Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Holy cats fur!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I dont really have much to say about this one...

Perfect Capicollo

Sometimes. It just doesnt get better then this.
This is a monster cap off a berkshire from Fred at perth pork.
This guy hung for about 4 months and had a beautiful 5 spice added to the cure and the aroma makes me salivate everytime i smell it.
Using good pork makes a world of difference. The fat in this is incredible. Luckily i have about 40 more still hanging.


This is Larzo. Yes i've made this word up. And you know what, im gonna copyright it. Right here, right now. March 24th 2010. Larzo. Blam!(<-kitchen slang)
I've always disliked Lonzino, Lonzo, Lonza, Lomo, cured pork loin.
I've cured it numerous amounts of times and have never really fallen in love with it. Theres always something that has been missing. Its always very blah to me, regardless of the aromatics i've added. What really sold me on my dislike for this cured meat was when i tried some iberico de bellota lomo, it was ok, but it was ridiculously priced at like 250 a kilo.
And then there's Lardo, I love lardo. who doesn't? Well, a lot of people. It breaks my heart when i see pieces of yummy, melty, strips of cured white back fat coming back on a charcuterie plate and into the waste basket. What is it about cured fat that turns some people off? I mean look at our blueberry bison salami, its littered with cubes of fat but people eat that up like msg laced doritos. Perhaps people feel guilty about eating straight fat. I guess i can understand that. Well i cant, but i can try.
So this here Larzo, a cross between cured pork loin and cured back fat, is the answer to my dilemma of the two when cured separately. You have the leanness of pork loin that takes on flavor easily but you have the finish of the Lardo which keeps it moist and offers richness on the tip of your tongue. We dont screw with it much. We dont clean it up, we dont take off the strapping, it comes right off the bone and into the salt. It cures for 14 days and hangs for 3-4 weeks. To do it right, you must weight it during the salting stage so you get a flat compressed brick. It slices well and has the richness of prosciutto, only richer. Do everyone a favour and dont use shitty pork for this. This is only good with the best pork possible. If you can, use whey fed pork. the whey goes straight to the fat and makes it like butter rather then that typical pork fat with a chew. Enjoy!

New Website

Well its been a while...

Perhaps i should rename this blog "Its been a while..."

Moving on, The Black Hoof and Hoof cafe are finally getting a website.
Yes i know, its about freakin' time.
What kind of restaurant in a major metropolitan city doesn't have a website? The only one i can think of is our restaurant. But the time has come and i feel good about this one.
You see this isn't the first time we've embarked on this journey of HTML.
But this is definately the most promising one of them all.

I think what all the past web designers have been lacking is kowledge of what Black Hoof is. Who we are. What food we serve. The environment, the culture, the vibe, and our passion. So, we've finally secured, and by secured i mean we havn't paid them nor have they started the website yet, a duo of web geeks, errr guys, who dine enough at our restaurant to get it and there past work gives me good hope to expect something refreshing compared to the stale typical restaurant website.

This website will be a look into our restaurant, the people who make it all possible, the staff, the dishwasher, our suppliers. It will be interactive. No flash. No bullshit. Hours of operation and contact info will be fully displayed so hopefully people dont continue to show up on tuesdays and wednesdays, because it breaks my heart having to watch them from across the street through the kitchen window of the cafe as i prep on my days off.

I havn't posted in a while since we decided to embark on this "getting our act together website thing" because blogspot is so fucking depressing and all i keep thinking about is this website Jen and I have been designing in our heads.

But, i came on tonight and checked this new blog counter/stalker/CIA thing i added a while back and was surprised at how many people actually read this page. Malta? Australia? UK?
Ok, for real, who's in Malta makin charcuterie....? Show yourself!
Anyways, i've had so much stuff stockpiled these days, so many pics, so many stories, and i was hoping this was going to be a week long web construction but apparently html stuff takes time.
My web guys gave me an itinerary of all there objectives and projected dates.
These guys have there shit together broken down into how many hours they distribute amongst various duties, etc...
And the projected launch date is in april.
So I will have to be patient.
And despite the fact that i cure meat for a living, patience is not one of my virtues....i want everything now now now!

