Sunday, May 31, 2009


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.


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.

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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.


Friday, May 15, 2009


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.