Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated."

So said Mark Twain in 1887, and so say I in 2010.

I apologize for the complete and total lack of posting this summer and fall. I bought a new house and spent a huge amount of time on repairs, updates, and general handy-man stuff. I am still not done, but I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The good news is that I now have a dedicated work-room and I have purchased a new wine fridge that is more than double the size of my old one expressly for meat curing. I also bought a beer fridge/meat freezer that lives right next to it. Add to that the fact that my dad has promised me his commercial meat slicer for Christmas, and things are looking pretty good.

My sausagemaking has suffered this summer, and I am looking to make up for lost time. I did read Marianski's The Art of Making Fermented Sausages this summer as well as Polish Sausages, Authentic Recipes And Instructions. These are fantastic books for those of you who have not read them. I am considering building a makeshift smokehouse to attempt some of the Polish cured sausages.

I will be back in action shortly. I hope that there are a few of you still subscribed, and I hope to win back the rest.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Barbecue Sauce Recipes - A Taxonomy

Before the untimely death of my old log burner, I was quite serious about barbeque. At one time I had several hardwoods curing on a rack in my backyard, including oak, hickory, pecan, persimmon, and fig. My idea of a good day was to get up at 7:00 AM on Saturday in the Fall and start a couple pork shoulders on the pit. I would tend to the fire all day so I could have them ready to serve my friends during halftime of SEC Game of the Week on ESPN. I would serve the pork pulled on rolls with homemade barbeque sauce and one of my specialty coleslaws. My horseradish coleslaw is always a crowd-pleaser:

Horseradish Coleslaw
  • 2 packages for shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup mayonaise
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon of prepared horseradish
  • salt and pepper to taste
Salt cabbage in colander and set aside. Blend remaining ingredients and chill. Once the cabbage has lost some water, place it in a bowl (I use a 2 gallon ziplock) and pour dressing over. Refrigerate AT LEAST 4 hours to overnight mixing periodically.

Over the years I have managed to visit several of the legendary barbeque joints and sample many of the the regional varieties of barbeque (See my recommendations). Barbeque is one of those foods that lends itself to opinionated folks, so I fit right in. (I once got in an argument over which was argued over most often: barbeque, chili, or gumbo. Everyone knows its gumbo of course.) For as opinionated as I am, I will probably like any dish that involves meat cooked with smoke from a hardwood fire. You might say I'm down with OPP (Other People's Pork).
As I result of my travels, I began experimenting with my own sauces. I have developed several of my own, a couple of which are really good. If you are interested in making your own, I'd suggest reading Paul Kirk's Championship Barbecue Sauces. This is a fantastic book which will influence your thinking on seasoning food. His section on "flavor prints" is fascinating.

Here is one of my sauces if you need something to get you started:

The Swine Spectator's Sweet Sauce
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 TBS beef drippings (or rendered beef fat)*
  • 1/2 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 3 cups tomato juice or V8
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 TBS paprika
  • 1 TBS black pepper
  • 2 TBS kosher salt
  • 1 TBS celery seed
  • 1/4 tsp brown mustard seeds

In a non-reactive pot, sauté' onion until translucent. Stir in mustard, ketchup, tomato juice, and vinegar. Bring to simmer. Stir in molasses and sugar until incorporated. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Cool, then refrigerate. Allow to sit in icebox for a day or two before using.

If you would like to learn about the various styles of barbeque sauces
Barbecue Sauce Recipes - A Taxonomy is a great place to start. This guy pretty much nails it, with the exception of his Louisiana sauces. We have a darn good regional sauce in Louisiana. It is actually mustard-based like sauces from certain parts of the Carolinas, but loaded with onions. Check out Jack Miller's if you are interested.


Friday, April 30, 2010

Bear with me...

I'll ask you all to bear with me over the next couple of weeks. I am moving soon and most of my kitchen is packed for travel. The good news is that my new kitchen is huge. It has ~60 sq ft of counterspace, 5 burner gas stove, built-in humidity controlled wine fridge (aka "the curing chamber"!!!).