So, to sum it up. Charcuterie Sundays will be integrated into our new site. This Blog on blogspot will no longer exist. It will be much more interactive, pictures will be better, and Jen (My biz partner, not my girlfriend contrary to popular belief) will be sharing her gift in concocting drinks as well. We still have a month and a 1/2 or so left but I will let you know when things change.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sweetbreads: In search of the perfect imperfection

In my experience, sweetbreads are one of the hardest offal to deal with. Heart is pretty consistent, brains no problem, livers are liver, and pretty much everything else is pretty consistent. Sweetbreads however are always different. No matter what supplier your getting them from or how much your paying your only guarantee is that they will be different everytime even the same batch will have its inconsistencies. For me its the most intimidating offal of them all to get right. And when they're right, they're great.
We've tried everything, soaking in milk, butter milk, purging, brining, paoching to all different consistencies, peeling before, after, filleting, pressing, smoking, sauteing, frying, braising, sous vide...flour, cornstarch, flour and cornstarch....the list goes on.
nothings ever consistent enough to make me happy but we deal with them the best we can.
Sometimes they are so tense and chewy and other times they are creamier then brains.
Our technique as of today is we get them in, we begin the soaking process of multiple changes of water, a night in milk for good luck, a rinse and then a 4 hour brine in salt and water.
We used to poach in bouillon, but found the mirepoix flavor too strong, so then we poached in just milk. Better, but still inconsistent because of poaching temps and human error. We then tried Hestons sous vide directions.....67 degrees i think for like two hours... what a load of crock... maybe they eat sweetbreads like that in the UK, but not here in my kitchen.
So we toyed around and concluded that for 30-35 minutes at 59.5 degree's sous vide gives us the best results.
Now, unlike a pork belly, your not going to get the same results time after time. Most cookbooks dont tell you about all the possible things that one should take into consideration or all the possible things that could go wrong. Every things usually written in stone leaving only the "season to taste" up to the cook. So regarding the sweetbreads, use common sense. Sweetbreads come in all different sizes from both the heart and neck cuts. Sometimes they are mangled holding on to eachother with just a bit of membrane, other times they're beautiful plump apple cuts. They may seize up after cooking or they may relax. And sometimes they may be so tense onced cooked you could bounce them off the wall!
Divide them by size in your vac pac bags. Smaller the piece, shorter the cooking time. Large lobes should be broken down where they naturally seperate while keeping they're integrity. These will take longer. Even when sous vide, these fuckers are inconsistent, so i wish you the best of luck.
Onced cooked , shock them in ice water.
Remove from bag and press between two sheet trays. Its important to put a good amount of weight on them. This process is not just to remove blood and moisture from the sweetbreads but also to break down the protein structure so that when you fry or sear them they dont seize and curl up like squid or cuttlefish. Once pressed, the sweets should be relaxed and the outer membrane should be easier to remove.
Some sweets have insane veins running through them that are really strong and will be chewy as hell is you leave them in. Something we've been doing recently is to fillet them like a chicken breast and remove the main vein that runs through them.
The filleting technique is not really mentioned anywhere in books or on the net and yet i think it is one of the most important steps. Sure you can try and pull it out from one end but goodluck in getting it all.
Once filleted, cook as you wish. Our frying time has been reduced my 3/4 of the time we used to now that we sous vide and fillet. Just enough to warm through and develop a nice light crust. As always, new techniques and findings will continue to arise with this amazing but inconsistent delicacy.
Like a steak, let your sweets rest for a minute before they make it out to the table.

Cocoa nib, Hazelnut and Cayenne Salami

Currently our most anticipated salami at the moment, how could these flavors not be great?!? We are always trying to think of new combinations which isn't as easy as it may seem. There are tons of things one could throw into the mix but its important to show a bit of restraint and ease into new transitions. Different ingredients react in different ways. Why does dill hold its colour after months of curing and parsley turns black? Why do some nuts hold in emulsified recipes like mortadella and others seem to jump ship almost instantly when you slice it. You can assume you have all bases covered, make a big batch of something, months later take it down from the curing room and realize you didn't take one little thing into consideration and the finished product is ruined.
Introducing new ingredients is always risky and you never quite know what the final outcome will be until its ready. Certain spices react in different ways. Why does dill make a salami taste so buttery? and why is fennel so pronounced even in the smallest of quantities?
i recently made a salami using 3 citrus peels. lemon, orange and lime with cayenne and coriander. Sounds tasty but really the outcome has the same chance of turning out horrible as it does great. The quantities and the contrast of flavors can work for or against me equally and only time will tell.
Using ingredients your familiar with and ratios of meat to spices is your best bet for success. Every once in a while you introduce something new to expand your knowledge but be prepared for a product you may not be happy with. And do everyone a favour, dont serve it unless your completely satisfied.
This cocoa nib salami is a first for us, but nothing new to the charcuterie game. We decided on the quantity of nibs via rock, paper, scissors.... My suggestion was less, Branden's was more, he beat me with a scissor if i remember correctly and i will be beating him with a rock if it turns out shit.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Branden "Newest guy but not quite new anymore" Olson

