Charcutepalooza grand finale: A (literal) nose to tail dinner December 6, 2011Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Charcutepalooza, Innards, Pork.
Tags: Dinner, Lunch, Snacks
Pig’s ear salad (recipe: Fergus Henderson)
Pig’s liver pate (recipe: Darina Allen)
Black pudding with apples and onions (recipe: Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn)
Confit of pork shoulder (recipe: Ruhlman & Polcyn)
Steamed buns with boiled pork belly and chutney (pork belly recipe: Henderson)
Crispy pig’s tails (recipe: Henderson)
Chocolate cake pigs with crispy pig skin ‘tails’ (recipe mine, all mine)
When considering what to prepare for the grand finale of Charcutepalooza, I weighed up lots of considerations. Duck is always a favourite, and there are lots of interesting things to do with fish and chicken. However, when I came down to it, the main ingredient for me for charcuterie will always be the humble pig.
In line with Charcutepalooza and also in accord with my general nose to tail philosophy, I decided to create a literal pork nose to tail dinner, using a selection of different pig parts.
In choosing what I wanted to cook, I used a selection of things I’d cooked before and really enjoyed – such as headcheese, black pudding and steamed buns – and things I was curious about, in particular, using pig’s liver instead of chicken liver in a pate, making pork confit, and using pig’s tails. It was a great opportunity to bring all the things I’d learned during Charcutepalooza.
As well as teaching me a great deal about preparing and preserving different types of meats, Charcutepalooza has reminded me of another important lesson: that I am blessed with fantastic produce and wonderful markets here in Melbourne. This particularly struck me as I stubbornly asked at every meat stall at the Preston Market if they stocked pig’s tails. While my beloved Little Saigon Market could supply me with pig’s heads and blood, there were no tails in sight. Luckily, a stall at Preston had pig’s tails still attached to their backbones, and once I convinced them that I wanted the tails, but not the bones, I claimed my prize.
I started the preparations a few weeks ago, making pork shoulder confit and the pig’s liver pate in one weekend, and blood sausages and headcheese the following weekend. I admit I snuck some pieces of confit straight after it was done, before leaving it to cool in its fat. The pate, too, was very interesting, blending pig’s liver, belly, cream and spices together before slowly cooking it in jars in the oven.
Making blood sausage is becoming a favourite this household, and again with the use of 4 hands (H lending his to the exercise), the sausages were rapidly filled without the hint of a bloodbath. I gently poached them; we ate some on the spot and saved the rest for the grand finale.
While the blood sausage was cooking, the headcheese was happily simmering away on the stove. Like last time, it was a simple matter of pulling all the meat off, adding the liquid and letting it firm up overnight.
On ‘the day’, there was some final cooking preparations to do before arranging everything to serve. The pig’s tails were roasted in a wine and stock mixture, before being crumbed and baked further until they were crispy. I fried up some pig’s ears and pieces of skin, and snuck some tastes while I was finishing everything else. I also made a salad of endive, radicchio and capers to go with the pig’s ears – I felt it was wise to have at least some vegetables!
I boiled a piece of pork belly for a few hours, until it was soft. I love cooking pork belly in this way, although of course there is no crispy skin. I made a chutney with apples, chili and onions, then chopped up the belly and added chutney and pieces of belly into the dumplings. I steamed them for about 10 minutes before cooling them.
And the cake! I made a sheet of chocolate cake and cut out some pig shapes with my pig cookie cutter. I didn’t bother to ice them, but instead added a crispy pig skin ‘tail’. While the idea definitely amused me and was worth it for the presentation alone, I was also thinking of the combination of chocolate and salt and thought it might match well.
As for the eating: while it may have been a good opportunity to share with friends, I thought for the actual grand finale the best plan was for me and H to share the meal. He has helped me on each of the challenges, taking photos, adding an extra set of hands when needed, and not getting horrified when the kitchen is covered in pork fat – or blood. We enjoyed plates of dumplings, blood sausage, and everything else! – before finishing with chocolate cake.
Charcutepalooza has been a terrific learning experience for me, not only in terms of the skills I’ve learned, but also in relation to the power of community – in particular, the power of a community which develops over a medium such as twitter. It was infinitely reassuring to know I had a veritable hive-mind willing to assist me, answer any question or negate any worry I may have had about my meat.
While I probably won’t blog so incessantly about meat now that Charcutepalooza is officially over, rest assured I will continue with preserving and preparing meats in different ways. I know I want to perfect a blood sausage recipe. And there are many more meats left to cure!
I would like to thank Cathy and Kim for starting everyone on such a marvellous adventure, and also all the other Charcutepalooza participants. It’s a great experience to cure your own meats but it is made so much better with the encouragement, enthusiasm and inclusiveness of all involved in this community.