Air-dried beef goes by many different names in many different places. The most famous, I think is bresaola, from northern Italy. In adjacent Switzerland air-dried beef is pressed into a unique block shape and called Bündnerfleisch, after the Swiss canton of Graubünden. Nearby in eastern France it is often lightly smoked, and called brési. In all of these alpine regions it is a common accompaniment for fondue.
Eye of round is one of the best cuts to use for air-dried beef. It is a single muscle, with very little internal fat, easily trimmed to a convenient size. First remove any silverskin and fat.
The cleaned eye of round:
The clean muscle is then rubbed with salt, … 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 have a certain old friend. Technically we went to high school together, but I first got to know him in Lister Hall, then at the Kappa Alpha house on university row. He studied philosophy, and after graduation he followed a girl to Montreal. There he fell victim to many of the city’s seductions: strong beer, girls, and cocaine, yes, but above all these, smoked meat.
For a while he lived only a few blocks from Schwartz’s, that Mecca of Montreal smoked meat. For a while he ate there every day: a sandwich, a pickle, and a cherry coke.
Montreal smoked meat is that city’s answer to New York’s pastrami: beef, cured with a concoction of spices similar to those … Continue reading.
It’s always confused me that Americans call back bacon “Canadian bacon,” when it’s much more associated with Britain than Canada. To my knowledge the only uniquely Canadian form of bacon is peameal bacon: cured pork loin rolled in ground split peas, which keeps the surface of the meat dry and inhibits microbial growth. Sometime over the past century cornmeal has taken the place of peameal, but the name hasn’t changed.
This week I made two forms of peameal bacon: the contemporary favourite – lean, centre-cut pork loin, fat trimmed down, brined and rolled in cornmeal – and a rustic recontruction, inspired by the fantastic book The Art of Living According to Joe Beef. I left an inch or two … Continue reading.
This is hands down my favourite preparation of pork loin: brine-cured, smoked, and sliced into thick ham chops.
While the eye of loin is a very lean, mild-tasting muscle, it is surrounded by large slabs of fat: fatback on top, and the streaky side meat that becomes bacon. Grilling or pan-frying a large pork chop with all this fat usually results in either overcooked meat or under-rendered fat. By slowly bringing this roast up to temperature over several hours in a smoker, we render all that fat without overcooking the meat. The final dish is somewhere between bacon and ham.
In Germany this preparation goes by the name Kassler Rippchen, which literally means “little ribs from Kassel”.
Details. Use … Continue reading.
I had to doublecheck my calendar: it’s still August, isn’t it?
This past Saturday I stood on my deck, wearing a sweater, tending a barbecue that was puffing applewood smoke into the yard. Within the ‘cue was a cured pork loin. Within the house, on the kitchen counter, was a head of cabbage. Beside it, a jug of cider, weakly alcoholic, tart, sweet, faintly effervescent.
I have high hopes that there will be a few more weeks of heat, and a few more summer storms, but the last few days at my house have felt like fall.
A Fall Dinner, in August
Part One: Windfall Hard Cider (Lisa’s Special No. 8)
The cider was the inspiration, the centre of … Continue reading.
Reading the ingredients list of an industrially-produced sausage can be daunting. We’ve been trained to mistrust “scientific sounding” ingredients, and there are ongoing discussions about the health risks associated with many common additives. I don’t wade into that debate too much in this post, partly because I know so little about it, but also because there are few reliable studies on the subject. The fields of nutrition and health are so tied up with industry that it’s hard to know what to believe. I’ll leave it for you to decide what ingredients are okay and which are not. In this post I simply describe the role the additive plays in the sausage-making process. Interestingly, most them are used to accelerate … Continue reading.
I first learned the pork primals in culinary school, and for years I considered that information dogmatic. Then in an Austrian grocery store I saw this:
It’s called Carinthian farmer bacon (Kaerntner Bauernspeck). Carinthia is a province in southern Austria, known for its rustic food. It took me a few moments to realize where exactly this cut would have come from on a pig. It is in fact a pork loin, with the side or belly still attached, cured as one large piece, cold-smoked, and sold in thick slabs.
Novel cuts like this are just as easy to butcher as the classics. Following is a quick tutorial, with photos, to prove the point.
Here is a side … 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.