Gary Cooper

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Pot stickers.

Since I set up Gary's doghouse a month or so ago most of the posts have been around meat-based endeavors. This is a break from Charcutepalooza. Tonight I tried something new, tried to re-purpose a trick from Iron Chef America, and I got something very right. I made potsticker wrappers. At the grocery store this morning we bought wonton wrappers for gyoza and they were disgusting little brown things that I couldn't stand to use.

I don't think the picture does them justice but the row of square wrappers are the store bought ones. They look better in the picture than they did in person. The round ones are from this recipe.

Potstickers - or gyoza - are small dumplings that have a filling of either meat, vegetable or a combination of both. The wrappers are a thin, well, noodle. You can buy them but they are so easy to make.

Potsticker (gyoza) wrappers
2 cups AP flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup boiling water (plus a bit more if you need it)

Use chopsticks to "whisk" the salt and flour together. Slowly add in the water while "whisking" until it will form into a ball. Add more water if it's too dry. Take the ball of dough and put it in a bowl and cover with a damp towel. Let it sit for an hour or more so that the starches can hydrate. Take the ball of dough and start kneading it (it will go very flaky on you for a while but will smooth out in about 3 minutes. Go a bit longer until it is very smooth. A total of 5 minutes. Here is the new (to me) and cool ('cause I'm a geek) part. Use your pasta machine to roll the dough out to the thinnest setting. Use a 3 inch biscuit cutter to cut out your wrappers. I got over 50 out of my ball of dough! Now make potstickers. What are you waiting for? Oh, a recipe? I'll post that later.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Corned beef short rib (step 2) Dinner a week in the making.

Yesterday was a crazy day. I worked the morning then went to a meeting in the afternoon and later in the day we had guests over for dinner. There was no way I could work out how to get the short ribs in the oven at the right time. That's when my wife said, "Doesn't the oven do the thing where it will do a time delay to start?"

So after lunch I took the zip top bag of short ribs out of the fridge. I rinsed them under cool water for a minute or so and put them in the big, heavy dutch oven. I added water to just barely cover and threw in two tablespoons of the pickling spice. I put foil over the top to prevent steam from escaping, since I wasn't going to be around to make sure the liquid was staying at the right level, and put on the lid and put it in the oven. Setting the oven required three tries and the user manual but once set I went off to my meeting.

When I got back to the house the aroma was intense. The familiar smell of corned beef was strong, but there was a difference. I want to call it a meatiness to the smell. Resisting the urge to pull the lid off we went about the rest of dinner preparations. At a total cook time of 3:45 (adjusting for the fact that the oven had to heat and the meat and braising liquid was cold), I took the pot out of the oven.

When I pulled the ribs out of the Dutch oven I noticed that the meat didn't just fall apart.

Of course I was worried that it wasn't going to be tender but the rib bones pulled out easily. I cut the tough connective tissue off the rib side and sliced it.

Foie gras is just liver. Truffles are simply mushrooms. This is just a car. This was just corned beef in the same way. There is a rich intensity that I have never had in corned beef before. The melted connective tissue and oozy fat with the salty beef created something more... It was foie gras, it was truffles, it was that car. I have made the corned beef recipe out of Charcuterie with brisket twice, but this was more. Just more.

Unfortunately none of the plated pictures came out. I am afraid it is up to you to picture the sliced short ribs, roasted new potatoes and braised red cabbage. For Corned beef short rib (step 1) click here.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Corned beef short rib (step 1)

Michael Ruhlman has a post on his blog with a recipe for making pastrami out of short ribs. Being a lover of that particular cut of meat I decided that one of my entries for the charcuterie brining challenge would be a section of short ribs turned into corned beef. My wife is somewhat iffy on long-smoked meats so corned beef is a lovely compromise.

First I had to locate an uncut section of ribs which was not easy.

With the meat in my possession it was time to make the brine. The recipe I'm working from is in the Ruhlman/Polcyn book; the only change I made was to use turbinado sugar in place of the granulated sugar. As the following pictures show, I set up my mise en place and got it in half the water as called for in the recipe. By adding half the water I can later put the same amount of ice by weight and cool the mixture down quickly.

