Category Archives: Meat

Civet – Stew Thickened with Blood

Civet of elk with morelsThis week I had the opportunity to cook with pig’s blood. There’s actually more classical applications for blood than you may think.

Fresh blood has a beautiful colour, similar to red wine, but with an opalescent sheen. When heated, the blood turns burgundy, then brown, and eventually black. It coagulates somewhere around 75°C, which makes it ideal for thickening liquids.

Civet: A Gateway Dish

If you’re at all squeamish about cooking with blood, this is probably a good dish to start with.

The two things that make a civet a civet are: one, that game is marinated in wine which is later used to braise the meat; and two, that the braising liquid is thickened with blood and used as … Continue reading.

Pig Skin Sausages

When butchers break down a side of pork, they are after the several lean cuts of meat, the bones that can be used in stock or sold as dog treats, and the large pile of trim that can be ground into sausage meat. The only parts that typically go to waste are the head, the glands (particularly prevalent in the jowls, but also in the hind legs), and the skin.

Progressive (or retrogressive?) eaters don’t have a problem with pig head, and the glands represent a very small amount of waste, maybe 100 g on a side of pork. That leaves the skin. While it can be put into a broth or cassoulet, there happens to be a much … Continue reading.

Air-Dried Sausages

Hanging sausages to dry in a cellarI just finished my first batch of dry-cured sausage. It is essentially fresh ground pork, stuffed into casings with nitrate and seasonings, then left to dry. The temperature and humidity have to be just right for the sausage to dry properly. I experimented with climate-control when making pancetta this past spring. In that case the meat had already been cured in my fridge, and the drying was just to change the texture. The pancetta was also cooked before eating. This is a whole other ball game, as these sausages aren’t cured in the fridge beforehand, and aren’t cooked before eating.

Dry-curing is an interesting process. With most charcuterie preparations, there are easily-described visual indicators to guide you along. For instance, … Continue reading.

Chicken Salad Sandwiches

It’s amazing how a dish that is considered boring, almost proverbially boring, can be so good when it’s made properly.

Yes, chicken salad is boring when you buy it in a tub.  But when you have the cold leftovers of a properly roasted bird, and thick, homemade mayonnaise, nothing beats the clean flavours of a chicken salad sandwich.

Sure, the chicken skin is no longer crisp, but it’s still tender and salty. Besides, the crispiness comes from the celery.

And the round creaminess of the mayo is spiked with raw onion, and black pepper, and vinegar, and herbs.

It’s good when the leftovers are as coveted as the original dish.

Leftover chicken

Making the chicken salad

The finished chicken salad on toast, with tomatoes and lettuce

Duck Liver Pâté

This week I made a duck liver pâté and served it with sour cherries.  Both the livers and the cherries came from Greens, Eggs, and Ham.

The recipe was adapted from that for pâté grand mère in Michael Ruhlman’s Charcuterie. Duck livers can generally stand in for chicken livers.

1: Season the pork and liver (separately), with salt, pepper, bay, and thyme. Leave the mixtures overnight in the fridge.

The pork and duck liver, seasoned and left to marinate

2: The next day, chill the meat grinder and mixer parts. Ice water is particularly effective. You can also preheat your oven to 300°F.

Chilling the grinder parts in ice-water

3: After removing the bay leaf and thyme, sear the livers quickly over high heat. This is done strictly to enhance flavour and colour. Remove the … Continue reading.

Austrian Dinner

But you know what the funniest thing about Europe is? It’s the little differences. I mean, they got the same shit over there that we got here, but it’s just there it’s a little different.

-Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction

 

I am part of a culinary exchange between NAIT and a school in Semmering, Austria. This past month I hosted an Austrian student named Dominik, whom a lucky few met at Valerie’s psychedelic taste-tripping party.

On Dominik’s last full day in Canada, we coerced him and two of his Austrian colleagues, Mike and Lena, to cook us a classic Austrian dinner.

First Course: Frittatensuppe – Pancake Soup

Domink requested that we make a good beef stock for the … Continue reading.

Fatty Ducks and Geese: The Skinny on Rendering Fat, Confit, and Rillettes

Ducks and geese are fatty little creatures.  Historically even fattier than they are now.  Especially in southwestern France, where they are usually fattened to make foie gras.

This is a goose from Greens, Eggs, and Ham.  It weighs about eleven pounds.  We’re going to render some of its fat.  We’re also going to confit the breasts and legs, then turn them into rillettes.

Greens, Eggs, and Ham goose

First we cut the breasts and legs from our goose.  For a description of this process, see Poultry Cutting.

The breasts and thigh-legs

Rendering the Fat

Even though the choice fat around the breasts and legs is going into our confit, there is still lots of fat to be rendered from the goose. Look for fatty trim … Continue reading.

Chicken Ballotine

This week I cut up a chicken from Greens, Eggs, and Ham. The bird was massive. Happily I was able to try a few different preparations.  First was a ballotine, which is a portion of boned meat made into a single, flat sheet of flesh, which is then rolled around a stuffing, cooked, and served hot or cold.”Boning” by the way is the removal of bones from meat. The modern English speaker has extreme difficulty with this word, and so “de-boning” is becoming the more common verb.

Here is the leg and thigh:


To bone the meat, make a cut to expose the length of the leg bone, which should then separate fairly easily from the flesh.


Repeat the … Continue reading.

Pancetta

Pancetta is Italian for “little belly.”  It is cured pork belly, usually but not always partly air-dried.  It may be a flat slab, like North American bacon, or it may be rolled into cylinder with a delightful, spiral cross section.  It is almost never smoked.

Making Pancetta at Home

1. Make the cure mix: kosher salt, curing salt, fresh coarse ground black pepper, crumbled bay leaves, fresh ground nutmeg, crushed juniper berries, brown sugar, and fresh thyme. The complete recipe can be found in Michael Ruhlman’s Charcuterie.


2. Trim the pork belly. Square the edges. The slab I had also happened to have the skin on, which must be removed. Try to leave a thin layer of fat on … Continue reading.

Easter Ham

For the last few years we’ve been curing our own Easter ham with more or less an entire leg of pork.

The primal cut of pork known as the leg is separated from the loin and belly by sawing through the middle of the pelvic bone.  The section of the pelvis that is left on the loin is called the pin bone.  The section on the leg is the haitch bone.  To remove the haitch bone you have to follow its frustrating curves with your knife until you expose the ball joint where the leg meets the pelvis.  Cut through this joint.

Next the skin is removed in one large sheet.

What remains of the leg typically weighs about 15 … Continue reading.