Sunday, July 31, 2011

Smoked Polish Kielbasa, and Pierogies.

Ever have one of those days when you miss home, you just miss your roots?  Even though I move a lot I spent the majority of my life living in the area of Cleveland Ohio.  I know, I know I have heard all of the jokes about Cleveland, and sure our river did catch on fire,....Twice.  But to me, there is really no better place.  The people of Cleveland are Real down to earth people, and they all have two things in common, we love our sports!!  And we love our food.!!  The Cleveland suburbs are a huge variety of different cultures and demographics.  I remember going to the West Side market as a child. (Really, click the link)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pancetta Arrotolata, hits the cure chamber Today!!

Hopefully you all remember my recent post, The Day of the Belly.  If you have not seen it, there is something wrong with you, click on the link and catch up!!  So after much anticipation, and belly rubbing (not mine pervs, the pancetta. Taking the belly out of the fridge every other day, redistributing the cure mixture, and flipping the belly, this is called overhauling) The Pancetta is ready to get rolled and hit the chamber.  There are two main kinds of Pancetta, Tessa, and Arrotolata.  Tessa is flat and looks like regular bacon that is not smoked.  Arrotolata is rolled very tightly, tied and dried for about two to three months.  I pulled the belly out and rinsed it well to get most of the cure mixture off.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Belly Turns to bacon with a little smoke!!

I am sure you all have seen my recent Day of the Belly post, this is the continuation.  I have recently purchased an electric smoker....  I know for those of you who know me well how could I be using an electric smoker?  Does this make me less of a man, not to be tending my own fire and grunting throughout the day.  Well I live in an apartment, and hell it is so much easier.  I smoked a shoulder the other day, all I had to do was rub my meet (hehehe) and toss it in the smoker, set my temp and time and walk away.  WOW much easier.  I do have to admit I miss my big old offset smoker.  I love that type of cooking.  As soon as I get out of an apartment I will be the meat Viking once again.  On to the meat(that's what she said).  I used a beautiful piece of Newman farms belly for this.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It's a Pig Jowl Thing!

Two more jowls are hitting the cure chamber today.  You may remember them from my first blog on Guanciale.  I made a couple of important promises to myself and my friends when I started my Charcuterie endeavor.  #1, if I ever have a doubt that the project would be safe or not, I will toss it and start over (Trust me this is harder than it sounds when you think of the money and time invested), and #2, is to use only the Highest quality, sustainable ingredients.  I prefer to get my veggies from farmers markets and my meats to be of the Heritage variety.  There are really two big breeds of Heritage pork right now, the Berkshire and the Mangalitsa.  I use the Berkshire, not only because it's freaking amazing, but I know a really good farmer that is known across the country, and he is local, so there.  That being said I got two beautiful jowls a couple of weeks ago and prepared them in two completely different ways.  One was more traditional with very fresh herbs and garlic, and the next I did in a southern Italian, Calabrian style, spicy and smokey.  Lets talk more traditional first.  I got some amazing herbs from my buddies that have an amazing restaurant here in Memphis.  If you are ever near stop by!!! Andrew Michaels Italian Kitchen.  Here we go.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Day Of the Pork Belly.......

Today I decided to tackle the Pork Belly that I got from Newman Farms at the Memphis farmers market.  I am all about using local ingredients.  I want to support my local farms for a few reasons.  Number one, the food tastes better, and number two, I know where my food is coming from.  The difference in taste and quality is second to none.  So here is the belly that Mark sold me.
That is one piece of delicious porky goodness. If you look back to the primals post I did you can see where the belly comes from.  It is not only the belly but the side of the hog.  You can see where the spareribs were once attached to this cut of meat.

My Calabrian Christmas!!!

Today I got a package from a person I have been following for a while.  He has the same passion for Charcuterie as I have and has paved the way in this country to discover one of southern Italy's best and most underrated foods.  N'duja....I know what you are thinking. What the Hell is N'duja, it is a smokey, fiery, porky, spreadable sausage that will blow the top of your head off, and it is on my top five of flavor profiles I think everyone needs to have on a weekly basis.  My buddy Michael Hudman from AndrewMichaels Italian Kitchen here in Memphis and I are going to tackle this beast soon and bring the light of Calabria to Memphis. I know I sound like a nut ball, but when I post the makings of this spreadable beast, and you make it at home you will want to send me your life savings.... Its that good.  Really you don't have to send me money.... Unless you really want to that is....  This is what Scott from Sausage Debauchery sent to me today.  You have to check out his store and his blog.  His blog is Ridonkulous.  Looking at his cure chamber is like me stepping thru the wardrobe into Narnia for me.  Not to say I love his meat, but his technique is amazing.... Damn that does not sound right. But He has inspired me.
Here is everything I got today.  Marinella Sweet Pepper Powder, Marinella Hot Pepper Powder from Calabria, Coluccio's brand sweet pepper paste from Calabria, Coluccio's brand hot pepper paste from Calabria, and some Adriatic Sea Salt from Puglia.  How can you expect to season the perfect Calabrian sausage without salt from that region.  Seriously folks, check out the website Sausage Debauchery.com He ships quickly and the prices are great.  I look forward to being his best customer!! Thanks Scott!!!!

