Charcutepalooza Challenge 12 – Cinci By Way Of Charcuterie Chili

This is it. The end of my ‘Charcutepalooza A Year of Meat’ challenges. The very last one. I must admit to being a bit sad about my timed meat adventure ending. I learned a lot this year. Not only about food, but about where it comes from, food traditions, and even a bit of science. I also learned a bit about myself, and how far I can comfortably go to prepare something (like sausage, bacon or duck confit) that I’d always taken for granted.

This year has opened my eyes not only to the breadth of preserved meats out there, but how much of it can very easily be made at home. These things are not out of my league, they’re dead simple.

All it takes is a little time, a few special tools, lots of pork and patience. Having a partner in crime like my Dearest Husband the master sausage maker doesn’t hurt, either.

As I reflect back on this past year, I can say with all confidence that it has been one of my proudest on the culinary front. Not only have I been busy salting, curing and smoking my own meats, but I have started the first fledgling forays into canning.  Zombie apocalypse? Bah. I’m good. I have duck prosciutto and summer jam.

This month’s challenge was to be a charcuterie master class of sorts – we had to use 3-4 different charcuterie elements in a single celebratory dish to show off a bit. So what did I do? I decided to go back to my roots and share a dish I loved as a kid with my hubby.

Ok now Buckeyes, don’t get up in arms. I know this isn’t traditional Cincinnati Chili. I know. Settle down. Breathe. This chili is made in the same spirit and has damn near the same profile of that ‘mole of the midwest’ Buckeyes have come to know and love.

Mmmm… quasi sacrilicious

Cinci By Way Of Charcuterie Chili

As I was coming off of an epic charcuterie fail I decided to use this dish as an opportunity to serve the bits and bobs of charcute I’ve collected over the past year.

Original Cincinnati chili calls for 1 1/2 lbs. of ground beef.  I went in a different direction.

I used some bacon from this challenge (ok, not from this challenge exactly since I’ve been making about a batch a month since the beginning of the year – this stuff goes quick!)

Some leftover brisket from this challenge (unbrined)

Some leftover breakfast sausage from this challenge (and yes the notes of ginger tasted just fine)

and the topper: the very last bit of the duck confit from this challenge.

2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. paprika
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. coriander
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cayenne
2 cloves, crushed
1 lb. brisket, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
4 oz. home made bacon, sliced into 1/4 inch batons
8 oz. breakfast sausage, broken up
4 oz. duck confit, shredded
1/3 can (~ 6 oz.) canned plain tomato sauce
1/2 can (~ 1 c.) canned plain diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 square (~2 Tbsp.) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 (15 oz.) can kidney beans
Huge handful shredded extra sharp cheddar per person

In a dutch oven or other large heavy bottomed pot over medium heat, brown the bacon, brisket and sausage in batches, removing each batch as it is browned. You’re aiming to develop flavors here. If your fond (the brown bits) on the bottom of the pot is getting too burnt, add a little water to loosen. Save it if you can, but if you can’t, pitch it.

After the meats are browned, add 1 tsp. olive oil to the pot along with the onions and garlic. Cook until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.

Add the meat back to the pan along with the spices, beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Add water until the mixture is covered by 2 or so inches. I made my chili in a 5 quart dutch oven and added water to the fill line.

Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer 2 hours until everything is very tender and delicious.

Let sit, uncovered, a few hours until ready to serve. You want to give the flavors a chance to mix, mingle and marry.

When you’re ready to serve, turn the heat on to medium while you cook the spaghetti (following package directions).

When your spaghetti goes into the pot, add the duck to the chili. Stir to combine.

Serve the chili over the spaghetti and top with a huge handful of cheese per serving.

Serves 6 – 8, depending upon your serving size.

Charcutepalooza Challenge # 11 – Salami – Epic. Charcuterie. Fail.

Charcutepalooza challenge #11 promised to be difficult. We were warned. Right there in the book, in black and white: this is not an easy sausage. This sausage is prone to fail. And, well, it wasn’t and it did. This was our first epic charcuterie fail, and that’s not too shabby of a track record. To be honest, I had no idea what I was going to do with 3 lb. of salami anyways.

Black mold is bad mold. Epic. Charcuterie. Fail.

So, what went wrong?

