Boucherie d’agneau, édition spéciale épaule en melon. Monday, Jul 25 2011 

Lamb butchery, special “melon style” shoulder edition.

Fatback fever.

Prequel to the savory anniversary spread and deliciously nostalgic slideshow: the shoulder from a Pennsylvania raised (Halal slaughtered) lamb prepared in the French “melon style”.  The melon nickname  is earned through the trussing that suggests the fruit’s segmented cleavage, though the farm stand shape is more easily recognized as a pumpkin; denser Stateside dipshit cousin within the melon’s extended Cucurbitaceae family and reminiscent of dim witted, greedy rank & file GOP gourd-shaped heads.

A square meal deal.

The shoulder was received square cut, having its fore shank removed above the elbow.  The scapula and its surrounding cuts (teres major, flatiron) were separated from the ribcage, the scapula bone removed and the remaining meat (beef equivalent of the chuck roll) formed into a ball with excess (generally the deboned shank) tucked under and into the center of the ball,  à la Buffalo Bill.   Scraps were ground with orange zest, garlic and rosemary for breakfast lamb sausage.

Sheeping Beauty's bed was never so comfortable.

The resulting roast was dressed in a girdle made from thin strips of lard, in this case a slab of fatback that had been whittled to length with alternating butterfly cuts so as to yield a long ribbon.  A decorative topside braid kept the product moist and assured –at first glance- that it had been well cared for.

Slamb dunk.

The “melon” rested on a coarsely cut aromatic bedding of mirepoix, herbs, sliced lemon and was gently roasted in a 300ºF oven with frequent basting sessions until cooked to a happy medium, then left to rest at ambient room temperature for the better part of an hour.  Cut free from its fatty corset, the roast was divvied up much like a meaty tomato and enjoyed with fine condiments, friendly camaraderie and frosty suds.  One of the finer roasts of the spring.

Édition Spéciale Marché Gris: Viandes et Provisions Vaut la Peine. Monday, Jul 18 2011 

Special Grey Market Vendor Edition:

Worthwhile Meats & Provisions

Worth mine and your while.

Under the storefront nom de plume of Worthwhile Meats & Provisions, wares within this repertoire were placed for sale at the 3rd DC Grey Market in an effort to showcase the confident breadth of basement kitchen derring-do as well as gauge public demand and tastes.  Products were smoked wild king and sockeye salmon (18 ounces of each), boudin  blanc d’Avranches (24 links), leafy greens sausage (36 links), pâté en croûte (48 ounce pâté) and cauliflower agnolotti (150 pieces).  Epicurean bric-a-brac was not for sale, though complimentary tomatoes and pickles were well received along with the products.

You should see my lemonade stand.

All were sold within 3 hours with the help of a lovely assistant’s handsome signage and personable hawking talent; an indispensable asset to any would be vendor. Sales covered all shopping costs and fees, leaving just less than $40 to compensate 2 weeks worth of late night work.  Portion sizes were respectable (3, 4, 10 and 15 ounces for salmon, pâté, boudin and sausage) and modestly priced at $3, $4, $7, $7 respectively as well as $1 an ounce for the agnolotti which helped to ensure that the items would not be prohibitively expensive.

The better kind of “sell out”.

The Grey Market provided an excellent opportunity and barometer of sorts for budding entrepreneurs to test the viability of they hobbies, passions, visions, etc…despite the somewhat remote location, awkward  placement of vendor tents and little to no advertising (contrary to the 1st and 2nd markets) –the last 2 liabilities resting squarely on the frumpy, strung-out shoulders of the untrustworthy promoter whose aggrandizing self titled culinary rank (the hallmark of kitchen insecurity) was hopelessly dubious and confirmed by the tasteless choice of chili pepper motif shorts.  Exhaustive intertron research has failed to produce any real meat & potatoes credentials relating to the alleged 2 decades of success, much less any evidence of culinary bona fides.

WorthWhile Meats & Provisions can be reached at worthwhilemeats@gmail.com

ETA:  The Washington Post food editor deemed my wares and ambitions worthy of front page ink.  Still, there remain skeptics whose pretzel logic concerning food safety illuminates the hopeless depths of their ignorance with respect to food safety and the effects of inspections/regulations.  For those, consider the FDA recall list from FDA-regulated products.  Then consider how many home kitchens are inspected and whether such cynics have ever been sickened from eating a meal prepared from an unlicensed kitchen in the form of breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch, dinner party, birthday party, Thanksgiving, Christmas, bbq, picnic, etc…and whether or not they were concerned about food borne illnesses.  The paranoid fantasy is hyperbolic and unfounded.  It suggests that a price tag is enough to contaminate.

While my personal home kitchen is not officially licensed, it is sanitary, empty for 12-16 hours a day and does not have more than 2 hands or feet in it at any time.  15 years culinary experience, a formality food handler’s license, common sense and the desire to replicate a savory, worthwhile product trumps the hallow assurance that industrial facilities or restaurants are guaranteed to prevent illness by virtue of  occasional health inspections, biannual at best for latter that do not immediately require changes for 100% compliance with food safety codes.


Pâté en croûte d’anniversaire; Édition spéciale jour de naissance Tuesday, Jul 12 2011 

Anniversary pâté en croûte;  Special birthday edition.

When this bun came out of the oven.

Happy birthday to me.  No real surprises in this production.  Another exercise in a series of fabrications benefiting the fabrication of a legitimate pâté en croûte which is structurally, texturally, tastefully and aesthetically sound. Measurements in the pastry have been slightly altered (60/40 butter/lard) and recorded as have the forcemeat participants to ensure a consistent fill without excessive surplus.  Forcemeat components were raw cured shoulder, pistachios, fatback, currants and tongue.  Future filling tests will have the raw shoulder replaced with cooked ham.  Pork and chicken livers marinated in brandy and port along with aromatics bound all the stuff together after being partially frozen, ground twice (meat and fat separately so that the fat doesn’t smear or melt) and puréed –but not too long as an extended stay in the whirly blades incorporates too much air and lightens the color.

Forcemeat genesis.

Stenciling the date into the pastry lid involved several delicate dances of draftsmanship before an efficient routine could produce crisp, evenly spaced numbers.  A proper cutting instrument was essential for the surgical incisions as was the temperature of the doughy patient.  Warm dough is virtually impossible to cut with any precision.

Save the date and incise it.

For some reason the forcemeat did not shrink much and left little to no gap between the lid for the aspic.  No birthday shrinkage.  How about that?  Needless to say, what little  aspic made it through the numerical chimneys was sturdy and flavorful as far as savory port flavored Jell-O goes.  Pastry was enjoyable and similar to past episodes though it eventually softens and is not as crisp as the purported hot water crust meat pies from theUK.  Hot water pastry needs to be worked before it cools but is alleged to yield a firm crust (insert that’s what ___ said).  Prototypes will be experimented with shortly, perhaps in a less sophomoric manner.  And a special kudos to the dearest sister for the trademark slideshow.

Another C-section, 37 years later.

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