I will also be replacing the log-burning barbeque pit that I lost to that damn hurricane... So I ask you to bear with me as I resettle. I will make it up to you. I am keeping a list. To date, I owe my readers a batch of Chaurice, Saucisse, and Tasso. If you can hand on, I have an 100 year-old recipe for Creole Boudin that is wildly different from modern Cajun-Style Boudin.

Posts will be forthcoming,


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Sad Day for Andouille Fans

Yesterday Jacob's World Famous Andouille and Sausage store in LaPlace, LA caught fire. It appears that they may have be able to salvage their original 82 year-old smokehouse. Fortunately no one was injured. Hopefully they will be back in business soon. LaPlace wouldn't be the same without Jacob's and Bailey's 50 yards apart.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Help Me Win!


A small group of Louisiana rice farmers got together to market the variety of jasmine rice that was developed by the Louisiana State University Ag Center under the name "Jazzmen Rice". I have been selected as a finalist in Gambit Weekly contest to develop a new recipe to help promote Jazzmen Louisiana Rice. Online voting runs through April 29. If you are willing, I'd appreciate your support for my Crispy Jazzmen Rice Cakes in Crawfish-Tasso Cream. (Click HERE to vote) Feel free to tell your friends as well. One lucky voter will win a new commercial blender!!!

I literally developed this recipe from scratch. I set out to create a recipe that would showcase the rice and incorporate local ingredients. I decided that would give myself bonus points if I could incorporate my pork products as well. I came up with the rice cakes first. Most people treat rice as an afterthought. I wanted it to be front and center in my submission. Then I decided to thoroughly "localize" the recipe by creating a Crawfish-Tasso cream. I am still in the process of perfecting my own tasso, but my current iteration is pretty darned good. The store-bought versions are good, but mine is a tad more assertive. Here is my entry into the contest:

Crispy Jazzmen Rice Cakes in Crawfish-Tasso Cream

Crawfish-Tasso Cream



Melt butter over a medium heat. Add Tasso and Vidalia onions. Stir until onions are translucent. Sprinkle flour over the tasso-onion mixture and stir until the flour becomes lightly fragrant, about 3-5 minutes. Slowly whisk in milk and stir until the sauce is thick and smooth. Season to taste with a grating of nutmeg and salt. Add crawfish tails, fat, and shallots. Return to a low simmer. Simmer for 5-10 more minutes until desired consistency is reached.

Rice Cakes


2 Cups cooked Jazzmen Rice
1 Large Egg
1 TBS All Purpose Flour
1 TBS Whole Milk
1/4 Cup of Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp Sweet Paprika
1/4 tsp Oregano
1/4 tsp Granulated Garlic
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
3-4 TBS Canola Oil

Combine all ingredients except oil in a bowl. Mix thoroughly. Heat oil in a non-stick skillet over a medium high heat. Divide rice batter into four equal portions approximately 1/2 cup each. The batter will be fairly loose, but will set during cooking. Take one portion of batter and form a ball in your palm. Place the ball into the skillet and press down lightly to flatten. Repeat for other portions, being careful no to crowd the pan. Once cakes begin to brown around the edges, carefully flip them over. The cakes are finished when they have a crispy golden exterior and a soft, moist center.

Louisiana Crawfish Tails

To serve:

Ladle about a cup of Crawfish-Tasso mixture onto a plate and place a hot crispy Jazzmen rice cake on top. Garnish with chopped parsley and a side of cold beer.

Don't even think about using Chinese crawfish, they are and unacceptable substitute. If you can't get crawfish, substitute shrimp instead.



Thursday, April 15, 2010


Last week I mentioned the wonderful Picayune Creole Cookbook when discussing Chaurice (see here). Another "lost" Creole sausage from the late 1800's and early 1900's is Saucisse, or more appropriately "Saucisse Creole". I generally do not reprint recipes, but since this was originally published in 1902 I assume that it is public domain.

This screenshot is from the 1922 edition. It is hard to explain the opulence of this sausage in its day. Spices such as allspice, nutmeg, mace, and clove were luxuries in the 1800's. Traditionally, this sausage was stuffed into sheep casings and fried in lard. I have made this as described and it is wonderful. Don't forget to brine the sausage. I am thinking about making a batch of this in the near future. Standby for updates...