In all of the warnings about temperature and humidity extolled in the book, there were no warnings against links touching each other while hanging. In our clever little space-saving hanging setup (which turns out wasn’t so clever), the links ended up touching at the tops (and sometimes on the sides). Every spot one link touched another molded. Yellow mold, slightly fuzzy mold, and black mold. Needless to say, black mold = bad mold (as does fuzzy), so we pitched the whole kit & caboodle.

As it turns out, this clever little hanging situation wasn't so clever

Try again?

Oh yes, we will be conquering this sausage. We have charcute pride at stake here.

Duck Confit–Charcutepalooza Challenge #10

This month’s challenge was to make Duck Confit from Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn.


This month’s protein was somewhat hard to procure. Apparently, 5 lb. of duck legs just isn’t something Publix, Whole Foods, or even my butcher is really into carrying. Plenty of pre-confited legs were offered, as were the occasional whole duck and/or whole breast.

I hit the Internet in a frantic search. C’mon, people! Day 1 I looked at D’artagnan, and their prices seemed almost reasonable… Lo and behold, though their meat prices seem reasonable, shipping will double the list price and I’m not really into paying $60 for duck legs, especially when I know someone, somewhere has to carry just what I need.

Enter Marky’s Caviar.

Luckily, I happen to have an ace up my sleeve where “fancy” food is concerned. An ace I had almost forgotten about after finding it a few months ago. An ace I thought would be too expensive. Boy, was I happily wrong. Marky’s is awesome. I’ve been driving past it for the past few years, and at first didn’t realize it was open. The building sits behind a heavy metal rolling security fence, and most of the windows are papered or painted over. Then I saw a delivery truck. Yeah right, I thought. That’s got to be some sort of Russian mob front. No way we have a caviar store in Miami. And if we do, caviar is a bigillion dollars an ounce, so never mind there. As luck would have it, I just so happened to be sitting in the cafe across the street one afternoon enjoying my favorite Pan Con Bistec when I saw a happy family leaving with bags in tow. I immediately had to go check it out. boy am I glad I did. Marky’s is a frickin wonderland of all things good, all things tasty, fatty, gourmet, made by or for the cold peoples from Europe, or hard to find. And wonder of all wonders, their prices aren’t bad at all. Definitely on par with my favorite butcher/import market.

After traipsing around for half an hour or so, delighting in all the jams, jellies, charcuterie products, cheeses, fois, fish eggs, teas, spices, vinegars, oils, and other exotic fare, we settled on our duck. We managed to walk out with the perfect amount of duck, extra fat, and a baguette/cheese/salumi/roe dinner for under $100. Go us.

Daffy, Donald and Daisy chillin' in the fridge
A pot of ducky love
Who'd of thunk it? Solidified fat is frickin hard


Not terribly difficult. The duck slowly worked its confit magic while I worked nearby, drinking in the heady aroma of duck fat. Other than taking time (2 days to thaw, 2 days to marinate and 7 hours to cook), this was a breeze. Marinate, rinse, slap in your brand new shiny enameled pot, cover with fat, and roast on the lowest your oven can go for 6+ hours. Mmmmm.. Patience.

Mmmmmm..... Duck Tacos.....

The Debut

My debut recipe for this month’s Charcuetpalooza challenge was duck tacos with a side of duck fat fried chickpeas and poblanos. I couldn’t think of anything that would balance the ducky fattiness better than green apple, and what better way to get both to our mouths at once than a taco? Tacos are awesome! Next time, I’m totally making a hash with duck fat fried potatoes. If you haven’t had duck fat fried potatoes before, they’re one of the top 10 best things on Earth.

A note about removing the duck from the fat: I’m completely sure I did this wrong. I had put the pot of confit in the fridge to set up and it didn’t dawn on me that cold fat is hard. Like, really hard. Bend your fork if you try to ice-chipper-the-duck-out-of-the-pot-with-it hard. So, I ended up gently heating the pot of confit on the stove and fishing the duck out of the warm fat. Be careful if you use this retrieval method. I then got the bright idea to switch the confit to smaller containers so I wouldn’t have to go through the same drama again, and ended up getting fat all over my kitchen. And on the dogs. So, tread carefully and it might not hurt to have a helper and/or funnel for pouring. It turns out, fat strewn about the kitchen isn’t the most pleasant thing in the world. The dogs were excited. Me, not so much.

