Buying whole hogs, the one thing I had trouble using up was the skin. Then finally someone explained chicharrónes to me.
I have always associated chicharrónes with Mexico, but apparently they are common throughout the Spanish-speaking world, and happen to be wildly popular in the Philippines. Even though it is usually a very casual snack, served at bars or sold at gas stations, making chicharrón has become an essential technique for me, even in a fine-dining restaurant. I often have pork skin on hand, and while I’ve discussed some of the ways to use it, nothing is as satisfying and delicious a transformation as chicharrón.
They are surprisingly versatile. In the photo above they act as a canapé base, topped … Continue reading.
One of the reasons I love teaching sausage-making classes is that I often learn something from the students.
There was a time when I assumed “banger” was just the British dialect word for sausage, and that it didn’t necessarily imply anything about the ingredients or technique any more than “sausage” would in North America. Turns out that is not quite true. One Scottish student of mine asked where he could procure the rusk necessary to make bangers. I had never heard of rusk. The word can refer to two different things: sliced bread that has been baked or toasted until crispy throughout (like a Melba toast), or crumbs that have been made from such a bread.
I have eschewed … 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.
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.
Pork and cabbage for the win! A combination that transcends continents. Gyoza are Japanese “pot-sticker” dumplings, usually filled with ground pork and cabbage, though shrimp is also common.
I love this preparation because it is primarily made of local ingredients I often have on hand (pork and cabbage) but of course with the Japanese pantry items that take it in a completely different direction.
This is a very simple recipe. The only nuance is that you should grind the pork in the manner described in this sausage-making introduction. In other words, the pork should be about 25-35% fat by volume (pork butt is ideal), and should be properly chilled before grinding, and should be thoroughly mixed with liquid (soy … Continue reading.
Originally posted on July 5, 2014.
This post is about cured fatback, most commonly known by its Italian name lardo.
Fatback is the subcutaneous fat that covers the pork loin. Resist the urge to say “back fat”: it’s called fatback. Industrially-raised pigs are intentionally grown very lean, so the fatback is typically only an inch thick. Heritage pigs can have three inches or more of fatback. These are the animals you need in order to make lardo.
Two autumns ago I got a side of Tamworth pork from Nature’s Green Acres. The fatback was two and a half inches thick in some places. It was the first pig that I ever cut that truly deserved to have … Continue reading.
It recently dawned on me that I don’t have any sausage recipes on this site. Which is crazy. So I’m going to post a bunch. For details on procedure and technique, I have two posts linked below. Also… I happen to be teaching a sausage-making class for Metro Continuing Education on October 19, 2016.
This simple sausage goes by many names in my house, among them “everyday sausage”, “plain Jane”, and occasionally “garlic brat”, though it is not a bratwurst in the strictest sense.
I wanted a relatively neutral sausage that would go well with most of the food I cook at home, which I would describe as North American farmstead with a serious … Continue reading.
When I first had Blunz’n at a tavern in Austria I had a very narrow idea of what blood sausage was. Most of the blood sausage I had eaten before this moment I had made myself, following recipes in Ruhlman’s Charcuterie and the Au Pied de Cochon cookbook. These versions are simply pork blood studded with cubes of pork fat and onion. The Austrian Blunz’n before me was radically different: it was soft and moist, but closer in texture to a dumpling then boudin noir, and it was burgundy, not black.
Before I left Austria I got a Blunz’n recipe from one of my chaperones. I read through the recipe and thought there must have been some kind of … Continue reading.