Monday, January 12, 2009

Charcuterie Projects: Sausages, Headcheese, Trotter Gear, Pancetta

So I had some time on my hands during the break. For Christmas I received Fergus Henderson's amazing The Whole Beast: Nose To Tail Eating and Beyond Nose to Tail. These are two VERY British cookbooks, and Henderson is famous for making simple preparations with underused parts of the animal. Anthony Bourdain has called Henderson's Roast Marrow and Parsley Salad his 'death row meal'. Anyway, since we were snowed in in Seattle I sat around reading these books and dreaming of pigs heads. But not in a Lord of the Flies kind of way.

The plan was to make some headcheese. ('Brawn', if you're British) Why? Because I'd never cooked a pig's head before. (Obviously!) Also some sausages for a birthday BBQ and so we'd have gumbo gear ready. Pancetta because we're fresh out. Trotter Gear (one of Henderson's big things, it's pigs feet cooked forever in Madeira, then jarred and added to things to make them lip smacking good.) And Guanciale if I could score pig cheeks (nope).

I called up the butchers at Laurenzo's and had them order some things for me. The conversation went like this:

Me: Hi, I want to order some strange things.
Butcher: Ok, what can I get you
Me: Ok, first I need a pig's head.
Butcher: What size?
Me: They come in sizes? Um, average I guess.
Butcher: Ok, what else?
Me: A cryo of pork butts, a whole belly skin off, sixteen trotters...
Butcher: Are you a chef?
Me: No, just a gifted amateur with too much time on his hands.

It would take a while for these things to come in so I just grabbed the cryo of butts (always available) and made sausages. Brats, Weisswurst, Andouilles, and Tasso steaks. The recipes were from Ruhlman's Charcuterie. I'm still not sold on his recipe for the brats, I have another recipe for Sheboygan brats that is better, and his andouille needs a kick and some extra paprika for color. The Weisswurst is very good though, though I'm not sure if it's better on the grill or poached and eaten Bavarian style (which has a special name, zuzeln, in which you suck the sausage out of the casing which you then discard). It's extremely tasty either way.

A few days later I picked up the head (which due to a recap-mishap ended up being two suckling pig heads instead) and the trotters. Two boiling cauldrons of piggy goodness and lots of sticky gross removal of bones and nastybits later I had a terrine of head cheese and four mason jars full of delicious trotter gear. I've got more grisly photos, but sadly Blogger seems to have some kind of problem and doesn't want to accept any more photo uploads... Lucky you. :)


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