The Verdict

Yum. Confit duck rocks! And I have lots of leftover fat with which to cook potatoes and all sorts of other yumminess.

Duck Confit–Charcutepalooza Challenge #10 on Punk Domestics

Duck Tacos with Smoked Chipotle Sauce and Chickpeas

Mmmmmm….. Daffy

My debut recipe for this month’s Charcuetpalooza challenge, duck confit, was duck tacos. I couldn’t think of anything that would balance the ducky fattiness better than green apple, and what better way to get both to our mouths at once than a taco? Tacos are awesome!

A note about removing the duck from the fat: I’m completely sure I did this wrong. I had put the pot of confit in the fridge to set up and it didn’t dawn on me that cold fat is hard. Like, really hard. Bend your fork if you try to ice-chipper-the-duck-out-of-the-pot-with-it hard. So, I ended up gently heating the pot of confit on the stove and fishing the duck out of the warm fat. Be careful if you use this retrieval method. I then got the bright idea to switch the confit to smaller containers so I wouldn’t have to go through the same drama again, and ended up getting fat all over my kitchen. And on the dogs. So, tread carefully and it might not hurt to have a helper and/or funnel for pouring. It turns out, fat strewn about the kitchen isn’t the most pleasant thing in the world. The dogs were excited. Me, not so much.

Duck Tacos with Smoked Chipotle Sauce and Chickpeas

The tacos

2 legs confited duck
1/2 Granny Smith or other tart apple, julienned
Corn tortillas

In a pan over medium to medium-high heat, sautee your duck legs until the skin is nice and crispy. Beware sputtering fat. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.

Once the duck has cooled, carefully remove the skin and shred the meat with your fingers taco-sized.

Don’t get rid of that skin! chop it up fine and top the tacos with it. Trust me: y-u-m.

The chickpeas

2 roasted poblano peppers peeled, de-seeded & chopped
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 palm cumin
1 tsp. powdered garlic

When your duck is finished crisping, toss the chickpeas into the leftover fat. Watch your temperature; I added my chickpeas when the pan was on medium-high, and had exploded chickpeas all over my kitchen to go with the duck fat. You’re looking to cook the chickpeas over a hot enough temperature that they crisp up, but not so hot as to be dangerous. Or, if you’re like me, throw caution to the wind and burns be damned.

Once your chickpeas are looking nice and toasty, add the poblanos & spices. You’re looking to warm them, not burn them, so you will only need an additional minute or two on the heat.

The sauce
Adapted from Gluten Free Girl’s Smoked Paprika Chipotle Sauce

16 oz. jar light veganaise (you could sub regular mayo, but the thought made me queasy)
3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
3 Tbsp. smoked sweet paprika
1/2 palm ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, peeled
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
2 big pinches salt

Combine all ingredients in a blender and let it run until fully combined. If the ingredients aren’t whizzing to your liking, add a splash of water to serve as blender lube. Taste. Add seasoning as needed.

Assembling your tacos

Depending upon the brand of tortillas you have purchased, you may need 2 tortillas per taco. We sure did. Assemble your tacos: duck on the bottom topped with a little sauce, some apple and finished off with duck skin was our preferred layering technique.

Serve with a side of chickpeas.

Pork Terrine–Charcutepalooza Challenge #9

Mmmm..... Pork Tenderloin Inlay....

This month’s challenge was to make the Pork Terrine with Pork Tenderloin Inlay from Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn.

This month, let me just say, I was uninspired. Between lengthy travel for both my Darling Husband (DH) and I, this month’s goal was just to co-habitate in the same place at the same time. After that, it was to dial back the craziness of the past few weeks and take a breather. So, this month snook up on us. I usually have my debut dish planned within days of the challenge release, and plans on exactly how it is going to go shortly thereafter. This month I left the shopping to the very last minute, and the preparation until 2 days before “go time”.

It didn’t help that this is was a reinvigorating the classics rather than a preservation challenge, which are becoming my favorites.


Easy. I had leftover fat from the last challenge. My butcher knows the now-monthly needing pork shoulder drill, and he always has some on hand. The ham I picked up elsewhere, and the pork loin is a staple ingredient in South Florida, so it was no trouble at all to find.