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Chaurice, Revisited

About two years ago, I realized that "hamburger" apparently means something different to New Orleaneans than to most of the rest of the country. In most places, hamburger means beef, ground and formed into a patty, then grilled. It might be seasoned with salt and pepper. In New Orleans, hamburger is more accurately described as a beef sausage formed into a patty and grilled. The beef is usually contains minced onions, garlic, and parsley. It is also may be seasoned with little salt, black pepper, paprika, cayenne, oregano, thyme, and Worcestershire. Some people add an egg as well. I grew up eating this type of burger, and didn't know any different until I was in a restaurant in Virgina that advertised "New Orleans-style hamburgers". Then I noticed that everywhere else I went, burgers were predominantly just beef with different toppings. Like nearly everything else, we do it differently (and people in Texas thinks they're like a whole other country...).

So what does this have to do with Chaurice? Well, in the last 10 years or so, somebody got the bright idea to mix bulk Chaurice with ground beef to make a hot sausage burger. I have an 11 LB sausage stuffer that generally has about a pound of sausage in the piston and tube after stuffing. When I make Chaurice, I take this remainder and mix it with about two pounds of ground chuck to make burgers. They are really good. If you make Chaurice, I recommend that you try it.


Note: I failed to mention in the previous post that some people who still make Chaurice do not stuff it at all and use it in bulk form.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

First Bambi, Now It's Skippy

Australia's budding kangaroo meat industry is promoting the meat as a healthy and environmentally conscious alternative to pork, beef, or lamb. The article touts benefits of kangaroo because of their minimal emissions of greenhouse gas: "Cows fart, kangaroos don't."

Of course they make kangaroo sausage, called Kanga Bangas. I cannot find a description of the sausage. There is no mention of the seasonings, but I assume it is a contraction of "Kangaroo Bangers". The company website touts the sausage as being gluten free and 98% fat free. Pardon me for being skeptical.

I would bet that kangaroo meat tastes just fine, but the word "taste" does not appear in the article one time. I have a hard time worrying about kangaroo emissions when I would probably cook the sausage over charcoal or wood. It kind of defeats the purpose, doesn't it?


Thursday, April 8, 2010

A tour of Jacob's Andouille

In a complete coincidence, I stumbled across this website tonight:

It seemed apropos in light of my last two posts. I hate to send you elsewhere, but this guy has already done the work for me. No point in recreating the wheel. He is from Detroit, but appears to be fairly knowledgeable about Louisiana. He made the trek to LaPlace to see the Andouille Capital of the World. He has great pictures and pretty good descriptions of Jacob's Andouille. I don't have the heart to tell him that he was 50 yards from Bailey's as well.

Stay tuned for a posting on Creole Saucisse and Saucisson.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Creole Sausage

I mentioned in the previous post that I became interested in making sausage by finding historic recipes in old cookbooks that I collect. That prompted an inquiry about the recipe for Chaurice. I'll share my personal recipe that was developed based on the few recipes I was able to locate in older books. Before I do that, I would like to give a brief overview of charcutrie in Louisiana.

In simple terms, you can separate "Cajun" and "Creole" into "Country" and "City" (it's an oversimplification, but it will suffice for our purposes here). The Cajuns were of predominantly French decent with a sprinkling of German heritage. The very best Andouille is found in LaPlace, LA which is adjacent to Des Allemands (literally "The Germans" in French) along a stretch of the Mississippi river known as the "German Coast". The lore is that the Germans brought additional sausagemaking skills to the Cajuns. The Cajuns claim ownership of such products and Andouille, Boudin, Chaudin, Ponce, and Tasso. Because Cajun culture remains relatively undiluted, these traditional products are still made as they have been for 100+ years. West of Baton Rouge, one can spend a full day driving the coutryside and pondering the finer points of Boudin (save that argument for another day).

If you ever find yourself in New Orleans, it is worth the 40 minute drive to LaPlace to visit the twin meccas of Andouille, Jacob's and Bailey's. Both claim to be the "original". As I understand it, Bailey worked for old man Jacob. After the old man retired (died?) the kids changed the recipe to meet USDA regulations so that they could ship across state lines. Bailey was so disgusted, that he quit and opened up 50 yards away with the old recipe. So technically, both are correct. Jacob's has the original location and Bailey's has the original recipe.

