30 November, 2011

Curing a Ham for Christmas

Ham ready to cure

I picked up a 22# ham today. I'm brining it with the bacon cure recipe. I ended up making 10 liters.

Removing the aitch bone

Before I put it the bucket, I removed the aitch bone. This is part of the hip bone that will cause carving trouble later. I gave it to the dog.

See you in a week.

18 November, 2011

Smoked Snout in Beta

Smoked snout, lentils, Swiss Chard

St. Martin's Day marks the begining of the traditional pig slaugherting season in Spain. The pig has spent the year carelessly munching on acorns, then November brings the cooler weather, ripe for some wet work.


My favorite part of St. Martin's Day is the colloquialism it spurred: A cada cerdo le llega su San Martín, Every pig has it's St. Martin's Day. Fun huh? I haven't been to Spain in many years but I'm sure this aphorism is muttered all over the penninsula.

This year I didn't slaughter or even butcher a pig, but I did pick up a head. I've done a stuffed pig's head, porchetta di testa a couple of times, I was inspired last year by pictures on flickr by dominic c. While my heads turned out good, I wanted better. This time around I focused making a snout sized roller.

boned head

I boned out the head and cured the intact piece plus the tongue in a Bacon Brine for two days.

Stuffed snout ready to smoke

Using the tongue and cheeks, I stuffed and rolled the snout. A bit of smoking and voilà.

Smoked snout

This is the point where I have trouble, the skin is way too chewy. I figure a long low temp water bath is the ticket. Since I lent my sous vide rig to my neighboor to wash sweaters, I had to do it the old fashioned way.

Snout ready to poach

I rolled it torchon style (as shown in a previous post)and poached it with some aromatics for several hours.

It slices really nice and it frys up like a creamy bacon. So it's a start, and a tasty one. I had a little trouble with the slice fracturing while cooking. Maybe I'll get some meat glue like the pros use. I'll work it out and get back to you with a recipe. In the meantime, happy cooking.


10 November, 2011

Liver sausage and other names

Amuse-bouche: Goat kibbeh, liver sausage, cranberry

Liver sausage. Liver. Just the word makes some people uncomfortable, whereas others may refer to the belly or the loin or the ham with delicious anticipation. I have always liked liver, as kid I remember smooshing chicken liver pate on club crackers at Christmas parties. Fat and unami whipped together in a spreadable paste, what's not to love?

I have several posts about making liver sausage/pate. In this episode I do a sliceable liver sausage, and I'll show you a restaurant trick of forming sausages with plastic wrap.

Liver Sausage

Yield : 4 1/2 pounds more than plenty for a party. It freezes uncooked very nicely.

900 g (2lbs) Pork shoulder cut up
650 g (1-1/2lbs) Pork liver cut up
450 g (1 lb) Pork fat cut up

30g salt
4 g pink salt
7g white pepper
5g mustard seed
1g mace

20g garlic
2g fresh bay

100 ml beer

Run the meats, or as the pros say, proteins, through the grinder. spread it out on lined baking sheet and throw it in the freezer for 20 minutes.

In the meantime combine the salts and spices and and process them in the spice grinder.

Mince the garlic and set aside. BTW Last month, I saw the video of how to peel garlic in ten seconds, it works. It claims you don't need special equipment, but I would recommend getting some stainless bowls, they're cheap. Find them at a restaurant supply store or K-Mart. Here's the video from Saveur Magazine.

Back to the recipe.

Remove the veins and pulverize the fresh bay leaves. Set aside. I don't recommend using dried. Go buy a bay tree.

The 20 minutes is up on the meats in the freezer, now that it's a little crunchy run it though the grinder again. Now using the paddle attachment on a stand mixer, or a really big spoon, beat in, one at a time, the spices, the herbs and the beer. Continue to mix until the pate comes together about a minute or two.

A word about beer. In the past I have used a white wine or a Fino in my liver sausage. A boozy beer like an IPA or a barley wine works really well here. As I have mentioned before it is not the beer flavor (which is important) but the alcohol that grabs and amps the flavors in our mixture. Give it a try, or eliminate the booze altogether and use water.

Roulades, torchons oh my.

When I first started prepping at the gastro-brew-pub, the chef had a chicken skin torchon on the menu. I had never heard of a torchon as a preparation (it's French for kitchen towel, I have many torchons in my kitchen), furthermore a chicken skin rolled is a galantine, right? That evening I raced through all my old cookbooks, Larousse, Escoffier, I could not find any reference to torchon. On the Internet I found the French Laundry, were they took foie gras rolled it in a kitchen towel twisted tight and poached it. Foie gras au torchon. Whatever, food names always sound more interesting in French.