(Clockwise from top; salt, turbinado, dark brown sugar, garlic, honey, pickling spices and pink salt.)

That was simmered until the salt and sugars were in solution. Then I weighed out a half gallon (64 oz.) of ice and added it to bring the volume up and cool down the mixture. I put the ribs into a large zipper bag and poured in the brine. Every day I will turn the zip bag to keep the spices moving.

Monday, February 21, 2011

My favorite Cajun Boudin Recipe.

I have to start this post with a little history. My mother was born and raised in a small town in south Louisiana. Many of my cousins and aunts and uncles are from that area. From the time I was 4 until 8 my family lived there as well. I truly love Cajun and Creole cuisine. So for the last two years I have been working on perfecting a recipe for Cajun boudin blanc. If you have never had Boudin Blanc it is a bit different. It is made of cooked pork and pork liver and rice aggressively seasoned and stuffed in hog casings. My initial attempt started with this recipe, which is very, very good but I have made some changes mostly to the technique. I don't take credit for the recipe that credit goes to Chuck Taggart at the Gumbo Pages.

Cajun Boudin.
Makes approximately 8.5 pounds

The Meat.
3.5 pounds pork butt cut into big chunks
1 TSP cracked black peppercorns
1 large onion cut into 8 wedges
the stems off a bunch of parsley
3 stalks celery chopped
2 bay leaves
2 TBS salt

The Veggies and liver.
1 pound pork liver sliced thin
4 slices bacon
2 medium yellow onions Diced medium
2 bunches green onions Just the white part. Cut into 1/4 inch rounds.(save the greens we'll need them)
6 Cloves garlic crushed and chopped fine

Rice and assembly.
3 cups uncooked white basmati rice
4 TBS parsley
1 TB Cayenne pepper
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp freshly ground white pepper

The Method
Preheat oven to 325. Put everything from the Meat section except salt in a pot with 4 quarts of water. Bring to a simmer and cover pot, put in oven for 3 hours. Remove pot and take out the meat with a slotted spoon. (take all of the onion and parsley off that you can.) Strain the liquid and take out 1 pint and stir in the salt until dissolved. Set aside. Keep all of the remaining pork stock.

Cook bacon in a saute pan until brown. (you can go ahead and eat the bacon, we were just after the fat.) Put in the diced onion and saute for 4 minutes. Add the green onion whites and garlic and saute for 1 minute (go less if the garlic is starting to get brown.) and add liver. Cover and cook 10 minutes or until it is starting to get tender. Pour in a 1/2 cup of the unsalted pork stock cover and cook 10 minutes longer. When the meat and liver are cool enough to handle grind into a large bowl using a meat grinder fitted with the large die. Add salted stock, cayenne, black pepper and white pepper and mix thoroughly. Set aside to cool.

Bring 5 cups stock to a low boil in a 3 to 4 qt sauce pan with a tight lid. Pour in rice and stir a couple times. Return to a simmer and turn the heat to low. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. Pour rice out onto rimmed cookie sheet and put in the freezer for 20 minutes. Break up the clumps and add to bowl with meat. Add the chopped tops of the 2 bunches of green onions and minced parsley. Mix thoroughly. Be careful not to break up the rice too much. Add more of the remaining stock and mix it in by hand. Continue adding stock in small amounts until the mixture is quite moist but not soupy. I usually have 1 to 2 cups liquid left at the end. Stuff into 32/35mm hog casings. I do 8.5 inch links. They freeze very well and keep for months if you vacuum seal them. To re-heat you can use one of 4 methods. Oiled pan in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, (20 minutes if thawed.) steam for 20 minutes, grill or poach in a small amount of water for 30 minutes. My favorite method is the oiled pan but the traditional is steaming. Serve with french bread or saltine crackers and beer.

Like I said, my changes are to the technique. Here's what I did and why. I cook the meat covered in the oven for 3 hours so that it gets really tender and soaks up as much of the flavor from the aromatics as possible. I cook the liver covered so it stays moist and doesn't get mealy. I reserve a pint of the stock and add the salt to it so that the salt is evenly distributed. It is really hard to get the salt uniformly through the mixture. I put the rice in the freezer so the grains tighten up and don't break as badly. I have refrigerated the meat and the rice over night then put it together and stuffed it the next day to great success.

