Saturday, June 27, 2009

Conversations while preparing a meal

{Daughter and Neighbor Kid enter the kitchen}

Daughter: Can Neighbor Kid eat dinner at our house?

Daughter: Can Neighbor Kid eat dinner at our house, please?

Neighbor Kid: What are you having?

Neighbor Kid: What are you having for dinner?
Ham steak.

Neighbor Kid: What’s that?
What we are having for dinner.

Neighbor Kid: What does it taste like?
Ham steak.

Neighbor Kid: What?
Chicken butt.

{Daughter and Neighbor Kid exit the kitchen}

Pork Belly

Cured pork belly as per Ruhlman

“Lardo and cured pork belly

Lardo is cured pork back fat, pure unadulterated fat. If you use belly instead, you’ll have striations of meat. Both are excellent-provided you use excellent pork, preferably from a small farmer who raises his hogs naturally.”
Charcuterie, pg 201 Ruhlman and Polcyn

Initial attempt:

First, plant your piglet.

Second attempt:

Salting a pork belly is not as easy as our friend Mr. Ruhlman would have us believe. It took an hours worth of rubbing her belly with one hand and scratching behind her ear with the other before I was able to get her to fall asleep. I propped her up on her back between two bales of hay and applied the salt, cure and maple syrup. I’m pretty sure she’s going to waller in the mud as soon as she wakes up.

It’s been seven days. It got pretty easy around day four. Now she just waddles up to the hay, flops herself over and waits for the rubbing. She thinks she’s getting a little piggy spa treatment. Pigs are such smart animals.

I checked her belly today and it isn’t all that firm yet. I don’t want to bring this up with her as all of those “fat as a pig” comments have made her self conscious. I might start taking her to the pool and see if she would enjoy one of those water aerobics courses. I would have to choose my words carefully, “No, sweetie, I’m not saying that you need to get more exercise. I just thought you might enjoy the company. You know, be around some other women instead of being stuck here with me all the time.”

Aarrghhhh! You spend the whole weekend looking at swimsuits. If it’s the right size it’s the wrong color. If it’s the right color then it looks too much like something her grandmother would wear. Two piece or one piece? American bikini or Brazilian bikini? Wrap or no wrap? And the hats, my God the hats! My mother told me I needed to start with chickens but did I listen? Oh no, Mr. Smarty Pants has to go off and start raising pigs.

Well she loved the pool and seems to have made many new friends. She received many compliments on her swim attire, especially from someone named Enrique. Apparently Becky and Susie were very friendly. She thought they were trying hard to make new friends since they had both left their husbands within the past few months and were probably lonely. Becky and Susie have invited her for drinks next weekend for a “girl’s night out”.

We are not getting along today. It turns out that despite waiting up on her until three in the morning that I do not appreciate her. Apparently waiting up on her is “controlling”. Becky’s husband didn’t appreciate her either. Susie said that I wasn’t treating her right. She was a Berkshire wasn’t she? Well, yes she was. And aren’t Berkshires the Kobe beef of pork? Well, yes, I guess I have heard some people say that. And don’t Kobe cows get daily massages and buckets of beer? Well, yes, yes, I have read that they do. Then why don’t I take better care of her? All I do is rub salt on her belly and that is starting to cause some chaffing. Couldn’t I at least be a little more careful? She doesn’t want to talk about it anymore. She says all of my yelling has given her a headache and that she needs to lie down.

She’s right about deserving a massage of course, she’s always right. Pigs are such smart animals. I am going to try to make it up to her tonight. The scented candles are lit, Barry White is on the stereo and she has just gotten out of her bath. She decided that she did not want a bucket of beer. She wanted what Enrique had gotten her the other night. I asked what Enrique was doing there the other night, wasn’t it supposed to be a girl’s night out? She tells me to stop being jealous. Enrique is almost like one of the girls. He’s the lifeguard at the pool and the girls like to go out with him because he makes them feel safe. Besides, it’s always nice to have someone to dance with. She’s right of course; if I had been there I wouldn’t have danced. I say I’m sorry and go and fix the margaritas.

That was not right. Somewhere in between the music, the massage oil and the margaritas a line was crossed. I don’t want to blog about it. She is on a strict two margarita limit from now on.

It hasn’t been a good week. On Tuesday she found my copy of Charcuterie. I usually have it hidden on the top of the bookcase but on Monday I left it in the bathroom. She said the book was disgusting and couldn’t understand why anyone would want to look at those pictures. And just why, she demanded to know, was I looking at pictures like that in the bathroom? Becky and Susie were right. I don’t respect her; all I was ever interested in was her body and after what happened the other night I act like I don’t even want to be around her. She feels like she doesn’t know me anymore.

I’ve been so lonely. Enrique came by two Thursdays ago and picked up her belongings.

I really do want her to be happy, and I realize that she is probably better off with Enrique than with me, but three hundred dollars a month really hurts. Her lawyer spelled it out for me pretty well; between the spa treatments, the pool membership and her clothing allowance things add up. She has a really good lawyer. Pigs are such smart animals.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hot Sauce

An early harvest from my pepper crop.
1/4 lb peppers
two cloves garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup white vnegar
Simmered for 5 minutes and taken for a ride through the food processor.
Sitting in the fridge and waiting for two weeks. we'll see.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Making Tasso

My first solo attempt at curing meat!

I chose Tasso Ham as it is a quick cure with no special equipment needed. There are many, many recipes for this and I decided the following:
Started with a 4 lb butt and removed the small section of bone. I sliced it into four ~1 inch steaks. I completely coated them in a cure:
1 cup salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 Tbls black pepper
1 Tbls paprika
1 tsp pink salt

I let the steaks cure in the fridge for three hours. After three hours they had given off a LOT of liquid. I rinsed off the cure and patted dry then placed them on a rack in the fridge to dry/cure for three days. After three days they had firmed up quite a bit but were not hard.

I then rubbed them with the following:
2 Tbls Cayenne
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp allspice

The steaks were smoked at ~225 F for ~2.5 hrs with hickory. I pulled when they temped at 170 and let rest.End result...VERY pink, quite hammy and HOOTTTTT. Incredibly juicy.

They were vaccuum sealed and thrown in the freezer. Will use this to repace ham hocks in my beans as well as add to jambalaya. A great seasoning meat, definetly not a main course.

John Folse Recipe:
Len Poli Recipe:
Randy Q's recipe:
Pork and Whiskey:
DJFoodie recipe:
Ruhlman also has a the book.