Posts Tagged ‘charcutepalooza’

Baked Beans: The Next Generation

Recipe: Smokey Sweet Beans and Quick Chicken Sausage

It’s miserable outside; 34°F, snowing, windy and cold.  I was drenched walking the dogs this morning, in spite of all my wet weather gear. I know the snow won’t stick, and I’m grateful for the crocuses, cherry blossoms, extra day light and the early tulips at the farmer’s market. But spring still feels a long way away.

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Charcutepalooza: A Year of Meat, Chaos and Hope

Recipes: Duck Prosciutto Fig Spread, Mostly Poultry Cassoulet

It’s been a year of living dangerously: curing raw meat, making cheese, tending bread and yogurt starter, making sauerkraut in crock that belonged by my great-grandmother – a year of re-defining normal. And I owe the attitude that fueled all that to Charcutepalooza. I started out nervous. And I’m ending triumphant, with a renewed enthusiasm for all things culinary.

Would I have started making my own cream cheese if I hadn’t signed on? Would I have decided my diet is best defined by a proactive standard, i.e. humanely raised, locally grown, fair trade, etc. versus just drawing an arbitrary line in the sand and eating “no mammals” without Charcutepalooza?

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Another Cure for Charcutepalooza: Duck Salami

Recipe: Duck Salami

Charcutepalooza is almost over. And with the second to last challenge we’ve come full circle – back to curing. I choose the apprentice challenge this time, curing Salami. It’s something I’ve wanted to try for a long time.

My mother’s mother and her step-father were both great cooks. My grandmother, who was born in 1910, never saw a reason to pay for something she could make or grow at home and so largely missed out on the food that was normal in my childhood years – Wonder bread, Tang, Hamburger Helper, and frozen peas. My grandparents had a large garden, fished in Puget Sound, ate seasonally, and cooked with butter, olive oil, and lard. Grandma Blanche lived to be 87, Grandpa Con, 91. Continue reading

The Road To Cassoulet

In an ideal world this post would include a recipe, rather than just a link, for cassoulet– the classic French bean dish that I have yet to make. I’m half way there – yesterday I made duck confit – duck legs preserved in fat; an essential element of cassolet.

But while I’m excited about what I have done this month for Charcutepalooza, skinning and boning a duck for roulade, rendering duck fat, and making the confit, the cassoulet will have to wait.

An old friend I haven’t seen in five years arrives for a weekend visit tonight with her daughter. And someone very close to me goes in for important surgery next week. I’m saving the duck legs for her recovery. It’s going to be a celebratory cassoulet for a Sunday dinner sometime soon. I’ve got a lot of hope pinned to those duck legs.

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Elegance and Champagne Goggles for Charcutepalooza

Smoked Trout and Halibut Mousseline with Champagne Vinaigrette

Presentation: a word that strikes fear into my heart – and the most important element of this month’s Charcutepalooza challenge.  I know, I know, presentation should be important to anyone who loves food – but I have to be honest, I’m really all about the taste.  If you are eating in my home, I want the food to look appetizing, enticing, sure, but as elegant as restaurant service? I’m just not that detail oriented. I’m already too much the type-A person.

Once when I managed a bakery in Boston, a wedding cake order was misdated. We thought the cake was for Sunday, but the wedding was on Saturday. In the middle of a busy afternoon, the panicked call came in from the caterer. Where was the cake? It was baked and frosted, but all the fresh flowers still had to be prepped and put on the cake. I called the wedding cake person, I called the owner. No answer. Everyone who works in retail food service knows the only way to maintain your sanity is never, ever to answer your phone on a day off – unless the call is from the cops or the fire department, because at that point, the crisis is actually over.

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Take This Sausage and Stuff It

Recipe: Blazing Hot Turkey Sausage

Failure is always an option. The Mythbusters slogan, coined by Adam Savage, is meant to show the value of failure in science – as long as you get good data no experiment is a failure. In cooking though, sometimes failure is just failure. Most of the time failures get eaten anyway; but not every time.

My duck sausage for this month’s Charcutepalooza challenge was a spectacular fail. Fifty dollars’ worth of duck, three days in the making; it had the texture of overcooked cornmeal, and tasted like cardboard – with a hit of orange.

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Smoking – It’s Addictive

Smoke is magical; difficult to control; fickle with a hint of danger. No matter how well built your smoking apparatus or precise your temperature measurements, no two fires, even in the confines of the same backyard grill, are ever the same. You either love the process, or hate it.

I am a live-fire freak. So I went all out for this month’s Charcutepalooza challenge. I smoked salmon and trout, I made another batch of bacon, I made Canadian bacon – I even smoked a couple of pheasant breasts. Not to mention the almonds, and the cheese.

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