Saturday, October 15, 2011

Ballotine (Galantine) of Chicken

I was pretty excited by this month's Charcuterie challenge.  I've never deboned a whole chicken, so I was looking forward to the experience.  I found this video where Jacques Pepin explained the process and made it look easy.  So why did I wait until tonight to make the Ballotine?

Okay, things came up.  During the challenge month, I had house guests -- twice-- and this just wasn't something that was going to work.  I almost made it once, but whole Rosie organic Chickens went off sale.  Then there was my daughter's cross country meet, then her school dance...So I'm finally making the Galantine tonight.  Of course my wife has a work dinner tonight, and my daughter decided to go with her... Okay, so I guess it's going to be a Galantine (served cold).

I'm using a recipe in Victoria Wise's American Charcuterie.  When I was in school, I lived just off of Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley's "Gourmet Ghetto".  Two of my favorite take-out places were Poulet and Victoria's Pig-by-the-Tail.  Victoria has a recipe for a Galantine of Chicken that I modified slightly (no tarragon please), and I used Jacques' technique to debone the chicken.  I poached the chicken as per the recipe.  When it was done, it was 158 degrees in the center.

This will be eaten cold, tomorrow, unless something else comes up...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

English Pork Pie

Its been a busy three weeks of pork.  I picked up a pig head from John Bledsoe at the Davis Farmers market 2 Saturdays ago.  I wanted to make some guanciale, but since I had the head, I made headcheese as well.

Then last Saturday a friend of mine was down from Eugene, OR.  At home he's not much into food, but he's always up for an adventure.  So we picked up a pork belly and some pork shoulder.  We ground the pork shoulder, mixed it with some ground chuck and stuffed some Kielbasa which we later hot smoked and ate for dinner.  I used the remaining pork shoulder to make rilletes.  Then I showed him how I cure pork belly for bacon.  The belly went into the fridge for a week.  My friend loved the Kielbasa, but couldn't believe how easy it was to make.  That pork belly could end up as slices of bacon surprised him, but he just couldn't wrap his head around the pork cheeks hanging in my wine fridge or the terrine of head cheese in the fridge.

To finish my two weeks of all things pig, I went to the Davis Food Co op for some more pork shoulder for this month's English Pork Pie Challenge.   I did an all butter pastry dough since all of my lard is covering the rilletes.  I've got to say that my success with pastry is a little hit or miss.  It's really hard now because it's so hot in Davis at this time of year.  I have to work really quickly when working with the dough to keep the fat from becoming too soft.  Then I'm never sure what the crust is going to do in the oven.  Will it puff up and brown nicely or leak all over the pan?

So how did the Pork Pie turn out?  Hit and miss.  One side of the pastry puffed up nicely while the other side leaked all over the pan.  Good though.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Toe Cheese

Right off, the Toe Cheese for this month's Charcutepalooza challenge was a bit of a failure. Despite the fact that I have been traveling on the east coast for the last 2 weeks, I was able to order pig feet and shanks from Caw Caw Creek in Columbia, SC. I used the recipe in Charcuterie as a guide, but the headcheese was lacking in the flavor department. I ended up leaving most of it for my parents to dispose of at their beach house in South Carolina.

Some good did come from the endeavor though. When I placed my pork order with Caw Caw Creek, I added an order of pig tails.. I received 6 tails for 6 dollars. I simmered them for about 3 hours then roasted them in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes. There was just enough meat to make the gnawing effort worthwhile and the meat and skin were delicious. They were porky goodness.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Boudin Blanc with Asparagus and a Poached Egg

This post should be about Mortadella. The Charcutepalooza challenge for the month was emulsified sausages, and I was pretty excited to make Mortadella for the first time. Unfortunately, I waited too long to order Sodium Phosphate from Butcher Packer. Sodium Phosphate is used as a binder in Mortadella and I was going to use it in lieu of the dry milk powder in the Charcuterie recipe. I'm not a big fan of the taste that dry milk powder imparts in things Charcuterie. I'm still waiting on my Butcher Packer order, so the Mortadella experiment will have to wait.

