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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This week, two enthusiastic cook-bloggers, Cathy Barrow, of Washington, DC, and Kim Foster, of New York City, put a name to their joint efforts in curing duck breasts for duck prosciutto, hashtagging it on Twitter #charcutepalooza.  Their aim, one Charcuterie challenge per month.  A splendid idea, I thought.  The more cooking and curing that people do, the better the world is.  And the duck prosciutto is a perfect way to begin, an all but foolproof form of dry curing.  They’ve asked me to weigh in when needed and I will.  To their amazement, and my delight, 54 bloggers at last count have embraced the charcutepalooza challenge.  MrsWheelBarrow has the how what where on her site.  Join them in their monthly charcuterie quests!  May the body of charcuterie be with you. OpenSky: A New Internet Commerce Read On »

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I’ve published this photo and this link in the past but it bears reposting, especially as today I will begin the annual Christmas morning pork pie and think about my Uncle Bill. From England with Love, published a few years ago in O magazine, is not only an ode to my Uncle Bill and his mother’s Christmas morning pork pie, it’s also about my beginnings as a writer about food and cooking, a time when I’d never heard the term forcemeat and had no idea what an emulsion was. The slice above is not the recipe Bill’s mom, Elizabeth Morgan, used, but rather a country pâté, with dried cherries and pistachios, enclosed in the pate dough recipe, both from Charcuterie.  I think I will do this year’s version in a terrine mold.  My 15-year-old is Read On »

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