the recipes I have seen call for 1-2 LB jowls.

I bought one and salt cured it. It has been curing in my wine fridge for a month now and I am dying to try it. It should be ready after a month, but stands to improve with age (up to 6 months). Patience is a virtue, so they say. I'll wait a few more weeks.

Stay tuned...

David

No Rain

Those of you who know me are well aware of all (or most) of my pork-related projects. I readily admit that I am *a little* overboard when it comes to pork. Some of you may remember the 1993 Blind Melon video (Shannon Hoon, R.I.P.) with the Bumble Bee girl searching for a friend and ultimately finding a field full of like-minded bees.

Well, every now and again, I find my own field of bees. Today I found a blog post entitled: Bacon: The Other White Heat. When I see the phrases "bacon-plasma torch" and "seven beef sticks and a cucumber" within a paragraph of each other, I know I stumbled on a field of bees. This is even out there for me. This guy set out to use bacon to cut steel and succeeded. Impressive. You really should watch the video, because he makes a vegetarian version as well, albeit with less success. The main point is that bacon (prosciutto, actually) is packed full of energy, whether you use it to fuel your body or a plasma torch.

David

It'll cure what ails you...

So now it's official - Bacon Cures Hangovers! reports the Telegraph UK. Actually, a bacon sandwich appears to the the winning combination:
"Bread is high in carbohydrates and bacon is full of protein, which breaks down into amino acids. Your body needs these amino acids, so eating them will make you feel good."

Ms Roberts told The Mirror: "Bingeing on alcohol depletes neurotransmitters too, but bacon contains a high level of aminos which tops these up, giving you a clearer head."

Suddenly all of those late night college excursions to Louie's and Waffle House are justified. I feel better just thinking about it.

David

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Swapping Cracklin' for Crack

Lot's of pig news today:

"Police in Syracuse, New York... arrested a 45-year-old man who offered a slaughtered pig as partial payment for a bag of crack cocaine."

I'd much rather have half a pig than crack too. 

David

Harry Trotter

Welcome to the wild world of Pig Racing! Apparently the idea was born in the U.S., but the sport is picking up in England and New Zealand. Originally, the race was held on a 100m flat track, but now they have added jumps for additional excitement. 

I love the names. Harry Trotter and Pigtoria Beckham are my faves. 

David

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Finally! Lard is cool...

The Lipid Hypothesis was developed in the late 1800's and gained wide popularity starting around the 1950's. It has led Americans to fear dietary fats. In the 1990's, the notion of so-called "good fats" took hold and increased the popularity of olive and canola oils.

I have Jennifer McLagan's new book Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient in my reading stack. I am very much looking forward to reading it. I was pleased to see that it was mentioned in this article proclaiming that lard is finally cool again. It appears that lard fits into the current interests in minimally processed foods and environmental consciousness. Those of us who really cook know that some fat in your diet is good and have never been scared of lard. Whatever floats your boat, I just know its good stuff.

David

Pork Fat Pies!

I stumbled across this article about New York's emerging "Golden Age of Pizza". It describes several new pizzerias that are producing tradiational Neapolitan pizzas. Among them, is a lardo version. I'd love to try this next time I make it to NYC. I just won't mention it to my yet-to-be-named cardiologist.

David

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Guanciale

I have wanted to make Guanciale for some time now. For those who don't know, Guanciale is a Roman specialty that is essentially pancetta made with hog jowls. It is supposed to be among the finest bacons in the world. I have never had it, but dying to try it. However, it is nearly impossible to find raw hog jowls. A few weeks ago, I finally found a butcher who could get fresh jowls for me. I was expecting two at about 1 pound each. What I got was a single 4 1/2 pound jowl! It MUST have come from Pigzilla. That was two weeks ago. Now it sits (Expertly salt cured) in by drying box for 2-6 more months. I will be posting on this project as it progresses.

David

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hey, will you watch my pig for me?