In the late 1700's, the 1800's, and into early 1900's New Orleans was a city of great wealth. The Creoles built grand restaurants, such as Galatiore's, Antoine's, and Arnaud's, that are still with us today. The Creole culture has been diluted by wave upon wave of immigrants to the port city. Their cultural impact significantly eroded from 1900-1980, and was probably irreversibly damaged by hurricane Katrina. In books written from 1890-1960, you will find numerous references to "the good old days". I mentioned the Picayune Creole Cookbook in my prior post. I actually have two copies, the 1910 edition and the 1966 edition. The latter edition contains the same early sausage recipes, but adds that they are rarely made anymore and were only included "for historical interest".

In the 1950's, New Orleans chef Scoop Kennedy wrote the following reference to "the good old days":

"He remembers when the French Market of New Orleans was world famous. He remembers a lady who sat on a bench in the market at Madison and Decatur. She sold three articles and none other: pate de foie gras, hogshead cheese and hot sausage all homemade.
Most astonishing (and typical of the "old days") was the lady's personal pride in her products. Her stock was small and she sold it only to those whom she thought would appreciate them. In other words, she selected her customers. It was a type of beneficient snobbery. Like a queen she bestowed her favors with discrimination."
I think that it is important to remember the historical context of the old Creole recipes. In the 1800's and early 1900's, spices were very rare and expensive. The wealthy residents of New Orleans had the port to give them access to exotic spices and the money to afford them. In Jackson Square of the French Quarter, there is a restored home called the "1850 House" that is operated as a museum. In the house, one of the more interesting features is the spice safe. Highly seasoned food was a sign of affluence. One of the products of such seasoning was Chaurice. Here is my recipe for it:

  • 10 LBS of Boston Butt
  • 3 Cups of Onions, minced
  • 2 Cups of Green Onions, minced
  • 1/2 Cup of Fresh Garlic, minced (or run through a garlic press)
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Parsley, minced
  • 4 Tablespoons of Kosher Salt
  • 3 Tablespoons of Black Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons of Cayenne Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons of Thyme
  • 1 Tablespoon of Crushed Pepper Flakes
  • 8-12 oz of Ice Water (as needed)
Grind all ingredients through a medium plate. Mix thoroughly and stuff into medium hog casings. Arrange on a sheet pan and allow the sausages to mature overnight in the refrigerator.

Chaurice is used numerous ways. It can be smoked and used to make gumbos and jambalayas. To make a poor boy, it is grilled and sliced lengthwise, then served on toasted crusty French bread with mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, and pickles. It is also served just grilled with Creole mustard for dipping.



Saturday, April 3, 2010

Why Make Your Own?

I may have posted this before, but I originally got interested in making sausage after I started collecting old cookbooks. One in particular, the Picayune's Creole Cookbook (2nd ed. - 1910), contains recipes for forgotten Creole sausages. Most people know Cajun andouille and boudin, but few are familiar with chaurice, and I know of no one that makes Creole saucisses or saucissons. My fist attempt to make sausage was chaurice. I was stunned by the difference in quality that I could produce at home and began to realize how poor the quality was in most store-bought sausage. I was surprised at how much "stuff" was in store-bought sausage. I appreciated the simplicity of homemade sausage; meat, fat, seasoning, salt.

If your experience with sausages is similar to mine, you may be interested in the book I am currently reading, Polish Sausages, by Stanley Marianski (2009). The book begins with a history of polish sausagemaking, explaining that the Poles originally learned the craft from the Romans. They then spent several centuries perfecting recipes for the many regional varieties through trade associations and unions. After World War II, the communist Polish government established a commission to formally document the traditional recipes. They identified and defined over 100 specific varieties in a book that was only distributed to licensed union butchers. After the fall of communism in 1989, most butchers absconded with their copies of the book. Mr. Marianski obtained a copy and has translated the standards, methodologies, and recipes for over 60 traditional Polish products.

