Monday, December 19, 2011

Amish Tamworth Coppa

Out of the whole pig, this is what I look forward to the most.   In Europe the coppa is the most prized cut and I can see why.  On a pig that was naturally raised like this Tamworth from Pleasant Pa
stures in Pa, the fat, to meat ratio is perfectly balanced.  Fresh, it makes for a wonderful roast or braise but if fermented and hung to dry at the right temperature and humidity...well, it's a new animal all together.  Call me crazy but a properly cured seasoned and dried coppa is the most amazing salumi on the hog.  Sorry prosciutto!

You may notice this thing is super long, about 18 inches and its because I had the freedom of choosing where I wanted to cut the muscle.  A 5.5 pound cut like this is not attainable at any supermarket, trust me.  Seam butchery is amazing and will change the way you cook with pork, no doubt.

I can say over the past few years I have made a boat load of successful coppe.  After many experiments with different spice combo's from all over Italy my favorite hands down is the classic calabrese preparation.  It cured for 15 days in kosher salt, cure #2, hot calabrese pepper powder, sweet calabrese pepper from Scott at the Sausage Debauchery.  Washed all the spices and salt with red wine and let it soak for about 15 minutes then pat it dry.  To dry it out I left it in the fridge uncovered overnight then rubbed it with a mix of hot, sweet calabrese powder and black pepper.  I really packed it in and let it hang out on the counter and absorb for about  1/2 hour before stuffing into the beef bung.

Stuffing this monstrosity in a beef bung was not a simple task.  I ripped a hole in the top of the bung but it shouldn't be a problem.  After I tied it up good, i poured the mold solution over it a few times.  It hung in the fermentation chamber until a nice bloom developed, about 5 days.  Let me tell you between the bung and the mold it was...lets say ripe.  

This thing was so thick it should take quite a while to dry.  I expect to wait about 4-6 months but it will be worth it.  I will post some new pictures once it starts drying out and developing the white moldy loveliness!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pequin Hot Wings

If feels like forever my friends and I have been on a quest for great wings.  The simple notion of the perfect wing is more complicated than most think. After one wing place recommendation after another I've become quite frustrated with the sub par product chefs try and pass of as edible.  I don't want to rant but the last place we went to, a national chain which a coworker said had "magical" wings, my good friend and eating buddy Dan said had a "barn yard" flavor.  So much for those magical wings.  It all comes down to these small but crucial details:  Wing and oil temperature, dryness of the wing and draining off oil after frying.   Don't forget the quality of the sauce.

Although the sauce from my last post was insanely good and I encourage anyone to make there own, you can find great store bought hot sauce.  The trick here is in the preparation of wings and the frying technique.  Quality ingredients is the most important thing.  Get fresh wings and trim them properly.  Cut the little tip that no body eats off then cut the flat from the drummet at the joint.  Wash the wings under cold water and pat them dry.  It is very important that they be super duper dry in order to get the right crispy texture when frying.   I believe that this is a major misstep in these bars around here.  Now put the wings on a rack or a trey lined with paper towels and transfer to the refrigerator.  Since most fridges have a very low relative humidity, they should dry the skin out perfectly.  Keep them int the fridge over night up to 24 hrs.  These little details will make all the difference in your final product.

Oil and meat temperature are probably the most important factors in a quality wing.  If the oil is not hot enough your gonna have a soggy, wing saturated in oil.  If it is too hot you will have a very crispy wing that will be gummy on the inside.  The wings should be room temperature or close to it before frying so that they cook evenly.  Ideally you want a wing that is crispy on the outside, moist and fall off the bone tender on the inside.

You don't need an expensive fryer.  I just use a deep stock pot filled 1/3 with veggie oil.  Bring the oil temperature up to 370, no more that 385 and fry away.  If your pot is not large enough just do them in batches.  If you crowd the pot it will lower the oil temp. and you'll have those nasty soggy wings.