Easy. Super easy. Like took under an hour easy. My DH is a pork grinding pro at this point, and managed to rock out the ground portion in no time. The pureeing took a little doing, since my poor food processor was packed to the gills, but I added a splash of cold water and things came together nicely.

My final assembly was again on the ghetto side. I completely forgot to check whether I had leftover little meatloaf pans from last month’s terrine, so I ended up using the only loaf pan I have — a silicone model. Hey, it might not look like high French haute cuisine, but whatever works, right? Maybe someday I will invest in an actual terrine, but for now, ghetto rigged is the way to go.

Ghetto Terrine

The Debut

We served the debut with a side of Garlicky Lentils. This side made the perfect accompaniment; in fact, the bites taken with the lentils were much better and more flavorful than the bites taken alone.

These lentils totally made the dish

The Verdict

On its own, this terrine is a bit bland. The forcemeat texture is on the less than pleasant side, too. It’s not horrible–and the tenderloin is great–but it’s not our favorite. Aspic (or congealed pork juice) kind of freaks me out to tell the truth. It’s good, but not my favorite thing to picture while I am eating and that was all I could think about.

Pork Terrine–Charcutepalooza Challenge #9 on Punk Domestics

Mousseline–Charcutepalooza Challenge #8

This month’s challenge was to make a mousseline. I chose a heavily modified version of the Maryland Crab, Scallop and Saffron Terrine from Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. While I’m sure the original version is pretty and all, I wanted something that would look just like a scallop when sliced, with enough interest to make you wonder what exactly it is.

Mmmm... scallops
Filled terrine getting ready to be put into the oven
Baked and weighted terrines chillin' in the fridge overnight
The finished dish. Holy cri-zap this was amazing.
Mousseline Scallop


Fairly easy this month. I went to Whole Foods and everything was in stock.


Also really easy. The whole process only took about an hour, hour and a half, excluding the overnight chill.

The Debut

This month, I went a little overboard with my debut dish. I had a potluck to attend, the theme of which was “avant garde” food. After fretting about what constitutes the definition of “avant garde” as the concept relates to food, I settled on making something I was craving: enter noodles with broth. Luckily the inaugural issue of Lucky Peach hit my mailbox right about then. The focus of issue 1? Ramen. David Chang’s recipe for Momofuku Ramen Broth 2.0 looked like just the thing to fit the bill, and the perfect vehicle for something Charcute-y. And what’s more avant garde than an ingredient whose texture and properties has been turned on its head?

The Verdict

I’m happy to report that my dish was a smash success, and I will be making the broth many many times in years to come. I plan to serve the leftover mousseline perched atop a nice bowl of coconut green curry with rice.

Ramen with Kickass Broth, Fresh Bacon and Mousseline “Scallop”

Ramen with Kickass Broth, Fresh Bacon and Mousseline “Scallop”

So. Frickin. Good.

This dish was intended to be a showstopper. Picture it: Miami, 2011. A group of 40 seasoned foodies gathered on a sweltering late July Saturday in a Midtown penthouse with sweeping views for a potluck promising gastronomic delights. A XX-something year-old me with my Darling Dedicated Husband sous, bustling around to make sure our dish turns out right.

I’m happy to say that my two weeks of freaking out trying to make sure our dish not only fit the ‘avant garde’ theme of the potluck, but was damn tasty, paid off. The dish was a smash success and avant garde enough to wow. Go, me. I even managed to make 40 servings that were just the right size — a little cup full — so no one was completely stuffed after eating it. More on the potluck.

This recipe is not a quick cook by a long shot and the broth makes a big batch. Freeze the leftovers in quart freezer bags to pull out and thaw as necessary. Although it takes a long time to cook, this broth is totally worth it. Definitely the best broth I have ever made by far.

So nice, I just had to take another shot of that scallop

Ramen with Kickass Broth, Fresh Bacon and Mousseline “Scallop”

Don’t be afraid of the long ingredient list. This dish, while not quick, is well worth the extra effort. Makes a great showstopper for company, and the extras can be dressed up in a million different ways.

