Le Grand Non-Gagnant de Cochon. Monday, Apr 22 2013 


The Grand Non-Winner

Cochon 555 Washington, DC 2013

This little piggy went straight to the bar afterwards.

This little piggy went straight to the bar afterwards.

Behind a fawned over figurehead’s formidable speech (Theodore Roosevelt notwithstanding),  is generally an obscured speechwriter worthy of a couple kudos, snap-shots, blogs, high-fives and twatters.  I am such a wordsmith with an equally subjective, savory craft who doesn’t always receive the credit they work hard to earn.

After all but begging my employer to get me to participate in the DC Cochon 555 edition since my requests to be considered as a candidate were routinely ignored, I had 5 weeks to develop a menu and after delivery of a decent Large Black hog from Leaping Water’s farm, 6 days to execute.  With the exception of a few fabrications and tasks that were delegated to colleagues, I made 96.83% of all the food; butchering the hog, brining the hams & bellu, making the aspic, the rillettes, the cheese sausage, the loin, the pâté en croûte, the pickles, the liver terrine, the pojarski, the breading, the gribiche and even cut the booties for the Pojarski.

Ham jam 2013.

Ham jam 2013.

As dictated by the contest rules, I would be judged based on usage of the entire animal, flavor, creativity, affability, star appeal and apparently marketing.  In hindsight, the menu should have mentioned the parts used, which have now been added in parentheses. The quality of the animal was not remarkable and any enthusiasm was quickly snuffed out by the presence of a few blood splashes in the shoulder caps, a symptom of careless slaughter and not being bled quickly enough.  Nonetheless, it was a decent hog.

Cochon 555, DC 2013

Range

Prosciutto Cotto (hams) & Mortadella (top sirloin, fatback)

Asparagus in blood aspic  (bones, feet, skin, blood)

and chicories in a smoked ham-hock vinaigrette. (shanks)

-∞∞∞-

Leverpostej.

Danish-style liver terrine wrapped in cured belly. (liver, trimmings, belly)

Salted and cured anchovies, a couple of marinated capers.

-∞∞∞-

Pâté en Croûte 

It’s heart, tongue, kidneys, fatback, pistachios and a few figs. (lard, trimmings, offal)

Some pickled rhubarb and mushrooms.

-∞∞∞-

Pork Belly Pojarski

Breaded and fried.  (belly, trimmings)

Ramp gribiche

-∞∞∞-

L’Astet

Loins roasted with spring garlic. (loin, tenderloin)

Warm confit potatoes and rillettes (jowl, belly)

-∞∞∞-

Saucisson en Brioche

Clothbound cheddar sausage baked in a leaf lard brioche. (trimmings, lard)

And cracklin’ whipped lard.

Hams (and shoulder caps) were given a heavy brine, tied and simmered.  Mortadella was stuffed into smaller beef middles so as to be more manageable to cut and serve.  Shanks were brined, smoked and simmered with tomato juice after which my sponsor assembled a vinaigrette with the diced meat, gelatin enriched tomato juice, pickled mustard seeds, olive oil and banyuls vinegar.  Stock was made from the feet, skin and bones then clarified with blood and egg whites.  The blood doesn’t impart so much of a flavor as it does an amber color, which didn’t necessarily produce a credible sanguine color until it was supplemented with clarified beet juice.  The asparagus was manicured and gently blanched, then tediously dipped like a candle in the aspic.

Me cook pretty one day.

Me cook pretty one day.

Danish style liver terrine was comprised of liver, belly, milk, eggs, salted anchovies, salt tears, madeira, lemon zest, picked thyme and a purée of onions cooked in lard.  The terrine was wrapped in slices of brined and poached belly.  I should have dry-cured the belly as the wet cure yielded flabby slices that were difficult to work with.  This was a very good terrine (a pressed pâté) with a proper balance of liver and meat and the lightest touch of anchovy, which could have been more pronounced.  The slice was adequately garnished with marinated salted capers and pickled white anchovies.

For the pâté en croute, lard represented the fat content of the dough, malt syrup supplemented the mixture for added strength and color and the corn starch was entirely eliminated so as not to compromise the amount of protein in the dough –so as to eliminate breakage.  Tongue, gizzard and heart were brined & cooked; premium trimmings marinated with Armagnac, lemon zest and thyme, figs plumped in booze and a delicate inlay of pistachio assembled with the addition of chlorophyll, egg whites and a nominal amount of trimmings.  The hinging properties of the mold were properly used to apply a decorative pig emblem and after learning a thing or 2 at the Pâté Croûte World Championship, the pâté was built upside down to ensure a clean top and eliminate fissures.   This was a very good pâté, and with absolute humility, better than any other there.

