Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tasting Notes - Tails and Trotter Coppa and Spicy Basturma

Greetings meat fans.

I'm sure you've all been hanging on the edge of your seat, wondering when I was going to finally slice into my Tails and Trotters hazlenut finished coppa, and my spicy basturma.

Well, stop wondering.. I just cut them open last night, and let me tell you.... the 10 month wait was more than worth it.

First up.. the Basturma.. this was 2-2lb Eye of Round Roasts I procured from Fubonn for about $4lb.  Check out the blog post from last April for details on how I prepared them.

The flavor is out of this world.. Mild, but beefy, with a very slight yet noticeable spicy background.  All in all, a very fine piece of dried meat.

The only thing I would do differently next time is to use one piece of meat per casing.. there was about 1/8 to 1/4 lb on each end that I had to cut off because they dried out too much. ( imagine the two ends touching each other in the case ). 

check out the photos below for some awesome meat goodness.

Next up is my Coppa.   I want to send a special thanks to my homeboy Morgan Brownlow of Tails and Trotters for procuring me what must have been the finest and largest Coppa in the history of meat. 7.5lbs of pure hazlenut finished Neck!!

Again, check out the blog entry from last April for details on how I prepped it.

I cut into it last night, and WOW... absolute deliciousness.  Look at the beautiful fat and color of the meat.

This thing was heavily spiced, but only displays a slight hint of the heat.

Being really honest, some of the things I've made don't always taste as good to me as "store bought" charcuterie.  However, this is one time that I absolutely hit it out of the park. ( and the proscuitto )

I'll be calling Morgan for another coppa or two next week.

This was a huge hit at my friend JDub's Holiday party last night.

Stay tuned for more blogs next week.  I'll be bottling the Nocino, and then before heading to Mexico with my lady friend and little nugget, will be taking my two T&T legs out of the cure and hanging them for their 12 and 24 month slumbers.

Happy New Year to you all, especially to our Marines and lesser services across the globe.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Proscuitto - Part 1, Turning a T&T hunk of pig into something salty and beautiful

Sorry for taking so long between posts, but things at work have been busier than usual.  Luckily for us, that doesn't mean I haven't been making good stuff, it just means I haven't made the time to blog about it.

Since the end of September y'all have missed about 6 whole salmon that I cured and smoked, at least 20 lb's of bacon, as well as a lonzino and basturma.   I'll do a better job of keeping up with the posts in the new year ( early resolution ).

Now on to my current project.  Proscuitto:

Proscuitto is one of the simplest charcuterie to make, yet one of the most intimidating to the home charcutier. I don't feel the trepidation that some of my peers do with this, but I still have yet to make a salume.. which needs to be rectified over the holiday season.
Whole muscle charcuterie to me is simple, and provided you follow the basic steps, relatively foolproof.  If they could do it one thousand years ago.. I can most likely do it today.

On to it.

On November 27th, I started with 2 legs, approximately 30lb's each from my good friend and pork dealer, Morgan Brownlow of Tails and Trotters.   For something as pure as proscuitto, nothing but the best pork will do and for me that's the hazlenut finished goodness that Morgan brings to the table.

This is a simple curing recipe:

( for each 30lb leg )

4lb's kosher salt
1tbsp Sodium Nitrite

That's it.

Rub the salt in as good as you can, without going crazy.  don't forget the slits cut into the pig foot (trotter ).. make sure you get the salt in every nook and cranny.

let it sit for a week, then come back and salt it again.

let it sit for 4-6 weeks more in your fridge ( anywhere the temp is lower than 45 degrees is fine ), and then it's ready for step 2 - The hanging. ( this is where it gets really complicated :-)

Some people press their proscuitto when curing, but I'm not bothering with it.  Also, this time I have the hams carved spanish style, which means the aitch bone is in and it's a flatter cut on the bottom, as well as having the full trotter on.  This not only looks "neater" when serving.. it allows for full use of the leg.

Stay tuned for part two, sometime in Mid to Late January.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Update on September Projects

So once again, it's been an incredibly busy month with work and family, but of course, it's prime harvesting time even with the bad garden year.

Here are a few of the projects I've been working on this month.

1. Bacon ( naturally ).  13lbs of Tails and Trotters  pork belly is now on it's way to becoming PCP bacon.

2.  Pickling - 100lbs of cucumbers ( most from Kruger's on Sauvie Island ) - were turned into awesome hot dill pickles.

3. Beets - 6 lbs of nice baby golden beets were turned into Hot Indian Beets ( the Indian part is the cardamom, star anise, cinnamon, and clove ).


4.  Smoked Salmon - This is prime salmon smoking season, but I'm pretty far behind.  I've only done about 5-10 lb's total, and I usually need about 40lb's to get me through to the following summer ( what with gifts and parties and nights in front of the fire ).

