Friday, December 26, 2008

Noisette Round Two

I really enjoyed the Noisette i made a couple months ago, the only problem is that it went too quickly. So i made a huge batch and screwed around with it in several forms. i had these bladder casings just ligering amonst some salt in the fridge i wanted to use up. I'm not sure if theres a traditional recipe one would use to stuff these with, but pork, roasted hazelnuts and fresh tarragon sounded good at the time. It was my first time using them and it was fun to see how big they stretch out to be. By the end of it i couldn't stop thinking to myself what the heck am i going to slice this on. Either way, it was fun, an experience, and something i needed to educate myself on. They look weird hanging in my fridge and the lining is really thick. It was tough to get the meat really compact so i hope there's minimal gaps between the meat. 
I also borrowed a metel pole from a restaurant i used to work at to hollow out a few pork loins to stuff. This just isnt any 
metal pole its been sharpened on one end to cut through the meat. i slipped the cured pork loin onto the tube just like you would a casing and then piped the farce meat into the hole just like you would a salami. I then wrapped it up in cheesecloth and fermented it for a day then off to the curing fridge. i'm excited to see if it binds well in the interior. 

Gone Fishin'

Well not exactly, but we closed down for two and a 1/2 weeks over the holidays for vacation. I'm on my way to New york. I'm driving down with my significant other and pooch. Luckily we have a free place to stay so we will be able to spend more money on food. Theres not many places i'm dying to eat at but i will definitely be checking out Bar Boulud, Daniel Boulud's charcuterie bar. I will also be trying to smuggle across some good cured meats on the way back. Hopefully these couple of weeks will give me time to think of some new ideas for the new year. I need the recharge.

Pork Belly Pastrami

This is a really nice treat if your like me and have eaten many beef pastrami sandwiches. I do this for my restaurant but dont slice it thin. I generally cut it into big slabs of meaty goodness, score it like you would foie gras and sear it to order. You can follow any pastrami recipe you like so i wont right mine down here. Although i will tell you that i usually up the amount of pickling spice in the brine. 

First you want to start with good porkbelly. I'm not talking about the run of the mill skinny little bellies that look like they went on a fast before being slaughtered. I'm talking about  3 inch thick slabs of fat with a bit of meat marbling the interior.  I am currently using brookdale berkshire and i couldn't be happier with the end product. First you want to brine it for 7 days. I add pink salt to my brine to keep its nice colour, otherwise it ends up oxidizing way too quickly and

 the colour looks like crap when trying to serve it to a customer. After brining, i grind up equal parts black pepper and corriander seed and roll the bellies in this peppery goodness. I then hot smoke for a day and then chill the meat overnight. once chilled, i 'll take a hotel pan and put a rack on it with the bellies on top. I fill the container with water about an inch high and cover with saran wrap and then foil to lock in all that smokey goodness. I'll steam braise the bellies till nice and soft all the way through. It generally takes about 5 hours at 350 degrees. At this point its very very tender so let it cool before you try and slice it. 

Monday, December 15, 2008

Update Dec 14th 2008

Things are going just dandy at the Black Hoof. Business is good and were gearing up for a nice two week holiday come the 23rd right through to the 8th of January. I have a lot of stuff on the go right now hanging in the fridges. The Tamworth prosciutto made it through a month of curing without going rotten so thats good news. I have beautiful pancetta and thick slabs of lardo hanging that should be ready shortly. I harvested the first batch of Wild boar with cardamom and orange rind the other day and its fantastic! Just enough of both flavors to taste it but not so much that it overwhelms. I also am really happy with this batch of wild boar and fennel. Version 2.1 is perfect. The bear salami is drying nicely, i'm hanging the bearsoala today. The ostrich salami should be done when i get back from new york and i'm excited about the first batch of pork liver salami i made this past week. Today i'm making Cotecchino, and i will be drying it out over the holidays before i poach it. I will also we doing batches of mole inspired lonzino that is currently curing in chocolate and salt and will eventually be stuffed with a farce of almonds, citrus and other exciting spices usually found in mole.  Hmmm... wait a second.... i actually was trying to phrase that last sentence to explain how i was going to put the farce on the outside, but after re-reading it, i realize that it sounds like i'm actually going to stuff the pork loin, which come to think about it, is a brilliant idea. We used to take a metal rod and push it through a pork loin to remove the center piece and stuff it with prunes at a restaurant i worked at. What if i did that but stuffed it with a farce??  Have i mentioned how much i love charcuterie? till next time. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


A very easy charcuterie item to make and a necessity to any charcuterie plate. Two favorites of mine to make are rabbit and pheasant. The key to a good moist rillette is cooking low and slow. 
I use duck fat as its readily available from one of my suppliers. The first step is to salt cure whatever meat you are using for 12 hours. With something as lean as a bird or rabbit i usually add some cubed back fat or pork belly to help keep it moist and bump it up with some cubed pork shoulder. My salt cure is done by eye and if i had to guess its probably 2/3 salt to 1/3 sugar along with any aromatics i think would go well with the meat.  For the rabbit, i saute off some apples and pears and flambe them with some good gin. A little toss of sugar to lightly caramelize helps too for a bit of added sweetness. For the pheasant, i add chopped up dried apricots or cranberries and both rillettes receive a bit of fresh tarragon. I generally stick to traditional spice mixtures like nutmeg, cinnamon, mace
 and clove. Once cooked very slow and low in duck fat, the meat is strained, and then begins the meticulous process if picking out all those annoying little bones. Once the bones are removed, i use two forks to shred the meat. Once the meat is shred
ded, i add ay dried fruit and begin incorporating the duck fat with a wooded spoon back into the meat a bit at a time. You dont want to beat the fat into it while its piping hot, luke warm is good because you essentially want to emulsify the fat into it  similar to making a mayo. Not enough fat and your rillette will be dry, too much and it will be all fat. Adding things like yellow mustard seeds are always fun as they will bloom a bit and become palatable with the finished product. The tarragon or fresh herb of your choice should be thrown in last minute so it doesn't discolour. Line a terrine mold with saran wrap and pack your mixture into your mold. U
se some cardboard cut to fit on top and weight the terrine down and into the fridge to chill. 12 hours later you should have a creamy fatty terrine ready to be sliced and served room temp with a bit of sea salt. One thing i should mention is that it is meant to be served cold or room temp, so when seasoning make sure you over salt while warm. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Crazy for Pig Ears