Good enough for government work, but not the judges.

Good enough for government work, but not the judges.

Pojarski’s were diminutive, fancy mock-cutlets fashioned from trimmings of raw shoulder, cured belly, onions cooked in lard, spices, toasted bread crumbs and cream.  Twice breaded and gussied-up with a paper bootie.  Gribiche made with barely boiled eggs became seasonal with a surplus of ramps; the bottoms sweated in olive oil, the top blanched & chopped, along with gherkins, mustards, lemon and whatnot.  They were fried to a golden George Hamilton  and down right delicious.

The loins and tenderloins were brined (without #1 curing salt) in a 5% brine flavored with rosemary and fennel seed. I do not remember any of the other contestants using the loin, surprisingly.  L’Astet is a regional pork dish from l’Aveyron that involves a trussed loin and garlic.  In this case, the tenderloin was cut in half lengthwise and threaded through the center of each quarter loin.  The loin(s) were expertly trussed, nice & tight, and left to marinate in olive oil with spring garlic.  It was later cooked to 145F internally, roasted fat-side down and sliced for the contest.  It was completed with one of the best batches of rillettes I have ever made –jowl, belly, 4 spice and meyer lemon.  Yukon gold potatoes were punched out, blanched and finished in rendered fat with mustard seeds.

A variant of saucisson à l’ail (garlic sausage) had clothbound cheddar replace the garlic and after a quick steam in the combi oven was wrapped in lard-based brioche dough and baked.  The prototype came out much better.  Inexplicably, these ones had a significant gap between the sausage and the dough which we had not experienced when using the garlic sausage.  It was a worthwhile sausage, though the binding properties of garlic make for a better, firm texture than cheese.

Complimentary smoked fat-back truffles with Bavarian pretzel crust were offered courtesy of our pastry chef and a testament to the amount of rendered lard that we used.  We had a modest amount of food left over after the liquor drenched event and with the exception of a pound or 2 of fatback, used up the entirety of the animal. 2 of the more reputable judges validated my efforts with firm handshakes and solidly honest compliments, but their votes were diluted by the great unwashed whose palates and eyes were fooled by pedestrian fare and stickers.  Congratulations and thanks to the teams from Proof, Vidalia and Birch & Barley for providing creative and satisfying fare under such considerable time constraints, particularly to those that did the work.  If there is a next time, I’ll develop a winning recipe for making T-shirts. Tremendous thanks to Richie Havens too, even if your career really took off before I was born.

Mes salaisons Wednesday, Feb 27 2013 

My salted wares

How dry I am.

How dry I am.

Rather successful  bovine dry curing.  Viande de Grisson, bresaola and saucisson sec.  Randall-Lineback eye of round for the VdG was cured in 2 stages (half the salt cure for 3 days, the other half for 3 more days), wiped clean of the cure mix, rolled in herbs (thyme, rosemary, oregano,  and marjoram) wrapped in cheesecloth and hung in a refrigerated room –no need to ferment the whole muscle, just to dry it. Very nice color, sweet taste, but I don’t know how much the herbs contributed to the flavor.  Kind of musty actually. It eventually developed a bloom after 3 weeks and when it had sufficiently dried to my liking, I pressed it (to achieve the traditional pressed shape) between wooden boards weighed down with cans of tomatoes, though any canned good with equal weight would have worked just as well I suppose.  A friend of mine once pilfered in my pack a can or roasted red peppers from Buca di Beppo, whose “Pope Room” is the gold standard for Italian dining with your delinquent friends, and there is a crappy nudie bar next door  (gnudi bar, by the way, would be a very good idea for a gnudi menu themed room).  I was pleased as punch by the plucked can, though upon shaking it, it seemed like there was quite a bit of water in there.  That sloshy sound was consistent with the contents –dihydrogen monoxide.  What was most amazing, was that the cans were authentically labeled, painted on, nutritional info, imported, importer address, contents, ingredients…  A very convincing 5lb can of roasted red peppers that would fit in on any Costco shelf. Who makes such a mock product?  And what will become of the Pope busts that bless the Pope Room tables?

