Gary Cooper

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.