Schweinsbraten literally means “roasted pork”. If you order it in an Austrian restaurant, you will get a slice of greyish meat, usually but not always from the shoulder of the animal. If you order it in an Austrian Heuriger, you will get something a bit different.
All the food at a Heuriger is served cold, and meat is typically cured. Schweinsbraten at a Heuriger is cured, like ham. What makes this particular ham so special is the cut of meat it is made from: the Schopf.
The Schopf extends forward from the loin of the pig, into the shoulder primal. It has the same round cross-section as the loin, only it also has a very healthy amount of … Continue reading.
The tongue is one of those cuts that sounds way, way weirder than it really is.
The tongue has two sections. There’s the part that we usually think of when we consider an animal’s tongue: the part at the front that can move freely around the mouth. Then there’s the base, at the back of the mouth. The meat from these two sections is different.
The tip meat has a very close, dense texture, and is lean. The base meat has a coarser texture, and is a bit fatty.
The meat from both sections is very tough in its raw state. As you can imagine, the tongue is a highly exercised muscle, and requires extensive cooking at low temperatures, usually … Continue reading.
There are two types of brine: seasoning and curing. Each will be discussed in turn.
Part One: Seasoning Brine
Seasoning brine typically contains three ingredients: water, salt, and sugar. But why do we season-brine meat to begin with? There are at least three reasons:
Flavour. The first reason we season-brine meat is to evenly distribute flavour-enhancing salt throughout its mass, instead of simply on the outer surface. We can also impart the flavour of herbs and spices to the meat.
Increased Tenderness. As Harold McGee writes in On Food and Cooking, “salt disrupts the structure of the muscle filaments [and] dissolves parts of the the protein structure that supports the contracting filaments.” A strong enough brine … Continue reading.
I like roasting large joints of meat. The largest that I typically cook is the Easter ham, which is the better part of a pig’s hind leg. This year’s fresh leg was fourteen and a half pounds.
In years past I’ve had problems with brine penetration. Though I made the brine with the proper concentration of curing salt, and fully submerged the leg for the recommended week, when I carved the ham I found a patch of grey pork in the centre. The year after that I brined the ham for a few extra days, but it still wasn’t pink all the way through.
This year I bought a syringe for injecting brine from Hendrik’s. It holds 2 fl. oz, … Continue reading.
Traditionally, in North America the hock is a section of the front arm bone of the pig. On one end the elbow joint is severed. On the other, where the arm of the pig meats the body, a cut is made and the arm bone is sawed through. So on one end of the hock there is a clean joint, and on the other the circular cross-section of a bone.
In traditional British butchery it is the analogous section from the hind leg that is called the hock; that from the front was known as the hand.
Nowadays, whether taken from the forearm or the hind leg, both cuts are considered hocks. They are almost always processed into ham, that … Continue reading.
A while back I wrote a post on cold-cut Bath chaps: a boned-out pig’s head, cured, rolled around the tongue, tied, poached, and sliced. While I was extremely happy with the look of those Bath chaps, they were pretty bland. I figure that the cure leached into the poaching liquid.
I had another go at the chaps with this fall’s pig. This time, instead of using a whole head, I used only one jowl, cured, and wrapped around the tongue.
After rolling and tying, I seared the meat over high heat. Once chilled, I vacuum-packed the chaps and simmered them for two or three hours. This was not proper sous-vide: though the meat was vacuum-packed, it wasn’t cooked in … Continue reading.
Bath chaps are the flesh from a pig’s head, removed from the skull and wrapped around the tongue. The “bath” part refers to the town of Bath, England, where the preparation became famous. I assume the “chaps” part refers to the two meaty jowls straddling the thinner snout, though that’s just a guess. Bath chaps are usually brined then simmered, and either eaten hot or cooled and used as a cold-cut.
There is a very similar preparation from old Italian peasant cookery called coppa di testa. As I say often on this blog, I favour the strong Anglo-Saxon descriptions, even if they aren’t as precise or pretty as the French, Italian, Latin, et c.
1. Clean the … Continue reading.
If you consult a North American resource on smoking meat, you’re likely find something like the following:
The first rule of smoking meat: use hardwood. Apple, hickory, maple, oak, pear, cherry, whatever you please, but do not use soft wood, and especially not evergreens. They are extremely resinous, and not only do they produce harsh, turpentine flavours in the meat, they are also poisonous!
These comments are discouraging to someone who lives where the prairies meet the boreal forest. Of course there are hardwood trees in Edmonton, but they’re not nearly as common as, say, poplars and spruce. There’s a spruce tree in my front yard that, if left to its own devices, will someday eat my house. There’s a … Continue reading.
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.