The worst thing is getting wings that are properly fried but not drained.  Now you have crispy wings, good texture but sitting in a pool of veggie oil that will give you the runs for the rest of the day.  It takes just one extra step, lay paper towels on a flat surface, or a drying rack and transfer the wings straight from the oil to the towels.  NOW you can toss them in your hot sauce of choice and enjoy a football game like a man (or a woman).

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tamworth Pancetta

Bellies, bellies, bellies.  I love pork bellies... more so than bacon i think pancetta is the most versatile salumi/ charcuterie.  You can start off almost any pasta dish with it, slice it thin and cover a bird before it goes in the oven  Usually I don't roll it like this, once it is salt cured you can hang it up to dry out and it can be sliced and eaten without cooking.  Over the past few years that is exactly what I've done but for some reason it does not  brown well when you cook it.  Maybe it has something to do with the lack of moisture in the meat so this year I'm gonna roll it up and air dry in the chamber for3-4 weeks assuming it will have more of a soft bacon like texture.  The only issue- I wont be able to just slice and eat.  The first thing I am going to do with this is a REAL Carbonara.

The cure is super simple.  I want to taste the quality in the pork without the mask of spices on this one.

  • 1 Pork belly trimmed and squared off               2185g  100%
  • Salt                                                                      76g   3.5%
  • Cure# 2                                                                 6g   .25%
  • Black Pepper                                                       10g    .5%
  • Sugar                                                                   21g      1%

  1. Mix cure in a bowl and place the meat in a large container. Evenly distribute the cure mix over the meat and rub it in good.  
  2. Transfer the belly to a bag large enough to hold it.  I used a 10 gallon non-scented garbage bag but they do sell large zip locks which would be ideal.  Pour the rest of the cure that fell off in the bag as well.  It is important you use all of that mix
  3. Try and get most of the air out of the bag and seal or tie it up.  Put in the fridge for 7 days if it is a thick belly.  If your using a crappy commercial belly you may be able to get away with less time.  However you don't want to UNDER cure. So its better to be safe than sorry.  Your looking for a firm feeling.
  4. After you feel its done, rinse under cold water and pat the meat dry. 
  5. Make sure it is completely dry, then roll it as tight as possible, tie it up with heavy duty butcher twine and hang it in a cool damp place for 3-4 weeks.  Ideally you want a temperature of 55 degrees F, and 65-75% RH.


Homemade Hot Sauce

 The darker sauce is the chipotle and the lighter is pequin.   You can easily go to the supermarket and buy chilies but who knows how long they have been sitting on the shelves.  Since the recipe for both of these have very few ingredients, quality is the most important factor.  I am lucky enough to have a Penzey's spices retail store not to far from home however they have an excellent mail order service if you don't.

You can tell a quality dried  chili by the smell as well as the feel.  When you open the package it should not be too brittle, they should have a leathery sticky texture. I also used local garlic from the Garden of Eve.  I don't remember the type but it superior to the commercial varietal from stop and shop.  Once you see how easy this is to make, there is no reason to buy any bottled hot sauce in the store.  Being that there are dozens of dried chilies on the market these days the sky is the limit.  Just substitute different chilies and vinegars and find a combo you love.  I cant wait to toss these with a few fried wings tomorrow!

Pequin Sauce

  1. 1/2 cup dried pequin chilies
  2. 6 cloves of garlic
  3. 1 cup distilled vinegar
  4. 2 tbs cider vinegar
  5. 1/2 cup water
  6. 1 tsp salt
  7. 2 tbs of paprika
chipotle sauce

  • 4 chipotle chilies
  • 3 cascabel 
  • 2 Guajillo
  • 1 tbs aleppo pepper
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbs pequin chilies
  • 1 cup distilled vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  1. Stem and seed the large chilies (not necessarily for pequins) cut up and grind in spice grinder.  Toast in a small pan until fragrant.  Add 1/2 cup of water and stir for 5 seconds.  
  2. Put all ingredients in a blender and puree for a while.  you want as smooth a texture as you can get so keep it running for 2-3 min.
  3. Push sauce through a fine mesh sieve and store in the fridge for up to a year.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Venison Chili

This is my version of Hank Shaw's Venison chili.  No "chili spice mix here," just quality meat, fresh spices, rich venison stock and a lot of love. Oh yea and that bacon I mad yesterday... that's what took this over the top.

