Sunday, August 28, 2011

Papa's French Dressing

My family has always been all about food.  My grandfather Edward Ptacek Sr. was a huge influence with me and my culinary devotion.  He is the one that got my mom going and in turn me from her.  He cooked for a huge family, and put his heart and soul into it.  I was at the store with my cousin the other day and we were craving some of Papa's dressing.  This is nothing fancy, but I have adjusted it a little from his original.  Every time I taste it I get taken back to the house on Marshfield, sitting at the table, making sure my elbows did not touch the table and sharing a meal with my grandparents.  He would pull this dressing out of the fridge in a huge mason jar that had garlic cloves suspended in it....  Sorry I started drooling.  Anyway here you are.

Pickled Peppers

I went to the Memphis Farmers market this weekend and picked up a bunch of great meats and produce.  I got some pork from Newman farms, some beef from Neola farms, and a bunch of vegetables from assorted stands.  I got some great looking peppers from one of them.  They looked just like the cover of one of my new cookbooks, My Calabria.

Friday, August 19, 2011


This recipe is adapted from charcuterie by Ruhlman and Polcyn.  Have you ever had a good peperone?  Don't worry my spell check is working.  I am not talking about the Italian American version of pepperoni, that has been bastardized by the big food makers here in this country.  I grew up loving pepperoni pizza, then I went to Italy and got some and was blown away.  It was not that fatty, mixed meat, mildly spicy salumi that I knew from childhood.  This was robust, meaty, and ridonculously delicious.  This is traditionally made from beef, but here we have added chicken, turkey and other pieces parts to get the cost down.  I think you will be surprised by the ingredients, or lack of them.  The lips and assholes have been left out and only high quality ingredients are left.  This is a pic of what I am talking about.

Salumi al Finocchietto

I have ventured farther into my Charcuterie obsession and have moved on to a more challenging aspect of the craft.  Fermented Sausages and Salumis.  As you all know, I Love Pork, and all that it encompasses.  And what a better way to showcase some great pork, than to intensify its flavor by curing, fermenting, and drying it.  The beginning to this and quite a few other salumi recipes are going to come from this 19lb, shoulder I got from Mark, from Newman Farms .  I am going to use everything on this beast!!
Before being shaved, skinned, and broken down.  Below is the outcome.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

To my friends in the UK

I have been getting a lot of hits on my blog from those of you in the UK, (United Kingdom for you yanks).  I am always curious to learn different cultures of cooking.  What would any of you recommend that I try.  Have a good recipe for black pudding, or Haggis I could try.  I would love to open some local people to that delicious rustic food!!  Keep checking back!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fermentation Chamber for Salumi

I have been getting pretty deep into this Charcuterie thing.  The next big step is making some fermented salumis.  This is not as easy as it may sound.  I have been leaning a lot on some of my friends in the Charcuterie world, Jason from Cured meats, Matt from Wrightfood(an amazing photographer as well) and Scott over at Sausage Debauchery.  The advise they have given me plus all of the reading has led to this point.  The journey in to fermented salumi's. 

I have made the cure chamber, now I needed to make the prequel for this.  I took a lot of advice from Jason to make the Fermentation chamber. When making any type of "Fermented" sausages, a bacterial culture is added to the meat to inoculate it with good bacteria.  The mold you see on some salumis is a good thing.  This also helps give your fermented sausage an amazing flavor, in addition to keeping the bad bacteria away. The times and humidity that you need is dependent on the starter culture used.  Be sure to check, as some only need to ferment for 24 hrs and other 48-72 hrs. I started out buy ordering all the pieces parts I would need.  Then got to work.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Pig Trotter Terrine, August Charcutepalooza Challenge!!

I have recently joined the group Charcutepalooza.  A bunch of amazing people, are dedicated to learning the art of Charcuterie using Michael Ruhlman's book Charcuterie.  If you have not purchased this book, GET IT NOW... In fact, buy one for yourself and one as a gift for someone else.  This is not your typical cook book, more like an easy and fun to read text book that gets you back to the roots of Charcuterie.  Everything from curing meats, making condiments, and how to smoke all types of meats.  No I did not get an endorsement from Mr. Ruhlman. 

So when I find out that the August challenge was Binding. I got excited.  Participants were challenged to either do: The apprentice Challenge: Make a Liver Terrine or a Fish/Seafood Mousseline, or go for the Charcutiere Challenge: Make Headcheese, feet, or Trotter Terrine. Since I lack the storage space for an entire pigs head, I went with the Trotters.  I gave a call over to my buddy Mark, at Newman Farms Heritage Berkshire Pork .  And as soon as I mentioned trotters, he gave me the traditional Mark line "I have a deal for you"!!  I went there to only get a couple trotters and Mark used his Jedi mind tricks on me, I left with twelve trotters, eight pounds of pork belly, and five pounds of pig livers. He's good.  Okay back to the task at hand.  If you look back to my previous post, Primals The trotter is the pig foot area.  Look at diagram below.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Bacon Powder!!

That's right folks you read the title correct, I made bacon powder.  I am not just a one trick pony, I am into all areas of the culinary world.  Charcuterie just happens to me more of a passion.  So when I heard there was a restaurant making Pomme Frites(fancy word for French Fries) with bacon powder.  I had to try this.  And this is not a fake, synthetic, bacon "flavor" like you get in the sci fi creations of bacon salt and baconnaise.  If you are a fan of those products you can make this and be the pride of the Trailer park.

The first step was to render down some bacon to get the amount of fat needed.  If you wanted to render down bacon, why not go all in and do it with some Mangalista bacon, from Moosefund.  The most unctuous and fatty bacon on the planet.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

English Bangers and Mash

A few years ago I had the pleasure of working with a gentleman that came from Scotland, I guess you really could not call him a gentleman but he is a great guy.  He turned me on to some good old British cooking.  Things Like the Bangers and Mash, Nips and Tatties, and Haggis.  Truth be told, I really like all of them.  They are all very filling comfort food.  So today, I had some pork shoulder left over, and had a hankering for some Bangers.  The term Bangers comes from WWII days when the sausages had a higher water content due to rationing, so the sausages would pop and explode in the pan when cooking.  This is a savory sausage with a sweet undertone and mildly spiced.  I served mine with a reduction of balsamic vinegar with caramelized onions.  Delicious.  Onto the sausages.  Very simple to make.
  • 2 1/2Lb 1149g Pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into strips
  • 1Lb 453g Pork Fat, I used pork jowl cut into strips
  • 1 1/2C 173g dry bread crumbs
  • 1 1/4C 10floz Chicken stock Chilled
  • 4tsp Banger seasoning( see below)
  • 9ft Medium hog casings, rinsed and soaked for 30 min