1.5 lbs. scallops
1.5 lbs. crab (I used 8 ounces claw meat and 16 ounces lump meat)
3 large egg whites
1 1/4 c. heavy cream
5 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. white pepper
Juice of half a lemon
2 oz. Wakame seaweed
1 1/4 gallons water (16 cups)
1 1/2 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms, ground into as fine a powder as you can get them
5 pounds chicken wings and necks
1/2 pound chicken wings
1/2 cup sake
1/2 cup mirin
1 cup usukuchi (light) soy
1/3 pound double-smoked bacon
Ramen noodles

Enough house bacon to make a nice garnish, sliced into small batons and fried
Finely diced chives (optional, for garnish)
Finely diced red jalapeños (optional, for garnish)

Mousseline “Scallop”

Mousseline “Scallops”

This recipe is adapted from Michael Ruhlman’s Maryland Crab, Scallop and Saffron Terrine from Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing

1.5 lbs. scallops
1.5 lbs. crab (I used 8 ounces claw meat and 16 ounces lump meat)
3 large egg whites
1 1/4 c. heavy cream
5 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. white pepper
Juice of half a lemon

About half an hour before you want to start making your mousseline, put the bowl of a large food processor, the blades, and another large bowl in the freezer.

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F.

In the food processor (out of the freezer), puree the scallops and egg whites until smooth. With the motor running, add the cream, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Blend to combine.

Dump the crab into your chilled bowl, picking through the meat to ensure there are no shells.

Fold your mixture into the crab and set in the fridge to chill while you prepare the terrine.

To make a quick & dirty terrine, take two small disposable aluminum meatloaf pans and line them with enough plastic wrap to completely cover the bottom and sides and fold over the top. Wetting the
pans slightly before placing the plastic wrap will help the plastic wrap stick in the corners.

Gently fill your terrines – this recipe makes enough to just about fill two of the meatloaf pans, or one large bread pan. Fold the ends of the plastic wrap up on the top and cover with tinfoil.

Place in a large roasting pan, and add hot water halfway up the sides of the terrines to make a water bath.

Bake until a thermometer inserted in the center reads 140 degrees F.

While your mousseline is baking, prepare the terrine “lids”. Cut cardboard (I used the container from a 12 pack of pop) so it fits as snugly as you can get it in the meatloaf pans. Make sure the edges of the “lid” aren’t getting hung up on the inner lip of the terrine. Cover with tinfoil and set aside.

When your mousseline has reached 140 degrees, pull from the oven and remove from the water bath. Cool and add your terrine “lids”. Weight both (I used 2 15-ounce cans of beans for each terrine) and chill in the refrigerator overnight.

To make the “scallops”, unmold each terrine and cut into 8 equal pieces widthwise. Use either a very small round cookie cutter or a film canister with the end snipped off (I’ll give you one guess as to which method I used) to carefully punch out your scallops. This quantity makes 40-something small scallops, with enough scraps leftover to completely fill a quart freezer bag.

Kickass Broth
Adapted from David Chang’s Ramen Broth 2.0 from Lucky Peach Volume 1

2 oz. Wakame seaweed
1 1/4 gallons water (16 cups)
1 1/2 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms, ground into as fine a powder as you can get them
5 pounds chicken wings and necks

Kickass Broth Seasoning
Adapted from David Chang’s Tare 2.0 from Lucky Peach Volume 1

1/2 pound chicken wings
1/2 cup sake
1/2 cup mirin
1 cup usukuchi (light) soy
1/3 pound double-smoked bacon
Make The Broth

Heat the water in your largest stock pot to 150 degrees F. Add the seaweed, turn off the heat, and let steep 1 hour.

Fish out the seaweed and discard. Add the chicken and bring to a simmer. Simmer 15 minutes and scrape off any chicken scum that has risen to the top. Add the mushrooms and kick the heat down until the pot is very gently simmering. You’re looking for an occasional lazy bubble to rise to the top. Simmer gently for 5 hours, checking every once in awhile to make sure you’re neither too cold or too hot.

Strain and chill. For a more refined stock, strain, chill and remove the fat that solidifies on the top.

Make The Seasoning

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees F. Place the chicken wings in an oven-safe pot or steep-sided pan that is large enough to hold them without overlapping. Roast 5 minutes just to get the fat to start rendering out.

Crank the heat to 400 degrees. Cook, flipping occasionally, until the chicken is deeply mahogany–you’re not going for burnt, but the more color on the chicken = the better the resulting taste. This process took me around 40 minutes.

