SAMPLE THE BOOK
THE EQUIPMENT l THE POACHING SAUSAGES
Not a great deal of equipment is required for charcuterie. Most of it is common household kitchen equipment although some is a little specialised. Fortunately the equipment, even if specialised, is readily available and can be found in domestic versions.
Emilé Zola described the equipment and kitchen of the charcutier, Madame Quenu, at Les Halles in 1873. He wrote that the walls of the gaslit room were covered with blue and white tiles to the height of a man’s head. On the left stood the big cast-iron stove with its three holes across the top on which three squat cooking pots were firmly set, their bottoms black with soot. At the end was a small range fitted with an oven and a smoking-place; it was used for grilling. Above the oven, high over the skimming-spoons, the ladles, and the long-handled forks, a row of numbered drawers contained grated crusts, both fine and coarse, soft breadcrumbs, spices, cloves, nutmegs, and peppers. The chopping block, a huge mass of oak, leaned heavily against the wall, its hollowed surface covered in cuts and indentations. Several items of equipment were attached to it, an injector pump, a stuffer, and a mincing machine, all of which, with their cogs and cranks, gave the place a strange, mysterious appearance, suggesting some devil’s kitchen. Then, all round the walls, on wooden shelves, and even under the tables, were piles of pots and pans, dishes, buckets, plates, various tin utensils, a battery of deep saucepans, wide-mouthed funnels, racks of knives and choppers, rows of skewers and needles – a whole world downed in fat.
You will observe that the equipment from 1873 is not substantially different from that which I describe below. This is timeless stuff. You are a custodian of history.
Good knives are important but not essential. If you are intending to undertake some basic butchery and/or mince your own meat, you will require good knives. On that assumption, the basic knives required are at least a 20cm butcher or chef knife, a 12-15cm curved boning knife, and a 8-10 cm paring knife. A 15-18 cm skinning knife is a useful tool if you intend to remove a lot of pork skin.
There are many brands of knives and many different qualities and prices. Buy the best knives that you can afford. However, the most expensive are not necessarily the easiest to use and to keep sharp. The harder the steel (measured on the Rockwell scale “HRC”) the more expensive, usually, is the knife. The good news is that hard steel knives wear very well and keep an edge well. But the bad news is that they are very difficult to sharpen, unless your technique is very good. Even so, a mechanical knife sharpener is usually required. Knives made from softer steel may not wear as well but will wear perfectly adequately for domestic use. They will keep an edge well and are very easy to sharpen with a sharpening steel. I prefer knives which are easier to keep sharp. The good news is that they are much cheaper than knives made of really hard steel. My favourite knife at the moment is a cheap mild steel knife; it is not made of stainless steel. It gets a bit rusty but is easily cleaned and after one or two passes on the sharpening steel it is razor sharp.
I like knives. I have lots of them. I have many good cooking knives. They are all German. They are heavy and made of the hardest steel. They will last a lifetime. The problem is that they are used and abused by evil persons in my family who do not appreciate them. They are used until they are so blunt that they require professional sharpening to become useful once more. I am not happy about this. To that end, I purchased six butchers knives of various sizes and shapes. They are very good stainless steel knives but not of the hardest steel. Accordingly, they can be sharpened quite easily. They live in a secret place that only I know about. I retrieve them when I am undertaking serious butcher stuff. I use them and then I sharpen them. Then I wash them and return them to their secret resting place. This is the stuff of happiness.
A sharpening steel is essential. Again, buy the best quality you can afford. Diamond steels are quite affordable and give the best results but do wear out, contrary to what you may think. The diamond dust with which they are impregnated separates from the steel and they become ‘blunt’. Ceramic sharpening “steels” last longer than diamond steels but are brittle and can get notches or nicks in the surface in normal use which impairs their function.
If you are really serious about sharpening your knives, consider a whetstone. Whetstones, or stones, are manufactured rectangular composite blocks of abrasive grits. They usually have a coarse and a fine side. The knife is rubbed along the block in a continuous motion which sharpens the edge. Water or oil is used for lubrication. They are somewhat old fashioned but very satisfying to use. The quality of the edge which results from honing on a whetstone is unsurpassed in my view by any mechanical sharpening, including using a steel. My father showed me how to hone a knife using a whetstone when I was young. My pocket knife and fishing knives were like razors as a result. A little too sharp sometimes. I still have one of his whetstones and really enjoy using it.
Real charcutiers do not use electric knife sharpeners. Not ever.
If you intend to mince your own meat, fat or skin, then you will need a mincer.
Manual mincers are cheap and readily available. Mincing meat by hand is quite laborious, particularly if you are mincing a reasonable quantity of meat, fat or skin. It is satisfying nontheless.
Domestic electric mincers (say 300-600w) are not very expensive and are much easier than manual mincing. In my experience they will perform an adequate job of mincing meat provided it is cut into manageable cubes (not more than 2.5cm). Sadly, they find skin and fat to be somewhat more challenging but can do it if cut small enough to start.