5.  BlueBerry Jam - 10lb's of awesome Oregon BB's are on their way to becoming PCP jam!!

6.  Yellow Tomato Jam - I've gotten about 2-3lbs of beautiful yellow pear tomotoes in the past week and I decided to makea  Yellow Tomato and Onion Jam.. I won't get a lot, but it will be great on burgers.

7. Canning Tomatoes - I have about 5lb's of San Marzano's ready to go, and another 15-20lb's sitting on the vine soaking up this late sunlight... sometime in the next week I'll can them with basil, garlic, and hot peppers from our garden.

8. Fennel - I've been waiting for the seeds to finish developing so I can make fennelcello... my fennel liqueur.. and when I've harvested the seeds, then I'll take the tenderest part of the bulbs and make fennel onion bacon jam.. stay tuned for this one, it's going to be good!

9.  Sometime around the end of October I'll be getting 4 whole pork legs from my friend Morgan at Tails and Trotters, which I'll be turning into PCP Proscuitto.... the last one we made with John Pence (Caprial and Johns Kitchen ) turned out freaking awesome ( see pic )

Oh, I also splurged and used a week of PTO to backpack around Mt Rainier with two old friends ( ~100 miles, 54,000 feet total elevation gain and loss ).   Absolutely beautiful!!

Our Chocolate Lab pup is sort of maintaining her size.. she's only grown about 5lbs in the past month.. she's now 5 months old, and just about 45lb's.

 All of this work has made me thirsty.  Time for a cold one.  If you're in the neighborhood, stop by for a cold beer and we'll talk pickles and charcuterie.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Summer Projects ( Now that it's just about over )

This has been one of the best summers of my life, even as it's been one of the worst gardening seasons due to the vagaries of global warming and climate change we've experienced this year.

I've been busy having lots of fun outside the world of charcuterie and pickling,.. but here are a few projects I've put together in the past month since my last posting.

1.  Bacon-- 20 more lbs of schweet Tails and Trotters pork belly has now become beautiful PCP bacon.

2.  Pickling - Approximately 80lbs of cukes ( mostly from Farmers Mkt ) squash, and beans ( from my garden ) have been turned into xtra hot dilly pickles.

As they say in making wine "it takes a lot of beer to make pickles"

3.  Smoked Salmon - About 20lbs of beautiful wild Alaskan salmon has made the journey from dead fish to awesome PCP smoked salmon.

Here are some pics of the fresh salmon being rubbed in the cure (1cup kosher salt, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/4 tsp pink salt, spices to taste.. I used black pepper and crushed red pepper flakes )

Here's a good look at the salmon fillets after being in the cure for 3 full days... note the beautiful color has deepened in the cure )

Here are the fillets after about 6 hours of smoking... I pulled a whole fillet out for a bbq at the Pences.. then left the other half ( cut into 3 pieces ) to smoke for another 3 hours.

As usual, there were no leftovers to be found :-)

4.  And of course, I had a lot of fun with friends and family.
Bottling wine with my new friends Vincent and Jan Marc, and old(er) friend Anne, at the Portland Wine Project on one of the rare 90+ days this summer.  I also made some new friends, including a longtime reader of this blog who happens to live a block away and can truly drink even the Pences under the table ( hi Nate ).. and Trent Thomas, owner of  Rewine , which reconditions wine barrels for re-use by winemakers.
And I even found time to backpack the Timberline Trail around Mt Hood with some Old friends.

Happy Hour at 6,000 feet never tasted better!!

And of course, our mutant dog continues to grow at a mind numbing pace.

(she just turned 4 months Sept 1st.  Gone from 5lbs June 12th, to about 45 now )

In a nutshell, that's what's been going on in our world this past month.

I'm heading out later this week for another around the mountain backpacking trip, this time the 100 mile Wonderland Trail around Mt Rainier.  Stay tuned, it should be a doozy.

When I get back, we'll be doing some mass pickling and canning, as most of my tomatoes will be ready for canning, as will beans, squash, and more cukes.

The month of October will bring me 4 whole pork legs from Tails and Trotters, and we'll go into detail on how to cure them.  JDub and I will also be getting in deep with fresh sausage and various Salume, as well as pate and other terrines.

Friday, July 30, 2010

First Pickles of the Year!!

This is a week of Firsts... first homemade booze post, and now first pickle post.    I've been growing beets, carrots, peppers, squash and beans for about 3 years now and last year was the first year I successfully pickled them, and they turned out great.

Here are a few pics from the garden.. Choggia ( bullyeye ) beets, bulls blood beets, dragon carrots, pattypan squash, persian (striped) squash, 8 ball squash, cayenne peppers, jalapeno peppers, long yellow beans, and purple beans ( that turn green when you cook them ).  The garden's doing well, even though the crappy spring weather put us about a month behind.