This year for my brother's birthday I made him a full batch of boudin for his present and froze it. It's one of his favorite things to eat for breakfast! Happy birthday Roy.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Guanciale is done!

Last night I pulled the guanciale out of the cellar and sliced off one end. What I found was the glistening white meat and heavy streaks of meat.


So I diced up a slice and browned it off in a dry pan over medium high heat. The smell was wonderful!

set up

I really didn't have anything to do with it so I saved it until this morning when my wonderful wife put a bit of the fat in a pan and fried an egg in it. Before the whites set she put a few of the lardons on top. I had made some whole wheat bread Sunday and she toasted up a slice and put the egg on top. It was simple perfection. Just a few great ingredients treated well.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Guanciale update - Now with pictures of dogs.

Here we are at the end of the challenge and my big honking hog jowl is still not quite finished. I have plans for the frist guanciale meal and that is a Ravioli stuffed with kale, onions, ricotta and guanciale! I will post the recipe even if it's a crash and burn. I don't think it will though.

Now the picture of dogs!


Dexter and Gary Cooper at rest.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Pancetta and Guanciale in the cellar

On Thursday the 27th I took the jowl out of the cure and rinsed it thoroughly with cool water and dried it with paper towels.

Guanciale 1

I then made a hole in the corner of the jowl about an inch from the edge. I took a flat skewer and ran it through and then twisted it to form a nice hole. Then took a chopstick and pushed the twine through the hole.

Guanciale 3

The nascent guanciale was then taken to the cellar where it can dry and cure for 2 weeks.

Guanciale 5

On Sunday January 30th I gave the pancetta a squeeze and it was nice and firm to the touch. I rinsed it with cool water and brushed as much of the cure particles off as I could. I put 2 teaspoons of fresh black pepper evenly across the meat side. It took three tries but I finally got it rolled up tightly with no gaps. I trussed it up and put it in to join the guanciale for a nice rest.

G and P 2

The Pancetta may take as long at 4 weeks to finish so I am going to be patient and let it happen. There is a very bacon-y, meat-y aroma in my wine cellar but it's fading a little every day.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Suacisson Sec is done.

Saucisson sec

Last night I sliced a small piece of the Saucisson Sec off one link to see if it was ready. I took a bite and was instantly in Provence. In 2000 after walking around the ruins of the Chateauneuf Du Pape on that windy May day sitting down for lunch. We had bought Saucisson, Cheese, olives and Baguette for a picnic lunch. That is the taste of the sausage we made. There was a quibble about it however. I used too small casings. After drying it was only about 1 inch in diameter so there was a bit too much of the casing to the amount of meat. Overall a great success for my first dried sausage.

Update: The first saucisson I tested was a small link and while it was fully cured the second one I cut was not. I am going to try to hang them for a little longer. I may have ruined that batch.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

You're doing what? Why?

Most people who hear that my hobby is sausage making ask that question. It happens that a couple of years ago I got interested in making sausage at home. After doing some research I placed my first order to Butcher & Packer. 1 package of 29mm natural pork casings and the book Charcuterie The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing by Michael Ruhlman. In the early days I used my Kitchenaid mixer with grinder and stuffer attachments for the task. I bought a hand crank stuffer a few months later and now have a brand new grinder on the way.

I have over the months made a wide variety of sausages, many of them from Michael Ruhlman's book. I have made, Italian sausage in sweet and hot forms, Argentine and Mexican chorizo, smoked kielbasa, chicken apple, Cajun boudin, anduille, venison, breakfast and bratwurst. Most of them to great success with only a failure or two. It has become a hobby that I love.

With my sausage making buddies Chris and Brendon we have made up to 50 pounds of sausage in a single day. Of course it is all business for us. Strictly business
For months I have been wanting to do a dried sausage and finally a couple weeks ago we got together and made a saucisson sec.
I did some tinkering around in my wine cellar and got the humidity to a livable level by using 2 bowls of water, salted to prevent mold.