Thanks to Gioia for sending this article discussing the concept of "remote pig ownership". It also has a comparison of Italian and Brittish butchering styles. You can read for yourself, but let's just say that the Italian put the Brittish butcher to shame.
 
I am also very interested in "Pestadice", a sausage with little nuggets of fried, crunchy pork skin mixed into it. I'll have to do some research on this one.
 
David

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How to Make the Best Ribs Ever

Did you know that the folks at Google have a new service called "Knol" that is a world-wide knowledge database? (Picture a cross between Wikipedia and Yahoo! Answers. I found it tonight and noticed that the #2 most popular article was titled "How to Make the Best Ribs Ever".
In case you don't know me, I am a massive barbeque snob. Initially, this guy had my attention. Especially when he said "If you boil ribs the terrorists win". He was doing it right. Then he pulled out "The Texas Crutch". Bzzzzzt! Total Failure! 

The Texas Crutch is much debated in barbeque circles. It involves wrapping your meat in foil towards the end of cooking to tenderize the meat. Many, myself included, argue that wrapping the meat in foil ruins the crust and actually overtenderizes the meat. Maybe I should write a rebuttal. 

David

More on carbon footprints

Wrap your brain around this one: 
One scientist was cited in The New York Times Magazine as saying that, while burning charcoal produces more carbon emissions than natural gas or propane, the carbon was offset by the carbon-consuming properties of the tree used to make the charcoal during its lifetime.
(More here)

According to that theory, barbequing is OK. Maybe I should add a slogan to this site: "Saving the Earth, one pork shoulder at a time". I sure wouldn't want to have to use one of these.

David

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

On Second Thought

I 'm thinking more about the previous post on pork having a lower carbon footprint than lamb or beef. It occurred to me that if you are that concerned about it, you probably shouldn't be eating barbeque anyway. Six hours on a fossil-fueled smoker probably wipes out any goodwill you had with your environmentalist friends.

David

Good News...

Apparently, pork is environmentally friendly because it has a lower "carbon footprint" than lamb or beef. See article here.

Whatever. Like the carbon footprint of a pig will ever stop my quest for porcine goodness. You could argue that eating lamb or beef is more environmentally friendly because dead sheep pass no gas... ...and don't think that I didn't notice the side-swipe at alcohol. Sober and pork-free is not a world for me.

Onto better things: Today was tasso day. I had a boston butt in the freezer that I wanted to use. I had a few ideas, but had really been wanting to make tasso for some time. I have several wildly varing recipes for tasso. One is brined and another calls for dry curing (w/ pink salt). I ultimately chose to adapt one from John Folse that used a kosher salt and brown sugar cure. I put it up tonight. I'll give it a day or two in the fridge and then smoke it. More to follow.

David

Thursday, May 21, 2009

So how did I get into sausagemaking?

I'll admit, it is an odd hobby. I have been making sausage for about 7 years. Several years ago I started collecting old cookbooks. I liked old cookbooks because they do not use shortcuts (a can of this, a packet of that...). I found that some of these cookbooks contained recipes for regional sausages that are no longer made. I bought a Kitchen-Aid Meat Grinder and Stuffer Attachement to give some of these recipes a try. My first attempts yielded mixed results. I had some successes and some failures. However, after several batches, I started to get the hang of it. The Kitchen-Aid quickly became a limiting factor.

Everything changed when I got a small commercial sausage stuffer for my birthday. It became a full blown hobby when I added a stand-alone meat grinder and vaccuum sealer. I make over a dozen fresh sausages now, mostly adapted from old recipes. I favor Cajun/Creole, Mediterranean, and Western European styles.

Recently, I have tried my hand a meat curing. I have made pancetta, bresaola, and lonzino with good results. I am planning to try my hand at fermented salamis before the end of the summer.

David

Friday, May 15, 2009

Welcome

I have started this blog to catalog my numerous projects and experiments. They usually involve pork in some way or another. All are welcome here, but if you are a vegitarian, this may not be the blog for you. 

Enjoy,

David