A square meal.

A square meal.

The bresaola was fabricated from an Angus eye of round, cured in the same manner as the VdG, put in a beef bung casing, brushed with vinegar and left to dry in the same refrigerated room.  After a week, the bresaola began to develop a healthy white bloom and 3 weeks later was completely encased in the cherished bloom which other manufacturers artificially replicate with rice flour. Very nice color and sweet beefy flavor.  Far better than the desiccated beef often passed off as the real McCoy.

Saucisson sec was more of a challenge. Lean Randall-Lineback eye-of-round was used in lieu of pork, primarily because of the abundance of the former, and pork back fat supplemented the fat.  No starter culture.  Standard procedure was applied and the pieces were incubated in a plastic tub for 72 hours.  The refrigerator conditions were not ideal for the proper curing (too cold, not enough humidity) and the ph of the meat may not have been sufficient. While the flavor was enjoyable, particularly the lucknow fennel seed, the sausage itself was a bit softer than desired in the middle, though the face of the slice was encouraging –no air pockets or festering inside, but the fat distribution left much to be desired.

Bloom County.

Bloom County.

Randall-Lineback secca (the French variety of bresaola) was successful and absolutely delicious.  Cured in the same manner as the Viande de Grisson and bresaola.  Stuffed in a beef middle.  Top notch bloom.  I could have snow angels in that bloom if I was smaller.

Championnat du Monde de Pâté Croûte 2012 Tuesday, Jan 8 2013 

2012 World Pâté Croûte Championship:

Special Chump Edition.

World Champ.  Slices of life on the farm

World Champ. Slices of life on the farm

Here is a close approximation of my performance at the 2012 World Pâté Croûte Championship. I was exposed to dizzying level of professionalism and experience and feel that I fell short. Having to bring my wares from so far away put me at a considerable disadvantage, perhaps more so without the ooh-la-la garnishes & flair (though presentation accounted for few of the 200 total points) and I picked #12 at random, placing me last in the tasting, at which point the judges may have had their fill of 23,000 calorie forcemeats. Judges included Regis Marcon (Le Clos de Cimes ***), 2011 winner Eric Desbordes (Le Bristol ***) and numerous MOF’s. My mistakes were significant, but at least my slices stayed together –another contestant’s aspic was too loose and the pastry collapsed when cut. First and foremost, my pastry (80 points) did not achieve enough color, likely a result of baking 3 at once, thereupon lowering the temperature of the oven. Had I cooked it longer at that temp, I would have risked overcooking the forcemeat. I did not have a consistent gap for the aspic either.

Color me humbled.  Bravo Yohan (insert applause emoticon).

Color me humbled. Bravo Yohan (insert applause emoticon).

Upon speaking with Patrick Henriroux (La Pyramide **, MOF) he said that the judges prefer a chunkier forcemeat, and that I should have kept the gizzards whole. Keeping pace with the gin flavors I finished the slice with fleur de sel mixed with lime zest and ground juniper berries. M. Henriroux explained that juniper is not a flavor that the judges crave. Pickled cauliflower lightly dressed with an orange zest & confit fat soffrito didn’t compare to some of the Bocuse d’Or inspired garnishes put forth by other competitors, but wasn’t worth many points anyway. Lastly, I should have pulled the pâté out of the fridge earlier so that it would have been served at room temperature which otherwise mutes the flavors. Now I know better and being exposed to such work has been invaluable.

My piddling pâté, in all its underbaked splendor.

My piddling pâté, in all its underbaked splendor.

This is the high water mark of cookery; the confluence of discipline, theory, practice, technique, artistry and finesse. It is an absolute honor and pleasure to have been selected. Any and every cook should aspire to have the substance of their work judged blindly in such a format that transcends the stylistic pandering to photogenic tattoos and irritable congeniality. The gentleman whose work I witnessed and tasted are legitimate craftsmen*.

I represented, at the very least, be it ever so crooked.

I represented, at the very least, be it ever so crooked.

