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.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009


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.


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.