Sunday, July 19, 2009

No Posts 'Till Brooklyn

...No sleep till the Bar Exam.

T-minus 9 days. I'm dropping off the face of the planet until at least August. But I've got some good posts lined up. The bacon and pancetta are done (and delicious!) and I got a hog jowl today for guanciale. Also the nitro tap is up and running and pretty much everything I thought beer could be. And one of my hop vines is now over the roof. I don't know where it will stop. Some castle in the clouds, presumably.

Ok. An Evidence and a Criminal Law essay and I can go to bed. Then get up at six and write four more essays. Whee.

Mental Soundtrack: dueling bouts of Jason Webley's Dance While the Sky Crashes Down and Sparklehorse's It's a Wonderful Life.
I'm the dog that ate
your birthday cake

it's a wonderful life...
It takes strength to laugh
when you start to drown
and we dance
while the sky
crashes down!
(also "It's raining leprosy and acid." That line always makes me laugh.)

See you in August.
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Sunday, July 05, 2009

Ballard Farmer's Market Week II

Here's this week's haul:

  • The Meat: Beef Short Ribs, Oxtail, and suet
  • A half-flat of raspberries!
  • Bing cherries
  • Apricots
  • Weird Austrian heirloom 'Speckled Trout' lettuce and some kind of Italian heirloom lettuce
  • Beets
  • Squash Blossoms
  • Garlic
  • Green Onions
  • Purple Carrots
  • Seabeans
  • Dried Porcini, Morel and Wild Mix mushrooms
  • Kombucha
Plan is to braise the oxtails and short ribs with some wine, maybe some of the dried mushrooms, beets, carrots. Several salads this week. M's plans for the raspberries are not fully formed yet, but hopefully there will be some for the salads. I've got some goat cheese leftover, so I'm thinking something with the squash blossoms. The suet will go toward another round of hot dogs some evening when I'm bored, because I am still a bit cranky about the last round's failure. Had a chat with the Sea Breeze guys, hopefully they'll be landing me a hog jowl in two weeks for guanciale.
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Saturday, July 04, 2009

Update: Pickled Garlic Scapes

The pickled garlic scapes have been in the fridge for a about two weeks. Took a taste today. Very happy with it. Like a super-garlicy-salty-spicy dill pickle. They need another week or so to get more tender. I put a clove of two or garlic in each jar, probably unnecessary. Now I've got to figure out what to do with them...
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The Hot Dogs of Failure

So I figured I'd make a batch of Chicago-style all-beef hot dogs for the 4th. I'd found suet, already frozen and ground at the Ballard Market. So I figured: ok, go get a pound of ground beef, combine them and you're golden. Normally the suet and beef would be ground, then combined and run through the grinder again with ice. I figured since they were going to be whipped in the kitchenaid for six minutes, I'd just combine the meat, suet, spices, and some ice water and let 'er rip. Hot dogs are an emulsified sausage, so it's going to become a paste anyway right?

WRONG. Fail #1.

After six minutes some little chunks of suet refused to go into an emulsion. I couldn't get them to go in and any more whipping risked breaking the emulsion. You can see some of the white flecks in the sausage. But I said, screw it. Into the casings.

Attractive, no?

Fail #2. Casings.

I bought a pack of casings from a local sausage company down the street. They charged more than they were worth, but it was short notice and the day before the 4th. Grr. But what can you do? (Answer: don't make sausage right before the 4th, buy some of their awesome ones instead.) Then it turned out that the casings were on the small side, maybe 29mm but it didn't say on the package. So I had an incredibly frustrating time getting them fed on the tube. And I had part of it burst once it was filled. But at least I have enough for 100 more pounds of sausage... Fortunately they'll last a year or so in the salt-brine I put them into.

Fail #3. Impatience.

Ultimately the lesson is, if you're just getting over a cold and are tired and cranky, don't rush things. Normally the dogs would hang out overnight, then get cold smoked and poached to 140. I figured that the rest was so they'd dry out and the smoke would adhere better. In retrospect, there's a small amount of pink salt in them and the overnight rest would also cure them. But I just went ahead and poached them. So the color is off, and the taste and texture were weird. Not mealy, or particularly more greasy or anything, just weird. I don't think the emulsion broke, I just think it wasn't fully emulsified. Part of it is there's a weird taste that makes me suspect the suet picked up some other flavors from where it was refrigerated before. The other possibility is the lack of 'cured' taste just makes it taste off. Not nearly as good as the last time I made them.

Oh well. They've been sitting overnight, I'm thinking I'll try one out for lunch and see if they've improved at all. Otherwise I'll have one very happy dog this week.

UPDATE: Dog food. (Which is to say, compost. I will not be held responsible for what might happen if I fed Ase two pounds of dubious hot dogs...)
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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Bacon of Doom

So I said that I'd had the folks at Sea Breeze Farm on Vashon bring me a pork belly at Sunday's market. I said, "You know, somewhere in the usual 10 lb. pork belly range."

When I opened the butcherpaper I was shocked.

I didn't get what I was expecting.

In fact, I was not prepared for the sheer amazingness of that piece of pork.

This is not the first time I've made bacon and pancetta. I seem to do it about two to three times a year, enough that we always have some in the freezer if needs be. As you can see from that link, usually a belly from a factory hog is about maybe three feet by 12-15 inches wide, by an inch to two inches thick. It also may be the only one I do this year, as like all good things it cost 2 1/2 times what a factory belly would.

This one was a monster piece of pork. Maybe 18" x 18" and at least 3" thick. Obviously this little piggy led a much longer life of carefree gluttony. Look at the corner! Jutting like a proud icebreaker of pork.

This round was to be half maple bacon, half pancetta. Right away I knew rolling it for pancetta was out the window.

Neverthelless, I cut it in half. Half got a cure with 1/4 cup of the 'Basic Cure' from Ruhlman's Charcuterie and a half cup of maple syrup. The other half got the pancetta cure from Charcuterie. They'll sit and cure for at least seven days, probably closer to nine. Then I'll smoke the maple bacon over apple and hickory.

This is gonna be good...

The pancetta was to be rolled up and hung to dry in the basement. But rolling isn't really in the cards. It's like a shoebox of meat. So I'm thinking I'll just cure it, poke a hole in a corner, and hang it to dry.

This raises the problem of where to dry it. I've got my little brewery room in the basement. Holds 64 degrees, is completely free from sunlight, and seems reasonably humid. A bit warm, but not terribly so. I'm contemplating getting a hygrometer, like for a cigar humidor, and putting it in the room. Or I've got my little dorm fridge, which I could set to 50 and put the cheap humidifier I got at the Rotary Auction in. Think I'll try the room first and watch to see if it's drying too fast or anything starts to grow on it. And if it starts to get too dry I can always get the humidifier going in there.

Eventually I'd like to start hanging some dry-cured sausages, maybe some mold-covered chorizos. I'd like to do some mold-ripened cheeses too. But those kind of things would be a bit too close to the beer for comfort. Maybe then I'll bring in the fridge.

Anyhow, update in a week or so when I smoke the maple half. This Sunday I'm going to see if they can get me a hog jowl for guanciale...

Oh, also: went down to the Ballard Market. What should I find? Ready-ground, frozen beef suet! For like $1. We all know what that means for this 4th of July... Now I just have to find someone in town who'll sell me some casings tomorrow.
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