Mincing attachments for food mixers (not food processors) are also available but can be less efficient in my experience. I have one. I used it once or twice. It was less than satisfying.
THE EQUIPMENT l THE POACHING SAUSAGES
THE POACHING SAUSAGES
Saucisson L’ail (French garlic sausage)
This is a basic garlic sausage for poaching. Variations on the saucisson include adding unsalted pistachios or black truffles. This recipe uses pistachios but they can be omitted if unavailable, alternatively truffles can be added or substituted for the pistachios.
Pork (shoulder, minced) – 1kg.
Salt – 2.
Curing Salt No.1 – 0.3.
White wine – 60ml.
Garlic (chopped) – 0.5.
Pepper (black, cracked) – 0.5.
Coriander (ground) – 0.1.
Water (cold) – 60g.
Pistachios (shelled, unsalted, skin removed and roughly chopped) – 11.
Quatre épicés – 0.5 (optional).
Mix ingredients well. Refrigerate overnight in non-reactive sealed container.
Next day, mix well until sticky. Fill sheep bungs. Prick each saucisson to remove any air bubbles.
If not using the saucisson in a few days, the completed saucisson can be frozen (vacuum sealed is best). It will keep for months.
Poach gently in a court bouillon until the sausage is cooked through. This will take at least 1.5 hours.
If using a digital thermometer, aim for an internal temperature of about 75oC. Remove from the poaching liquid and allow to cool slightly.
Slice thickly and serve with lentils (lentil de puy go well with this), a green salad and Pinot Noir are crucial. (Omit the greens if one does not make friends with salad.)
A PROSCIUTTO CALLED KEVIN l VIEW THE CONTENTS
A PROSCIUTTO CALLED KEVIN
I turned to whole meat charcuterie. I was determined that this charcuterie thing would not beat me. Frankly, I had mixed success. For reasons which I do not now recall, I decided to jump into the deep end and embark on a prosciutto. I certainly did not understand what I was doing, but it felt good nonetheless. I was becoming a charcutier, (well sort of) although I did not know it at the time.
It just seemed like a good idea at the time.
Kevin was the start of the more scientific approach.
If you feel the need to apportion blame for all that has followed, then most must fall to Kevin.
Although, you already knew that. But I digress.
Kevin was the first prosciutto. I asked Frank The Butcher when it would be good to start preparing a prosciutto. He said “When you see me wearing a beanie in the shop, then it will be time”. It sounded pretty scientific to me. I waited. I waited some more. Frank The Butcher did not wear the beanie until mid-June, to my mind a bit late. In any event, I did what he said.
When I saw the beanie being worn, I attended the shop to purchase a leg of pork. Frank The Butcher trimmed the leg of pork for prosciutto and I was all set to start the journey. After careful consideration, it was decided that the inaugural prosciutto would be called Kevin. Kevin was lovingly rubbed with a mixture of salt and Curing Salt and put to bed in a salty sleeping bag (a big plastic tub actually) for 2 days/kilogram. Far too long as it turned out but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Thereafter Kevin was put into some nice muslin pyjamas for the big sleep. Kevin was hung high up on the veranda out in the direct sun but with good airflow. I checked Kevin every few days and things were good. Kevin was happy. I was happy.
As things transpired, there were some unseasonably warm days in August. That was a problem because things got quite warm on the veranda up under the eaves. My thermometer told me so. Accordingly, I put Kevin in the fridge for a few days. Kevin seemed happy enough. When things cooled down a bit I returned him to the veranda. Sadly the days got warmer more often. Kevin still had so much time to spend maturing that I decided drastic action needed to be taken.
I decided to relocate Kevin to Camp Otway, on the west coast of Victoria, about 3 hours’ drive from Melbourne. Kevin was left in a cupboard in the house which is situated at 300 metres above sea level with plenty of breeze. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Indeed it was a good idea until, once again, things got warm. I got nervous and decided that I had to check on Kevin. I travelled for 3 hours to Camp Otway to see how Kevin was progressing. Nervously, I opened the door, expecting to see Kevin watching my television and drinking my wine. All was good, much to my relief. Kevin was happy and so was I. Nonetheless, I figured that it was not good to be so far away from Kevin, so we returned to Melbourne together. The question now was what to do, the weather becoming warmer each day. I suggested that Kevin might enjoy time in my modest cellar. Kevin agreed. Sadly, although the temperature was good, the humidity was too high. Things went bad very quickly. We fought off the MOMC bravely together. It was a close run thing.
What to do?
The answer was at hand, Sebastian (a local gastronome), has a cellar. Well alright, it was just a space under his house, but which had more airflow than my modest cellar. Kevin was agisted at Chez Sebastian quite happily for much of the remainder of his days. Kevin ended up being a remarkable success, especially as a first time effort (albeit a bit salty, a point I return to later).
