Michael is taking a break from the blog for 10 days. He remains, he says, “very grateful to the readers and especially to the commenters who have offered so much great thought, information, skepticism, and humor.” He hopes to be back a week from Wednesday, provided he does not lose his way, and until then is reposting some of the posts other readers have found useful. — Emilia  Charcuterie at Home: Beef Jerky Originally posted March 2, 2009 Among the most easy and satisfying preservation techniques is beef jerky: cut strips of lean beef (the less expensive the cut, the better), salt and season them, let them cure for a day in the fridge, then spread them out on a rack to dry. When my daughter asked me to buy some at the store, I Read On »

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Two weeks ago, sparked by Dianne Jacobs’s question about what defines a successful cookbook, I wrote this post So You Want to Write a Cookbook. But the questions raised intrigued me so much that I reached out to two editors I currently work with and respect, asking them specifically, what books that didn’t sell well or make money do you consider to be successful and why. Maria Guarnaschelli responded at length and reached well beyond the question (if her name sounds familiar to you, it may owe to the fact that her daughter Alex, is the chef at NYC’s Butter and a Food Network regular). Her thoughts and decision-making process are a must-read for anyone writing cookbooks, and certainly for anyone who wants to. The following—as well Lorena Jones’s comments, which follow Maria’s—were conducted via email: What Read On »

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In honor of this month’s #charcutepalooza challenge over at Mrs. Wheelbarrow, I’m reposting this soppressata recipe from a couple years back. Wishing all who take up the challenge well. Happy curing! While David Lebovitz considers molecular gastronomy and  The Alinea Cookbook in a long and thoughtful post today (he approaches with great skepticism, as he’s a traditionalist at heart, and leaves with appreciation having come back round to where he’d begun but by a whole new route), I would like to consider some of the oldest molecular gastronomical magic known to man.  Combining ground pork and salt and seasonings, introducing to it some microscopic creatures, and waiting for it to dry a little, to achieve a tangy flavorful sausage that has never gone above room temperature. In December, a few of us went in on a pig.  One of the Read On »

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Video: watch the Kocurek Family discuss the history of charcuterie and their business, via Huffington Post.

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During a recent phone call with the excellent Elise of simplyrecipes, Elise wished aloud that I would address the nitrite issue directly.  “Trader Joe’s carries it!  Go look.  Is there one near you?” Indeed there is, and indeed they sell at least two products pitching themselves as a “healthier” bacon because they don’t add sodium nitrite. This is as odious as those sugar laden granola bars trumpeting “No Fat!” on their label—food marketers preying on a confused consumer who has been taught to fear food because of harmful additives (such as the recent, apparently genuine, Red Dye 40 warnings). Full disclosure if you don’t already know: I am a vocal bacon advocate, and one of my books, Charcuterie, relies on sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate for many of its recipes to cure foods such as Read On »

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