Yohan’s pâté had been in the works for almost a year and was stunning, though I thought the liver flavor was a bit strong. The theme was “the farm” and included something from every farm animal. The black dough fabrication & application of the lettering was clever and the detailed flower inlay nicely centered. Virtually all the forcemeats were chunky to the point where they fell apart after cutting the slice (mine had a firm yet moist texture) and more than half featured exceptional quality foie gras, not the excessive 2 ½ lb+ David Crosby sized lobes generated here which loose too much fat. Very rich and significant amount of care went into layering and inlays. One criticism from the judges is that they fear the aesthetics may begin to trump the flavor. Other inlays included especially savory ballotines, intricate designs and even whole cèpes with an intensely mushroom flavored aspic. All other pastries were cooked closer to perfection than I have ever seen and nothing short of delicious. An absolutely remarkable event with plenty of Mumm bubbles and M. Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage Les Meysonniers to wash it all down. We plated in 10 minute intervals and I was not able to see the first 8 pâtés plated.  I got pretty juiced on complimentary wine afterwards.

1% meatloaf sampler.

1% meatloaf sampler.

*The romantic suggestion that cooking at this level is art is nonsense. I do not know of any artist that must consistently replicate such a varied standard of work on a daily, weekly, monthly basis (we each had to bring 3 identical pâtés). These cooks are in the rare league of polished tradesmen like woodworkers whose creative artistry is seen through clean dovetails and moldings. Artists make one-offs. Craftsmen don’t.

Bocuse d'Or is next month, sir.

Bocuse d’Or is next month, sir.

Pâté en Croûte: Distraction Spéciale «Merde Sandy, Il Pleut». Monday, Oct 29 2012 

Pâté en Croûte:

Special “Crap Sandy, its Raining” Distraction.

Ivy League Edition: Beats Harvard and Yale. Both flooded.

With the absolutely crippling, thrilling, paranoid fantasy of a shotgun full of delusional diluvial rain pointed at what seems like the crotch (the good kind of crotch) of North East America, take the time to call up your local utility provider and courteously thank them for the thankless services they provide  before rabidly barking at them 72 hours from now when you have to suffer the inevitable consequences of weather and the fallibility of electricity when you are not able to sustain your sedentary lifestyle with less than 3,800 calories of raw fruit.

It might float your boat.

This silly culture of irrational fear is remarkable.   It has been suggested by the media, home improvement store magnates and toilet paper manufacturers that such coincidental weather patterns are more likely brought on by the really very real threat of Al Qaeda, gays marrying homosexual pets or iced cream, a second socialist term of a totally radical left-handed Muslim president and running out of milk.  A scholarly professor-type in the family posits that America’s atavistic pilgrimage to the milk aisle before hyperbolic warnings of fire, rain and brimstone is a terrifying emotional regression to an infant state nurtured by mother’s milk.  An erudite cynic at the local tavern professes that toilet paper consumption during fo-rizzle rapture-inducing drizzle can be attributed to giardia brought on by desperately drinking tainted river water.

The Arc that I baked.

But rather than curse your flooding basement, here’s a metaphorical lifeboat, or, if you still have electricity, a worthwhile distraction since this thing will sink like a 3rd world ferryboat.

Sturdy hull.

This “inadvertent argyle peppercorn-nipple edition” is hardly waterproof, is not sea-worthy and will not power a flashlight or lightsaber, but doesn’t need any appliances or utilities to cook.

Rivet(ed)ing.

Baking Bad.

Chunky ration.

Andouilles et Andouillettes chez Gilles Verot: Édition Spéciale « ouf, ça fouette! » Tuesday, Nov 1 2011 

Andouilles and Andouillettes at Gilles Verot: 

Special “wow, that stinks” edition.

Very special hotdogs.

 The confluence of stubborn tradition, soulful ambition, and epicurean pride centers on inimitable Paris, France,   and hard sought apprenticeships for further exposure to the uncompromising practice and theory of traditional European meat trades at decorated master charcutier  Gilles Verot and celebrated artisan butcher  Hugo Desnoyer.

A city which transcends all others.

For 3 weeks in September, on the cusp of fall in enchanting Paris, I had the exceptional opportunity and pleasure of being taken in by the staff at Gilles Verot’s production shop on rue Lecourbe in the 14th arrondissement.  While the sheer quantities of raw product exceeded my expectations (1800 lbs of hams, jowls, fat, shanks, blood and loins received on a Tuesday), the fabrications remained deceptively simple.  Not easy, but not contrived or needlessly manipulated either.  Streamlined –though laborious- steps that ensured a high rate of production and unwavering consistency with minimal processing of Spartan parts.

