Red Chief Boudin Blanc. Monday, Jan 25 2010 

Boudin Blanc aux Lentilles Rouges

The third in a series (beta, 2.o)of emulsifexperiments.

From India with pork: The other Lenten meat.

Some New Year’s day tubesteak.  An original pork boudin blanc prototype with the  obligatory 5% starch filler comprised of red chief lentils cooked in pork fat & butter sweated onions, rosemary, dried chili and water rather than a bread and milk/cream panade.  Pork was ground not twice, but thrice (pushed through the grinder with the help of pages from Rhulman’s otherwise worthless charcuterie book) and puréed in the robot with the lentil panade and 20% iced water.  Piped into hog casings and simmered in seasoned water for 40 minutes or so.  Once chilled the things were removed from the casings and browned in pork fat and olive oil.  Served with green lentils cooked in water with smoked pork jowl and aromatics, carrots and diminutive onions.

Too many Snookies in the hot tub.

Potomac Shore Sausage Party: The stubby little things were a knock-out, though a bit on the heavy side, likely due to the paste-like properties of the lentil panade, but well tasting nonetheless.  Future trials might require augmenting the water and fat content slightly.  Texture was smooth, meat was properly seasoned and the boudin were moist.

Pâté Pantin. Tuesday, Jan 12 2010 

Pâté Pantin, special pot-luck edition.

Poûting for le caméra.

Not much in the way of luck so far in the first 3% of 2010; paltry paychecks, volumes of cat puke, flat bicycle tires…though sister did leave a nominal amount of top notch reefer. Weaning daylight hours, stifling solitude (except for the regularly regurgitating felines) and pedaling from basement home to basement work uphill fighting headwinds both ways is enough to supplement the defeatist audit of abandoned ambition, fleeting success and pipe dreams. The opportunity to fabricate pâté pantin 5.0, albeit for strangers, could not be passed up and provided a rare chance to hone the meat, starch and jelly charcuterie triptych since pâté for 1 condones gluttony rather than the merits of perfection by way of experiment through proper nourishment of guests.

Aerial view.

Forcemeat consisted of pork shoulder, pork belly and chicken breast marinated for a week in leftover Thanksgiving rum (Armagnac can not be spared), red wine (no Port in the home bar), olive oil, sage, rosemary and garlic. Chicken gizzards were cured with salt, pepper and #1 then confit in veal tallow. Pastry was a standard pâte a foncer with 50% fat butter/lard, egg, water and salt though mysteriously, despite attentive measurements the finished product erred to the side of salty like the tears of my ennuie.

Primer coat.

A farce à gratin was made from puréeing equal parts chicken livers and marinated meat for a total weight of 1/3rd of the forcemeat. 1/3 was ground and the remaining 1/3 was comprised of diced chicken, pork, fatback, gizzards, pistachios and dried cherries. Seasoning was a standard 1.5% salt, .25% #1 and spices in proportions relative to mood, whim and availability.

Jouney to the center of the crûst.

The pâté was assembled and decorated with the iconic Gallic emblem. Contrary to a pâté en croûte, the pâté pantin is freestanding and cooked without a mold. The thing was baked at high heat (450F) for 40 minutes until an internal temperature of 145F was achieved and left to cool. Once cooled, the remaining aspic from the Swedish Christmas ham was colored with red wine and poured into the pâté.

The excess forcemeat and dough was used to make 3 diminutive traditional pâtés en croûte. They were baked for 20 minutes and filled with aspic in the same manner.

3 little pigs tucked in savory submersibles.

Krusty the Loaf: Aesthetically both pâtés were a delight. Gustatorily the forcemeat was tasteful, properly seasoned, moist, well colored with a pleasant texture. The pastry however was slightly heavy on the salt. Structurally, there was room for improvement on the pantin version. The pastry was rolled out too thin and crumbled upon slicing. The pastry recipe is within the margin of success though it has been suggested than a token amount of vinegar might strengthen the dough and baking powder lighten it, both of which MobyP uses (Allan Brown recipe), though the ingredient list is reminiscent of biscuit preparation.

Slices of resourcefulness.

Julbord. Monday, Jan 4 2010 

Swedish Christmas table

Amish dough table, actually.

Inclement weather remnants, frantic holiday motorists, faulty zippers and not being able to remember a telephone number other than my own conspired to form a Mid-Atlantic maelstrom of some real F’ed-mas cheer.  Finding that my childhood 80 sq ft room’s dresser drawers were being used as a trash receptacle  for an unemployed 43 yr old hermit’s empty Kodiak dip cans, candy wrappers, loose change and food containers did little to liven the mood.  Even less after he threatened to place his fist in my old man’s face.  Some Nordic booze in ice provided a well deserved, albeit temporary analgesic distraction.

Linie Akvavit, chilling.  Up yours Martha Stewart.

Then saw an excellent movie about an emotionally vacant man, his accordingly suited job and his seminar schtick.  Such continuity in a story is what every menu should strive for. It left a remarkable  impression.  Anvil did the same in validating purpose and determination, albeit financially and professionally unsuccessful as is the case for most purist epicureans and craftsmen who do what they do for the self-rewarding passion.

7 Jews, 2 Swedish shiksa and the reclusive aforementioned temperamental groundhog descended upon a nicely set table on the Eve of Christmas day to feast on Sweden’s limited end of year bounty.  Swedish matron provided all the Swedish herring.  I provided the brined herring for the matjes which could have benefited from another fortnight’s worth of soaking to easy the stunningly salty brine.  Aunts Mimi, Bunny and Nan made the cookies.  91 year old Uncle Max brought the depraved teenage libido.

Hobo Jultomten.

