weekend update- 1-3-10

so it's been a little while since i've posted anything on here. i cooked a lot over the holidays, but i guess a bit too distracted/busy to get any of it on here. i came into a good bit of applewood for the smoker, and also got new cookbooks, kitchen appliances and tools to play with. i must say i felt a bit domesticated asking for an immersion blender for christmas.
i made about 30 lbs of apple smoked pecans, cashews and almonds for holiday gifts, but haven't managed to candy anything other than the pecans. they were very good, used some bourbon vanilla sugar from the colonel at findlay, that flavor complimented the apple smokiness very well. sorry for the poor photo quality, but it's better than nothin.

i smoked a pork shoulder for an encore pizza night that turned out really well. my bbq pork recipe is always changing, i used an apple cider vinegar and apple butter baste which gave it a really tasty crust. i put this baby on during sub-freezing conditions after work and dashed off to my work's christmas party. i'm pretty sure i smelled like a campfire. took it off the smoker at 2:30 am and served it the next night on some pizza with goat cheese, caramelized onions and arugula salad.


and then there were the fish tacos, truffle night, little bro's birthday dinner at the precinct, signing up for cooking classes at cincinnati state, slow food event at uc and some dinner parties thrown in for good measure. hopefully i'll post about some of those.
i realized after the first sausage post that i don't like writing out the whole recipe and process. i'll save that for the mythical cookbook i plan to write! this should help promote a few more posts on here too, and i'll work on getting some higher quality photos. but one thing is for sure, pork/meat hands and photo cameras don't mix.
on the plate for tonight- a friend received a fair bit of venison and i get to decide what to do with 8 backstrap steaks and one tenderloin. of course i'm gonna hit up ruhlman's charcuterie for some inspiration. probably going to roast the tenderloin and pan-sear the backstrap. now i just have to figure out what the hell to serve with it. and oh yeah, happy new year! here's to creating a connection with our food in 2010. ok, time to get to work


weekend update

i was at a conference for work over the past couple of days, and was subjected to some pretty terrible food (chicken and more chicken at conference, they must have literally bought a ton of it) and some great food too (veal chop at cameron mitchell's martini). the veal was tender and the sweet and spicy peppers complimented the meat very well. best part about the great food is that i didn't have to pay for any of it! during my time off during the conference i was researching pate recipes in ruhlman's charcuterie and chang's momofuku. i'm was going to try a duck liver pate if i can find anywhere in this freakin city that sells regular duck livers and not foie gras. so i'm going to make a pork pate with chicken liver tomorrow. emulsified forcemeats are a natural progression from the sausages i've been making, and i'm excited/nervous to give them a whirl.
i went to findlay market today and picked up a 4 lb pork belly, 8 lb boston butt and some pink salt (sodium nitrite). ordered a 18 lb turkey for thanksgiving that i'm picking up on tuesday. tried to no avail to find duck livers or fat. several vendors had whole ducks so that may be my only option. guess i should learn how to debone a duck. also going to try my hand at david chang's highly-raved pork buns sometime early next week, can't wait!


debreceni prep

one of my favorite things to make is homemade fresh sausage. it's not that complicated to make, and you can really let your imagination run wild with the ingredients and flavor combinations. i made 4 types of sausage for my friend's 30th birthday party, but let's focus on the debreceni for right now.
Every food culture has their own style of sausage, and debreceni is a hungarian kolbasz, or sausage. hungarian sausage typically uses a lot of paprika and garlic. my friends ben and sally are currently living in hungary, and ben informed me debreceni comes from the town of debrecen and they live an hour and half away from it. small world, huh? ben has apparently been indoctrinated by the hungarian government and told me that the bell pepper used to make paprika is not indigenous to hungary. it was brought to europe from the early explorers of mexico and south america, and hungary has an optimum growing climate for the bell pepper. so that's nice to know. ok kids, the food history lesson for today is over, let's get down to business. i got the base recipe from bruce aidell's complete sausage book, and substituted the beef chuck with more pork shoulder and added the caramelized onions.
mise en place