I am still reading the book, but thus far I am impressed with the high level of detail and content. Of particular interest to me was a passage where the author compares a traditional recipe to the ingredient lists for four brands of store bought Polish sausage. He goes on to say that the only chemical or additive the Polish government allowed was saltpeter (Potassium Nitrate) and that there were severe punishments for butchers who used other additives or inferior meats in there sausages. The author notes two cases where butchers who used inferior meats were sentenced to death and executed. He concludes the section by saying, "if today's recipes and manufacturing methods were somehow introduced to the meat inspectors in 1959-1989 Poland, there wouldn't be enough jail cells to accommodate meat plant managers."

It is amazing to realize that the basic recipes for sausages and cured meats are ones that worked just fine literally for centuries and that in the last 30-50 years they have changed radically, usually at great expense to the quality. If you are a purist at heart, I strongly recommend this book.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New Orleans' Spelling Bee Tests Pork Knowledge

'Bratwurst' brings bee at Xavier to a savory end. It was down to two spellers when Andrew Nguyen, 12, got stuck.

In the 20th round of Saturday's regional spelling bee, Andrew asked for his word's origin. German, he was told.

Then he asked for its definition. "Fresh pork sausage, " replied TV news anchor Norman Robinson, who read the words at Xavier University event.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

No Pork or Alcohol? Yeah, right...

So I found this in the news: KFC diner told 'you can't have bacon in your burger here - we're now halal'

I'll preface this post by saying that I try at all costs to avoid eating fast food. To me almost everything that is served out of a window is the culinary equivalent of those little temporary "donut" spare tires that come with Toyotas and Nissans. They will get you by, buy you only use them when you absolutely have no other choice.

That said, I am increasingly irked by the stuff like this. What the hell is KFC doing trying to be halal-compliant? The article readily admits that they don't kill their chicken according to halal rules. Either do it or don't. It is ridiculous to think that they can tell a customer to go 5 miles down the road to the next non-halal compliant KFC.

This is the latest in a series of what I view to be dumb moves in the fast food industry. In case you missed it, Culatello covered the McDonald's debacle over the McItaly promotion.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Just how many things can you grill at once?

Since my sausage-making has been at an ebb tide lately, I thought I would post my weekend grill report. We have had an unseasonably cold and rainy winter in here in New Orleans, which has inhibited my usual 12-month grilling season. This past weekend was a return to normal, so I jumped at the chance to fire up the Weber. (Someday I will replace the the old logburner that Katrina stole from me...but that's a whole other story.)

I decided that Sunday was mixed grill night. This is usually an effort to see just how many different things I can cook at once. As you can see here, that can be quite a bit.

Pictured are:
  • Chicken and Pork in a Dill-Mustard Marinade
  • Green Onion Pork Sausage
  • Red and Green Bell Peppers
  • Portabella Mushrooms
  • Zucchini
  • Squash
  • Corn
  • Roma Tomatoes
  • Bananas
All this served with a side of chicken-infused rice. There is just something special about food cooked over an open fire. Especially if the grill tender has a clue what he (or she) is doing. My fire was hot enough to put a good crust on the meats without overcooking them. I am also a fan of grilled veggies and fruits, especially bananas. Yes, I said bananas. My wife thought it was weird too until she tried them. I sprinkle them with a little cinnamon and brown sugar, then rub with a small amount of melted butter. I grill them for a few minutes to caramelize the sugar and warm them through. Then I serve them on the "half-shell". They are surprisingly good. Give them a try next time you fire up the grill.

Overall, I'd call Sunday's dinner resounding a success.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Disaster of Biblical Proportions

I envision the conversation in the mayor's office going like this:

Chefs Call Proposed New York Salt Ban 'Absurd'

MYFOXNY.COM - Some New York City chefs and restaurant owners are taking aim at a bill introduced in the New York Legislature that, if passed, would ban the use of salt in restaurant cooking.
"No owner or operator of a restaurant in this state shall use salt in any form in the preparation of any food for consumption by customers of such restaurant, including food prepared to be consumed on the premises of such restaurant or off of such premises," the bill, A. 10129 , states in part.

