This is one of my favourite rabbit recipes, and I think a great way to kick off Easter dinner. This is essentially a rabbit confit, made into a rillette. First I break up my rabbit. Then I take all the meaty bits and marinate them for twenty four hours in the following, adapted from Ruhlman’s Charcuterie. Rub every kilo of rabbit with:
- 20 g kosher salt
- 1 star anise
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 green onion, minced
- 5 g crushed fresh ginger
- zest of 1/2 orange
- 2 crushed black peppercorns
After a day the meat is rinsed and patted dry, then covered with lard and gently cooked in a 180°F oven overnight. The cooked meat is cooled slightly and pulled … Continue reading.
Have you seen this commercial for McCain’s frozen pizza?
“What do other companies put in their pizzas? Something called sodium nitrite…” Those last two words are pronounced with a blend of confusion and self-righteous disgust. The molecular diagram of the compound is flashed across the screen for further effect.
The food industry is quick to pick up on trends. My generation was taught to read labels, and to mistrust “chemical” ingredients, including curing salt. However:
The resistance to… ‘scientific’ ingredients has always seemed to me misguided. In the objector’s mind a line is drawn between science and cookery, which usually turns out to be entirely arbitrary. No one objects to table salt (sodium chloride) or table sugar (sucrose) 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.
One fateful Thanksgiving I treated my turkey as if it were a leg of pork: I pickled it in brine, then smoked it on the barbecue.
The result was possibly the tenderest, juiciest turkey I have ever eaten, but few around the table even recognized it as poultry. With the rosy colour and distinct piquancy created by the curing salt, along with the smoky aroma and the moist flesh, the final product was a dead ringer for ham. My guests actually referred to it as “Ham-urkey.”
There were other issues, besides guest perception. The gentle heat of the smoker (225°F) didn’t promote the delicious, delicious browning reactions that give us crisp, golden skin. Once the turkey was done smoking, I … 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.
I like to make pâté around Christmas. This year I wanted to try a terrine with an inlay. Inlays are usually pieces of lean mean, like a pork tenderloin or duck breast, that are set in the middle of a terrine, surrounded by forcemeat, so that each slice of the terrine has a cross-section of the lean meat. At left you can see a rosy pork tenderloin cooked to medium.
Winter is a reflective season, and nowhere is this more true than with food, as many of the things we eat in December were by necessity harvested in September, or earlier. The special significance this pâté has to the past year is the garnish studding the forcemeat: morels. This was … Continue reading.
When dry-curing, mold is inevitable, yet there’s little detailed information available to guide the beginner. I don’t know for sure why this is, but I have some theories:
- mold is so variant and hard to describe,
- mold-discussions might disgust customers, and
- mold is a mystery of the charcutiers’ cult.
The general rule in charcuterie is that smooth, hard, white mold is “good.” I don’t think it affects the flavour of the meat in any way, but it discourages the growth of “bad” mold, that is, mold that is pathogenic or that somehow compromises the meat. Any type of fuzzy mold is said to be bad.
Luckily, undesirable mold can simply be cut away; it doesn’t taint the entire batch of … Continue reading.
A simple variation on the brine and boil theme.
The rule of thumb for brining hams is a half day per pound of meat. Tongues seem to take a week for the brine to penetrate, even if they only weigh two pounds. This could be because the meat is dense and fine-textured, but that’s only a theory.
As is easy to imagine, the tongue is a highly exercised muscle. It contains lots of connective tissue that moist heat dissolves into delicious, succulent gelatin. As such tongues are almost always boiled.
I had just made some good buffalo stock, so I decided to braise this particular tongue. I didn’t expect braising to affect the tongue much differently than boiling; I just … Continue reading.
I remember Gramp butchering a pig once and there were a lot of people around. This was in the wintertime and there was a big steel barrel full of water that had a huge bonfire under it to heat the water. They killed the pig and then heaved it in the barrel and pulled it out again and all the guys started scraping it with knives. I later learned they were shaving the bristles off it and that the hot water made the job easier. I remember Granny then made headcheese.
-Marvin Streich, in The Streich Family
The above quote is from a family history that my mom wrote. Marvin, her eldest cousin, penned several pages of his earliest memories … Continue reading.
This blood terrine is based on a recipe from Fergus Henderson’s book The Whole Beast. The procedure and recipe are almost identical to those for blood sausage:
- sweat onions, garlic, and spices in butter;
- add blood and heat to thicken;
- add cornmeal in a steady stream, stirring constantly to prevent clumping;
- heat the mixture until it thickens;
- add diced backfat;
the only difference being that the mixture is cooked in a loaf pan in a water bath instead of casings.
This cake set beautifully. It was tender, but held up to slicing. This experiment reinforces my theory that there was too much moisture in the other blood sausages. (The cornmeal in the cake was cooked directly in the blood, … Continue reading.