Pork and Chicken Liver Pâté

It’s long past New Year’s and I’m not into resolutions, but I was inspired over the holidays to try my hand at more charcuterie and I’ve decided that trend will continue into 2019 as part of my weekend kitchen routine. The sausages we made over the break (more on that in a bit) were not the first bit of salted meat I attempted and my first foray into this exciting new realm of grinders and guts was quite a hit at our holiday table.

Call it pâté, terrine or fancy meatloaf the concept of salted, pressed, finely ground fat, flesh and offal that is shaped into a mold then slow cooked and served cold is about as old as the concept of “cuisine” itself. If you didn’t pick up the accent, this dish is French, unapologetically oldschool French in the same way that quail with grapes or veal tripe in white sauce is. The process has been streamlined since the days of Grandfather Escoffier, but it’s still got that that slightly fussy way about it that both makes it a joy to execute and a hell of a story for your guests when you drop it on the table.

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2018 Holiday Guide: Gifts for Sausage Making at Home

My wife and I have somehow found ourselves with a bit of time off this holiday season and have decided this is the year to indulge in our strange, shared desire to make sausage. Don’t laugh; I’ve wanted to craft tube meat since I attended the NVICA event back in April and Crystal’s been saying we pay too much for prefabs forever.

So we pooled our meager pre-Christmas funds and went in on a sausage stuffer, not knowing that it takes a wee bit more gear to actually get stuffing. A quick peek through all the charcuterie books on my shelf and a couple eleventh hour Amazon orders later we now have a complete kit for sausage making ready for a holiday sausage party. (more…)

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Canning Cabbage Part 2 – Sauerkraut

A full three quarters of a mightily dense cabbage head remains in the fridge so my Mason jar odyssey continues. First came the Korean kimchee, then the Mexican curtido and now I’m going to finish off this great green beast by hacking it up, salting and fermenting it as a classic Northern European sauerkraut.

Now what we in America refer to with the blanket term of “sauerkraut” actually is part of a great Germanic-Scandanavian tradition of fermenting vegetables to keep during hard times thought to have originated in the Eurasian Steppes and spread by marauding tribes such as the Huns, Tartars and Mongols. Nowadays the name is synonymous with Germany, its culture and culinary traditions. (more…)

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Canning Cabbage Part 1 – Curtido

I found another post-Halloween head in my fridge. Unlike last time this particular head was never part of a large fish, it was pulled from the loamy back yard of my friends ‘n co-workers Cara and Karlee and gifted to me. It is a head of cabbage, and it’s not alone. I still had half a head in there from our last trip to the Willows Market. That’s over ten pounds of cabbage total!

Now I’m more used to cooking with members of the Chinese cabbage family, which are on average much more delicate, sweet and melt away at the hint of heat and salt. I can steam or stir fry pretty much any Choy in big chunks, but not so with these two bowling balls… These Celtic cabbages need to be sliced super fine and require time ‘n technique to get ‘em soft ‘n sweet. (more…)

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Beautiful Things : Notes From the NVICA Charcuterie Workshop

My father told me once that there are three things in life that we must do: Work hard, be honest and make beautiful things” With these words John Van Der Lieck plunged his hands into a dark, shimmering paste of pork liver to the reverent, nodding ascent of a roomful of chefs.

We were in the spacious commercial kitchen of North Island College’s Culinary Arts department for the NVICA Charcuterie Workshop; a two-day journey through the world of salting, curing, pressing and preserving meats. There were twenty or so of us foodservice pros gathered around John as he guided us from whole hog (literally!) to finished product and every critical step in between. (more…)

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