Somehow, I think that this law is ultimately doomed. Can you imagine New York without pastrami, corned beef, or lox in the delis? No Italian sausage in (what's left of) Little Italy? I can't. Although New York has banned smoking and transfats, so the precedent is certainly there. It becomes a slippery slope once you accept the argument that something can be banned because it is bad for public heath. Any good toxicologist will tell you, "It's not the poison that kills you, its the dosage." Salt, fat, sugar, and alcohol are all bad for you excess but safe and even good for you in moderation.

I was once stopped by U.S. Customs in Newark for attempting to bring wild boar salami home from Italy. I had declared it, so no harm done other than my wounded wallet and ego. However, I think that qualifies as experience in trafficking salted meats. Maybe there is a salami bootlegging career to be had if this becomes law. (Kidding, of course.)


Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Pastrami is a Hit!

Here it is. It was one of the easiest and best tasting things I have made yet. What you see here is served as follows:
  • Toasted German wheat bread
  • Wafer-thin slices of pastrami
  • Thin slices of a decent baby-Swiss
  • Spicy whole grain mustard
  • Pickles
I layered the pastrami on a sheet of tin foil and topped it with the baby-swiss. Then I put it under the broiler. I slathered the toasted bread with mustard and added pickles. When the cheese was bubbling and the edges of the pastrami where beginning to crisp, I slid the whole works onto the waiting bread. Let me tell you that this is one of my favorite sandwiches.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Some Housekeeping

First, the pastrami is done and it is a resounding success. Pictures and a write-up to follow soon.

Second, a hat-tip to Tony (My in-house answer to Rick Steves) for the following:
"In bocca al lupo" is the traditional Italian way of saying good luck. Directly translated it means "in the mouth of the wolf", refering to when Romulus and Remus are saved and mothered by a she-wolf (As far as I understand.)
The proper response to "In bocca lupo" is "crepi il lupo" which means - "
death to the wolf."
I don't know why you have to respond in this manner, but any other response is considered
bad luck.
(See also: Bocca Lupo)
More to come...


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Up Next: Pastrami

With the curing box is temporarily shut down I needed a new project. As my grandfather always used to say, "When all else fails, consult the manual". Dry curing is out, but what about brining or smoking? Pastrami it is!

I have been reading The River Cottage Meat Book. Initially, I was a little put off by the long section exploring the morality of eating meat and the social contract between man and animals. I never have had any angst over meat before. My hunting experience is limited, but I learned to hunt believing that you never shoot anything you aren't planning to eat. Also, I spent some time with my college roommate at his uncle's farm when it was time to slaughter the family pig. They thought I'd be squeamish (His uncle's nickname for me was "City"), and were genuinely surprised when I jumped right in with the meat saw. When I finally trudged through the morality play in River Cottage, I came away more concerned about the quality of meat I am buying than about whether it was OK to eat meat. Maybe that was the point all along. After some introspection, I decided that cheap grocery store meat might be to blame for the failure of my Saucisson Sec.

I live near the Uptown Whole Foods in New Orleans. The patron's are very much the eco-conscious crowd. The store even offered a Vegan King Cake during Mardi Gras if that tells you anything. I am not so eco-conscious. However, I do like good food. I maybe the only customer in that store that goes there specifically to buy AA Grade eggs and Black Forest Bacon. (They also have one of the better cheese counters in town, but not as good as Dorignac's.) So I decided that if I was going to make pastrami, I was going to do it right. I had the butcher at WF trim out a grass-fed brisket for me. I prepared the brine according to Mr. Ruhlman's instructions and am waiting to crust and smoke this weekend. Pictures and a taste test to follow as soon as I find a decent Rye or Pumpernickel.

Now back to reading River Cottage.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Detour in the Curing Road

We are in the process of trying to sell our house and find a new one with a yard big enough for a walk-in brick smokehouse (shhhh - don't tell the missus about that last part). Shockingly, the Real Estate Agent's vision for showing our home does not include my glass-door wine fridge full of beautiful moldy meats in the office. Begrudgingly, I have agreed to store the wine fridge until we can sell and move into a new house, so dry curing is off of the table for now. I guess most buyers wouldn't appreciate the value of having a house inoculated with MEK-4. Oh well, I still have my grinder, mixer, and stuffer handy, so standby for postings on fresh sausages.


Pork, the Other Viagra?

