RMS Beef Wellington Lusitania and German U-Boat Potato Salad. Wednesday, Sep 30 2009 

HMS Beef Wellington Lusitania and German U-Boat Potato Salad
RMS Beef Wellington Lusitania, German U-Boat Potato Salad

The topical themed centerpiece for Gluttony Digest issue #6 release party on Armistice Day 2007.  Inspired by traditional beef Wellington recipes and resources, a whole beef tenderloin and mushroom duxelle were encased in a pâte a foncer (50% fat  in 60 butter/40 duck fat proportions) and baked the closest equilibrium of sufficiently colored pastry and a medium beef temperature.

The duxelle was achieved by sautéing a medley of cremini, button and shiitake mushrooms in foie gras fat on high heat until caramelized and dry, then shallots and picked thyme, and the entirety pulsed in the food processor until coarse.  The tenderloin ends were cut, the “barrel” cleaned of all sinew and resourcefully seared on a sheet pan heated over a gas burner.  The seared beef barrel was allowed to rest and the juices were incorporated into the duxelle.

Port side view
Starboard side view

This being a maiden voyage into the realm of full sized beef Wellington, the pastry was cautiously rolled largely enough out to allow for crimping and the contour of the barrel and duxelle.  A third of the duxelle was spread onto the pastry base, the barrel placed on top and the remaining mix encased the beef.  The pastry topside was placed tightly over the filling and both pastry layers were crimped together with the seam being hidden by a nautical themed pastry braid.  Chimneys were carved to allow passage for escaping steam and sculpted to resemble the iconic smoke stacks.

The U-Boat was constructed from PVC pipe and plexiglass.  The potato salad consisted of quartered red bliss and Yukon gold potatoes gently simmered in seasoned water until properly tender and then tossed while warm with bacon lardons in an emulsified dressing of said bacon fat, olive oil, sherry vinegar, minced raw shallot and whole grain mustard.

Port side view
Port side view

An accoutrement of homemade mustard was envisioned but the initial taste was downright toxic and would have made the German bio-warfare R&D department blush.

Ship’s log and navigation errors: A tremendous amount of “juice” surprisingly flowed from the Wellington upon the first cut.  A return trip would benefit from adding breadcrumbs to the duxelle to absorb the juices released from the beef.  A heavier coat of egg wash and a higher initial oven temperature would have generated a darker color and lead to a shorter cooking time which would have kept the beef on the cusp of medium even after resting.  Delicious nonetheless.

A brioche or other leavened dough could have eliminated the gaps between the filling and crust due to the shrinkage and offered a better product with stronger structural integrity.  The mustard powder may have been activated for too long before adding the vinegar and made for an efficient decongesting condiment.

Thanksgiving 2009 Sunday, Sep 27 2009 

Discutons Dindons

Lets talk turkey

The epicurean’s stuperbowl is nary 2 months away and in order to get the cream of the guest crop, 2B3S (Gluttony Digest Editor and Prussian war re-enactor) and I are currently considering applications to offer 4 secular Thanksgiving day dinner seats to sophisticated guests with elegant sensitivities.

The hosts’ familiar guest base dwindles during the Thanksgiving season due to family obligations but previous feasts have been nothing short of deliciously successful save for a cornucopia of remarkably tactless infractions of etiquette by a few lowbrow guests who: 1. brought “Doritos” and other Frito-Lay products; 2. lost a tooth and was not bashful about showing it around; 3. asked for plates and served other convives like it was a prison cafeteria and started eating before the host had even seated; 4. tried to discuss fellatio with the prude red-head catholic girl; 5. yep, you guessed it, wore a fucking sweatshirt.

Refreshing pioneers and/or experts of any esoteric field, collectors, inventors, adventurers, marine biologists, history enthusiasts, roadie experience, comedic gift, convincing sleight of hand, Ivy league degrees, 2 syllable names and foreign accents are preferred. Perspective guests should be able to provide sample anecdotes, 2 social references and agree to an interview at the bar of the Mayflower hotel (naturally). Gluttony, profuse perspiration, war crimes, boors, bores, louts, activists, political/religious zealots, kleptos, unfounded arrogance, podiatrists, prudes, picky palates, French Québécois accents and a standing height of over 6′ 4″ are deal breakers (due to low ceilings).