When a new chef came on, he had us roll pate in plastic; a roulade, one cook said. Uh well sort of...A torchon, yeah I guess...with all the cooking school training between us we never came up with the term for rolling sausage in plastic. Whatever the name, it's a good method to make sausage with out casings, it just requires a trip to the restaurant supply for a big roll of plastic. I used an 18" roll.

In these pictures I made 1lb packages, but I suggest you start with 225g (8 oz) portions. wipe down the counter with a damp cloth and lay out the plastic. Make an log on the middle of the film. Start rolling. pull the ends taught, squeeze the middle, keep rolling.

I often got in trouble for not rolling enough plastic. So when you think you have done plenty, just roll a little bit more.

Pull off a long length of plastic to tie off an end. Repeat for the other side.

Now it gets interesting. If you have a partner, tightening the rolls is easy, but solo works too. Using a sausage pricker or a cake tester make some holes in the plastic, pay close attention to air pockets, so that they can get squeezed out.

Working in a team, one person holds the package vertically and twists it tight while the other makes knots. In the solo version, the package lays flat and the series of knots on both ends makes the roll tighter and tighter. Just keep putting one knot on top of the other.

Liver sausage rolls

At this point you could throw the sausage rolls into the freezer and cook them off as needed. For cooking, make sure they are fully thawed, and poach in a water bath for 25-30 minutes or to when the internal temperature reaches 145F.

Liver sausage

By upping the proportion of pork and lowering the amount of fat, I get a nice sliceable liver sausage. Perfect for the holiday smorgasbord. Give it a try.

Tryout for the holiday smörgåsbord.  Pickled tongue, liver sausage, smoked squash, rosemary mayo, kimchee


03 November, 2011

Cambridge Sausage and Mash

Bangers and mash: Crispy sweet potato, Cambridge sausage, smoked spaghetti squash, mustard mash

It's #britishsausageweek or British Sausage Week for my Twitter averse friends. Since Jamie Oliver is participating in the promotion of UK sausage, I figure I could do my bit from across the pond.

Americans have and odd relationship with British cuisine. On one hand we can't resist the urge to regurgitate the cliche of their food as heavy, tasteless and unimaginative. On the other I've lost track of how many gastro-pubs with English sounding names dot our fair city. But what about sausage?

Here in America we know only one British sausage, the Banger! Actually that's the nickname for about any sausage and what we call a banger would probably be the Cambridge sausage in the UK. The Oxford Companion of Food identifies no less than 10 British sausage varieties including one sausage, the Cumberland, which gained Protected Geographical Status, from the EU earlier this year. For my British Banger I chose to focus on the Cambridge sausage.

Cambridge  or Cambridgeshire sausage

The Cambridge Banger

900g (2lbs) Pork Shoulder
100g (3 1/2 oz) Rusks or fine bread crumbs (see notes)
14g (2 t) Salt
3 g white pepper
1 g mace
1 g cayenne
4 g fresh sage chopped fine (see notes)
2 g fresh thyme chopped (see notes)

225 ml (1 cup) Ale (see notes)

Hog casings for stuffing.

Grind the pork shoulder twice, then using a mixer with a paddle attachment or a big wooden spoon beat in the rusks and then the remaining ingredients. Continue to mix until you get a uniform pate. Stuff into hog casings.


A word about rusks. Many different food products are called rusks. The rusks for sausages are superfine breadcrumbs. Sausages in the UK have a long tradition of containing cereals of one kind or another. It probably started as a means to extend the meat, first for necessity, later for profit. Nevertheless adding bread crumbs changes the texture of the sausage in such a way that it must considered as part of the recipe. That said, I'm not a huge fan of it.

Try to use fresh herbs. Thyme and sage are ridiculously easy to grow. If using dried, use half the amount.

Ale: The alcohol in the recipe enhances the flavors from the herbs and spices. After cooking for 1 1/2 years in a brewpub, I have come to appreciate the properties of beer in recipes. Give it a try, if not use water.


British sausages got their nickname "banger" due to their propensity to explode during cooking. Do not blow up your banger. All sausages, especially ones without added fat, must be cooked gently, and not too long. I cooked these bangers (pictured above) in a 300F oven for 15 minutes.

So we have a banger, some mashed tatties, how about some sauce.

Banger sauce

This piquant banger sauce is a pound of sliced onions caramelized then pureed with 3 ozs of Worcestershire and 3 ozs of butter. Wicked good, as the kids say.

Bangers and mash for British Sausage Week. Make it yours.


Sources (Book links to WorldCat)

British Charcuterie by Reekie

The Oxford Companion to Food by Davidson