Tag Archives: charcutepalooza

Charcutepalooza: The Meat Party

Rillettes, andouille, pickles, and kale salad at the meat party
Charcutepalooza is a yearlong project I’m participating in to make recipes from Michael Ruhlman’s Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing. For more information, see my introductory post.

So this is it. The end of a year of meat. A lot of pig parts have passed through my messy kitchen on my journey from pancetta to peperone, and I feel like a much better cook for it.

I’ve always been into DIY, and I’d even done some charcuterie before this challenge got started, but it had always been a huge production, taking days of preparation and far too much expense for specialized equipment and obscure cuts of meat. And that’s so not the point.

Charcuterie is about preservation, whether that’s a poor farmer making the hog he slaughters in the fall last through the whole year or a high-end chef pickling some summer vegetables so she can use them in the winter.

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Charcutepalooza: Peperone and Odds-&-Ends Calzones

Odds-&-Ends Calzone Charcutepalooza is a yearlong project I’m participating in to make recipes from Michael Ruhlman’s Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing. For more information, see my introductory post.

Making fermented foods at home is kind of like taking a trust-fall.

There’s something deeply terrifying about leaving some perfectly good food out for days or weeks to, essentially, spoil, and then eating the results. Sauerkraut or yogurt is unnerving enough, but fermenting raw meat is something altogether different.

That’s probably why dry-curing ended up as the second-to-last Charcutepalooza challenge.

This time, I went with peperone. No, that’s not a typo; that’s the original Italian ancestor of the preservative-ridden junk we put on pizzas called pepperoni. In reality, the name difference is probably a good thing, as the two couldn’t be more different.

Real peperone has a lovely tanginess with a slight sweet-spicy backbone. It’s like some kind of magical cross between pork and a half-sour pickle. (Plus, you get to use something called Bactoferm F-RM-52, which sounds like the bacteriological agent that brings on the zombie plague in a sci-fi movie.)

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Charcutepalooza: Galantine

Galantine with persimmon jam

Charcutepalooza is a yearlong project I’m participating in to make recipes from Michael Ruhlman’s Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing. For more information, see my introductory post.

So it’s finally arrived. The Charcutepalooza challenge I knew was coming and dreaded above all. Galantine. It’s simple enough: a rich chicken pâté, flavored with warm fall spices like cinnamon and clove. But here’s the tricky part: The whole thing is rolled up in the skin of the chicken. Which means you have to remove a whole chicken’s skin in one piece.

I’m not sure why this terrified me so much. I mean, I’ve slaughtered and butchered a whole pig; this should not be a big deal. Maybe it’s the precision required. One poke of the knife and the thing is ruined. After all, I’m The Messy Epicure, great supporter of imperfection in the kitchen!

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Charcutepalooza: Empanadas de Chorizo

Chorizo empanada

Charcutepalooza is a yearlong project I’m participating in to make recipes from Michael Ruhlman’s Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing. For more information, see my introductory post.

The recipe option that immediately jumped out at me from this month’s assignment was English Pork Pie. I mean, pork and pie—what’s not to love?

That third word, that’s what. Taking a closer look at the recipe, I found it to be, well, too English. Which is to say, bland. The pastry crust has no salt in it at all! The pork is seasoned with a little thyme and pepper and nothing else! No wonder British food has such a bad reputation.

So I went to Spain instead. Last time I made chorizo for Charcutepalooza, it was the spicier Mexican version. This time, I looked to Ruhlman’s Spanish-style chorizo recipe, which he uses to make a dry-cured sausage. Basically, it swaps various types of chile powder and cumin for smoked paprika, AKA pimentón, my most favoritest spice.

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Charcutepalooza: Saffron-Seafood Terrine

Saffron-seafood terrine

Charcutepalooza is a yearlong project I’m participating in to make recipes from Michael Ruhlman’s Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing. For more information, see my introductory post.

Making a seafood terrine, especially this one, is an expensive proposition. Scallops, crabmeat, saffron: It’s like they picked out all the priciest items at Whole Foods. But the alternative for this month’s challenge was head cheese, and as much as I would have enjoyed doing that, Nadria made it very clear that no pigs’ heads were going to be allowed in our apartment. (Also, I have no idea where one can acquire a pig’s head in Birmingham.)

So seafood terrine it was. This is a seriously old-school dish, and everything about it reminds me of Driving Miss Daisy and ladies who lunch. But it tastes good, and it looks lovely. A platter of slices paired with a nice sauce (more on that later) make an impressive start to a fancy dinner party.

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