My friends have been asking me to make chili for Sunday football all season.  We finally harvested a buck upstate in Delaware county  and I thought I'd seize the opportunity to try a recipe I've been eyeing for a while.  Of course I had to add and subtract a little to make it mine.

  • 2 lb of Venison stew meat ground
  • 1 lb of Pork stew meat ground
  • 1/2 lb of bacon small cubes
  • 1 lb dried pinto beans (Soaked overnight)
  • 1 big white onion minced
  • 7 garlic cloves minced
  • 4 cayenne green chilies fresh
  • 5 dried ancho chilies
  • 5 dried chipotle chilies
  • 5 guajillo chilies
  • 5 cascabel chilies
  • 2 tbs sweet paprika
  • 2 tbs cumin
  • 1 tbs coriander
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 10oz or more of dark chocolate
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 3 medium red tomato's diced
  • 1 cup weak coffee
  • 3 tbs molasses
  • Quart of venison stock
  • salt to taste
  • Cilantro
  • Cheese
  • Bacon skin (not necessary unless you smoked a belly the day before!)
Preheat the oven to 285
  1. Drain beans put them in a pot and cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil turn down the heat and simmer until they get soft, but not all the way done, about an hour. 
  2. Drain and set asside.  Take the stems and seeds out of all the chilies and break them up with your hands.  Cover them with boiling water and let steep for about an hour.  Put the reconstituted chilies in a food pro and puree with the soaking liquid.  Add the coffee here.
  3. Add the cubed bacon to a heavy bottom dutch oven to render and brown.  Once nice and crispy put the bacon aside but leave the fat in the pan.  Brown ground meet in batches and put aside. If you put all the meat in at the same time it will not brown correctly! 
  4.  In the same pot saute' the onions and garlic and scrape the bottom of the pan.  When the onions are a beautiful caramel color add the ground spices, cinnamon stick and toast for 2-3 min.  Add tomato paste and toast as well.  
  5. Now return the meat to the pot and stir in the beans.  Add half of the bacon, the chili puree, diced tomato, molasses, and venison (beef) stock to cover everything.  Salt to taste- 1-2 tbs.
  6. Tuck the bacon skin in the middle of the pot, put the lid on and pop it all in the oven.  Cook for as long as you like. Mine was ready in 3 hours.  At the last minute chop up the chocolate and stir in until it melts.  This is the trick my friends chocolate adds a different dimension that no one can figure out.
  7. Chop up red onion and cayenne peppers.  Garnish each dish with onions/peppers, cilantro, and any kind of cheese you like.  
Great with long grain rice.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Now it can be called Bacon

We smoked this at 250 degrees F until the internal temperature was 150 and it took less then 3 hours over apple and white oak.    Many of the charcuterie I do is very time consuming and labor intensive which discourages many home cooks.  Curing and smoking bacon is by far the easiest and I encourage everyone to try will never buy bacon in a plastic case at the supermarket again!

It tasted so good I was licking the cutting board.   We smoked the Smithfield belly at the same time and the taste is bland compared to the Tamworth.  After it cools we will slice it up and vacuum seal.  This will not last long but I have one more belly to play with.  This recipe is so good I may not do any other kinds of bacon.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Bellies Ready for Smoke!