Meet the meat.

Not too many mystical fabrications match the genuinely unpleasant appeal (more in terms of robust odor, as with certain cheeses, than flavor) of artisinal products lingering in France’s dusty recesses of charcuterie and its olfactorily offensive offal fraternity:  andouilles, and their sisterly andouillettes -a charred tubesteak eaten 4 years ago- composed of innards which carry body badness outwards offering a texture and whiff of organic balloon ends last inflated by the dying breaths of death deities who subsisted on Maroilles and Vieux-Boulogne cheese hot pockets.  In the annals of comestible western civilization, many coprophagous analogies have been made.  I have come closer to those than most (except puppies and sürstromming consumers). I would gladly regale my own grandchildren with tales of ancestral courage if my proliferation were not sanctioned by the damned prophylactic tongue-wilting barnyard sausage which even copious mouthfuls of strong mustard could not assuage.

Andouilles. Now with 10% more real assholes!

The business end of a 150lb batch of “andouillettes à la ficelle” still evokes the collective backsides of Animal Planet and its musky attributes range from removing pleats and wrinkles out of trousers to perm straightening sex panther cologne.  These andouillettes are in the style of Troyes, but not named as such since the Code of Charcuterie Usage mandates, like other appellations, that the product must conform to geographical provenance and ingredients*.  Ficelle corresponds to the string that is used to pull the filling through the casing.  The French homonym of andouille is “imbecile”,  though the term is said to be derived from the Latin inductile which means “to introduce into or insert”

bucket list #74 Clean buckets of pork middles.

Large intestines from pigs are soaked in warm water to remove their packaging salt, stretched flat, cut lengthwise and left to soak in a white wine vinegar and water mixture to neutralize some of the god-awful smell.  Pork stomachs are poached  -resembling fleshy WWII era aviator caps once cooked, though far more tender- and sliced into strips.  Pork deckles are cut into equally sized strips.  The middles are blanched until they reach a peyote shape and once cooled are mixed with salt, spices and enough Dijon mustard to sooth the sinuses of 4 college football teams their drug dealers and respective marching bands.

Whiskey bottles and pork middles…Ooh-Ooh that smell.

Aside from stifling heavy handed aperitifs the night before, such simple  tubesteaks -though lengthy, arcane and very stinky- are a sobering Fernsehturm palast der republik-ish  monument to austere, resourceful, natural ingredients, which, along with blood sausage (blood, fat, onions, casings and occasionally cereal grains -a delectable Estonian version has barley) are surprisingly refreshing considering the abusive levels at which American foods are so highly processed and filled with a different, lab derived, kind of (s)crap, though distributed to more traditional –even pioneering- palates.

P-pp-pull it. Pull it real good.

A revised verdict includes andouilles de Vire (brined belly, cooked stomach, poached intestines and ground pork stuffed into a beef bung, smoked then poached) and Guémené (butterflied intestines, poached then rolled in concentric rings, often with a cured belly center) to be acceptable, both of which can be chewed on cold or hot, though neither repast merits  walking  any amount of miles in flip-flops to savour. The Troyes variety however  remains confined to a personal bastion where it can do no harm.

At last, a bag for the gastroenterologist who has everything.

The true merit of a charcutier’s skill might be measured by the noble, forgotten dirty work.  Few fabrications involve such minimally processed, austere raw ingredients.  Pork middles, pork stomachs, salt, mustard and spices.  Simmered, cooled, cut, seasoned, stuffed, cooked again and kept in fat or its own gelatin.  And yet, the final product is a hard pill to swallow, though an appreciation for the humdrum otherwise discarded ingredients in endearing, almost bearable with enough mustard and nasal congestion.

Like the rings on a tree, only they measure how many years your hands will smell.

A close relative, Andouille Guemené from Brittany is like scoring an emerald Jujubee in the dark at the movies after a handful of ebony ones.  Not quite a fruit cocktail, but at least a palatable flavor reminiscent of toothpaste.  Guemené is like a belly section of the pig built like a Combos, but not really snack worthy.  A crowd pleasing center of pork belly wrapped in concentric rings of pork middles.  Cooked, wrapped in some sort of wax and can be enjoyed cold, like revenge.  Or, heated up in rows along side coins of blood sausage slivers and braised pork belly on savoury pastry:  a calorie-rich slice of pizza at the rugby equivalent of the SuperBowl.