*3 tbs sweet hungarian paprika
*1 1/2 tbs minced garlic
*1/4 onion, minced
*1 tbs kosher salt
*2 tsp fresh ground pepper (side note- NEVER USE PRE-GROUND PEPPER!!!)
*1 tsp sugar
*1/2 tsp ground coriander
*1/8 tsp ground ginger
*1/8 tsp allspice
*2 1/2 lbs pork shoulder
*1/2 lb pork fat

start off by caramelizing the onion and garlic. here is a good description on how to caramelize onion. make sure you add the garlic late in the caramelization process so it doesn't burn and turn bitter. once the onions and garlic are done caramelizing, put them on some parchment paper or foil to cool down. you want these to be room temp when you mix them with the spices and pork. put all of the spices in a ziploc bag, and it should look something like this, the debreceni mix is the second one from the bottom.

now it's time to cut up the pork. i usually try to get bone-in pork shoulder with the fat still attached, thus avoiding having to buy the fat separately. trim the fat off and dice into 1 inch cubes. then cut the pork into slightly larger cubes, maybe 1 1/2 inch cubes. you will want to keep the pork meat and fat separated to ensure you get an even distribution if you are making more than one type of sausage. once everything is diced up, this is what you will have. bad-ass knife not included

now throw the meat in the ziploc spice bag, give it a good tossing to distribute the spices, and throw it in the fridge overnight to marinate. now go drink a beer, read a book, or whatever the hell it is you do with your free time. grinding and stuffing will be in the next post. this blogging stuff is a lot of work!



greetings internet people! i've been mulling over the idea of blogging about my culinary exploits for some time now, and have finally decided that my facebook page will no longer suffice. i'm hoping this blog will capture the joy i get from cooking and inspire you to create that same connection to the food you prepare and eat.
as the title implies, a lot of posts will be pork related. derived from the french words for "flesh" (chair) and "cooked" (cuit), the term charcuterie was used to designate shops in fifteenth-century france that sold products made from pork. with said pork you can then salt, smoke or cure it for fantastic results. I really enjoy cooking with pork because it's inexpensive, flavorful and extremely versatile. I have been making homemade fresh sausage and hot smoked meats for the last six months, and i will dive into the recipes and techniques involved shortly.
i am a little uneasy about divulging all of the ingredients in my recipes, so if i omit something (and i will tell you i'm omitting it!), it's because of me and not you. one of the things i love about cooking is creating something completely unique, and the journey of continually improving a recipe is something that you will have to experience yourself. i am a firm believer that recipes and measurements shouldn't be static and tweaking recipes is part of the fun to create food YOU enjoy. you are not cooking for the person that wrote the cookbook, and you won't hurt their feelings if you change things up. you just need to understand certain ratios and then the sky is your limit. this is obviously not the case for all of the culinary arts, like baking, so it should come as no surprise that i don't bake a lot!
i have no idea how often i will blog, and i'm sure there will be some non-food related posts thrown in for good measure. but most of the posts will focus on recipes, techniques, my culinary inspirations (people and restaurants) and maybe a restaurant review or two. i don't intend on cooking my way through cookbooks, a la julie and julia, because i don't want to be confined to making things i don't like. but i do use cookbooks and epicurious.com as a jumping off point for a lot of my recipes.
a few quick notes about me. i am an amateur chef, my only industry experience is having worked in a handful of pizza joints in high school and college. my sister is a professionally trained chef and has told me several times that you don't have to go to culinary school to create delicious food. i work in real estate development and love my job. just like cooking, there is something i really dig about the tangible aspect of real estate. you are creating something from the ground up and providing for people an essential part of their daily life. i really like cooking for other people and often find myself uninspired if i only have to cook for myself. so that's it, feel free to contact me if you have any questions or things to share!