Archive for the ‘Charcutepalooza’ Category

Irish Thanksgiving for Charcutepalooza

What happens when a boy whose parents are from Belfast marries a Catholic girl, whose not-so-distant roots go back to Poland and southern Ireland? Their children grow up skeptics, who are not inclined to discuss religion. And St. Patrick’s day is a pretty subdued affair.

My parents had already been married twenty years by the time I came along, so whatever discussion or discord the holiday may have once caused in our household was long over, with only two tangible results:  I was forbidden to wear green on the 17th of March, and we always ate corned beef for dinner, always with sauerkraut.

I hated them both. And don’t ask me why the sauerkraut, rather than cabbage.  None of it is authentically Irish, anyway.  Maybe it was rebellion on my mother’s part. All I know is that both the sauerkraut and the beef came from and tasted of, their respective cans.

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February’s Charcutepalooza Challenge: Blown Away by Bacon (part 2)

(Read Part 1)

My homemade bacon turned out to be emotionally complicated. I’m still wondering if maybe rather than write about it, I should have just developed a recipe for bacon ice cream.

Close friendships are sometimes hard to hang on to.  Especially the ones that define you when you are young. You grow, you and your friends take different paths, your life’s realities, good and bad, change you.  You make new friends, maybe you share your life with one, two or a few people who become part of the continuing nexus of who you are. If you are lucky, as I am, some of those people are the ones who “remember you when”, and love you anyway.

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February’s Charcutepalooza Challenge: Blown Away By Bacon (Part 1)

Charcuterie is alchemy; the power to transform one substance into another using simple ingredients and patience.  I’m not saying that salt has the power of Midas.  That’s something you have to decide for yourself.

I started February’s apprentice Charcutepalooza challenge with three pounds of pork belly, lots of salt, some pink curing salt, brown sugar, coriander seeds, black pepper and less than a ¼ cup of really good local cider. As much as I wanted to use all nine pounds of my pork belly and plunge into the more advanced charcutrie challenge (making pancetta), along with the bacon, I decided to pace myself – though only in terms of pork.

Right now, I’ve got preserved lemons aging in the pantry, a filet of salmons curing in the garage and a crock of  sauerkraut fermenting  in the closet under our stairs.  I suspect my husband might be planning some kind of an intervention.

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Where There’s Smoke, There’s Relish

Till last week, I hadn’t smoked anything in years.

As much as I like urban living, it has drawbacks.  In Seattle my neighbors were really close-in. One in particular, and she always made her presence felt. In the first week that we lived in the house, she complained about  my dogs, my parking and the noise our movers made. And the first time I lit my grill she let me know  how much she objected to the smell of a genuine wood fire.

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Going Whole Hog

Salmon and trout, cured and smoked.

The parking lot was dark and deserted. I’ve already been waiting 10 minutes, with my engine and headlights off when the beat-up white van pulls up. I get out of my car. A man dressed in black clothing, wearing a black ski mask gets out the back of the van; in his hands my six pounds of pork belly.  I handed him my cash and he gives me my meat. No words are exchanged.

For the sake of Charcutepalozza, I’ve found my way to the world of underground meat.

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