Fortunately, upon the announcement of the emulsified sausage challenge, I whipped up some Boudin Blanc from the recipe in Charcuterie. It was a pretty strait forward process, but the light texture of the sausage made stuffing it a little tricky. The resulting sausage was good but not my favorite. The flavor was good but I prefer a firmer textured sausage.

A note on thus poached egg on top of the asparagus...Michael Ruhlman has posted previously about the Bad Ass egg spoon he sells on Open Sky. I bought a stainless steel Oxo spoon and used my drill press to perforate it. Works like a charm...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Smoked Chicken and Roasted Garlic Sausage (with bonus STX Turboforce grinder review)

Okay, this is ostensibly a post about making Smoked Chicken and Roasted Garlic Sausage for the May Charcutepalooza challenge.  But I've been stuffing and smoking meat for a while now and I don't have much more to say about it.  I used the recipe from Charcuterie, for the sausage and once again it turned out pretty darned good.  I used it in a gumbo one night, but it so reminded me of the sausages at Top Dog in Berkeley that I decided to just grill it up and eat it on a roll like they do there.  Pretty darned tasty...

"STX TURBOFORCE 3000 SERIES - 1800 WATT" 2.4 HP RATED ELECTRIC MEAT GRINDER - 3 HARDENED STEEL CUTTING BLADES - SAUSAGE STUFFING TUBES!!!The real news is my new meat grinder.  I've been using it for the past couple of months and I really like it.  I was using the sausage grinding attachment for my Kitchenaid Mixer, but I wasn't very happy with it.  I usually only grind about 5 pounds of meat at a time, but the Kitchenaid struggled to keep up with even this limited amount.  Commercial grinders were much too expensive, but then I found the STX Turboforce grinder.  This is not even close to a commercial grinder.  In some ways it seems less substantial than the Kitchenaid attachment.  But it has #10 grinding plates (see note below), a large hopper for the meat, and all the grinding parts are made of metal (aluminum for all but the grinding plates and cutting blade).

Put into use, the motor slows a bit when under the load of grinding meat.  But it never stalls, doesn't seem to heat up, and grinds the meat much faster than the Kitchenaid.  I don't hesitate if I have a recipe that calls for grinding.  I just throw all the parts in the freezer for a few minutes then grind away.

I highly recommend the STX Turboforce for anyone who wants to upgrade their grinder from a Kitchenaid but doesn't want to pay for a commercial grinder.

Note: My grinder shipped with 3 carbon steel grinding plates and 2 stainless steel cutting blades.  The holes for two the grinding plates measure 5/32", 9/32".  The third plate has pie slice shaped holes for course grinding.  The two grinding plates for my Kitchenaid measure 3/16"and 1/4".  I don't notice much difference between the course plates, but the 5/32" produces a noticeably finer grind than the Kitchenaid 1/4"plate.  This works for sausages like bangers or the Smoked Chicken and Roasted Garlic Sausage, but I would suggest ordering 1/4" and 3/8" #10 plates from or

The stainless steel blades for the STX were a bit dull out of the box.  I touched up the edges with a diamond stone before grinding.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Chorizo, Potato and Seared Scallop Tacos

This month's Charcutepalooza challenge was chorizo. I've made chorizo before, so I wasn't too inspired by the challenge and I kind of waited until the last minute to finish it. But I recently bought a new meat grinder, and I've been taking a creativeLive food photography course taught by Penny De Los Santos. So at the last minute, I decided to embrace the challenge.

Yesterday I picked up some pork butt from John Bledsoe at the Saturday Davis Farmers Market. I like Bruce Aidells' chorizo recipe in his Complete Sausage Book, but I modify it slightly by cutting the pork into chunks and coating them with the dry spices in his recipe, then let them sit overnight in the fridge. I ground the sausage today, then mixed in the cilantro and the jalapeno.