This week i've had a serious infatuation with pig ears. With my second batch of testina i decided to throw in the pig ears and cook them over night. We shaved the hair and rinsed out what looked to be ear wax ( and i say "we" because i finally have another cook in the kitchen now). The morning came and the ears were extremely soft and ready to be made into something. The evolution of the pig ear terrine began. it started with just rolling up two pig ears and pressing them. As i finished the first roll, the next idea popped into my head. I sliced some pickled cow's tongue and layered the ears. First layer tongue then an ear, then some more tongue, then another ear and finally some more tongue. I saran wrapped it into a roll and pressed it. Then we were left with one single ear in the pot as the mate to that ear was all broken up. We then decided to wrap the solo ear in prosciutto and last minute through in some cremini mushrooms into the center. With all these terrines we wrapped tight and poked holes to release any air gaps. continuing the process reminding me of the meat cubes we used to do with Activa. Except this time it was the natural gelatin that holds everything together. 
The first time i sliced into it there was a beautiful pattern of cartilage and wavy lines of tongue. Sure it kind of reminds you of tape worms or perhaps the ebola virus under microscope and is probably hard to stomach for most people. But if your a cook and appreciate charcuterie you gotta love how this turned out. Blaaam!

The Importance of Labeling

Running a restaurant kitchen by yourself with no cooks and no dishwasher really eats up alot of your time. I've been working 7 days a week for a couple months now and have been trying to keep up on the charcuterie as best i can. Because i've been in the juice every single day in the kitchen i've neglected some important aspects of charcuterie. The labeling and weighing of things has all but vanished from my list of things to be doing. I've been recording recipes but every other aspect of recording has been forgotten. i knew i had to stock up so i had so many things on the go and all i kept thinking about was stocking up the fridges and trying to get them curing as soon as possible. 
One day i found myself with a few spare hours and decided to take a minute to check on the charcuterie fridge. What i found was a whole lot of salamis covered in mold with no labels. I had no idea of what was what and when it was made. So i spent two hours attempting to figure out what was what. Each salami was like a scratch and sniff sticker but without the picture of the pineapple. I'd scrape a bit of mold off and sniff and hope to guess the right one. Id label them and then guess the week it was made. I bought another fridge and its already full. I've never gone through so much cured meats its crazy. Some days during a busy saturday night i cant stop thinking about these salami's that have taken 3 months that i burn through in a ten hour service.... crazy!


I wasn't sure how this salami was going to turn out. The addition of nuts had me a little worried on how it would slice and cure. As i watched the mold grow and cling to the casing i was curious as to what was happening inside. I'm not really a fan of hazelnuts to be honest but i thought it was better then using walnuts or macadamia nuts and peanuts were definitely out of the question. There was an addition of dried tarragon but in retrospect i really should have used fresh. Similar to the beef and dill i'm sure it would have really shined and really improved the overall flavor. So i have plans to do another one this week using fresh tarragon as i'm on my last stump of the old batch and need to restock. 


So i received three bear roasts from a friend who got them from a hunter. I traded him restaurant credit for 10 lbs of meat and we made it together. I had no idea what to expect from this meat. It was brought to me frozen and wrapped in butcher paper. i had it sitting in my freezer for a week before we made it. It felt like when my parents would put christmas presents out early and you'd have to wait days before you got to open them and see what was inside. I tried shaking the frozen meat but that didn't really give me any hints as to what was inside. 
The day finally came when it was time to open up this early christmas present. The meat was a deep red with the whitest fat marbling i had ever seen. It looked and smelled as if the bear had just been skinned it was surreal. I didn't know what bear would smell like but when i did take a wiff it was  exactly what i would have thought bear smelled like. It was gamey, but not in a lamb way, not in a bison or deer way either just bear. I had thoughts of it smelling like honey but perhaps thats from watching too many cartoons as a kid. One thing i worried about was whether it would smell like fish or berries, depending on what its diet was prior to its last breath. It would suck to have hints of lake trout in a bear salami. I concluded after many wiffs that it was perfect for curing. Unfortunately there wasn't any big meaty loins for making bearsola but i did manage to salvage a few small pieces. The rest got ground up for salami. I decided to do it in hog casings because i wanted to taste it as soon as possible. Both the salami and bearsola got bear minimal seasonings as i want to taste the bear meat with just the addition of salt, pepper and a little garlic powder. 
I'm very excited about the outcome and will report back as soon as its ready. 

Update - Lonzino

My lonzino turned out perfect... well maybe not perfect as the cocoa didn't really shine in the finished product, but there was the perfect amount of fennel in there. I have another batch of eight going which i plan to do different things to all of them. I plan to try a mole type pressed pork loin which is basically cured in chocolate and salt and then wrapped in a mole flavoured farce and then pressed. the others i'm not sure yet.... still pondering what to do with them so for now they're just in a basic lonzino cure.