The definitive American contribution to sausage ingenuity.

At the very least, particularly for the sensorially vacant veterans who indifferently jiggle the goods bareback, fabricating andouilles ensures ample personal space on public transportation and a wide “stinking drunk” buffer zone at the bar. Still, it remains a time honored monument to resourcefulness,  patience, practice, dedication,  discipline and pursuit in making gilded purses from intestinal burlap.

*pig insides have been used exclusively since veal tripe were forbidden in 2000 after the crazy cow case, thereupon halting the production of Andouillette de Cambrai.  Since 2008 however, new regulations lifted the ban.

Timbale de poussin aux saveurs de fin d’été Sunday, Nov 14 2010 

Cornish hen timbale with end of 1928’s summer flavors

It came way before the Cadbury egg.  And was fed corn.

Old timey variety of whimsical cooked charcuterie from the brittle, forgotten French food files of zephyrs (haute vegetable custard consommé garnish), cromesquis  and such.  The timbale, a cylindrical metal mold in which preparations are cooked or shaped, named after what percussion enthusiasts will know as the kettle drum it so closely resembles.

Don’t hate, marinate.

Originally, the molds were lined with shortcrust pastry, blind baked, filled with whatever satisfied the executor’s palate, topped with a deftly decorated lid and generally sufficed to please a dozen discriminating eyes while sustaining their half dozen preferably sophisticated gullets. Tangental representations ditched the pastry jackets for more blubbery, almost parka-like qualities of meat & fat insulation made fashionable by migratory cetaceans and other portly creatures predisposed to letting themselves go girth-wise for the sake of polar extremity wanderings.  Plant-custard based encasements exist as well and make a compelling case for the paradox of fat vegetarians.

Sample, in a jar.

This particularly involved fabrication, a savory allegory to any stuffed doughnut application matrix or fancy chocolate type confection demanded a smooth protein based forcemeat which would slovenly encase an unctuous liquid filling.  Traditional metal timable molds that were not readily available. Diminutive glass canning jars from a “Hoarder’s”  flavored, compulsive, personal collection were used in their  stead.  The delicate operation took place in the waning days of summer (in a basement) when garden tomatoes and sweet market corn were plentiful staples of the season.  The forcemeat housing was comprised of cornish game hen meat, marinated in corn derived bourbon, rosemary, dried glue, dandruff and garlic. Leg bones and carcass were roasted then supplemented with chicken stock and aromatics to build a fortified jus into which blanched corn and diced tomato were incorporated to produce a moderately lusty, sweet ragout with whispers of acidity and perhaps coquetries of rosemary if one isn’t so sensorially prude to such confident herbal fragrance.

Two more Boleyn sisters.

B-bbreast meat was ground thrice and puréed in the food processor with an egg,  bread panade (to prevent shrinkage) in the proportion of 5% by the weight, then seasoned with salt, black pepper and juniper.  The resulting forcemeat was lined into mason jars with use of a right handed teaspoon, an ambidextrous tablespoon’s worth of filling placed in the cavity and remaining forcemeat spread on top like a lid.  Raw timbales were left to firm up a bit in the fridge while a liquor deficit was replenished at “Lapland’s” Nordic themed nudie bar.

Duchampian chicken breasts.

Vessels were slipped into an unseasoned water bath (the reasoning being that too much salt would cause the timbales to float, an observation from having bobbed in the Dead Sea) and baked for 20 or so magic minutes.  Cooked timbales removed themselves from the jars easily, though one of the specimens sprung a modest leak.  When cut into, a luscious filling of sweet corn, tomato and roasted, concentrated poultry juices dribbled along the plate.

Do you love anyone enough to give them your last savory Rolo?

Verdict room door is ajar: Flavors of the ragout were practically impeccable.  A supplement of properly minced shallots cooked in white wine would have been especially tolerable.  Forcemeat texture was acceptable for a pioneering endeavor, though a higher fat content (pork fat or foie gras) could make a moister, lighter cooked product, what with poultry being so lean.  Pastry version will be next, followed by a report on the heat tolerance of mason jars.

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.

The Best of the Wurst. Sunday, Dec 13 2009 

The Great Extrusion.