Remove the chicken and deglaze with the sake, scraping the browned bits of lovely goodness off the bottom of the pan. Set the pan over medium-high heat, and add the remaining ingredients (including the chicken).

After your mixture comes to a simmer, kick the heat back until you have the barest of simmers going. You’re not looking to reduce the liquid, just infuse it. Keep at a bare simmer for an hour and a half.

Strain and chill. Skim the fat that rises to the top.

If you’re feeling really froggy, you can save that fat to use as a topper for your ramen. Conversely, if you’re feeling really rushed for time, you can skip the skimming step and all will be well.

Finish The Broth

Season the broth with seasoning sauce until it tastes perfect to you. You may need additional salt or some heat, you may not. We added all of the seasoning sauce to the whole batch of broth and the taste came out perfect. And there you have it, a whole big pot of fabulous, rich, flavorful broth.

Cook The Noodles

Cook noodles according to package directions. Rinse in cold water to stop them from clumping and divide into your serving bowls.

Assemble The Dish

Add broth to your noodles until only a small island of noodle is left peeking out. Top the small island with a mousseline scallop, garnish with fresh bacon, chopped chives and jalapeños.

Stand back and enjoy a dish well done.

Bratwurst: “Brat” Is Right!–Charcutepalooza Challenge #7

Let me start this post by saying that despite all the drama in its creation, we ended up with perfectly wonderful bratwurst in the end.

The Procurement Process

This recipe calls for something called “Soy Protein Concentrate.” Upon reading that ingredient, I thought no problem, Whole Foods will have it or maybe GNC. Publix may even have it. Think of it no more. And then I got to Publix, and Soy Protein Concentrate is not what I thought it was–some kind of fake milk or maybe a supplement. Instead of doing the smart thing then and there and ordering it online, I went to GNC. No luck. And Whole Foods, where after half an hour of increasing frustration and two stock guys help, I Googled what I needed the soy for. Hmmm… well, that’s interesting. Turns out Soy Protein Concentrate may or may not be this stuff called TVP or Textured Vegetable Protein. Or, it may be a powder in a big bottle that looks like the Creatine bottle. Or it could be neither. I left Whole Foods with a dubious bag of Textured Soy Protein that kind of looked like a bag of off-color lava rocks, but no real idea if this is what I was supposed to get, or if I felt good about putting weird rock things in my sausage at all.

The meat, thankfully, was no problem to source. Our butcher at Laurenzo’s Italian Market had the veal, pork shoulder and fat back we needed on hand and also offered to grind the meat for us and had hog casings in stock if we needed them as well. We opted to grind the meat ourselves, but the offer was appreciated. We didn’t happen to need casings this trip, having some left over from last month’s Italian sausage, but we will definitely order casings from them vs. online next time.

I know I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: if you are lucky enough to have a butcher in your vicinity, visit them. Visit them often. Butchers not only often have better prices on meat than big supermarket chains, they have better quality. Butchers, by and large, are also a passionate bunch about what they are doing and are more than willing to discuss the merits of a certain cut of meat for a particular preparation and will also make sure you are getting the best product for your money. Our butcher is great, and always more than willing to help with any questions I may have. He also does special orders, and can get most anything I could want in a reasonable amount of time. Special fancy buzzword-laden meat is great and all, but I will pick the meat my local business procures 9 times out of 10 for its freshness, quality, and to support my community.

Mmmmmm…. tubed meat….

The Sausage Making Process

The sausage making process started off great. We decided to forego the weird nubbly protein, and my DH (Darling Husband) chopped the meat smaller than last time (ending up with approximately 3/4 inch cubes), and we chilled the meat to almost frozen before starting. Working in small batches with the balance of the meat in the freezer, we processed the chunks through the die in the initial grind. This went much faster than last time and we were very pleased with the results.

We added the cream & eggs–wait, what? Cream and eggs in a sausage? Were you supposed to do that? It turns out that what makes this sausage emulsify is the addition of heavy cream and eggs. And here I thought it was white because of the veal (and didn’t even know it was an emulsification).

