This week I had the opportunity to cook with pig’s blood. There’s actually more classical applications for blood than you may think.
Fresh blood has a beautiful colour, similar to red wine, but with an opalescent sheen. When heated, the blood turns burgundy, then brown, and eventually black. It coagulates somewhere around 75°C, which makes it ideal for thickening liquids.
Civet: A Gateway Dish
If you’re at all squeamish about cooking with blood, this is probably a good dish to start with.
The two things that make a civet a civet are: one, that game is marinated in wine which is later used to braise the meat; and two, that the braising liquid is thickened with blood and used as … Continue reading.
When butchers break down a side of pork, they are after the several lean cuts of meat, the bones that can be used in stock or sold as dog treats, and the large pile of trim that can be ground into sausage meat. The only parts that typically go to waste are the head, the glands (particularly prevalent in the jowls, but also in the hind legs), and the skin.
Progressive (or retrogressive?) eaters don’t have a problem with pig head, and the glands represent a very small amount of waste, maybe 100 g on a side of pork. That leaves the skin. While it can be put into a broth or cassoulet, there happens to be a much … Continue reading.
I just finished my first batch of dry-cured sausage. It is essentially fresh ground pork, stuffed into casings with nitrate and seasonings, then left to dry. The temperature and humidity have to be just right for the sausage to dry properly. I experimented with climate-control when making pancetta this past spring. In that case the meat had already been cured in my fridge, and the drying was just to change the texture. The pancetta was also cooked before eating. This is a whole other ball game, as these sausages aren’t cured in the fridge beforehand, and aren’t cooked before eating.
Dry-curing is an interesting process. With most charcuterie preparations, there are easily-described visual indicators to guide you along. For instance, … Continue reading.
This week I made a duck liver pâté and served it with sour cherries. Both the livers and the cherries came from Greens, Eggs, and Ham.
The recipe was adapted from that for pâté grand mère in Michael Ruhlman’s Charcuterie. Duck livers can generally stand in for chicken livers.
1: Season the pork and liver (separately), with salt, pepper, bay, and thyme. Leave the mixtures overnight in the fridge.
2: The next day, chill the meat grinder and mixer parts. Ice water is particularly effective. You can also preheat your oven to 300°F.
3: After removing the bay leaf and thyme, sear the livers quickly over high heat. This is done strictly to enhance flavour and colour. Remove the … 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.
The term “barbecue” is used pretty loosely around these parts. Most often it refers to an outdoor grill, but I have also had “barbecued” items in restaurants that haven’t been anywhere near an outdoor grill. In fact, these items, usually ribs or pulled-pork, have been braised or even stewed in an acidic solution called “barbecue sauce”.
True barbecue is meat, usually pork, that has been smoked at low temperatures for several hours. Tough cuts that stand up to lengthy cooking are the most common, especially pork shoulder and ribs, as well as beef brisket. The home of true barbecue is the American south, notably the Carolinas and Tennessee. True barbecue is unlike any other meat. It is transcendent. Complex, aromatic … Continue reading.
Slow-cooked pork that is mixed until creamy and spreadable. It is very similar to the French rillette. Rillettes are traditionally sealed in ramekins with rendered fat. This is great for potted pork, too. Especially in winter, as the fat looks like a skating rink once it sets, and because with the addition of a sprig of rosemary and some peppercorns, you can imitate holly.
- 2 kgs pork shoulder (preferably the round “blade roast” from the Boston butt)
- kosher salt
- black pepper
- dried summer savoury
- fresh thyme
- 1/4 yellow onion, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- roughly 1 L quality lard
- roughly 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
- Rub generous salt, black pepper, and dried
… Continue reading.