3 efficiently calculated varieties of tübesteak inspired from the 600 or so Germanic forms of extrüded meat for the send off the dearest sibling ever  to the Bundesrepublik Deutschland’s capital after 8 years in this one.  Many of the 20th Century’s most sinister Aryans’ wieners were smoked, (on and off the battlefield) though Kitsch und Klassics’  smoking hardware is severely  crippled; a modified file cabinet (the Germans coincidentally kept very good files) which erroneously filled the basement apartment with more noxious hickory gas than it did onto the meats to be flavored.  Consequently, a triptych of non-smoked finger-shaped finger food was conjured, the specific proportions of which will remain appropriately Top Secret:

Clockenwise von der top swine: Bierschinken, Nürnbergen rostbratwurst, Fingürlicken rindswurst.

Bierschinken: a breathtakingly large emulsified cooked pork sausage served cold not unlike mortadella or cervelas with chunks of pork and pistachios in it.  Ground twice, seasoned with salt, #1, paprika and puréed with onions cooked in lard.  Should have added more raw pork chunks but forgot to put enough aside.  Poached for 3 hours until an internal temperature of 150F was reached.  Awesome on its own.  The additional dab of whole grain mustard made it more awesome with mustard.

Fingürlicken rindswurst: a plump emulsified beef sausage not unlike the venerable Frankfurter, poached then grilled.  Twice ground rib-eye (erroneously sold as chuck at the neighborhood bodega) and chuck blade were puréed with cooked onions and caraway.  The idea to include a coloring agent of tomato paste and paprika diluted in ice water to preserve the reddish beef flavor was shamefully forgotten.  Despite the use of sodium nitrite (in all 3 varieties), the color was closer to brown than a reddish ochre. The sausages were poached then grilled.  The casings were crisp and after a characteristic “snap” yielded a tender, moist, beefy texture with a hint of caraway that supplemented by repollo curtido (Salvadoran pickled cabbage)  almost conjured the elements of a Ruebenesque hotdog by way of Central America, save for the cheese.  The next aisle over from the pickled whathaveyous featured analgesic Pediatyle style hangover juices fit for a delicate baby , notable a Latino themed horchata version.

Nürnbergen rostbratwurst: a short, stubby, fresh,  ground pork sausage flavored with cardamom, mace, chili and marjoram.  A delectably savory grilled sausage.  Properly seasoned and moist, though perhaps a bit over cooked by our generous host bar’s cooks.

An accoutrement of cauliflower pickles.  Romanesco, yellow and purple cauliflower with red onion, carrots, chili and lemon zest  in a 3% salt, 1.5% sugar and 33% concentrated vinegar solution.  Swedish Ättiksprit (24% acetic acid) was used in lieu of decongesting German essig (25%).  Outside of pickling, such strong vinegars are excellent antiseptics, formidable showerhead cleaners and offer merciless self-defense fumes.

Power to the Pickle.

An excellent evening which brought together a cherished group of all sorts from  parts, albeit to say goodbye to a beloved sister, colleague, teammate and social fulcrum.  However, the sausage innuendo jokes were limp before they even started.

Hure de cochonnet à la Parisienne Monday, Nov 16 2009 

Head cheese. (may not intentionally contain actual cheese)

Hure, from Middle Latin which signified a cap, and later a man’s spiky hair or the mane of a pursed-lipped wild beast. In Old French, hure came to signify the head of a boar, wolf or bear in heraldry.  Early documented recipes for a boar, either before the popular husbandry of pigs or when wild boar presented a regal alternative to the plebian porcine are found in Guillaume “Taillevent” Tirel’s iconic Viandier:

Bourblier of fresh boar. Put it into boiling water, remove it very soon, roast it, and baste it with a sauce made of spices (to wit, ginger, cassia, cloves, grains of paradise and some grilled bread soaked with wine, verjuice and vinegar). When it is cooked, [cut it into bits and boil] everything together. It should be clearish and black.

Boar, hog, lamb, mutton, veal, horse, pike, salmon and such animal heads gilded with golden yolks graced the banquets and cookbooks of France throughout the 14th and 18th centuries.

Heads of State.

 

 

The head in question was taken from the business end of a 40lb Pennsylvania shoat.  It was rinsed clean in cold water,  injected with a 5% salt brine flavored with warm spices and rosemary, then left to sit in said brine for 10 days.  The noggin was rinsed clean of the brine and the tongue & ears was poached until respectively tender.  The sides of the head were cut away and pared to an equal thickness throughout; scraps from the sides and skull were reserved for the forcemeat.