Ok, so the blending went well, as did the resting. And then we hit a snag. A big snag that led to a meltdown at Casa Cochran. Now, so far for us at least, sausage making has not been the most relaxing activity ever. Heavy machinery is used, so that’s a plus, but we have no idea what we are doing outside of the (detailed) instructions provided by Ruhlman in the book. We are sausage novices. When trying to pass the emulsified sausage meat through the Kitchenaid sausage attachment and into the casings, all hell broke loose. Only a few anemic wisps of meat would go through the feed tube into the casing, no matter how many times there was freaking out, yelling and re-assembly of the mechanism. So, after much arguing, a meltdown and one of us being banished from the kitchen, the sausages were hand stuffed. How, I’m not sure, since I was the one banished. But, my DH did manage (somehow) to bring out a big plate of beautiful coiled sausage in the end, so however he did it was perfect.

This go ’round we also tried two different way of making links: the way we thought made sense (while stuffing the sausage) and the way the literature says to do it (after the sausage has been stuffed). Method #2 sucks, though I probably did something wrong to anger the sausage gods, and I think we will stick with method #1, even if it means my nursing back pain self has to stand in the kitchen for an hour. Method #2 resulted in broken casings and meat loss. Not good, especially after the previous maelstrom.

The perfect way to celebrate America Day

And Finally, The Eating

We celebrated the Fourth of July with our fresh brats (simmered in Shiner Redbird Summer Ale), fresh Florida sweet corn on the cob, and a slight variation of Bon Appetit’s Fingerling Potato Salad

We also took our new ice cream maker attachment for its first whirl, making Custardy Almond Milk & Cream Ice Cream with Honey and Cookie Dough

Potato and Leek Salad
For original recipe, visit Bon Appetit

This recipe isn’t half bad. A bit leaning-towards-greasy, but not too bad for a summer evening. I think I’ll play with the oil amount and addition of even more spices next time. I’m thinking a hybrid frankenstein between this salad and my DH’s favorite potato salad from Bobby Flay.

1 1/2 lb. small creamer potatoes (white or red), cut small
Big pinch Kosher salt
6 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. brown mustard seeds
2 leeks, white and pale green parts only, halved and cut into 1/4″ half rounds
Cap full white vinegar
2 tsp. dijon mustard
Palm full of red pepper flakes
Black pepper to taste

Place cut potatoes in a large pot and cover with plenty of cold water. Throw in a big pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and cool on a baking sheet.

Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp. oil over medium-high. Add mustard seeds and cook until they start to pop, roughly 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

In your largest skillet, heat another 2 Tbsp. oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and cooks, stirring occasionally, until tender and beginning to crisp at the edges, approximately 12-15 minutes. Season with salt to taste.

While you’re waiting for your leeks to cook and potatoes to cool, add 2 Tbsp. oil, vinegar, dijon and red pepper flakes to the mustard seed oil. Whisk to combine. When the leeks are done, add them along with the potatoes and toss to coat. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Bratwurst: “Brat” Is Right!-Charcutepalooza 7 on Punk Domestics

Duck Prosciutto-Charcutepalooza Challenge #1

I had big plans for this prosciutto. Big sweeping plans involving wine, cheese, a baguette and possibly grapes. Definitely wine. Maybe even a pizza. French-influenced continental goodness al fresco.

Until late last year when I stumbled upon a package at my butcher’s, I had no idea such a thing as duck prosciutto existed. Since first spying a package, I’ve been cooking up ways I’d like to use it–and oh, the picnics I’ve had in my head! Hours-long scenes of pastoral nature enjoyment (sans bugs), heat and sunburn. You can only imagine my excitement when Charcutepalooza challenge numero uno was for the delectable-sounding stuff.

I actually made this loveliness concurrently with Charcutepalooza challenge #2 for Home! Made! Bacon! and in the ridiculous amount of excitement that the bacon brought, I almost completely forgot about having this post tucked away for later. It also helped that I was called out of town for work through most of the curing process, though from what I’ve heard, it drove my dogs insane. The little one was near inconsolable–he knew meat was somewhere, dammit, he was just too short to find it. I can only imagine his indignant dachshund huffiness when no tasty goodness was forthcoming when he demanded it.

In lieu of having anything even remotely resembling a cave, garage, or temperature-controlled environment, I hung the breasts in my hallway on some storage shelving to cure. I was worried about bacteria or mold, but since the breasts had a good coating of salt to begin with, I really needn’t have. They were just fine hanging out for a week or so in the hallway all by their lonesome (with attending whining pooches).