Check back soon for the Hudman/Winters Calabrian sausage extravaganza...NoHomo of course. Well maybe a little.

The Basic Cure!

The basic cure in Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman not only a fellow Clevelander but also as some refer to the Grandfather of the new Charcuterie movement.  This cure is in most of the meat curing recipes in the book.  I made the Dextrose version as I think it mixes better and the sweetness is not as profound as granulated sugar.  So here we go.
This recipe consists of:

450 g Kosher salt (one pound)
425 g Dextrose (13 0z)
75 g Pink salt #1 (3oz)

Mix all of these ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight container until needed.  You will notice in most of my recipes that I use metric measurements instead of Cups, tablespoons, pounds etc... it is because these are more accurate and consistent for curing meats. The sizes of particles in a tablespoon will vary, but the weight content will not.  So if in any of my posts you see dry cure this is what it is. Get ready for some belly!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Lomo Embuchado (take one)

Lomo is the Spanish word for loin, I used a quality Pork loin for this recipe.  Forgive me for the lack of prep pictures here, I deleted them on accident.  I will make sure this does not happen next time.  So on to what you will need.
  • 5lbs (2268 grams) Pork loin
  • 60 grams Turbinado Sugar
  • 9 grams Pink Salt
  • 9 grams Black Tellicherry peppercorns Toasted
  • 9 grams Fennel seed Toasted
  • 9 grams Coriander seed Toasted
  • 45 grams Kosher salt
  • 9 grams Spanish Paprika, sweet
  • 10 grams Garlic chopped (approx. 3 cloves)
  • 3 grams Thyme leaves
  • 3 grams Cayenne pepper
Toast the peppercorns, fennel seed, and coriander until fragrant.  Put in a spice mill and pulverize.  Mix the sugar, salt, the toasted spices, pink salt,  paprika, garlic, thyme cayenne, and coat all sides of the pork loin evenly, not forgetting about the ends, reserving a third of the spice mixture for a second cure application.  Put pork loin in a nonreactive container, I use my Food Saver and seal on the low, moist setting.  Refrigerate for 7 days.  After 7 days, apply the reserved spice mixture and refrigerate for another 7 days.  Rinse the pork and Tie with butchers twine.  Put into cure chamber at 57-60 degrees F, and 70-75% RH for approximately 45 days.  By this time your meet should be firm to the touch and smell sweet.  If your meat has developed any white mold, you can wipe with a clean towel dipped in a white vinegar and distilled water solution.

Guanciale! (Updated 8/13)

The word Guanciale just rolls off the tongue.  The first time I had this I was like "looks like bad fatty bacon".  Then I tasted the Porcine goodness that is Guanciale.  My world had changed forever.  If you are one of the few people that like bacon. You will want to cast a pork jowl in bronze, put it in front of your house and say this is why the pig was created... OK I may be a little over board, but this is how passionate I am about this piggy part.  If your look back to our Primal cuts you can see where the jowl is from.

MMMMM Jowl.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Primals!! (Updated)

I feel like I did not get as in depth when I first posted this. I have recently aquired a copy of Primal Cuts by Marissa Guggiana, if you love your meat buy this awesome book!! See below for the update beauty we call the Pig, or as Webster's Thesaurus states: boar, cob roller, hog, piggy, piglet, porker, porky, shoat, sow, swine

As I begin my blogging endeavor, I have to talk about the beast that means the most to me and the cuts that it entails.  That being the pig.  I grew up on a farm with my family in Denmark, Ohio.  Don't worry no one else knows where that is it either.  We had horses, chickens, a mean ass rooster, some cows and a bull, a couple goats, rabbits and pigs.  My mom grew very attached to her pigs and in true Mary Ellen(my wonderful mother) fashion, she trained them.  These pigs loved my mom, they did what she asked, she trained them to go up to the cars that came to our farm and would snort at them, they would come running whenever she left the house, and would follow here wherever she went.  Pretty cute.  Only down side is that she named them.  I remember Pork and Beans and others, feeding them and petting them, then all of a sudden they were gone.  When I would ask what happened to them, I would get "Don't worry about them....want more bacon?"  Of course I wanted more bacon.  This could be where my obsession started, only to sit in waiting until I was 35 and have discovered the wonderful world of salty, porky, treats. I had an opportunity that I held for granted as a child, we were a semi self sustaining farm..... I would love that right now.  I remember my mom giving my sister and I each a small salt shaker and sending us to the garden for a snack.  The fresh tomatoes, beans, and other vegetables were amazing.  I am slipping away into another time right now and losing focus. Now for the business at hand.