Menu

Tre Sorters sill  – Three kinds of herring
Matjes sill  – Soused herring
Rökt lax – Smoked salmon
Sill salad -  Herring salad
Grav lax – Cured salmon
Jansons frestelse -  Janson’s temptation
Prins korv -   Prince sausage
Julskinka -  Christmas ham
Köttbullar -  Swedish meatballs
Rödkål -  Red cabbage
Rödbetor -  Pickled beets
Gurksallad -  Cumucber salad
Lingon  – Lingonberries
Ris a là Malta -  Rice porridge
Små kakor -   Small cookies

The 3 varieties of pickled herring were served in sauced of red wine vinegar, dill cream and mustard.  Matjes was another type of milder, smaller, immature herring and salt-brined rather than pickled.  The herring salad was assembled from mature herring in a very strong brine which were soaked in milk overnight in  a hasty attempt to degorge the salt.  It didn’t work too well as the dish was still considerably salty.  The grav lax was made at home, the smoked salmon was not.

Fish fit for Viking. Some by Abba (not the band).

Jansson’s Temptation is where it gets interesting, a less familiar dish but very representative of Nordic fare:  pickled sprats, potatoes, cream and onions.  The potatoes are cut into batons, smaller than the French Pont Neuf cut and randomly strew about a buttered baking dish with a layer of sprats and thinly sliced onion rings in the middle, covered with cream and finished with a top layer of onions cut in the same fashion.  It is essentially a gratin Dauphinois, augmented with the onions and sprats.  The sprats permeate the cream and give the otherwise rich and 2 dimensional dish notes of acidity and pleasant salty fishiness.  The Frenchified Thanksgiving version consisted of thinly sliced potatoes with a middle layer of caramelized onions deglazed with water and a lemon juice, thyme, dried chili and anchovies, then covered with nutmeg infused cream.

Anchovies erroneously found their way into international versions since sprats are called ansjovis by Swedes, whereas anchovies fall under the sardeller appellation.

The three folkloric Norse origins of Jansson’s Temptation’s legend are inconclusive and subject to very little debate by neither mythological conspiracy enthusiasts nor epicurean historians.

Some suspect the namesake of the dish to be Per Adolf “Pelle” Janzon, a gluttonous 19th century opera singer whose troubadour regimen allegedly consisted of beer, schnapps and the dish which won him marginal posthumous celebrity on the 40th anniversary of his expiration date.

Gunnar Stigmark, author of the Gastronomisk Kalender hopelessly attributes the dish to the eponymous 1928 Swedish silent-movie box-office flop starring Edvin Adolphson.

Hippie publishers of the 1967 American Heritage Cookbook believed that Erik Jansson, the really pious Swedish religious reformer who founded Bishop Hill, Ill in 1846 (2000 census pop. 125) was spied eating a decadent dish of anchovies and potatoes bound with rich, creamery butter and farm fresh milk. Janssonist zealots considered Jansson to be the second coming of Christ and cursed the dish as Jansson’s Temptation. He was murdered in 1850.

Blonde and blue dyed Nobel prize piece.

Yours truly brought the cooked ham from DC to Long Island where it was decorated.  The shank end of the picnic ham (minus the butt) was injected and brined for 5 days in a 5%/2.5% salt/turbinado sugar solution with #1, cinnamon, clove, allspice, rosemary, gumdrops, orange zest, garlic and chili after which it was left to dry and develop a pellicule.

The ham was then smoked in the faulty file-cabinet smoker which due to its placement in an alcove outside the back door manages to efficiently smoke the apartment when the door opens.  Hickory chips were burned on the electric hot plate at the bottom of the file-cabinet and the ham placed on a rack in what would be the second drawer whose base had been removed.  Once sufficient smokage was attained, the ham was cooked in seasoned “smiling” water for an internal temperature of 150F.  The resulting liquid was traditionally clarified  with egg whites,  gelled with additional gelatin and colored upon arrival at the holiday destination.

Few, if any foods are blue in nature and food coloring sleight of hand was required.  Turmeric provided the yellow…and was boosted with some yellow from the food-coloring 4-pack for good measure.  A cross mold was cut into cardboard, lined with plastic wrap and filled with the yellow aspic.  The blue aspic was poured into a dish and cut to fit the flag design.  A clear coat of aspic was poured where the skin was removed and the flag elements were “glued” to the ham.  More clear aspic was applied to seal the pieces.  Romanesco, yellow and purple cauliflower were pickled (the purple separately) in 24% ättiksprit (Swedish vinegar) with carrots, carawy, lemon zest and chili.

An assortment of home made cookies and strong coffee trumpeted the finale.  The host chef got the almond in the porridge and modestly won the prize, which she instinctively shared with everyone.

Små kakor taste better than it reads.

Christ is Björn: Though Christmas is fundamentally a Christian holiday and I bear a Semitic surname, it has always been a secular feast day to enjoy with the Protestant French and something Swedish maternal sides of the family.  Oysters, shrimp, pork and many other not kosher items have graced the 10 Swedish versions which have all been attended by a Jewy majority with a supermarket style choice of faith.  The herring were all bought canned from Sweden with the exception of the heavily brined herring which I brought up as well and not much can be said for their taste other than the consistency with last years.  Grav lax was a little wet and could have been cured differently, but it was not my event.  The Nordic breads were immensely satisfying, particularly the dense home made multigrain loaf rägbröd.  The harder circular rye flatbread knäckebröd is a sturdy instrument for herding food items onto a fork and an important nod to the Viking heritage.

The ham was very well prepared and pleased all palates.  The aspic was a kitschy delight for the Swedes and Heb’s alike.  The generous holiday buffet was a delicious representation of  fundamental Nordic ingredients, traditional preparations and humble compositions.    Tack så mycket, or tak for mad as the beloved Danish ladies would garble.

Holiday bush with Nordic trim.


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