Sometimes, You just gotta let loose.... Branden has recently fallin head over heels for the song "blind" by Hercules and love affair. He has also been working 7 days a week for a month now (his choice) and sometimes one must take a break from making salamu and really let loose, drop all inhibitions and act a fool.
People, this is BRANDEN OLSON!
And please crank the volume!
(ps.. i told you i would post it!)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Suckling Pig Summer Sausage

We've never used suckling pig in a salami before but when we had some extra pieces we didn't have any particular use for we thought why not? It has such a distinctive flavour and since we had the hay from the farm it comes from we decided to smoke it with its own hay.
Summer sausage is a pretty quick process. Grind and mix your meat. Ferment for several days (in this case, only 1 day so we didn't over sour its delicate flavour). Smoke slowly till you reach the optimum internal temperature.
We tasted it already, you can definately taste the hay, we vac packed it and id like to let it rest a little before i give my final thoughts.

Recycled Salami

We go through a lot of cured meats at the Black Hoof and now the cafe. We only use so much of these cured bits of flavor in soups, sauces, ragu's etc.... so we need to find another use for them.
A couple months ago i diced up some prosciutto ends and folded them into a genoa salami and not only did it turn out extremely well, it also gave it an amazing richness that you can only get from a cured ham.
So, the idea here with this "recycled salami" is to use everything from duck ends, pancetta, summer sausage, pepperoni, etc.... everythings fair game. i will only add enough raw meat to bind it plus a little, as for salt, i will minimize the typical 2-3 % by a little and assume the already cured meats may give off a bit. I will not be adding any seasoning other then salt and hope that the flavor from the pre cured meat will be flavourful enough. We'll see......

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Smoked Plantain

My newest addiction! We made plantain for the Haitian fundraiser. The concept of the smoking was very last minute. Everything in the kitchen should always have the chance to see a smoker and this time we stumbled upon something great! Not sure it has been done before but it is fantastic! We finish it with a little chili lime salt/sugar mixture. Depending on how smoky you want it you can score the plantains skin or smoke it peeled.

Making Blood Sausage

Blood sausage is a messy job, And can get even messier in a cramped kitchen with four guys prepping around you, but despite what many people might think, its actually very easy to make once you have all the key ingredients. The basic ingredients are blood, cream, bread, onions, back fat, and spices. We have made it numerous times and we have always had an issue of the diced back fat (which gets blanched before adding to the blood) setting uneven in the casing due to gravity and the fact that the blood is so thin. Basically, as we filled the casing, all the back fat and onions would fall to the bottom half and set when we poached it so that when you sliced into the sausage 1/2 was pure blood, the other 1/2 had all the fat.
We couldn't find any information on how to fix this so we put our heads together and figured that if we slowly warmed the blood there would be a point where it thickened but didn't fully coagulate.
Here's Branden wisking away, keeping the blood moving as we applied the heat. We found that at 146/147 degree's F the blood began to thicken without seizing .
It's pretty important to move quickly at this stage, make sure you have an ice bowl to chill down the blood as quickly as possible. Strain it out as there will be a bit of coagulated blood bits that will just not look pretty in the final product.
We begin whisking it over ice to bring the temp down as quick as possible.
We also tried making blood foam as a joke and it tasted like crap. Actually, it tasted like blood. We figured that wouldn't be something one would want to taste on a dish at the hoof or anywhere for that matter.
Thoshon got to stuff the casing. One thing you must do is check your casings for any holes by tying one end and filling them with water. Thoshon forgot this step, hence why we had to tape up this link. This is a messy part of the recipe any way you try so give yourself some space to get messy. We use our sausage stuffer instead of the traditional funnel to fill the casing.
Cook the sausage at 80 degrees for about 18 to 20 minutes. Longer if your not pre-thickening the blood. immediately take it out carefully and shock it. Let the sausage rest for a day before slicing. Sear and enjoy!