Any time I mention supporting local farms that raise heritage breed animals the right way people look at me like im crazy.  My pork store told me "organic is a scam, do you really think they feed the animal grains and fruit?"   The proof is in the belly!  Just by taking a quick look at them side by side, you don't need to be a trained chef to see that the smithfield belly is obviously an inferior product.  It is super thin, full of water, barely  any fat at all.  There are many variable that contribute to the lack of quality.  Here is some info I found just looking up smithfield:

On December 15, 2010, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) released an undercover video taken by one of its investigators who worked for a month at Murphy-Brown, a Smithfield subsidiary in Waverly, Virginia. The investigator videotaped 1,000 large female pigs living in gestation crates during their four-month pregnancies; the sows are moved for three weeks to a nursing stall, then artificially inseminated and returned to the gestation crates. HSUS said in a statement that its investigator found unacceptable and systemic abuses.[23]The Associated Press reported that the investigator saw:
  • a lame pig shot in the forehead with a stun gun and thrown into a dumpster; the video shows the pig being dragged by its snout, shot in the head and thrown into the trash bin while clearly still alive;
  • pigs biting their crates in frustration, and bleeding as a result;
  • staff jabbing pigs to make them move, and mishandling piglets and tossing them into carts;
  • piglets born prematurely in gestation crates falling through the slats into the manure pits.
The undercover investigator saw no veterinarians at the facility. A manager told the investigator to ignore a pig with a basketball-sized abscess on her neck, then cut the abscess open with an unsterilized razor. Smithfield told the Associated Press that it has "zero tolerance for any behavior that does not conform to our established animal well-being procedures."[23] The company responded by sacking three workers. Temple Grandin, a professor of animal husbandry, was asked by Smithfield Foods to review the footage taken by HSUS and recommended an inspection of the facilities from animal welfare expert Jennifer Woods.[24]
The Virginia state veterinarian, Richard Wilkes told The Virginian-Pilot in January 2011 that Smithfield Foods had been "very responsive and very responsible in how they've addressed the issues" raised by the undercover investigation. Wilkes said he was invited to visit the farm in December as part of the investigation. He said he did not see "any indication of abuse" of the pigs and was impressed with the pigs' demeanor. A Humane Society spokesman said that Smithfield had provided the state vet "with a pre-announced, white glove tour."[25]

Heritage Breed Pork.  So what it's a little more expensive.  Farmers like Flying Pigs upstate NY, or the Amish farm Pleasant Pastures in PA take pride in there hogs.  They are passionate about keeping these old time breeds alive because they were originally bred for physical strength and more importantly flavor.  Fat is good people, In moderation of course   Especially if the animal is fed grains and natural food it was put on earth to eat.  Trust me the difference in flavor alone is worth the extra dollar per pound however people need to start opening there eyes to what these commercial farms do to increase there bottom line.  
I cured these bellies for 7 days and will let them dry over night in the fridge.  They will be hot smoked over apple and white oak tomorrow for a few hours till 150 degrees internal temperature.

Belly                      4000g
Salt                         120g
Cure 1                       20g
Dark bwn Sugar        120g
Maple Syrup               8oz
Clove                         7cloves
Cinnamon                  1.5 sticks
Juniper berries            14g

I will post pics and tasting notes when its finished   

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Venison sausage with sage and juniper

 By far the most interesting venison sausage I've ever had.  The piney hints from the juniper and sage match well with venison. Hank Shaw's recipe called for more juniper by the gram.  I liked the juniper but i felt it was a bit overpowering in this batch.  I could not imagine any more, in time I will reduce it.

Venison cubes:                       2250g (75%)
Pork back fat:                           573g (25%)
Kosher salt                                 45g (1.6%)
Cure #1                                        3g (.25%)
Juniper Berries                            12g (.53%)
Sage fresh and chopped              27g (1.2%)
Black pepper ground                  11g (.5%)
Celary Seed                                3g (.13%)
Gin                                            1/3 cup
Water:                                         1/3 cup

  1. Cut the venison and pork fat into strips or 1 inch cubes and put into the freezer.  You want the fat totally frozen but the meat just until it gets crispy.  
  2. Wile that is in the freezer combine spice blend.
  3. Grind meat and fat though the large die and then mix in the spice blend.  Put this back in the freezer for 10-15 min.
  4. If your using venison you will need to grind the meat again but using the small die.
  5. Case and hang up for 12-24 hrs in a cool damp place.

