With all this curing going on over at charcutepalooza, I thought I’d mention a common item that anyone can easily cure, given enough time.  Lemons.  Lemon confit or preserved lemon, is a powerful seasoning and a great pantry item to have on hand. A common ingredient in North African and Middle Eastern cuisines, it adds a beguiling lemony-salty brightness to stews, curries, and sauces. It is amazing minced and tossed into a salad, or used to infused olive oil for a vinaigrette or condiment. It also goes well with chicken, fish, and veal. There may be no purer example of salt’s transformative powers than what it alone does to the lemon. The following recipe is adapted from Charcuterie. If you want a sweeter result you can add a cup or so of sugar.  Not too long Read On »

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I’ve been slammed this week, and now have to travel, if I can get out in this blizzard. But last week I put a whole pork belly on the cure. I’d given it a sweet cure, brown sugar, maple syrup and black pepper, because I wanted to smoke it rather than make pancetta. It was done yesterday but I had no time to smoke it.  Our lives get busy, we don’t have time to finish something, sometimes we’re too tired or the kids have a snow day. What’s so great about charcuterie, as with this bacon, is its preserved.  There’s no hurry. I’ll smoke it next week, and until then, it’s going to sit out, somewhere out of the way. The salt cure has taken care of the bacteria. Its drying will prevent new spoilage Read On »

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Herewith a Canadian bacon recipe (which is American) and a peameal bacon recipe (which is Canadian), inspired by this month’s #Charcutepalooza challenge: Brining. Brining in one of the most powerful forms of seasoning, flavoringand curing meat.  Disperse salt and aromatics in water, then submerge a whole muscle into that salted flavored water.  Water surrounds the meat delivering by osmosis salt and flavor into the meat.  Some may argue that flavor molecules are too big to enter the meat, but my tasting experience says flavors of herbs definitively get into the meat. Brining basics are few: It’s best to weigh your salt so you know exactly how much you have. Make sure your brine is cool if not cold before you put the meat in.  Always refrigerate your meat as it brines. Make sure your meat Read On »

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Welcome to the official #charcutepalooza Safety and Health Concerns post and page, and a place where you can ask questions comprising more than 140 characters that I or others can answer.  Have a look at our book Charcuterie for all general safety issues. Many of you are embarking on unfamiliar waters regarding the curing of meat.  If you’re fearful or nervous, remember that humans have been curing meat for millennia, that civilization depended on the ability to preserve food by curing it for most of human history and that if it were complicated and dangerous we probably wouldn’t be here. As with all cooking, curing meats and making sausages requires the use of all your senses, perhaps most importantly, your common sense.  Think.  Try to reason your question out.  Does this mold look gross?  Don’t Read On »

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Polcyn discusses charcuterie and the food scene in Detroit.  He also talks about the economics of the pig, via Crain’s Detroit.

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