So I found this in the news:

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina's president recommended pork as an alternative to Viagra Wednesday, saying she spent a satisfying weekend with her husband after eating barbecued pork.

"I've just been told something I didn't know; that eating pork improves your sex life ... I'd say it's a lot nicer to eat a bit of grilled pork than take Viagra," President Cristina Fernandez said to leaders of the pig farming industry.

She said she recently ate pork and "things went very well that weekend, so it could well be true."

Argentines are the world's biggest per capita consumers of beef, but the government has sought to promote pork as an alternative in recent years due to rising steak prices and as a way to diversify the meat industry.

"Trying it doesn't cost anything, so let's give it a go," Fernandez said in the televised speech.

Like any of us need another excuse to eat pork...


Monday, January 25, 2010

Salami Recall

Did you hear about this? 184 people in 38 states? Who would have thought of Salmonella-contaminated black pepper?

Yet another good reason to make your own. I still haven't made the leap to fermented meats, but I will get there soon.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Bocca Lupo

I finally got around to making another batch of sausage. The past few months have been very busy and really limited my meat production. However, after the holidays everything just seemed to fall into place. First my father-in-law brought me about 15 LBS of Mule Deer from his recent hunting trip in Colorado. Then I got a meat mixer (more on that in a future post) for my birthday. I knew that I had about 3-4 LBS of pork belly and trimmings in the freezer from making pancetta. So I decided to create a new sausage. "Bocca Lupo" is short for the Italian expression "into the wolf's mouth", and is an idiomatic expression that is used to wish someone good luck, similar to how we use "break a leg". It seemed to be an appropriate name for a game sausage. Here is what I came up with:

Bocca Lupo
  • 3 LB - Venison
  • 3 LB - Pork Belly (uncured)
  • 3 1/2 - TBS Kosher Salt
  • 1 1/2 - TBS Black Pepper
  • 1/2 - TBS Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tsp - Chili Powder
  • 4 tsp - Granulated Garlic
  • 1 tsp - Rubbed Sage
  • 1 tsp - French Thyme
  • 4 TBS - Italian Flat Leaf Parsley, minced
  • 1 TBS - Cane Syrup
  • 3TBS - Ice Water
I ground the meat through a 5/32" plate and added it to the mixer. The mixer works great! The meat stayed very cold and bound nicely. I stuffed it into 32 mm hog casings and let it mature for 24 hours in the fridge. I fried some patties using the unstuffed remainder. I am very pleased with this one. The cane syrup adds a subtle earthiness that I really like. I may add a bit more next time. I can't wait to try some on the grill.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year's Resolution - POST!

Hello, any readers left?

I have been grossly negligent in posting the past two months. I have been cooking up a storm, but my charcuterie has fallen by the wayside. I made bresaola and currently have pancetta in my curing box, but I have not been producing and experimenting as much as I like.

I hosted Christmas dinner at my house this year. I cooked a whole bone-in ham and a turkey. I am nearly obsessed with cooking meat to temperature and these large hunks-o-meat were no exception. I have cooked dozens of turkeys, but I have only ever cooked one ham. Being the cook that I am, the family has high expectations for me during the holidays. I certainly felt the pressure to get the ham right. I bought a 12-pounder and perused the web in search of glazes. Dissatisfied, I decided to make my own. Here is what I came up with:

Maple-Dijon Glaze
  • 1 Cup Maple Syrup
  • 1 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Dijon Mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon Allspice
I cooked the ham at 325 degrees for 15 minutes per pound as recommended on the package. According to this formula, the ham should have been done at 3 hours. It wasn't. I anticipated this and did not start glazing until the third hour. I mixed all of the ingredients in a saucepan and mixed them thoroughly. I basted the ham several times with the glaze. At 3 hours and 40 minutes, the ham read 148 on my digital thermometer. I pulled it an placed a loose foil tent over it. I was shooting for 160 as an internal temp. After 10 minutes, the carry over cooking had brought the internal temp to 159.9 degrees. At 15 minutes, the thermometer briefly touched 160- SCORE! The glaze was perfect. I also nailed the the turkey. Both were tender and juicy. Try this glaze, I promise you will like it.