Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Word on the Street..

Is that someone may be bringing by some bear meat for me. Bearsola anyone? i also have ostrich coming in today because i told my bus boy that he should learn to make a salami and he was all for it. so i told him to pick any type of animal meat and that we would make a salami out of it. Well, after much deliberation he came back to me with ostrich. Why didn't i ever think of that? Anyways, were gong to do ostrich with thyme. He wants to keep the seasoning simple with nice cubes of fat he said. And last but not least, Beaver. I have yet to find out whether it is even legal to have beaver meat or whether you can even hunt, cure, eat them. But i'm looking into it. A friend mentioned it to me and it peaked my interest. 

Wild Boar with Cardamom and Orange rind

So yesterday i had some wild boar defrosting and no plans of what to do with it. I remembered a dish we did at my last restaurant that used cardamom and orange and with no other ideas at the time decided to whip together a recipe. I was fighting back and forth whether to use green or black cardamom and after tasting the two in its raw state i decided to go with black. I also through in some ground ginger, white pepper, garlic, salt and some blanched orange rind in simple syrup to cut its bitterness. I used a decent amount of fat all hand cut into small cubes.
I have a lot of salami's hanging in beef middles and bung caps so i decided to do this salami in regular pork casings. The decision was also made because i'm running out of stock for the charcuterie bar and i need something that will be ready in a month hopefully. I was hesitant to use a lot of orange or cardamom because either of the two in large quantities could surely put you off. So i started this recipe on the conservative side and i will see how the flavors develop and tweak if necessary on my next batch. If all goes well i will post a recipe. My next salami will be a mole inspired salami.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


So the last pigs head that came in had a jowl missing. So Testina was out of the question. So i made guanciale with it and boiled the head for stock which eventually gets used in this recipe. This week i got a fully intact head and just happened to have a friend come into work with me for the day who just happened to be a butcher. So while i cured some other meats he was tackling the pigs head. Now taking everything off the skull in one piece is not as eay as some may think. Scott the butcher did a perfect job except for a couple missed grooves of meat. But he did it pretty quick and he was working for free so i forgave him :) The head went into a brine for a couple days. 

Once brined (which isn't a neccessary step) i split the head in 1/2 and halved each jowl to fold it over the other side to balance out the fat content. i did the same thing with the meat. if you have to remove the meat and filet it to make a nice even layer of meat, do so, it wont effect the finished product. I then heavily seasoned the meat with salt, pepper, and nutmeg, a traditional method i was told from a friend named Chris. I let that sit over night and then rolled each 1/2 head up with the rind on the outside and wrapped it in cheesecloth and tied it like a roast as tight as i could. 

I then brought the pigs stock from the other head up to a boil with a bunch of aromatics and lots of carrots as per Chris' recommendation. and poached the head for about 18 hours on a light simmer. 
Once fully cooked, i removed the two roulades and waited till they cooled a bit and then wrapped them tightly in saran wrap poing holes constantly to remove any air holes in the middle of the roll. Two rules here, you can never use too much saran 
wrap and never make too many holes to achieve a perfect roll.

Once fully wrapped, puncture a few last holes and press between two sheet trays with a good amount of weight on it. Let sit for 12 hours in the fridge, unwrap and you should be left with a nice looking testina. If its not perfect dont be too concerned. you turned a whole lot of nothing into somethin'. Slice and season with a bit of olive oil and sea salt and serve with some toasted bread. Yum!

2 Year Investment

So i received 1/2 a pastured Tamworth heritage pig the other week. I split the whole pig with a chef friend and the price was unbelievable for the quality. We bought it from John and Marcia at Blue Haven Farms and the size and colour was amazing. The ham was 35 lbs , 20 once trimmed for prosciutto, needless to say it was massive! It will definately take closer to two years of hanging, if it even makes it that far without spoiling. We will see... I like learning things progressively. So i just wanted to cure this ham with salt and nothing else. Actually, i'm lying. i through a little instacure #2 in last minute after thoughts of this beautiful piece of meat going rotten. Not that cure # 2 will give me complete piece of mind but it will definitely help. 
I used coarse salt. 4% of the weight to be exact. and 1 g instacure #2 per lb of meat. i split the salt and cure mixture into 2/3 and 1/3. I used the larger batch of salt and cure and rubbed it all into the ham. Most of it on the exposed flesh paying special attention in and around the bone as well as on the top. I also rubbed it into the skin but dont be surprised if it just falls right off!
I put the ham into a clean bus pan with a rack underneath so that the hams dont sit in there own brine. i also weighted it 10 kg of weight, in this case, a large can of sauerkraut i bought in quebec. This initial salting and weighting period will run for two weeks. Then i will gently rinse any remaining salt and repeat the process with the smaller amount of salt mixture i reserved and weight for another two weeks. Once thats done, it will go through a fermenting period and then a hanging period.  I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The black Hoof

So, the charcuterie bar is moving along well.
We are busy and i have never in my life seen so many chefs in one place at one time eating and drinking every day of the week, except for the days that we are closed, but ive heard of a few chef groups that have came down on our off days only to realize that we close tuesday and wednesday! 
Its nice to see that our vision and goals have fallen into place exactly as we saw them. Our concept was to stay open late (2am) serving food and open on every other restaurants off days (sunday, monday) and it has paid off. Its interesting to see groups of chefs walk in and realize that theres 5 other parties of cooks and industry people they know all in the same spot. By 2am it generally becomes one big shit show of drunkin' restaurant employees who at one point enjoyed there own cozy table all standing and talking to a handful of people they didn't originally arrive with. Unfortunately for me. 12-2am is my busiest time. I watch them enter, group by group, slowly filling up the tables like a 6 o'clock rush, only its 12 o'clock and its already been a long day. I start cutting bread, filling up pickle plates, i bring out my arsenal of personal cured meats as they all want the stuff i make in house, rabbit, horse, venison, bison, duck... As the night progresses, all the meat i've made that has taken me months to cure slowly dwindles by the blade of the slicer or takobiki. I continually think to myself, how much do i have left in the curing room, when will these guys stop showing up in the masses so i can get caught up, is it almost tuesday yet? 
I can get a little juiced when the orders start rolling in mainly because i am by myself and i dont like to pre slice anything. Luckily for me, most of the cooks can see my dilemma...a one man show in a small space using a white electric stove and my pots and pans from home to cook there food. I'm surprised none of them have asked if they could jump in and man a pan or two while i slice. Most of them ive worked with, so i know atleast some of them can sear foie or cook some merguez.... either way, they're happy to wait cause its almost 2am and there getting fed something other then a burrito or pizza.... cause thats my meal. After 2am, thats whats still open for me. the battles continues.