Last week I helped with a chicken harvest for the first time. My parents-in-law had raised twenty eight birds to maturity on their property in Lac St. Anne County.
The chickens were killed with an axe to the neck, severing the head.
After a couple minutes of twitching the bodies were held by the feet and dipped in steaming water to loosen the feathers. We had two “turkey fryer” propane burners heating 5 gallon pots of water to 150°F. The chickens were dunked a few times, just until the wing and tail feathers pulled out easily, which took less than 60 seconds. If done properly this helps the feathers release easily in the plucking machine, without cooking any of the … Continue reading.
There is surely a more flattering name for these, but they definitely need to be distinguished from normal meatballs like these ones. There is a long tradition of naming dishes that are especially for “hard times”, but in my grandmother’s cookbook those names are cute and subtle (Make-Do cake, for instance, or WWI cake, which alludes to rationing). For now I’m rolling with Subsistence Meatballs.
Anyways, this is trick for making sure your meat stretches as far as possible. My original recipe is below, but the general technique I learned from a chef in Bologna. The gist is that meat is carefully taken from the bones that have been used to make stock, finely shredded, and then mixed with … Continue reading.
The first time I ate poke was one of the most blissful moments of my entire life. It was at a nondescript concession on the highway just south of Captain Cook, on the big island. We ordered at a window. The menu board actually said “Ahi Special”, not poke. We sat on plastic chairs on a covered patio that looked onto the ocean, and I ate my sticky white rice, fresh avocado, and marinated tuna. That was a truly special moment, but we had many other great poke experiences later that trip, notably at Da Poke Shack in Kona and the Suisan Fish Market in Hilo. Marinated fish and rice. So simple. So good. I have a special room … Continue reading.
Subtitle: The Subtle Art of Hitting Meat with a Hammer
Long before I knew anything about European cuisine, I was familiar with the term Wiener Schnitzel. Well, sort of. My mom baked us frozen “Wiener schnitzel” from M & M Meat Shop every once in a while. But I didn’t know that Wiener means “from Wien”, or that Wien is the actual name of the city English-speakers call Vienna. I also didn’t know that “schnitzel” is related to the word schnitte, which means “slice.” Wiener Schnitzel is a piece of veal, traditionally from the leg, pounded out with a mallet, breaded, and fried.
I love veal, but I almost never have it in my house. It’s hard to come … Continue reading.
In Vienna these links are called Frankfurter Würstl, named for the city Frankfurt am Main in Germany. In most of the rest of the world (including Frankfurt) they are called Wieners, which means “Viennese.” Go figure. Whatever you call them they are the ancestor of the North American hot dog.
The old world version is usually 100% pork in delicate lamb casings, lightly smoked. North American hot dogs can be pork, beef, or a combination of the two, usually in synthetic casings.
I link mine extra long, so they barely fit on a dinner plate.
To emulate the very fine texture of the commercial varieties I grind twice through a 3/16″ plate, and then do a lengthy mixing phase, roughly … Continue reading.
Pepperoni sticks are a great introduction to air-drying cured meat at home. The process is very quick and very forgiving: even if you don’t have a whiz-bang curing chamber with perfect temperature and humidity control, you can probably make these pepperoni sticks at home and be very pleased with the result. And if for some reason you are worried that the whole process has gone sideways, just hot-smoke them or cook them and they will still be delicious. This is one of the recipes we make in my More Charcuterie at Home class, which is all about curing and air-drying meats.
These are meant to emulate the pepperoni sticks you get at gas station convenience stores. The recipe was developed … Continue reading.
Schmaltz is the Yiddish word for rendered fat, or grease. It is taken from the German Schmalz. I wrote about how to render pork fat here, and the two preparations Grammelschmalz and Schmalzfleisch. While schmaltz can technically refer to rendered fat from any animal, obviously in the context of Jewish cooking we aren’t talking about pork fat. While goose fat was common in Europe, the Jewish emigrants arriving in North America found chicken fat much more readily available, and this remains the default schmaltz in Jewish communities in the new world.
There is quite a different ratio of fat to lean in a chicken than a hog. It is easy to cut away large slabs … Continue reading.
Originally published May 31, 2010! Holy smokes. Re-published today to include more info and some nicer photos.
Pancetta is Italian for “little belly.” The term refers to pork belly that has been cured and at least partly air-dried. Unlike North American bacon it is usually not smoked. It is a very important ingredient and foundational flavour in many Italian cuisines.
While North American bacon tends to use a simple salt and sugar cure, Italian pancetta is often redolent with flavours like juniper, nutmeg, and herbs.
Plus it is made in three distinct shapes. Pancetta tesa is a flat slab of pork belly, like bacon. Pancetta arrotolata has the belly rolled over the long axis, giving the sliced meat … Continue reading.
Sausage gravy ladled over biscuits is a classic comfort dish of the American south. While you can certainly use fresh, raw sausage in the preparation, it is also a good trick up your sleeve to deal with cooked sausages leftover from a brunch or barbecue.
Leftover sausages are often dry and a touch mealy. Just as you might flake leftover fish and mix it with mayonnaise, or shred leftover roast beef and heat it in barbecue sauce, coating leftover sausages in gravy reintroduces moisture.
One detail: to develop depth of flavour it’s a good idea to brown the crumbled sausage so that a good fond develops in the bottom of the pan. Once the butter and onions are added, use … Continue reading.
This is definitely the most asked-about sausage style in my sausage-making classes. It is a hugely popular style in Alberta thanks to producers like Stawnichy’s. It goes by a confusing plethora of names – ham sausage, Ukrainian sausage, Mundare sausage, and for many people this is simply “kielbasa” even though that is a much, much broader family. So to clarify, the sausage I’m talking about in this post has the following characteristics:
- the interior is the rosy colour of ham (ie. it contains curing salt)
- the interior of the sausage is typically studded with larger chunks of ham-like lean pork
- the sausage is smoked and can be served hot or cold
I believe this style almost … Continue reading.