Dried Salted and smoked Pig's Liver.

I know what you are thinking.... Not only is it Pig's liver, but you are going smoke it, then dry it?  Are you nuts.  I would have to say.... Maybe.  I have jumped in with all feet when it comes to Charcuterie as well as Offal.  It seems like we as a society have forgotten where we came from.  We have gotten so used to going to the store and finding our meat miraculously in a plastic and Styrofoam container.  I am done with that.  We need to get back to our roots, and have our food the way we were meant to have it.  It is a lot of damn work but guess what.  It is Delicious, and hearty and makes you feel good when you eat it.  The difference between getting a pork chop at Kroger, and getting a Heritage one can not be put into words.  Sounds like a good idea for a post, have the old Pepsi challenge with pork..  Note to self.  Any way I am getting side tracked.  I went to my friends restaurant the other day and he surprised me with some amazing pasta with grated Bottarga (click the word if you do not know what it is, then find it and put it in your belly, it is great) He and I started talking and he mentioned this salted pig liver thing, and doing something similar with it.  It turns out I just so happened to have a copy of Fergus Henderson's The Whole beast at home with a recipe.  And here we go.

Heirloom Red onions.

I was at the Botanical gardens farmers market the other day and picked up some Heirloom red onions.  Along with a ton of other stuff. I have never tried these before, so why not.
They were very sweet and aromatic.  I took one pound of them and decided to pickle them.  I used Rice wine vinegar as well as a little white. 
I used Turbinado sugar as well as some honey powder to balance the salt, some fresh bay leaves, crushed red pepper,cloves, mustard seed. 

They turned out great!!  I had some homemade liverwurst that I had with some of the onions and spicy arugula.  These will be amazing on the fish tacos I plan to make this week.

My visit to Newman Farms.

Have you ever been somewhere that truly inspires you?  I was invited to spend a day with Mark and Rita Newman of Newman Farms Heritage Berkshire pork.  From the first moment I stepped out of my car I felt like family. They live on an amazing piece of property and raise their hogs the old fashioned way.  Everything is done as humane as possible,and guess what, the pigs are happy!!
So it all began with a trip to Myrtle Missouri.  About a three hour drive from Memphis TN.  I was invited to attend with my cousin who is the sous chef at Chez Philippe in the Peabody Hotel by Michael Hudman of Andrew Michael's Italian Kitchen.  They were doing most of the cooking for this event. There were Chefs and Foodies from around the country as well.  Everyone wanted to see why the pork sold here was so amazing.  And trust me, you have not eaten pork until you have had some Heritage Berkshire Pork!!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Making the Cure chamber!! (Updated.)

This was the first post I had done on my blog and I rushed thru it.  I have had many requests to get more detailed and show where you can get the pieces parts to make your own cure chamber.  Let me say this first, I got all of the ideas for my project here from people around the virtual world!  Jason over at Cured Meats  and Matt over at Wrightfood.  These guys paved the way for me, and I have relied on their advise as well.  So here we go. 

In order to cure meat you have to be able to control three conditions, Temperature, Humidity, and Air flow.  We will dive into each condition separately and see what we can do at home to control this.

Temperature- This must be very well controlled.  Above 60F bacteria tends to grow to fast. (yes bacteria is needed in making fermented sausages they are a good thing).  We want to keep the temperature between 50F and 60F.  If you get to cold and below 50F the curing process will be to slow meaning that it will take much longer for proper water loss.  Some people will be lucky enough to be able to use the corner of the basement for charcuterie, with me living in Memphis I defiantly need to have a cooler area.

Humidity-  The majority of curing is done between 70% RH(relative humidity) and 75% RH.  Below the 70% mark and you run the risk of case hardening, where the outside of your meats or salumis dry out way to fast, leaving moisture trapped inside the meat and tending to spoil and make people not feel so good.  If the humidity is to High your meat will not dry out and you run the risk of funky molds.  White mold good, colorful mold bad. 

When an item first hits your cure chamber you will see that the humidity will rise due to the meat having a higher water content.  Most people will have to ad moisture to the air instead of removing it, a cool mist humidifier is perfect for this.

Air flow-  A little airflow is critical here.  If you do not have airflow the dank air in the cure chamber will not be moving around and helping the surface moisture dissipate.  It will also prevent the bad molds from forming, the green, blue, and black molds.  What I have done is to cut a 4in diameter hole in the front of my cure chamber, and a small hole in the bottom left side to encourage airflow around my meat.

So how does the average person put this plan into motion.  Unless you live in southern Italy, or have a cool dank basement, you are going to have to build yourself a cure chamber.

First order of business is to acquire a Chamber.  You can probably get a used one on Craig's list, or at a yard sale, but since I run an appliance store I opted to get a new 14cuft Freezer.  Make sure what ever you get is a frost free model.  Below you will see a picture of the Fridge before I broke out the Dremel tool and voided my warranty forever!!