Thursday, July 30, 2009

No, I didn't get lost in the wilderness...

I apologize for the mini and unexpected hiatus. Apparently packing up and moving half way across the country is more work than I had anticipated, and its cutting into my blogging time. Natalie and I are one week out from pulling up the stakes in Oakland and I am swimming in boxes and garage sale prep. Still, before we depart, I will try to write about some of my favorite Bay Area spots. Stay tuned!

And, if you're in the neighborhood on saturday, stop by the garage sale!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Going Camping...

I'm going camping this weekend! I brined a mess of pork chops to get ready.

See you all next week.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Butchery Zeitgiest rolls on...

Last week, the New York Times had a doozy of an article about hip young butchers. While I can't get as worked up about it as Larbo does, the author doesn't do much of a service to the people she's writing about. I don't want to come across as the pot calling the kettle black. I am, of course, one of the "young would be butchers who want internships" and I have had the pleasure of working with and learning from several of the folks in this article, but I don't miss the irony of butchering being compared to indie rock. Been there done that, you know? Anyway, cheers to Melanie from Avedano's who says: “We never did it to be rock stars. For me, it was a way to promote small farms and certain fish. That’s it.”

As an antidote to all that young hipness, check out my photos of old school meat markets and deli's in New York.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Parts & Labor: Corned Beef Tongue pt 2

Sorry I'm a little late getting this posted. I Hope none of you were following along at home waiting for me. Then again, even if you were, you could have just left the tongue in the brine and you would have been fine. (Though you might want to soak it in water over night to mellow out the saltiness.)

When we last met, our tongue was brining in the fridge. I let the tongue brine for about 10 days to make sure the brine saturated the tongue completely. By the time it was done, the meat had a nice pink color and a moist, almost gelatinous texture. This, by the way, is how it is supposed to look.

After removing the tongue from the brine, I dumber all the liquid, but strained out the seasonings to use later. Next, the tongue goes into a pot with with water, carrots, onion, celery and the reserved seasoning.

Bring to a boil and let it go for about and hour, then comes the fun part... The outer skin of the tongue is tough and not enjoyable to eat, but luckily it peels off easily after boiling.

It is import to peel the skin while the tongue is still hot, otherwise it will be hard to get off. At this point, I cut a hunk of the tongue off, rubbed it with a seasoning mixture and threw it in the smoker to make pastrami. The rest went back in the water and cooked for another couple of hours.

Pastrami ready for the smoker

Corned tongue, ready to eat!

In my mind, the best way to eat corned beef and/or pastrami is in a a Reuben sandwich, and so that's what I did. I started a batch of sauerkraut a couple of days before i started the tongue brining and made a pretty darn good sandwich, if i do say so myself.

I know that brisket is more popular cut of meat, but as far as I'm concerned, save it for the barbecue. When it comes to corned beef, I'll take tongue any day!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Butcher's Table

Sure, you've sat at the chef's table of your favorite restaurant, but have you ever sat at the butcher's table? A16 Restaurant has a little thing going on for lunch on Wednesdays. They get their pigs in for the week and break them down in front of any guest adventurous enough to pull a seat up at the counter that runs the length of the kitchen. For some, watching a dead pig get dissected into the various cuts of meat that eventually end up on your plate might be, well, less than appetizing. Lucky for me, I'm long past that point.

It was an impressive sight watching the crew make quick work of the pig and a half that would become a week's worth of pork for the restaurant.

For lunch we ordered a salad, pizza with anchovies, black olives and chili oil, with a fresh egg on top and the trippa alla Napoletana. This was my first time having tripe, and man was it good. The texture was wonderful, smooth but not slimy, firm but not chewy, and the flavor infused throughout the whole dish. If you've never had tripe and are at all squeamish about trying it, this is the dish to be introduced to.

Between the corned tongue (which I will finish posting about soon, I promise), this and some Fatted Calf Liverwurst, I've been having an adventurous gastronomic week, with each one exceeding my expectations.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

My New Favorite Blog

Charcuterie Sundays = awesome!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Nothing says the 4th of July like Hot Dogs!

For home sausage makers, hot dogs are a challenge. They require more equipment, greater temperature control and have a much higher likely hood of going wrong than regular sausages. While hot dogs are sometimes looked down upon compared to many of their fellow sausages, they actually take a great deal of skill to pull off. I'm always up for a challenge, so in honor of the holiday, I decided to take a crack at America's favorite food.

I started out with 100% grass fed beef chuck from Marin Sun Farms and some Oregon pork (The name of the farm escapes me), both of which I purchased at the new Berkeley Bowl West. As I said before, temperature control is very important with hot dogs, so after cutting the meat into chunks I stuck it in the freezer for a while to cool off. After that I ground it and mixed it with seasonings like a regular sausage, and again stuck it back in the freezer. Here's where it gets interesting. Hot dogs have the smooth texture that we know and love because they are emulsified by blending the meat with water and an emulsifying agent, in this case whole milk powder. I did by blending the meat with ice water and the milk powder in my CuisinArt food processors. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of this step, but you can see the before and after shots of the meat in the third and fourth photo. After emulsifying it, the meat is smooth, homogeneous paste. After emulsifying, it went back in the freezer again (Temperature control!) while I set up my stuffer. As you can s, my stuffer is an old cast iron monstrosity. Its really better for than it is for stuffing sausages, but it gets the job done.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

After stuffing and linking the sausages, I smoked them to add flavor and raise the internal temperature, then steamed them to finish cooking. (Internal temperature between 152 and 155) Finally, I gave them a shower in cold water to bring the temperature down and avoid wrinkling. Presto! We have hot dogs.

I followed Ryan Farr's sagely advice and made Beans & Weenies. Unfortunately, we ate them so fast no one got a picture...