The  Mt. Pleasant paring knife massacre.

The diced portion of the forcemeat was made up from tongue, ears, fatback and larger scraps.  Remaining trimmings were ground, half of that ground twice and mixed with the diced components, roughly chopped pistachios, ground black pepper, rosemary and distributed along the inside cheeks of both sides.   The sides were rolled around the forcemeat, a challenge due to holes from the eyes and mouth, then wrapped in foil and chilled in the freezer to firm the shape for easier wrapping in cheesecloth and tying.

The Porcine Patient

Both pieces were gently poached with aromatics in barely simmering water overnight until tender, though that was kind of hard to determine.  They were left to cool in the liquid.  A cast-iron Dutch oven was the only pot that accommodated the halves of head and aromatics and accordingly, though regrettably, tinted the cooking liquid an authentic medieval “clear and black”.  Such cookware may have been the medieval standard.

Bric-a-Brackish

Heady times! Not really.  Anyone who trumpets the gustatory merits of a pig’s head must have just gotten theirs out of one’s ass.  Overall the taste wasn’t as unpleasant as the texture.  If the almost crunchy ear cartilage elements were peanuts and the rest of the meat were chocolate, peanut butter, nougat and rainbow fucking sprinkles, then I nailed it.  The ears could have benefited from much longer cooking time, like a week.  Or perhaps they should have been prepared as one cooks a carp North Carolina style:  Put carp on a wooden board and cover with salt.  Let sit 30 minutes.  Throw away carp and eat wooden board.

The forcemeat, with the exception of the auditory appendages was well seasoned and when sliced thin was quite enjoyable, particularly with mustard.  The skin was certainly not, as is invariably the case with cold skin, especially when it has little stubbly hairs coming out of it.  Seasoning the forcemeat was a challenge since the meat was brined and any extra salt could have made the final product unbearably salty.  Whatever the case, the hure should have been cooked much longer.  It may have made the skin more edible (yuck), or at least easier to peel off.  In the unlikely event of being stranded on a deserted island populated with feral pigs, such an attempt might be considered again.  Until then, it will not.

Boudin Blanc d’Avranches, 2.0 Monday, Oct 12 2009 

Boudin Blanc dAvranches 2.0
Boudin Blanc d’Avranches 2.0

Upon discussing the textural concerns of the original Boudin endeavor with a technically savvy disciple of the esteemed Antoine Westermann, the decision was made to freeze the twice ground boudin forcemeat and then blitz it in the food processor, making a garage equivalent of the $4500 Pacojet. Of course?! The blades would reduce the frozen meat to dust and the resulting boudin would be smoother than me at a club on roller skates. It is unlikely that the folks at Cuisineart had anticipated their machine be used to grind frozen ground meat into (hopefully) dust. Rightfully so. The clumps of frozen meat spun around dizzyingly, and did little more than chill the forcemeat while dulling the blade. Bummer.

The forcemeat was stuffed into casings and poached as per usual, then chilled. The boudin were removed from their casing and browned in duck fat. Turnips were turned and glazed separately in olive oil with a whisper of Ättika (21% alcohol Swedish vinegar) as were beveled carrots. Shiitake mushroom caps were sautéed in the same fat as the boudin with rosemary and once tender the boudin, carrots and turnips were added as well as enough chicken consommé to glaze all of that junks.

Boudin bonuses: The dish was enjoyed with the sister whilst throwing down tiles on the Scrabbs board and “Eastbound & Down” for ambient ambiance. Sister’s light Scrabble score was challenged by the lightness of the boudin which trembled under the distressed breaths of her awful tile choosery. There are plenty of acceptable words in the English vernacular to describe the serene sponge-like texture of the boudin, but she was not able to spell any with her left-handed letter draw. “The distinctive shiitake earthiness and assertive rosemary was a sober Ying to the otherwise delicate Yang of the other shit”, to clairvoyantly paraphrase Kenny Powers. It was indeed “tight” (to use current urban kitchen parlance) and the sweet root vegetables provided a pleasant seasonal textural contrast and the Swedish vinegar successfully subdued the otherwise rich nature of the dish.


Realité cheque:
In hindsight, the grating attachment would have been more effective in shaving the frozen meat, a coarser, more Neolithic version of what the Pacojet would offer.

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