Chant du Cygne Sunday, Apr 10 2016 

Swan song en croûte.

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Inscribe the date.

A final somewhat selfish fabrication to celebrate and honor the nuptials of 2 cherished, well deserving friends who are straight after all.   Tamworth pâté en croûte with heart, tongue, wedding vegetables and mini-mortadella inlay.

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Both their birthdays, too.

After 13 years and a few months, there’s no more juice left to squeeze, so fuck it, we’re done.  There have been countless friends, a reunion with a sister, 5 issues of Gluttony Digest, a dozen freedom BBQ’s, suckling pigs, turkey variations, fancy pumpkin, jobs here and there, bars that have expired, bars that have been raised, 2 cats, 2 presidents, legalized pot, statehood not, some competitions, softball, a blog, pictures, trips, broken thumb, brownouts, blackout, heartache, dwindling friends, steeper rents and relentless sirens at all times of the day and night.

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There’s a swell bell.

My sweetheart, the cats, bric-a-brac and I going out to pasture to become sharecroppers and manage a little slice of country living in Einstein’s getaway on the Northern tine of  Eastern Long Island  nestled between the LI sound, Peconic bay and some shitty vineyards.  We’ll be living in a 1940’s house with an original built-in murphy-bed style ironing board on an organic sheep farm with pigs, chickens and a garden; upstream and closer to the source of food. We’ll eventually help open and run a full service butchery & grocer using products grown on the 28 acres outside.  What’s more, there is a 2 acre garden where we can grow jelly beans, cotton candy and our very own dildo tree.  Hurray.

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A little lopsided, as is often the case with love.

Thank you all for your readership. There are arcane liquor and zoning laws up here, cellphone service is sporadic, there are many spiteful low-watt Trump supporters and public transportation is virtually non-existent save for the occasional single-track diesel train that still runs in 2016. So we are pretty much moving back in time with the rest of you, but the barns and people are charming even if they tawlk funny.

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Looking out my backdoor.

Suckling Porchetta Richelieu. Tuesday, Feb 2 2010 

A continuing epicurean series of  porcine  highdives, the first being the porcine pedaler.  While not the crappiest bicycle powered spit mechanism ever devised, it is close, though in a different class from collegiate electric and pneumatic Yahoo-Serious down under pig spits.

Bring it Lance.

Porcine Pedaler (beta version). $5 Home Despot amalgamation of cycling, BBQ, Free Market economic theory, Protestant work ethic and the ballad of John Henry.

Meat: 16# suckling pig. Deboned, stuffed with starfruit, cashews and tropical spices (nutmeg, mace, allspice and clove). Basted with fresh coconut water. Served with cashew and tamarind satay sauce.

Metal: 52cm hand-polished aluminum Raleigh fixed-gear conversion BBQ spit. 41 x 200± gearing for a 0.4 ratio. 8′ chain catching the spoke nipples of a road wheel fixed to a threaded 5/16″ spit rod placed on 700c forks. Chrome BMX chainring counter-weight and floating road chainring to give the drunks something to marvel at and a piece of gate to help straiten spit which bent under weight of the creature. A very rustic soup-to-nuts Sunday afternoon build and not OSHA sanctioned. PP 2.0 will have a welded frame to contain the torque and weight of drive-train as well as an integrated container for the heat source.

Wheels of Porkin’.

Pedantic porcine: Lots of structural and mechanical problems. Massive spit fail. The pig was too heavy for the forks and the cement-filled flowerpots were not nearly as sturdy as imagined. Heat source was too far away. Chain slipped. It was too hot out to pedal anyway. The thing eventually cooked, albeit achingly slow, and the flavor was exceptional. Many questioned the pinkish color but were somewhat reassured by the nitrite explanation and consumed heartily. A sturdier PP2.0 rig will tentatively be made from square sign post tubing and a spit rod which would hold the pig in smaller rods run through chainring bolt holes like staves on a barrel then turned by chains. On a cocktail napkin it works like a Swiss watch however the leap from 2 to 3 dimensions and the fundamentals of natural physics may prove to be a formidable challenge.

A star is born, and eaten.

“Anything worth consuming is worth sweating for; bourgeois electric spits be damned.” Max Weber, 1907

Suckling Porchetta Richelieu 2.0, special Turnip Greens edition: Accompanied by pears, pearl onions, turnips and an inlayed sausage made from their greens.  Main course for an inaugural snow bound supper club dinner.  15lb Amish suckling pig deboned and stuffed with it’s own 3 thirds puréed, ground, diced forcemeat and an inlay of turnip greens sausage.

Get your chlorophyll fill.

Forcemeat was comprised of the removed meat, diced heart & kidneys, puréed liver, pistachios, fatback and inlayed with the cleaned loins, tenderloins and a sausage made from pork, blanched turnip greens and chlorophyll extracted from spinach.  The slices were bathed with a spoonful of the strained cooking juices and served with red pearl onions as well as crescents of both turnips and Asian pears, glazed in olive oil and roasted in butter with cinnamon & clove, respectively.

Skink torpedo.

Rich pig In Lieu of Pro Bowl. Well within the margins of a successfully stuffed porchetta.  The extracted chlorophyll helped to keep the greens closer to green than brown, even upon resting 3 hours after the initial 2 hour roast.  The meat & sausage were well seasoned, properly cooked, colored and moist, particularly the cheeks which literally fell out like chicken oysters upon removing them.   Skin was delightfully crisp.

Cheeky little fellow.

A refined version would have a finer puréed element (requiring a blender), more forceful wintry spices and the sausage would be either rolled and frozen or preferably blanched in a beef middle to ensure a perfectly round center that would not shift during the cooking process.

DC Metro Swine Station.

Pedantic Pedaling: An intoxicating amount of  structural and mechanical problems. Massive (s)pit fail. The pig was too heavy for the forks and the cement-filled flowerpots were not nearly as sturdy as imagined. Heat source was too far away. Chain slipped. It was too hot out to pedal anyway. The thing eventually cooked, albeit achingly slow, and the flavor was exceptional. Many questioned the pinkish color but were somewhat reassured by the nitrite explanation and consumed heartily. A sturdier PP2.0 rig will tentatively be made from square sign post tubing and a spit rod which would hold the pig in smaller rods run through chainring bolt holes like staves on a barrel then turned by chains. On a cocktail napkin it works like a Swiss watch however the leap from 2 to 3 dimensions and the fundamentals of natural physics may prove to be a formidable challenge.

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.

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.

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.