Rick Bayless  has a recipe for Chorizo with Potatoes and Scallops on his website. So I made this as a soft taco filling along with a avocado tomatillo salsa. My wife and daughter made some corn tortillas and we did a ring around the kitchen island...grab a tortilla, top it with some, potato mixture, add some sliced romaine, top it with salsa, eat and repeat. Another successful charcutepalooza project.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Smoked Meat

I had a great time last Sunday smoking meat and watching the final round of the Masters.  This month's Charcutepalooza challenge was to smoke either a pork loin to make canadian bacon or pork shoulder to make Tasso ham.  The week prior I smoked up a pork tenderloin in the style of canadian bacon and it was terrific -- but I didn't take any photos.  So I figured if I was going to set up the smoker again, I would take full advantage -- so I prepared some pork shoulder for Tasso, a tri-tip for sandwiches, and a hunk of leftover pork shoulder for South Carolina Barbecue.

This past summer I splurged and bought a Webber Smoky Mountain Cooker.  I love this smoker.  Using a technique I learned from The Virtual Weber Bullet website, I can maintain a temperature of around 200° for as long as I want.  I like to hot smoke at this temp because it's low enough to get good smoke flavor on sausage and smaller pieces of meat before they are fully cooked.

The first item to go into the smoker on Sunday was the pork shoulder for my South Carolina Barbecue.  I was born in California, but my parents and sister are from South Carolina.  I've spent a fair amount of time in the Low Country and have a well formed opinion of what I like in Barbecue...and I don't like mustard.  Salt, pepper, red pepper, and vinegar--that's barbecue sauce.  So on Saturday night, I covered a couple pound chunk of pork shoulder with a dry rub of salt, pepper and mild chili powder and left it in the fridge overnight. On Sunday, I placed it in the smoker and left it for a good 8 hours, then finished it in a low oven until it was fall apart tender.

Next up was the Tasso Ham and the Tri-Tip.  On Saturday, I  bought a piece of pork shoulder from John Bledsoe and the Davis Farmers Market.  When I opened up the cryovac package, I was pretty disappointed by the butchering job.  Cutting steaks from this mangled piece of meat was a challenge.  But I ended up with three steaks and on Sunday I used the recipe in Charcuterie to cure the meat for 4 hours.  I put it in the smoker in the afternoon and it came out about 2 hours later after reaching an internal temperature of 147°.

Tasso Ham

The Mustards Grill cookbook has a recipe for Smoked Tri-Tip sandwiches with Horseradish Cream.  It's the spice rub on the tri-tip and the horseradish cream that make these sandwiches really special.  My local grocer, Nugget Market, had tri-tip on sale last week so this was a no-brainer.  I rubbed the spice into the meat on Saturday, then on Sunday, the Tri-Tip went into the smoker until it reached an internal temperature of 137°.

Smoked Tri-Tip

Once the South Carolina barbeque was cool enough to handle, I shredded it as finely as my attention span would allow.  Then I added a fair amount of a vinegar, salt, pepper and red pepper sauce.  This wasn't dinner, so it went into the refrigerator.

Say what you will about Tiger Woods, but his front nine at Augusta was as exciting as when Jack Nickluas won his last green jacket 25 years ago.  If anyone other than Charl Schwartzel won the tournament by birdying the last four holes it would have been a satisfying tournament.  But I had a hard time getting over the tournament being won by someone named Charl.  

Dinner on Sunday was Smoked Tri-Tip Sandwiches.  I bought some good sourdough rolls from Village Bakery, sliced the tri-tip thin, spread a layer of horseradish cream on the bottom of the roll, added the meat, then topped it with arugula and thinly sliced red onions.  These sandwiches are incredible, there's some heat from the horseradish and the rub, a nice crunch from the onions, some pepperiness from the arugula....

On Monday, I racked my brain trying to figure out a use for the Tasso.  I made gumbo last week, so I need to come up with something else.  I decided on a Cauliflower and Tasso Gratin inspired by a recipe in Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table.  She uses bacon in her recipe, but I substituted the Tasso for kind of a Creole version.  I was pleasantly surprised by the Tasso--nice and spicy, but tasting very much like a traditional smoked ham.

All in all, this was a pretty successful month of Charcuetepalloza.  Tonight is clean out the fridge night and we're finishing up the last of the well-preserved smoky bits of meat.  Tomorrow...a Whole Hog Butchery Class at the Fatted Calf in Napa...