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Posts Tagged ‘charcutepalooza’

This month’s Charcutepalooza challenge was curing bacon or pancetta. I split the difference and chose the pancetta recipe but without the rolling. The fresh bacon / belly I had in my freezer was a pretty small amount – the wrong shape to roll it up into a pretty spiral. It’ll taste the same anyway. And it wound up fairly pretty and round:

pancetta slice

Apparently I should have removed the skin before curing – at least if I was going to roll it up into a cylinder which now has a curved, hard, skin on the end. Oh well. Lesson learned for next time. And there will be a next time. YUM.

I was saving my last few parsnips from the winter farmshare this season for one of my favorite dishes starring parsnips. Conveniently, it also needs pancetta. I first found a version of this recipe from Martha Stewart. (I know, I know.. but it’s tasty, and simple.) Martha obviously doesn’t serve this to kids in pre-k, or have the same sense of humor as I do, though, so she ignores the great alliteration potential – Pasta with Parsnips, Parmesan, Pancetta, Pepper, and Parsley. I made both the 5 year old and the other grownup laugh by pairing it with Pink grapefruit juice. “Mommy, why did you make grapefruit juice? That doesn’t start with P.” “Ah. But what color grapefruit did it come from?”

pasta with parsnips, parmesan, pancetta, pepper, and parsley

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The first project in Charcutepalooza, the one I read about just as it was happening, was duck prosciutto. Take a duck breast, cover it in salt for a day, then hang it to dry for a week, and you’re done. So I headed to Sherman Market, picked up a duck breast from New York State, and gave it a try.

I wasn’t particularly afraid to start making the duck prosciutto. After all, I’ve tried salting cod before, and this wasn’t so different, plus the weather cooperated. I didn’t even check that I knew where our cheesecloth was before I stuck the duck breast into the salt in the fridge overnight. (And then I didn’t. Know where it was, that is. Did you know that a “turkey stuffing kit” from the supermarket contains a cheesecloth bag, twine, and bits of metal that make adequate hooks to hang up a piece of meat to dry?)

What it turned out I was somewhat afraid of was eating the duck prosciutto. You see, it’s supposed to turn firmer after a day dehydrating in the salt, and then firm up as it turns into a cured meat product hanging in a cool space for a week. And it *seemed* different – but I’ve never eaten duck prosciutto, nor have I eaten anything I’ve cured that wasn’t also meant to be cooked before eating.

Then I decided that it looked a bit like bacon, with the nice red color, the gorgeous strip of fat on one side..the not-so-thin slices I was able to make… So our first taste of the duck prosciutto was fried up bacon-style, to go along with a little french toast. Tasty, and cured-tasting like bacon. Not too crispy because I like my bacon to taste meaty anyway. But still, not the most exciting texture, and not worth buying a duck breast and then watching it cure for a week, either.

So. I had to convince myself it was really cured. A little more poking, a little more prodding, a small nibble from my husband and I , and we proclaimed it safe to eat. (Also, tasty. Pretty intense flavor, and very smooth and silky.)

For lunch I ate this salad, with some generous slices of duck proscuitto without further cooking, beets, potatoes, and tiny greens grown in a greenhouse in Westport MA, and a little vinaigrette.

I’m still here.

duck pancetta salad

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