©photos by Donna Turner Ruhlman—see more at: Ruhlmanphotography.com When Donna found herself in NYC at the Ace Hotel last fall, she spent a couple nights in the Breslin kitchen watching executive chef April Bloomfield, Breslin chef de cuisine Peter Cho, and crew rock (that’s Peter and April top right). The trotter caught her eye.  It’s the perfect example of why this post could be called Why April Is Not the Cruelest Month But Rather the Best Porker, or simply Why We Love April.  The British chef takes a great Italian classic, a zampone, as she notes, breads it, fries it in olive oil and butter, and serves it as their “Pig’s Foot for 2.”  It’s the boned out trotter, stuffed with cotechino, a pork and pig skin farce.  Peter says it’s currently served with braised Read On »

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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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