Monday, January 30, 2012

Tamworth Guanciale

Not too long ago I expressed some excitement about making a Carbonara with the pancetta from this pig.  Although I love that pancetta like a brother, guanciale is the traditional main ingredient in this age old pasta dish.   As a matter of fact if you tried to sneak pancetta in the dish with a true Roman at the table chances are they wont even eat it after the first bite.  Before ever eating this hard to find cut, I thought , "what's the diference, they are basically the same right?"  75% fat and the rest meat and skin they both must taste the same.

 You know what they say about assumptions right...this is a totally different animal.  When you bite down on a little sauteed cube of guanciale it bursts a flavor bomb of salty, herb infused pork fat in your mouth with a tender chew of the meat which runs through the center of the jowl.  Pancetta tends to be a bit more on the tough side in my opinion.
 Just so everyone is on the same page this cut originates on the head of the hog. It is essentially its whole cheek from the lip up the jaw line all the way around below the ear and under the eye. That whole piece is cut off and dry cured for 5-7 days depending on how thick the jowl is.  Mine was in the cure for 6 days and I felt it was too salty after the taste test.  I will reduce the cure time by a day next year.  I added black pepper and dried rosemary to the cure but could not really taste the rosemary.  I will stick to using fresh spices next time, traditionally thyme is used.
 If you can get your hands on a jowl, this is one of the easiest ways to start curing meat. for the cure you need 3.5% salt (% of total weight of the meat) 1% black pepper and 1% of whatever spices you like. Rub down the meat and transfer to a zip loc bag with all of the cure mixture.  Let it stay in the fridge for 5-7 business days rubbing and turning every day. When it feels firm take it out rinse in cold water and dry off.  Hang in a cool damp place for 2-4 weeks and your in.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Limonciello Preparation

 Nothing is better than getting a surprise FedEx package from California filled with the most wonderfully perfumed, brilliantly yellow meyer lemons I have ever laid my senses on.  My aunt Jackie who lives in southern California knows how much we love fresh produce and spoils us when her trees are wilting with fruit.  The best way for us to extract and preserve that unique flavor and smell is to make Limonciello.  The zest gets soaked in alcohol which releases all of the essential oils which is what gives the lemon it's essence and color.
 After steeping for 2 weeks I will strain out with cheese cloth, and add a simple syrup or milk infused with sugar.  The first will be the typical clear/ yellowish limonciello, and the other is crema di favorite.  That's it...serve ice cold out of the freezer.
10 Meyer Lemons
1 Liter of 100 prof vodka
4 Cups of water/ or milk
3 cups of sugar

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Seafood Terrine's

 This on is a shrimp puree, spinach and shitake mushroom garnish with a salmon inlay.  Both in flavor and visually this terrine is superior in my opinion.

Scallop puree infused with saffron with a jumbo lump crab and chive garnish.  The terrine mold was lined with blanched leek tops.  

  • Red- Roasted pepper and garlic aoli
  • White- cucumber dill sour cream
  • Green- Basil infused homemade mayo

After making so many meat terrines, it is easy to improvise with different meats, garnish and sauces...for meat. Seafood on the other hand is new to me so I followed Michael Ruhlman's recipes from his amazing book Charcuterie.  I encourage anyone who has the balls to buy this book and have a blast.
All three sauces were a hit on either Terrine.  After this project I now feel comfortable working with seafood and I look forward to making up some new conckoctions.