Category Archives: Charcutepalooza

Goodbye, 2011

2011 was a difficult year both for my family and for this blog.  If you are/were a regular reader, you noticed I wasn’t around much. I hope to change that this year.  Because I didn’t write many posts last year, I wasn’t surprised that most of the top posts last year were older posts.

As a farewell to the year gone by I present:

The Top Five Posts of 2011

  1. Brined Pork Roast
  2. Homemade Fabric Softener
  3. Homemade Laundry Detergent
  4. Building A Rabbit Hutch
  5. Crusty Round Loaves of Homemade Bread

I am surprised that the Brined Pork Roast recipe was number one. Especially because in my opinion, this recipe is much tastier.

I get lots of searches for green cleaning recipes. Pinterest has been especially helpful in promoting them. I’m glad people are being greener and I’ll try to post some more green cleaning recipes this year.

I am excited to see the rabbit hutch plans make the list.  I wonder if that is because more people are interested in rabbits for meat, or if pet owners just need plans? Regardless, I hope to post more rabbit updates soon. Until then, if you’re looking for rabbit information, check out On Breeding Like Rabbits.

Happy New Year,

Angela

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March Charcutepalooza: Brining

Once again, Mr. Hippie wholeheartedly participated in this month’s challenge. It would seem that if it involves meat, he’s onboard. 

I couldn’t decide what to brine this month, so I tried a couple of different things in basically the same marinade.  I started with Ruhlman’s All-purpose brine and adjusted the seasonings.  Ever since hubby and I came back from Jamaica on our honeymoon I have been in love with jerk.  I even jerked onions and wild leeks (to rave reviews) last year.   Jerk brine seemed like a natural match for both chicken and pork so I made a gallon of brine and brined two different chickens and a pork butt from Olds Farm.

A basic brine is pretty simple. 

Water

Start with a half-gallon of water,

Salt and brown sugar

 add a cup of salt and  half a cup of (I used brown) sugar. 

Bring it to a boil and add the seasonings that you want.  I added:

Garlic, Scallion, Ginger

 a head of garlic, beaten with the rolling-pin, some onion tops (green sprouts) and a whole onion (also beaten with the rolling-pin), two minced, candied ginger medallions,

Thyme

some thyme dug from under the snow,

Dried spices

a whole dried chili, a teaspoon or so of peppercorns and a similar amount of whole allspice (again, beaten with the rolling-pin).  After that all came to a boil I let it steep for a few minutes and then added another half-gallon of water and let it cool before brining the first chicken.

Smoked, brined chicken

The first chicken was brined about 9 hours as Ruhlman recommended and smoked.  The smoke flavor overpowered the seasonings but in the words of Mr. Hippie, “I think this is the most wonderful-est chicken we’ve ever made.”  It truly was delicious.   Served with beans and rice it was a magnificent dinner.

Brined chicken

 The second chicken was left in the brine even longer, about 12 hours, but not smoked, just baked.  It was equally delicious. 

Brined pork and mashed potatoes.

After two chickens we still had enough unused brine left to do a pork butt.  It was amazing.  We ate so much of it by cutting “samples” off the edges as it roasted that I barely put any on my plate when it was time to actually eat dinner. With local mashed potatoes and homemade gravy from freezer stock and pan drippings it was excellent.

What (little) that was left of the pork was simmered in stock all day to make delicious pulled-pork sandwiches for our dinner tonight.

Everything I brined was amazing.  Moist, flavorful and delicious.  I’ve brined another chicken since but reduced the recipe by a fourth so that I only ended up with a quart of brine.  It is just about the perfect amount for a whole chicken.  Brining takes a little advanced planning, but isn’t much work and the results are worth the effort.

Next up?

Buffalo flank.  I’m going to attempt to corn it.

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March Charcutepalooza: Brining

We’re only a month in and Hubby and I are really loving Charcutepalooza.  So, we screwed up the bacon the first time.  It’s become a wonderful seasoning.  We bought a new pork belly and are curing it now.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Imagine my surprise when I stopped by Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s to see this month’s challenge and discovered that it was brining!  Stop by and read the post; it’s quite entertaining.  And drool-inducing.