I served this first/second foray into the wonders of charcuterie as an appetizer to a fantabulous collaborative meal between my DH, myself and a friend alongside fresh pita points, goat cheese, and a spread of bacon and tomato jams. Needless to say, the duck didn’t last long at all. I think I heard growling, too. For more on the dinner, see the post.

No leftovers to serve on a big picnic blanket… guess I’ll just have a great excuse to make this again. And I’ll have to buy said picnic blanket… 🙂

Curing the duck was also easier than I had feared. I was wary because of the not in the fridge-ed-ness of this curing method, but it turned out just fine. Pack breasts in salt, chill in the fridge for awhile, de-salt, wrap in cheesecloth, tie horrendously, hang in hallway for a week or so or until 30% lighter, slice thin & stand back. Couldn’t be easier. Really. See for yourself.

1: Bury your breasts in salt
2: Remove from salt, season
3: It's an ugly job, but these babies are wrapped up tight!
4: Hang out of the reach of roving wild dachshunds
5: When your breasts look dessicated and have lost 30% of their mass, you're good to go!
6: Serve simply to the delight of all, big picnic blanket not necessary

This recipe/preparation can be found in Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Briay Polcyn

Makes a great appetizer spread with toasted pita points,
Bacon Jam like the one posted here
Tomato Jam
and a nice creamy goat cheese

Duck Prosciutto-Charcutepalooza Challenge #1 on Punk Domestics

Summer Kickoff… with Sausage–Charcutepalooza Challenge #6

Kickoff to Summer

Wait, what? Didn’t I just make sausage a couple of weeks ago? I did, but that was starter sausage. This month’s Charcutepalooza challenge was to make sausage level 2, or stuffed sausage. We opted for the hot Italian sausage on page 122 of Ruhlman’s book, Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing.

The process for stuffed sausage started the same as for patty sausage: cut the meat in chunks, season, CHILL, stuff into the grinder feed tube and grind, grind, grind (CHILL). Stuffed sausage employs an extra little attachment for the Kitchenaid (the sausage stuffer tube), and some sort of casing to hold the sausage. We opted for natural hog intestine casing from Eastman Outdoors.

The casings came packed in salt, and didn’t smell as unpleasant as I had been warned. I expected huge stinkiness (and apparently I had a matching look on my face upon opening the package), but the smell wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t nothing, but I’m pretty darn smell sensitive and it didn’t make my stomach turn. Almost, but not quite, and I was ready for it too.

The casings need to be split up into individual lengths (carefully. They came tied in a knot) and soaked for half an hour to overnight to rehydrate. Then, run water through once to open them up and get to stuffing.

Luscious Links

I went a little too timid with the spicing for our sausage, because I wasn’t quite sure Hungarian hot paprika is in relationship to sausage. I’ve managed to render at least one dish just about unpalatable with the stuff, and as such, I had too light a hand and things never really got spicy enough. Good, but not quite that kick in the back of the throat we enjoy from a nice spicy sausage.

Piles of Sausage

The texture was decent in our sausage, if a bit on the grainy side in the middle in some spots, and our links are full of air pockets and uneven, but this was all in all a good experience. Our butcher’s fresh Italian sausage is still much better, but ours is at least better than name brand store bought sausage can hope to be. And, it features real pig, a few herbs & spices, and nothing else. I have a feeling we’ll be branching out into quite the little sausage-making operation over the coming months (kielbasa!!!!!)

For our next round of sausage, we will be breaking the meat up into small batches to grind and storing them in the freezer until just about frozen before grinding. My DH (Darling Husband, aka the grind master) and I have a sneaking suspicion that grinding will go much faster and stuffing will be much easier if we get our meat even colder, especially when the auger in the grinder gets hot from use and the meat wants to smear all over the place.

We have eaten about half of our Italian sausage since its creation, and we just haven’t been able to get past one of our summer staples, Italian sausage dogs with a fresh ear of corn, some form of low fat chip or pretzels. This is our go-to I can’t be bothered-to-think-of-anything-else summer dish, and we love it. Maybe we will get around to doing something more exciting with our sausage with the next half.

This Sunday Pork Ragout recipe from Food52 looks awesome.

Summer Kickoff… with Sausage on Punk Domestics