Selected guests are expected to wear clean shoes and dress appropriately: cardigan and corduroy for the gents; ankle length dresses and modest blouse for the  ladies. Guests will bring a proper bottle of wine (which we can recommend) as a measure of gratitude and good form.

The entirety of the meal will be prepared in house by an accomplished cook host and adhere to the traditional format of hors d’oeuvres and libations, soup, hot appetizer, Amish Heritage turkey in 2 preparations, seasonal vegetables, stuffing, starch, desert, etc… Interested guest can send an e-mail query for more details and consideration

These previous menus should relieve any doubts of sustenance and cookery aesthetics.

TG 2008: Hommage to Turkey

11,000,000 milligram Amish Turkey (hence the cheeky currency denomination), Mulled Cider, Humus and Home Made Pide Bread, Pickled Fish, Foie Gras, Red Lentil and Celeriac Soup, Potatoes with Anchovies and Cumin, Pumpkin and Barley Stuffing, Brussels Sprouts and winter vegetables with Apricots and Pistachios, Cranberry and Walnut Baklava, Backgammon, Massage

Brussels Sprouts and winter vegetables with Apricots and Pistachios
Brussels Sprouts and winter vegetables with Apricots and Pistachios

The Breast Roasted with Sumac and Yogurt
The Breast Roasted with Sumac and Yogurt

 Black Cardamom Kofte with the Legs and Giblets
Black Cardamom Kofte with the Legs and Giblets

Thanksgiving 2007
Thanksgiving 2007

Rosette de Mont Plaisant Monday, Sep 21 2009 

Rosette de Mont Plaisant 2.0

A liberal interpretation of “rosette” since a beef middle was use in lieu of the traditional and difficult to source pork rosette, the veritable terminus of the pig’s digestive tract whose shape and alleged “odor” give the rosette its reputed characteristic taper and… taste? After intense research through both professional and artisanal French charcuterie formulations, and a disastrous beta version, a widow of imperative seasoning proportions was tentatively established and put to test. The salt proportions varied from a well keeled 1.5% to a 3.5% Superbowl party saltlick.

Initially, based on the recurring 2.8%, such a quantity of salt was used but the result was unsavory, or rather extra savory and on the cusp of parching. And so the first foray into dry cured sausage (2 pieces) was unsuccessful but taught a fundamental lesson in fermentation after too lengthy of an incubation. The basement kitchen was thought to have been sufficiently cool and dark enough to support a longer incubation period but after a week in the upper 60’s, despite shrinking, both began to ferment. A better approach would have been to refrigerate one earlier and then compare notes.

Both sausages were refrigerated for 6 weeks in a home refrigerator at a cooler temperature than what would be ideal (44˚F so that other immediate perishables would not spoil) and began to develop a slight bloom after the 3rd week. The test of taste was a formidable challenge in gustatory fortitude after the first cut given that the cavities in the sausage were lined with spectacular green mold (insert blushing emoticon). The ends were salvageable and had a distinctively cured taste, though in the heavier spectrum of salty. Invariably, as with any endeavor, elements of theory and practice were learned at the expense of a failed product and applied to the next since anything worth ef’ing up once is worth ef’ing up twice and maybe thrice.

The 2.0 version was limited to 2.2% salt, the same .5% sugar (to help in the initial fermentation which creates lactic acid and bla-bla-bla) and 48 hours incubation, then into the fridge. After 4 weeks:

Current conclusion: The 48hr incubation period, as recommended by Len Poli and other resources appears to have been effective and the sausage feels firm which would indicate that there are no cavities. Next update in another 4 weeks.

