Charcutepalooza Project #9 – Packing
Sometimes, I have to put this whole Charcutepalooza thing into perspective. There is basically some 300 bloggers around the world buying some… untraditional cuts of meat and manipulating them via curing, aging, grinding, packing, and stuffing to produce food in a way many of us never have at home. It’s kind of odd. But it’s also kind of exciting.
I mean, I’ve dealt with pig jowl, intestines, hog casings, pink salt, and the dreaded beef bung. I’ve had cured duck breasts hanging in my garage and a huge corned beef brisket take up about 25% of the room in my fridge. It’s…interesting.
Despite that, we’ve been doing things that, frankly, will become part of my culinary repertoire for a long time! I’m pretty sure I’ll always be making my own bacon (it’s really good). I’ll try to have a few sausages made and kept in the freezer so I can pop them out and eat them at my convenience. I might even make some pates for a special dinner party. And, they can all be done with things that we all find pretty regularly.
That is to say, don’t be scared of charcuterie for fear of eating pork liver or other types of offal. Your run of the mill pork shoulder, a beef brisket here and there, or even a chicken are all good vehicles for applying the charcuterie craft. Even better, you can use these techniques to create some equally great meals.
This English pork pie was a cinch to make. Essentially it’s a pate encased in a flaky crust and baked. And it’s made with stuff you would probably always find in your fridge – some ground pork, some seasonings, a pretty easy pie dough, and voila you have a beautiful dish.
I tinkered with the seasoning here to make it with more of an Indian influence. We have a pretty famous dish in India called “keema”, which is ground meat (usually lamb or goat) cooked with onion, garlic, ginger, and an array of spices. My favorite version comes with peas, so I mixed a couple of those into the pate as well.
With the simple recipe in Ruhlman’s book, the meat is mixed with some salt, pepper, and thyme. When it comes out of the oven, it just screams for a great tangy, grainy mustard. Maybe some pickled onions. Something acidic and spicy to cut through the richness of the crust and the meat is fantastic.
The flavor combinations are endless – I think a Moroccan flavored pate with some ras el hanout, dried apricots, and pistachios sounds pretty awesome. You could do Spanish and add spicy pimenton, piquillo peppers, and chorizo or serrano ham. You are only limited by your imagination here!
I’m so very glad I’m learning some techniques that I can really use everyday or even for entertaining guests at home. I can’t wait for this month’s challenge, which is “stretching“.