Monday, August 31, 2009

Hop Harvest I

Well, it was time to get the ladder out and check on the hop cones that had developed over the course of the summer.

All in all, a disappointing first harvest. The Centennial and Chinook bines were planted at the end of May, and have grown up over the roof, while the Cascade and Willamette, which went in a month later, still are only about as tall as me. But their roots are now set and I expect good things next year. Fortunately, there are still a bunch of proto-cones on the Centennial and Chinook plants, so I expect another round of harvesting throughout September.

As you can see, the Centennial on the left has grown up over the roof, while the Chinook on the right was tied to a light and once it hit that point couldn't quite figure out where to go... But a couple days ago it shot out a bunch of flowers so all is not lost.

Meanwhile my other hops haven't really done much this year. :(

But the cones from the first picking were spread out to dry. Forecast is for several days of mid-70's and sunny, so I'll leave them out to dry for three days or so.
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Sweet Jesus in a smoking birch-bark canoe... koolicles.

What is a koolicle? A pickle plus koolaide. No, seriously. I'd seen this Mississippi Delta treat when we drove through the area on various trips and it kinda freaked me out. But I'll try anything once... So while I'm on this pickle bender, I bring you koolicles.

Koolicles (ala Alton Brown)

Get a jar of dill pickles (not kosher, garlic + koolaide = not good eats). I bought a half-gallon jar of cheap Western Family dill pickles for like $3.
Take all the pickles out of the jar. Slice them in half lengthwise.
Mix a half pound of sugar and two cherry koolaide packets into the brine.
Pickles go back in, then into the fridge for a week.

I'll let you know how they turn out in a couple days...

UPDATE: sweet jesus.
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Thai Green Curry Pickles


The pickle onslaught continues. I picked some more cucumbers and was standing in the kitchen looking at stuff I had around and trying to come up with something to do with them, when it struck me: Thai pickles!

But normal Thai pickles (A Jad) are kindof... normal. Just quick pickles with some onion and using rice vinegar. So I got...creative.

Thai Green Curry Pickles

1 lb fresh picked pickling cucumbers. Spears. Could probably have fit another half pound of them in too. Probably should have done thin slices and not spears too.
1 onion, sliced.
1 stalk lemongrass, outer leaves peeled away, stalk sliced in half, halves pounded with mallet.
1 poblano chile, quartered seeds removed
2 jalapeno chiles, whole, slits made in sides
1 serrano chile, whole, slits in sides
maybe half a yellow bell pepper in strips
2 garlic cloves

The Brine
3/4 cup Cider vinegar
3/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 cup brown sugar (would have preferred palm sugar but was fresh out)
1 T kosher salt
1 T Thai Green Curry paste
1 T fish sauce
six kaffir lime leaves
four dollar-coin sized slices of galangal

Brought the brine to a boil for a few minutes till everything was nice and dissolved. Packed the veggies equally into two quart canning jars, then poured the brine over and sealed with about 1/2" headspace. Processed about 5 minutes to make sure the lids set.

What will they taste like? Well I can guarantee: hot! Other than that, we'll have to wait and see. You can see that one of the pickles was much, much larger. I was wondering why one of my plants wasn't producing as well as the others when I looked under a leaf and found that mondo cucumber. Plant was focusing on that to the exclusion of all else. Fortunately I caught it just before it set seeds, so it was still good for pickling. But it dwarfs the others.
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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Bread and Butter Pickles


Our pickling cucumber plants continue to be prolific. I picked another three pounds of cukes, and since we've got about 5 quarts of dill pickles already I decided to make some more sweet pickles. This time though, I went for my grandma's recipe. This made four quarts. Mmmm gallon of pickles...

Wash and slice very thin into a large bowl:

4 Qts firm cucumbers
2 seeded bell peppers
8 peeled and sliced onions

Add 1/2 C course (not table) salt, cover with cracked ice and mix well. Cover with weighted lid for 3 hours. Drain well.

Combine and boil for 2-3 minutes:
5 C good cider vinegar
5 C sugar
1 1/2 t turmeric
1/2 t ground cloves
2 t celery seed
2 T mustard seed
Add drained veggies, bring to boil but do not boil. Pack in sterilized jars and seal. Makes about 8 pints.
I busted out the mandolin and got to slicing. I only had 3lbs of cukes, which works out to about 3 quarts, so I added another quart of sliced crookneck zucchini that one of our neighbors had left out with a "Please take!" sign. Ah zucchini season. Everything went in two bowls and was layered with kosher salt and ice for three hours. Here it is at the end.

To make the brine I got out my 4 gallon pot. I actually had to make the brine twice, because, inexplicably, the first time round I put water in instead of vinegar. D'oh! Oh well. I added a tablespoon of my general pickling spice instead of the cloves. One, because it has cloves in it. And two, because I couldn't find my jar of cloves.

Brought to a boil, then in when the veggies, brought back to a boil. Then packed into my warm sterilized jars. It was a bit of a mess, I really need a canning funnel. But at least I got my hands on some canning tongs, so removing the jars from boiling water is a snap and not a horrible, scalding nightmare. After they were in the jars, on went the lids, then into the canner (by which I mean my 5 gallon pot with a broccoli steamer set in the bottom) to process for 10 minutes. Then cooled, dated, and stashed on the ever-growing pickle shelf.
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When I was a kid we had a huge blackberry bramble in the backyard. Every year, when the berries were ripe, my mom would say something to the effect of: "Do you kids want a pie for dessert?" "Yes! Yes!" "Great. Here's a bucket. Get picking." To this day I equate blackberry pie with scratches up to my elbows and lost pints of blood. But is it worth it? Oh yes.

