Tag Archives: hank shaw

books for gifting (or keeping) and more giveaways

Before we go any further, congratulations to Bernice, who won the cookie box!

There are so many fantastic books available this holiday season. Whether shopping for your family, or yourself, tis the season for new publications. Here are a few I highly recommend.

In the Charcuterie. Boetticher and Miller. Beautiful book with excellent instructions and impressive recipes.

Pati’s Mexican Kitchen. Pati Jinich. I reach for this book all the time and it never disappoints. Pati’s recipes are approachable, delicious and inventive. I’ve written about it in detail here.

The Heart of the Plate. Mollie Katzen. I adore this book. It’s full of sensational, flavorful vegetarian recipes. It’s really pretty, with Mollie’s marvelous illustrations interspersed with the photographs.

Vegetable Literacy. Deborah Madison. A completely novel way of organizing a cookbook, this ode to the vegetable is presented by botanical genus. My inner gardening nerd loves the thoughtful pairings of foods within botanical families. The recipes are inviting, delicious and make the vegetables shine. This is one of the most beautiful cookbooks I own.

The Glorious Vegetables of Italy. Domenica Marchetti. A book chock full of Italian vegetable love. The eggplant meatballs are amazing.

Charcuterie, the new edition! Michael Ruhlman. Everything you loved about the first edition, with a few Italian touches.

Duck, Duck, Goose. Hank Shaw. Get duck and goose into the regular rotation at your house. It’s so nice to see this sensible take on cooking these foods. You’ll love Hank’s warm and inviting tone and his easy to follow recipes.

Put ‘Em Up Fruit. Sherri Brooks Vinton. More from this fabulous preserver, this time it’s fruit in her sights and she tells you how to make the most of what’s in season.

Soup and Bread Cookbook. Beatrice Ojakangas. Soup. Bread. Really, do you need to know anything else?

One Good Dish. David Tanis. I just got this book and I can’t put it down. I already know I’m going to cook every single recipe in it. And the photography is breathtaking.

Homemade Summer and Homemade Winter. Yvette van Boven. Yvette does it all. Recipes, photography, whimsical styling. These are two spectacular books filled with ideas for preserving, entertaining and enjoying life.

Saving the Season. Kevin West. Tumble into this book, lovely recipes, reminiscences, literary passages and charming photographs, cook from it and tuck into your favorite chair to revel in the writing. Kevin’s put together a comprehensive look at home preserving, organizing it all by the season. His recipes are inviting, inventive and straightforward, all small batches, easy to manage.

finally… The Kinfolk Table. Just for gazing at the sheer beauty and perfection. This is one seriously aspirational book.

Oh, and did I mention? All of these books are available in my Amazon shop.

Have you read any great cookbooks lately? What’s on the top of your wish list? Leave me a comment before Friday, December 6. I will randomly select three winners – one will receive Heart of the Plate, another will receive Put ‘Em Up Fruit, and the other will receive Duck, Duck Goose. In plenty of time for gifting. Or keeping.

november challenge. curing.

The eleventh challenge. We’re almost through the Year of Meat and a trip to France is so close for one of you.

We’ve come a long way. We’ve salted, brined, smoked, ground, stuffed, packed and stretched our way through parts of pork, slabs of beef, flocks of chickens, dozens of ducks and hundreds of feet of casings. We’re ready to cure.

Charcuterie served at Camont.

The weather is cooling and it’s time to hang meats and sausages in the garage, the wine refrigerator, the attic, the back of the pantry – wherever you have the right conditions for curing.

Apprentice Challenge: Please cure a sausage, ex: soppresata, saucisson sec, Spanish chorizo, salami or coppa
Charcutiere Challenge: Please cure a whole cut, ex: lonzino, bresaola, jambon de Camont, lardo

Some of these cures may take longer than the month usually given to complete a challenge, so the deadline for posting is December 1st. That’s six and a half weeks. If you’re going to do a whole cut cure, you’d better get cracking, you’ll want every minute of that time.

Tag your post charcutepalooza and we’ll be sure to see it. Share your blog post with Punk Domestics. Cross post and upload photos on Charcutepalooza’s Facebook page and Flickr page. And don’t forget to share all those great original recipes on Food52.

Please take note – the final challenge will be announced November 1st. And the posting deadline will be December 15th. Also on November 1st, expect to hear about all the end of the year hullaballoo. TrufflePig, Kate Hill and the rest of our Grand Prize sponsors are finalizing all the plans.

Christiane Chapolard passes a plate of the family's charcuterie.

Making the Cut

My recent trip to Gascony provided a great education in the making of a perfect dried sausage. Sausage that is cured should be deeply flavored and redolent of the pig, its diet and the farm where it lived. Some sausages are heavily spiced and reflect the country of origin. But under all those spices, you want to taste excellent meat.

