I’ve stumbled upon a monthly blogging project that will get me to use a bit more of my favorite new cookbook, Michael Ruhlman’s Charcuterie, and now in addition to pondering it I’ve bought ingredients and gotten started.
The project is called Charcutepalooza, and a number of bloggers will be making cured meat, sausages, and whatnot once a month and blogging about it throughout 2011.
Today I started duck breast prosciutto by putting a large raw duck breasts into a containerful of salt. (This project should have happened and been finished by 15 January, but I hadn’t heard about it yet.) February’s project is pancetta, which is cured and tightly rolled up bacon. I am making a smaller quantity of both of them than the recipes call for – if they turn out great I will perhaps feel silly, but if they’re a disaster I will be glad not to have ruined quite as much expensive meat.
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A few months ago, I got my first try at sausage making. Soon after, I borrowed Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn’s Charcuterie from the library, made salt cod from it, drooled some more over the recipes, renewed the library book, forgot to return it, paid the fine, and, concluding that the book really needed to stay on my bookshelf, went to pick up my own copy at Porter Square book.
As reported here earlier, the first recipe I tried after that was corned beef tongue. And then the book was out on the dining room table with its siren call of sausage recipes. To be specific, the emulsified sausages : meat suspended in fat with a uniform creamy texture, like a hot dog or bologna. And I’d been working on arranging to get a KitchenAid food grinder on permanent loan. So when it arrived, I went and bought veal stew meat, pork back fat, and casings, and decided to try the weisswurst recipe that introduces the section on emulsified sausages. (They get tricker from there.)
Weisswurst is a white sausage with lemon zest, mustard, mace, and parsley in the seasoning, all smooth inside with a juicy pop when you bite into it. It’s important to keep it really cold while you pass it through the grinder, back into the freezer, through the grinder again with ice and salt, and then mixed up with all the seasonings, just until it forms a smooth paste which you add milk to to stabilize the emulsion. It really does create the kind of texture you expect from something a factory processed the heck out of – only with the fresh taste of real ingredients and the satisfaction of having made that ourselves.
Speaking of ingredients you can trust, I’m still feeling a bit guilty for my first purchase of veal in at least 5 years… but thanks to this project I’ve learned that the next time, I don’t need to. There are farms that raise “pastured veal” or “rose veal” – calves butchered young enough to taste like veal, but allowed to roam on pasture instead of stuck in pens, and some of them are even in Massachusetts.
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