Fennel Habanero Dried Sausage

Every year we make the traditional calabrese style dried sauseage.  Loads of hot and sweet paprika, fennel seeds and salt.  We also grow habanero peppers and dry them to spunk up crushed red pepper a few notches.  Mixing the two was a good move...first of all it gives it an extra kick but it also has that unique habanero pepper flavor. This was taken out of the chamber after it lost 45% of its weight.  It was still slightly softer than I like so I did leave most of them to dry some more.  I used the shoulder meat and pure back fat from the Tamworth wich melts in your mouth.  Because of that the texture was perfect and the flavor was exellent. I will be doing this again no doubt.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Old Spot Coppa

Although I am a sucker for all salted porky treats, this is always a favorite.  Simple-traditional- Hot Capocollo   First is is salted, then washed with red wine.  After that we dry it out for a few hours and coat it with hot calabrese pepper and some cracked black pepper.  This is after it hung and dried in the cantina for 6 months.

Coppa Di Testa

AKA head cheese...but in Italian it sound much better.  This was Hank Shaw's recipe for brawn.  It held together wonderfully and the subtle  cookie spice was just right.  I must say it was best with just  a little blue point beer mustard from Miss Amy's on a piece of bread, and slightly warmer than room temperature.

Tamworth Pork Terrine

This was insane! the inlay is pan seared pork confit garnished with pistachio wraped in coul fat.  You can use it in sandwich, on french bread for an appetizer...I did it over red leaf from the garden with a light mustard vinaigrette.  Ruhlmans raisin/oniln chutney...serious snacks my friends.

Tamworth Canadian Bacon

This is the first thing I smoked with this years pig.  Simple garlic, honey, and fresh herb brine.  Then smoked for 4 hours on apple and white oak.  Great flavor, light smoke...I would do it again.

APL Smoked Shoulder

Adam Perry Lang is truly a master on a BBQ.  This is his apple brine, apple glazed, apple smoked pork shoulder.  It took 14 hours after all said and done but maaaan was it worth it.  His technique is amazing and works beautifully.   Carolina pulled what?


This was done with a brisket from Pleasant Pastures co-op Amish farm in PA.  First trimmed of some fat then brine in a pickle spice and smoked on white oak all day.  After this steams for about 2 hours, you will have a moist, extraordinarily flavorful pastrami that will rival Kats no problem.

Spring In The Woods

March and April are when these beautiful wild greens start coming up on the north shore of Long Island.  Garlic Mustard (Right) is potent but delicious.  You can boil them then saute in garlic and oil.  I put these along with other dark greens in a calzone type thing called a pitt` in calabrese.  In the middle we have some field garlic.  It taste more like a sweet cipolini onion.  You can put these in anything you would small onions. The ramps (left) are the most prized.  I like to saute the tops with garlic and oil.  The bottoms are great braised with white wine vinegar and honey agrodolce style.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

First Pheasant Hunt

This is also the first time hunting with my uncle in law, Sal who owns up to his reputation as a maniac hunter.  This guy is interested in one thing, and one thing only...and that is making sure he gets his kill.  Even though it was   not the best conditions for a pheasant hunt, Uncle Sallie made it happen.  We all had low expectations until we started spotting birds all over the road!  Long story short...without really having our own "hunting spot", we left with 4 pheasants.  Thanks to Uncle Sallies unique tactics.  He was nice enough to give me 2.  Since they are all shot up I will be deboning them.  Im defiantly going to make a stock with the bones. As for the meat, well...many ideas have been popping off in my brain since that rainy morning in the woods...We'll see.