Boudin Blanc d’Avranches Thursday, Sep 17 2009 

Boudin Blanc d’Avranches

White Boudin from Avranches

Boudin Blanc, Beta version. An emulsified chicken sausage with fatback, onions and a panade, poached and then browned in duck fat. Upon returning from a Labor Day weekend on what a generation ago was an entirely sustainable 275 acre farm in southwestern Virginia, 8lbs of industrial Purdue chicken-ish breasts and thighs were inexplicably acquired. In a desperate though epicurean effort to transform the offending burlap anthropomorphism of poultry into comestible silk, a resourceful boudin blanc recipe was developed based on traditional regional French varieties befitting of the cupboard and previous intrepid experimentations : Boudin blanc d’Avranches, from the northwestern Manche department in lower Normandie.

Measurements were made based on the weight of the suspiciously yellow lab-raised protein do determine proportions of fatback, onion and bread/cream panade (French boudin designation can not exceed 5% starch content). The onions were sweated in foie gras fat with chili pepper, salt and lavender until soft, then cooked uncovered to evaporate any remaining water. The dried bread was soaked in cream and the chilled fatback was diced. All was ground though the small die and then puréed with the help of water and cream*, seasoned, paddled and pressed into hog casings. The boudins were poached in seasoned water (salt, chili, bay leaf, lavender, garlic) for 40 minutes, which in hindsight may have been twice too long. They were left to cool in the liquid.

To serve, the boudins were removed from their casings and browned in duck fat with garlic and lavender. While not entirely unpleasant, the chicken flavor was muted, perhaps due to the inferior product used or the traditional fillers.

Initial shortcomings and screw ups: The cooked onions should have been moistened with a splash of sherry vinegar and some chicken glace to give a more pronounced poultry flavor.

*As for the texture, the forcemeat should have been ground twice through the fine die and then puréed without cream and more liquid (from the onions and panade) or whole milk to give a smoother final product as with the cervelas. The boudin’s texture was ever so slightly shamefully gritty, which may also have been a result of the cream breaking in the food processor. Eureka? In haste to find an authentic, vintage recipe, the properties to cream and modern technology were overlooked. Cream turns to butter in a food processor. The original recipe, which predated Pierre Verdun’s 1963 food processing gizmo –now generically dubbed the “Robot Coupe”, yet pronounced “Row-beau Coop”- called for pounding the forcemeat through a pedestrian sieve, just as generations dating back to Taillevent had done.

Cervelas de Mont Plaisant Wednesday, Sep 2 2009 

Cervelas de Mont Plaisant

aux pistaches et graines de poivre noire

Mount Pleasant Cervelas

with pistachios and black peppercorns

Behold the cervelas. An emulsified French pork sausage which varies regionally in terms of content and cookery. Certain Alsatian preparations call for the sausage be smoked or have it stuffed with gruyere and wrapped in bacon.Ouf.  In this comestible prototype the cervelas is a “white” emulsified pork sausage with pistachios, black peppercorns, fatback and spices stuffed into a beef middle.It is cooked in seasoned water for an internal temperature of 150˚.

Those in Lyon may season the forcemeat with truffle and pistachios and boil it. It can be served either hot or cold.Cervelas is roughly equivalent to the Italian cervelatta, though the Calabrian version includes white wine and chili, not to be confused with Puglian variety which is a fresh sausage flavored with cooked wine, fennel seeds and grilled.Ultimately, the cervelas is a smaller version of the Italian mortadella, the later stuffed into beef bung caps whereas the smaller former use hog casing. Cervelas are also made from beef, veal, horse, duck and fish.

The Swiss cervelas traditionally used, almost exclusively, Brazilian zebu casings, which were deemed the best, however recent European Unions regulations have banned the import of Brazilian beef since the World Organization for Animal Health listed Brazil as a country with BSE risks.

While the name is derived from the Roman renaissance term for sausage cervelattofrom the diminutiveLatin word for cerebrum (brain)since back in the day, cervelas allegedly used to contain brain, according to the CICT (Centre d’Information des Charcuteries-produits Traiteurs)

Hopefully this one, albeit humbler than the one served at Per Ser,will earn a better criticism. Personally, the final product’s initial shortcomings were that the forcemeat could have benefited from slightly less water and perhaps cooked a bit longer and to a higher temperature of 160.