If any of you ever happen to get pickled beets from me, I just want you to know how much work goes into them.

From the first pic you see above, I had to prep the soil, grow the freaking things and harvest.  Then wash off, clean and trim them.   Then they go into boiling water, then into an ice water bath, and then I individually peel off the skins.  At that point ( as seen in the pic ) they're ready to be placed in the jar and pickled.

I use a pretty simple recipe base for almost all my pickles

1 part vinegar ( use whatever type you want.. mostly I use white, but sometimes cider )
3 parts water
1 cup kosher salt
black peppercorns
garlic cloves

For beets, I use the following additional spices
star anise

Use whatever amount suits you.   I add all of the above to the brine, which I then heat to almost boiling. 

When the jars are full, and the brine is ready ( see pic ) I fill em up to within 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the top ( that's called headspace )

don't forget to put a grape leaf or two in the bottom of every jar... the tannis will give you a crunchy pickle.
I also usually  add a few peppercorns, garlic cloves, and jalapeno to each jar... trust me, it's good.

For standard pickles ( cukes, zukes, etc ) I then process in a hot water bath for 10-20 minutes.   Carrots go for 30, as do beets.

when I'm done I wipe them off and let them sit out and cool down.  

How do you know if they're safe? listen for the telltale "pop" which happens when the vaccum seal forms.. you can also tell because the little "button" on top of the lid will be sucked down and concave.

If it doesn't seal properly, put it in the fridge and eat them within a month or two.

Here's what you get for all those hours of work.

Now you guys know why I'd rather give our housesitter cash than pickles :-)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Nocino - Italian Walnut Liqueur

This post is a bit different than all my previous, in that it doesn't deal with meat.   However, the mission of my blog is to "explore the fascinating world of cured meats, pickles,wine, and life in general on SE 20th in Portland, Oregon.. and guess what?  Nocino is now an embedded and much loved part of that life.

I learned how to make Nocino from my friend, Ann Hubatch of Helioterra Wines.

My first batch was last year and tasted fantastic.   I learned from the pros and now have a few different types going.    

A few things you need:   Walnuts ( see photo )

To make 1/2 gallon or so of Nocino:

30 green walnuts ( about the size of small limes )
Chop them up ( halved or quartered.. your preference.. I think quartering extracts more "walnut essence, but I could be full of crap )

Then place them in your 1 gallon container.

FYI... try and use a wide mouth container.   If you use a narrow mouthed container, like my friend Vincent, from Vincent Wine Company, you're going to have a hell of a time cleaning the walnuts out of the container in the fall, ( see his effort here - scroll down to botom . I suggest you sign up to follow his blog and see how he cleans those jars out in November :))

After you've chopped up and placed your nuts in the jar ( save the jokes.. I've already made them ), pour in one liter of vodka and/or everclear.   I personally use vodka, as the ones I've tasted with everclear can be a bit harsh, and Nocino is the sort of thing you drink when you've already drunk a few other things.. so if I can lessen the impact a bit, so be it.
After the hard stuff, add in one liter of white wine ( or red, rose, or a mix... it's YOUR nocino.. get creative )
I just happened to use whatever was at the top of the pile in the manfridge.. seufert woven white, leitner GV, and my fav summer white Aranciano Grillo.. a sardinian white ).

Now here's where you can get really creative.

standard recipe calls for 2.2lbs ( 1 Kilo ) of sugar,3-5 cinnamon sticks, and 40 cloves to be added.   After tasting all of the awesome Nocino's at Casa Hubatch this July, I decided to get crazy.  One common theme is less sugar this year.   All of the nocino's I tried that used the full kilo ( including mine ) were a bit too sweet, so I used less.

Batch 1.
30 Walnuts
1l vodka,  1l white wine
1lb sugar( white )
3 cinnamon sticks
40 ( or so... i'm not really counting them out ) cloves
1/3lb stumptown 'hairbender' whole coffee beans
5 whole cardamom seeds
10 whole allspice seeds
1 orange including peel (squeezed juice and used orange peel only )

Batch 2
30 walnuts
1l vodka,  1l white wine
1lb sugar
5 cinnamon sticks
40 cloves
1/3lb stumptown 'hairbender' whole beans
5 cardamom seeds

Batch 3
30 walnuts
1L vodka, 1L white wine
No sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
40 cloves
10 allspice seeds

Batch 4
30 walnuts
1l vodka,  1lwhite wine.
Nothing else added

So there you go.    Now the hard part.   Leave alone except for a light shake every week or two. 

Come back at the end of Oct, Middle November and bottle.

I'm secretly rooting for Batch #4, as one of the best ones I had last year was just "naked" nocino.. no spices.. and that one had all the taste of clove and cinnamon..

Stay tuned... This is going to be good.