Cochon 555, a pig celebration & cooking competition held across the USA to raise awareness of sustainable farming & heritage breed pigs, via Cochon 555.

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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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I demoed home-cured bacon at the Blogher 2010 after party Saturday night, with the help of the excellent students of the California Culinary Academy (thanks for the perfect set-up, chef-students!).  I couldn’t do it start to finish, of course.  You need to give the belly a dry rub for a week.  Then you need to cook it for an hour or so.  People drinking bacon martinis on a Saturday night don’t want to stand around watching pork belly cure. I showed the steps though, cooked some up (the folks at CCA had cured it perfectly). I thought everyone was good to go. But the next day, as I waited for the airport shuttle, a woman told me she wanted to cure bacon, even had a smoker (nice but not essential).  She said, “But I’m afraid.” Read On »

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What does artisan butcher mean?  What does artisan mean, for that matter? I’m grateful to Abigail Blake, an American living, cooking, and blogging on the island Tortola, for her comment on my most recent mini-post: I like this explanation from a 1913 Websters: “An artist is one who is skilled in one of the fine arts; an artisan is one who exercises any mechanical employment. A portrait painter is an artist; a sign painter is an artisan, although he may have the taste and skill of an artist. The occupation of the former requires a fine taste and delicate manipulation; that of the latter demands only an ordinary degree of contrivance and imitative power.” Basically, almost any butcher who doesn’t deal in mass production could be considered an artisan. “Artisan” and “artisanal” are certainly useful Read On »

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