There is a critical difference between the meat we have available in the US and what is sold at the markets in France. The French serve up older meat. Older cattle. Older pigs (12 to 14 months, versus the 6-8 months here.) As animals age, the cellular structure changes; they grow and mature into muscled protein and flavor carrying fat. I tasted the proof. The older meat was porkier. The bevette was beefier. These meats had so much more flavor, texture and character.

Les Blondes d'Aquitaine beef - bevette, skirt steak, more. Butchery by Kari Underly.

This is one of the lasting lessons of Kate’s Camont kitchen. I hope to find a farmer who will raise a pig for me, and do so for a year. I’m going to talk to all my connections at the farmer’s market and see if I can spread the word. Which one of you will learn from Kate next March? I already envy you! The Grand Prize. It’s just a few weeks away.

Temperature and Humidity

At the Chapolard charcuterie shop, there is a serious looking machine serving as a curing chamber. In the first week, saucisse and sauccison seche are cured here, carefully monitored for temperature and humidity. After that first week, the sausages are placed in another cool, moist room to fully cure – an additional four to five weeks for the large saucisse – think slightly moist in the center salami – and five for the thinner saucisson seche – a kneaded sausage that is quite dry (seche) – another of their magical specialties.

What a proper curing chamber looks like. Also note how red the meat is. Older pig.

Most of us don’t have these great machines at home, so we must balance curiousity with caution. The recipes in Charcuterie all use curing salts, and that’s what will ensure food safety. We’re back to that pink salt debate, but it’s ramped up now – on to Cure #2. I encourage you to do your own research and decide for yourself about curing sausages and hanging whole cuts with or without these curing salts.

You may remember, back when we were curing pancetta, we learned the perfect conditions are in the 50-60°F range with 70% humidity. I wandered all through my house until I happened upon the right mix, and found the sweet spot in a decidedly unpicturesque corner of the garage. (No, we don’t park the car in there.)

Airflow is critical, so add a small fan if the space is not well ventilated. Up the humidity with a bowl of water. Check every day. Or, if you’re like me, several times a day.

Your best measure of the curing will be weight. Weigh the sausages or meat before hanging and then again after the recommended amount of time. You should expect about a 30% loss of weight when the cure is complete.

Super Sausages

When I was in college, one of my housemates came from a huge Italian family. His grandfather made (rather dreadful) wine, amazing tomato sauce in jars, and soppressata – what the family called Super Sausage. Every autumn, in that Pittsburgh row house dozens of sausages hung from the attic’s rafters, each filled with hand chopped pork and a secret blend of spices. I had never met anyone who did such a thing, but the memory has stayed with me. Now, I’m making super sausages of my own.

Before you rush into the recipes, read the introduction to Chapter Five – The Artist and the Sausage. Seriously. There is a lot of help there and important information about safety. This is hard core charcuterie -making salume – and you don’t want anything to go awry.

Grind the sausage using the large die. Gather the meat and spices together with your hands (or use the mixer.) I prefer to use my hands, as I’ve become familiar with the feeling when the meats are combined well, but still have some texture. Fill the casings well and completely, knotting twine between the sausages to finish.

Puncture the sausages all over using a sausage prick – DIY one with a wine cork and some sewing needles. Air pockets are not your friend, and these miniscule holes will help the air release from the sausages and keep the casing from wrinkling like a sharpei.

Then hang those beauties up to dry. It’s normal for an ashy mold to form on the outside of the sausage, but if the mold turns black, or is long and hairy, that’s a bad sign. Your temperature or humidity may not be conducive to curing in that spot. This is another reason to check on your babies every day.

Curing Whole Cuts

Whole pieces of meat hanging in the garage. It smells amazing in there. The dog walks through with his nose at 90° – looking for that smell, that lovely smell.

But be careful. Remove all the fat or you risk the fat going rancid before the meat cures. Be cautious with your curing temperatures. Airflow and ventilation are critical.  Trim up the whole cuts to make the pieces uniform, to ensure even curing. Wipe down the curing meat with wine or vinegar to keep mold at bay. Sloppy trimming means narrow ends may get overcured while the center of chubby pieces might not be fully cured. Obsessively weigh these curing meats to determine doneness. Don’t get complacent.

You may want to try a few different cuts of the pig and cow – there are so many options. I’m still mulling over a gorgeous little tenderloin of pork I tasted in France. It had been salted, lightly smoked and air cured for a little over two weeks. It was divine.

At Camont, and at the Chapolard farm, I became obsessed with Noix de Jambon, literally the nut of the ham. Les Grrls renamed them Jambons de Camont, in honor of Kate Hill’s hospitality and education. These little nuggets of smoked, cured ham are so darned delicious that I had to make them immediately upon returning home.