Lately, Hubby and I have been brining pork roasts.  We’ve actually done two in the last month and have planned to do more so hopefully this month’s challenge will be a success.  This month we can choose to brine a whole chicken, pork chops, or corned beef.  All three are appealing.  I tried to corn a beef brisket last year and it came out way too salty.  (Hmm.  I’m beginning to see a pattern here.)  I spent probably three minutes gazing at a beef brisket contemplating a do-over while shopping this afternoon.  I left it in the store, but I may go back.  It is almost St. Patrick’s Day after all.  Plus, I had to appease myself by buying a pound of shaved corned beef to make Reubens for lunch.  So, stop back on the fifteenth to see the final results.  In the meantime, go check out all the amazing charcuterie the participating bloggers have been cooking up.

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February Charcutepalooza: Bacon

Bacon.  Bacon is the one food I honestly believe my husband couldn’t live without.  But that’s okay by me; his pork addiction allows me to stay in soap, so we all win and everyone is happy. 

Mr. Hippie is loving and supportive.  I believe he frequently thinks I am certifiable, but he supports my insane choices despite his misgivings.  He builds me things like cheese presses, chicken coops, chicken tractors and rabbit hutches that allow me to pursue my crazy whims.

When I told him I was signing up for another blog challenge he laughed.  When I told him it was a challenge to make sausages, bacon and various other meat-products, he was onboard.

Ready for the smoker.

We smoked the bacon last weekend.  By all accounts, the finished product was a disaster. 

Shortly before it became overcooked.

Why?  You be the judge:

  1. To begin with, I used to much curing salt.  The recipe made enough for 3-4 times the amount of pork belly I cured, but I didn’t cut it back.
  2. Because the weather was foul on the day we were supposed to smoke, we put it off.  For.  Three.  Days.  Too much salt soaking for way too long?
  3. I forgot to rinse the salt off the belly before we smoked it.  Had a nice salty crust on the outside when we were done.
  4. We overcooked the bacon. 

    Salt Pork

I’m not sure which factor caused the most damage, but the bacon, as bacon, is essentially inedible.  However, as a salt pork, it makes an excellent seasoning.  In fact, Mom, if you’re reading this, I’d recommend salt pork for the spice rack challenge.

Chicken gravy seasoned with smoked salt-pork.

I still have much of the salt pork in the freezer, but I used it to season the chicken gravy I served over Westmaas Farms mashed potatoes for dinner one night. 

Gnocchi in bacon cream sauce.

Another night I made a delicious garlic, sage cream sauce with salt-pork and black pepper to toss gnocchi in.

So, we’ve already purchased another 2 lb. pork belly to give bacon another go but for now we’ll have to enjoy our salt-pork as a condiment and not as a side-dish.

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The Year of Meat

One day while perusing Grow and Resist, I noticed a nifty little button ”CharcutePalooza”
she had added to her page.  It intrigued me, so I clicked it as I am oft prone to do. It took me to Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Kitchen where I learned more about Charcutepalooza and The Year of Meat.  I was deeply saddened to learn that I was too late to jump on the Meat Bandwagon.  Or was I? 

Much to my delight the challenge had been extended.  And, there are prizes.  Glamorous, wonderful prizes.  Okay, I won’t be winning this one.  It isn’t random.   The competition is fierce.  I am relatively new to the art of charcuterie and I take horrible pictures. 

However, I enjoy trying new things.  I like eating local food and prefer sustainably raised meats.  Homemade andouille sausage is amazing.  My husband eats more bacon than I thought was humanly possible.  Making my own sausage and bacon seems like a perfectly logical thing for me to do. 

I missed the deadline for the first post, Duck Prosciutto, but since I signed up late I can catch up later by making duck prosciutto before the end of the year as long as I complete the rest of the posts on time.  February’s challenge is bacon.  Hubby is happy, I’m happy, everyone wins. 

The recipes for the challenge come from Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and CuringThe challenge isn’t just to write recipe posts about how  we make the meats, but to write posts about how the finished meats are used.  Watch for those posts on the 15th of each month from now until December.

Bacon is an excellent meat to start with; it couldn’t be easier. 

Look at the marbling on that pork belly!

So, I ordered a 2 lb. pork belly from Oleson’s Market and got to work.

Salt, pepper, sugar

Mixed up and ready to coat the meat.

 

First, get out the scale and measure 8 oz. of Kosher salt into a dish.
Add 4 oz. of brown sugar and a few turns of cracked pepper.
Mix it all together with a fork.

Dump the mixture into a baking dish and dredge the pork belly in it.

pork belly dredged in bacon salt

Pork dredged in seasonings and ready for the fridge.

Cover the pork belly and refrigerate for a week, flipping daily.

Are you excited yet?  Check back next week for the conclusion of this thrilling tale.

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