A PROSCIUTTO CALLED KEVIN l VIEW THE CONTENTS
|THE OTHER THINGS||19|
|How much salt||27|
|Nitrates and nitrites/Curing Salts||27|
|The debate about nitrates||30|
|Dry ageing bags||46|
|Plastic containers and plastic bags||48|
|Netting, socks and tying||49|
|A word about spices and lard||50|
|Linking and tying||56|
|Teaspoons and the like||58|
|Temperature stalling when smoking meat||59|
|A note on knots||61|
|In the beginning||63|
|A prosciutto called Kevin||65|
|A prosciutto called Julia||67|
|A prosciutto called Tony||67|
|Dad and Son Salt||68|
|The problem with bottarga||69|
|The curing chamber||70|
|Guanciale and I||72|
|The truth about offal||73|
|The title and first sentence are everything||80|
|On capitalisation and writing the book||81|
THE WHOLE MUSCLE CHARCUTERIE
|Classic whole leg proscuitto||95|
|Culatello and fiocco||100|
|Noix de jambon (French small dry cured ham)s)||104|
|Guanciale (cured pork cheek)||106|
|Jambon de Paris (Paris ham)||108|
|Cider Cured Ham||109|
|Jambonneau (Picnic ham)||110|
LAMB AND GOAT
|Mocetta (Goat ham)||124|
|Duck confit (Confit de canard)||130|
THE CURED AND AIR DRIED SAUSAGES
|The cured and air dried sausages||134|
|Saucisse sec aux herbes de Provence (French dried sausage with mixed herbs)ch dried sausage with mixed herbs)||149|
|Saucisson de Menage or de Campagne (French country sausage)nch country sausage)||151|
|Lap Cheong (Chinese dried and smoked sausage)sage)||152|
|Rosette de Lyon||154|
|Saucisson de L’Ardèche||156|
|Linquica de Portalegre||157|
|Salami di Capra||161|
|Salami Sant’ Olcese||162|
THE SMOKED CHARCUTERIE
|The smoked charcuterie||166|
|Wet cured ham (Christmas type ham)||168|
|Kaiserfleisch (German style bacon)||176|
|Ventrèch roulèe (French rolled bacon)||177|
|Kasseler (Smoked cured pork loin)||178|
|Speck (German smoked pork shoulder or loin)n)||179|
|Schinkenspeck (German bacon)||180|
|Molasses cured ham||182|
|Jambon de Bayonne (Bayonne ham or French ham)h ham)||184|
|Kolbász (Hungarian smoked sausage)||186|
|Saucisse de Morteau (Morteau sausage)||187|
|Jagerwurst (Hunter sausage)||200|
|Kabanosy (Polish sausage)||202|
|Petit jambon fumè (Small smoked ham)||203|
|Saucisse de Montbeliard (Montbeliard sausage)ge)||204|
THE POACHING SAUSAGES
|The Poaching Sausages||208|
|Saucisson L’ail (French garlic sausage)||209|
|Rosette de Lyon (Lyon sausage)||211|
|Saucisse Paysanne (French country sausage)e)||212|
|Saucisson de Lyon||213|
|Saucisse de Strasbourg||216|
THE OTHER RECIPES
|The Other Recipes||220|
THE CLASSIC RECIPES
|Chicken liver parfait||231|
|Tête de porc farci||234|
|Fromage de tête (brawn)||236|
|Jambon persille (Ham hock and parsley terrine)ne)||239|
|Tuna in oil||240|
|Salt cured white fish||242|
|Cullen Skink (Smoked fish soup)||246|
|Smoked pork hock and white bean terrine||247|
THE RECIPES FOR THE BRAVE
|Paupiettes (Pork parcels wrapped in bacon)||252|
|Pâtè de Paques (Pate with hardboiled eggs wrapped in pastry)
wrapped in pastry)
|Ham in salt dough||254|
|Brandade (Salt fish patè)||256|
|Hot smoked eggs||257|
|Tonne di Maiale (Tuna pork)||258|
|Pig head and potato pie||260|
|Fricandeau de Avignon||262|
|Zampone (Stuffed pigs trotter)||263|
|Blutwurst (German blood sausage)||266|
|Bottarga (Salted fish roe)||272|
|Charcutiere (The charcutiere’s wife’s sauce)||284|
|Salsa verde al rafano||286|
|Sainte – Mènèhould sauce||291|
|Pesto alla Genovese (Pesto)||292|
|Piri piri sauce||293|
|Parsley, garlic and caper sauce||294|
|Pickled cucumber (Bread and butter pickles)||299|
|Pickled eggplant (Aubergine)||304|
|Pickled roasted capsicum||307|
THE SPICE BLENDS
|The spice blends||310|
|Herbes de Provence||311|
THE SALT BLENDS
|The Salt Blends||318|
|Lamb’s Best Friend||320|
THE DRY AGED BEEF
|The dry aged beef||324|
|The Conversion Tables|