That weekend we made along with the saucisson sec another batch of the boudin and chicken apple sausage. We also did Pate de Campagne. Pate de Campagne
Soon thereafter I heard about the Charcutepalooza challenge. I came in too late for the first challenge but have dove in with both feet for the second one. The challenge was Pancetta or Guanciale. Being one who thinks that if something is worth doing it's worth over doing I decided to do both.

For the guanciale I spoke to Weldon at Emerald Glen farms and asked for a hog jowl. Last Saturday it was waiting for me at the farmers market in Nashville. When I got my bag home it was a 4 pound monster of a jowl. It had beautiful streaks of pink meat in layers of perfectly white fat. The rind was a thick slightly rough layer that, after some serious deliberations that included an impromptu e-mail to Michael Ruhlman, I decided had to go. Michael was kind enough to respond and gave me the guidance I needed to go on. “Take it off or leave it on, doesn't matter. But if you take it off use it in stocks to give a great body.”, he said. Peeled guanciale
Off came the skin. A little time and a sharp knife made it easy. I put the salt cure together and rubbed the jowl down thoroughly. It went into a zip top bag will be in the fridge for at least 4 days but with the size I think at least 7. Then I will take it out and put it in the cellar for 1 to 3 weeks.

Unfortunately Weldon didn't have any pork bellies but a local butcher shop did so I was able to procure that from him. The Belly was 10 pounds and about 24 inches long and 12 inches across. I cut it in half and put one half in the freezer while I skinned the other. Before and after
The process was much like skinning the jowl and in 10 minutes I had the glistening white fat layer exposed.
Peeled PancettaSkin
I mixed up the rub with freshly ground herbs and spices with kosher salt and some pink salt (curing salt).
Cure mix The Cure 2
I coated the slab of meat liberally and put it in a large zip top bag to join the jowl. Cold storage
Every day I have to redistribute salt and flip both the jowl and belly over. The Pancetta will then get rolled, tied and put on my shiny new PVC curing rack with the guanciale. Pancetta takes 3 to 4 weeks in the cellar.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Curing Rack Project.

In my house I have a wine cellar/closet which is set up with a chiller unit that keeps the temperature to a consistent 57 degrees and with a bowl of heavily salted water 65% relative humidity. So when the Charcutepalooza challenge came about I knew where the meat curing would happen. The problem is where and how to hang the meat while the curing happens. This is how it looked before.


So I started thinking about what to make the curing rack out of. First thought was wood. But really it would be time consuming to build and a bit difficult to keep clean. Then I thought PVC. That's the stuff that they use for modern plumbing, of course, and a quick trip to the Depot got my whole parts list. The whole thing cost just $9.02
To make a curing rack like mine you need to buy;
(2) ten foot ¾ inch PVC pipes. If you ask nicely they will cut them in half for free.
(4) ¾ inch T fittings Make sure that the T fittings are not threaded and that the pipe fits into all of the holes.
(2) ¾ inch elbows
(4) ¾ inch end caps

If you have a hand saw or a power saw all of the cuts can be made in about 10 minutes. To make a rack the same dimensions as the one I made (40” tall X 32” long) cut; 2 36” tubes, 2 30” tubes, 2 3” tubes and 4 6” tubes. To make the height more that 40” increase the 36” tubes to what you need and to change the amount of length that you can hang meat on increase or decrease the 30” tubes accordingly. Now lets put it together.

We'll start with the feet. Put two 6” tubes into the straight section of a T fitting, then put caps on the free ends of both 6” tubes. Repeat with 2 more 6” tubes a T and 2 Caps for the other foot. See below.


Next put a 3” tube in the upright from the T. and insert the straight section of another T on the 3” tube. Repeat for the other leg.


Put the 36” tube in the other side of the straight part of the T and put an elbow on the top. Repeat for the other leg.


Now put the 30” tubes in the exposed sides of both T's. On one of your uprights. Then put the other end into the other upright.


There it is. One easily cleaned easily collapsed meat curing rack!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Gary Cooper

That handsome fellow at the top of the page is Gary Cooper.  He is a 18 month old shepherd mix that we rescued from the Nashville Humaine Association.  He and his little friend Dexter live with my wife and me in a historic house in East Nashville that we restored from fire damage.