Cured in about three weeks, it’s a far quicker way to smoky ham flavor than the months to make old fashioned country ham or prosciutto. For this challenge, I ordered a half ham from Pam the Butcher at Wagshal’s. I intended to cut as many ham-ettes as possible, then grind the remaining scrap with freezer-finds – shoulder and belly scrap – to make Charcuterie’s saucisson sec and Dominique’s saucisse.

Beware the half ham. I should have asked more questions. I literally got the top half of the ham. My jambons were shorter and smaller, but still very tasty. In retrospect, I suppose I could have taken the whole ham and given the gift of meat for the holidays…

From half a ham, I cut four jambons, but only three were suitable for hanging. The fourth had been, in a word, butchered. The cure is short – only 48 hours – and the meat is well peppered before smoking and then air drying. It’s salty, spicy, smoky, silky, tender and chewy all at once. Heaven.

Here’s a little more genius from Gascony: When you find your cured meats have lost all moisture and are hard little nuggets in the back of the refrigerator drawer, use a microplane or a grater and shower saucisse goodness over salads, macaroni and cheese, soups, eggs or anything else you can think of.

Even after watching Dominique (twice!) and Camas skin, bone out and cut up a ham, I studied this video “How to cut fresh ham for noix de jambons” from Neal Foley (on Twitter, @PodChef) about ten million times before taking the first cut….

And don’t miss –
Hank Shaw’s Lonzino
Matt Wright’s Port and Fennel Pollen Salami

Charcutepalooza loves our sponsors. D’Artagnan , generously offering 25% off the meat-of-the-month. If you aren’t receiving your email with the secret code for Charcutepalooza members, register here. And the trip to France – an awesome grand prize deliciously designed by Trufflepig and Kate Hill at Camont. Love to Kinetic Web Solutions and @CreativCulinary who helps us navigate technology. And, Armagnac CASTAREDE, providing celebratory Armagnac to our Grand Prize winner’s party in Paris.

the suitcase photo: blogher food ‘

The very best part of BlogHer Food ’11, held last weekend in Atlanta, was the opportunity to meet so many people I’ve come to call friend via Facebook, Twitter, or blog to blog communication. Putting a face to a name brings a new kind of life and energy to a friendship, and as a result of the last weekend, I have more people I call friend.

And then there were the opportunities to meet some of my heros. Writers, cooks, bloggers, food thinkers who have shaped the way I think and cook and appreciate food. David Lebovitz was so delightful, even translating Charcutepalooza into French for us (Charcutefolie.) Melissa Clark, who is as real and smart and funny as you think she must be when you read her cookbook. David Leite, precisely tackling the recipe-attribution question. Yes, the brains behind Leite’s Culinaria is evidently quite the dancer (Single Ladies? I am so sorry I missed that.)

And two people who left me nearly speechless.. Kim Severson, who told stories of the Mississippi River floods, what she’s seen, photographed. The picture she shared on her phone was heartbreaking – someone’s canning pantry, scattered. Kim’s book, Spoon Fed, was magnificent. I read it all the way through and started again. I hope you’ve read it.

And Hank Shaw, who’s Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook blog time-sucked an entire weekend when I first found it. Imagine my surprise when I realized Hank was the experienced sausage-maker guy who was helping me cook Italian sausage for our Charcutepalooza panel. (Yes, really. How embarrassing.) Look for Hank’s book, Hunt, Gather, Cook, hitting the bookstores today.

So what did I do when I met these amazing people? I tattoo-ed them.

It was so unbelievably fun to work with Sean Timberlake, the founder of Punk Domestics. He was our emcee and Chef de Chorizo, mixing up a hot and spicy sausage everyone loved. He did a great demo on how to put the grinder together, too, helping many attendees understand where all those little bitty pieces go.

Kim, embracing her role as Dame of Meat, wrangled the Pink Salt question so so well, helped along by Winnie Abramson (Healthy Green Kitchen.) Watch the video on YouTube (one of these days, I’ll figure out how to embed the video here…. for now, a link to You Tube.)

The Charcutepalooza BlogHer Panel

Speaking of Winnie, she took most of the photos and manned the video camera, too. She’s so brilliant – I was carrying the darn camera and not taking pictures. Without Winnie, there would be no blog post. I didn’t take one photo. Her photography skills are so amazing – this was a light-less conference room – how did she make us all look so good? Thank you so much Winnie, for this, and for our friendship and great times.

Kim, on the other hand, did use my camera for one photo. She wanted to capture the essence of her homeward-bound suitcase. Read more about that shiny red KitchenAid mixer in her May 31 Charcutepalooza post on Food52.

Thanks go out to Rachel who handled the microphone so we could hear the questions. And shoutouts to Jennifer, Polly and Jes from BlogHer Food for all their help with the session, and especially to KitchenAid, providing those three gorgeous KA’s w/grinding and sausage stuffing attachments, all of which have found good homes.

I’m happy to be home. Dennis is having a little knee surgery in a couple of days, so I might be scarce for awhile, until he’s back up and around.