It was a boring afternoon but pleasantly sunny out so we hopped in the car and drove over to Discovery Park. I'd actually never been there before, but we'd kept an eye open at Golden Gardens and Carkeek and hadn't been wowed by the berry supply. But Discovery did not disappoint. In an hour and a half we picked nearly 8lbs, enough for a good seven pies. And more importantly, more than enough for a beer I've got planned.

There were a few hazards. Not the least of which was the endemic stinging nettle, which, adorably, loves to grow right in and among the berry brambles. You can see a few leaves in the lower right of the photo above. We both got tagged a few times. Fortunately there was also some Sword Fern around to stop the burn. Also, the Orb Weaver spiders were out in force and it's getting toward the end of the Summer, when they get the biggest. They're not particularly bitey, and though they're big and hairy, pretty much harmless. These guys can stretch a web across 20' of open space somehow (magic? Tiny jetpacks?) When I was a teenager I'd be happily (well, unhappily) mowing the lawn and BAM, get one of these tangled right in my face! Ah memories. *shudder*

So we took them home, washed them off, and put them in a layer on some cookie sheets on parchment. Into the freezer until frozen solid, then into gallon bags. Plan is to use 5lbs for a beer, then the rest will either go toward pie, or a Blackberry Melomel. Going to go back soon, there were a lot of green berries too.
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Mushroom Hunting I

So we went out mushroom hunting. In one sense it was a complete fool's errand, but in another at least it got us out of the house. Armed with our trusty guidebook we went up into the Cascades to see if the Autumn Chanterelles had started peeking their little heads up.

In short: nope.

In long: It's been a very hot and dry summer, which is bad news for mushrooms. Nevertheless we went up to the Mason Lake trail off of I-90, out in the Cascade foothills. A nice hike, 3 miles up to a lake. We didn't make it nearly that far, as we were busy peeking in and around logs and trees. We did see some mushrooms. Just not ones we were comfortable eating. We found some of these guys, but being amateurs we weren't confident enough on the ID to call them Chanterelles. They were very small, just had come up, and only one was above the 1" mark. The gills are too bladelike for Chanterelle and so we decided to err on the side of caution. “There are old mushroom pickers, and there are bold mushroom pickers, but there are no old, bold mushroom pickers”. We'll try again after it rains a bit more.

Fortunately, the coast apparently has some coming up and we picked up a 1/4lb from Foraged and Found. At $18 a pound though, I'm hoping to start finding my own! There's 3-4 months left in the season so I've not lost hope yet. But as much of a failure as the hike had been (not really, it was a nice hike and there were some trailing blackberries to munch) the make-up dinner for the trip was a delicious.

Warm Chanterelle Salad with Pancetta and Poached Egg

Chopped some of the homemade pancetta into lardons, sauteed till crispy. Poured off the rendered grease into a cup, then put a tablespoon or so back into the pan and sauteed the chanterelles with some garlic, salt, pepper. While this was going on we poached some eggs. The lettuce was half romaine half red leaf. Sliced up a pear and arranged on the lettuce. Whisked up a quick bacon vinaigrette with some of the pancetta fat, olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and dijon mustard. Plated and ate. Awesome!
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Monday, August 17, 2009

Salmon Six Ways From Sunday

Ok five ways. So two weeks ago we decided it was time for salmon. And at one of the fishmongers at the Farmer's Market, we managed to score their last 'Fish In A Bag', a whole Coho salmon, gutted but scales and everything else on, all for $25. This guy was about 10 lbs total I'd guess. Very fresh, straight off the boat from the current Alaska runs. The idea was to use as much of this guy as possible, in several different ways, then figure out the cost/meal we got out of it.

Scale isn't so good here. That knife is about a foot long when open. Well, I had this whole fish. Time to get to work.

Filleted it out. Then cut one fillet in half. I believe the term you're looking for is "hacked by a blind woodsman." Could use a bit more practice here.

Head, collars and belly went into one bowl. Spine and trimmings went into another. Then I went back and pinboned the fillets as best I could. Also, I didn't think about scaling it before I got started, so I had to go back and scale the fillets, belly, etc. while they were separate. Which meant they were a floppy pain in the ass and difficult to handle. Oops.

Now that the salmon was broken down, here's where it went from there.


Laks really isn't very hard to make. Basically you're using the osmotic power of sugar and salt to pull moisture out of the fish and quickly cure it. The basic recipe I use is from Andreas Viestad's Kitchen of Light. His recipe calls for two 3-pound fillets, which is a lot of laks! Like 30 servings. But the basic cure ratio is 1 part salt, 2 parts sugar. Add some dill seeds, cracked black pepper, and some dill and that's your ingredients.

Take one half of your fillet and cover liberally with the salt/sugar, add your pepper, dill seed and dill.
Slap on the other half of the fillet. Then put a weight on it. I use these two nesting Pyrex baking dishes, separated by some plastic wrap. Stick it in the fridge. Every 12 hours or so you'll flip the fillets and use a spoon to spread the brine around (lots of liquid will come out of the salmon and will soak up the sugar/salt.) After three days it should be good to go. Wipe off the dill, thinly slice with a very sharp knife, and serve on some homemade bagels (yay wife!) like so:

It'll keep about a week before it starts to get pretty fishy. So if you're making a lot, best to serve it all at once at a party. Or make no more than a pound or so at a time. The two fillet/press method works well, but you could use one fillet and just put plastic down and press on that.

BBQ Salmon

To make dynamite BBQ salmon all you need is a glaze of honey, ginger and soy. And since that's what we always do, I decided not to go that rout this time around. Instead I went for the rub in Tom Douglas' Seattle Kitchen, which is more of a paprika based classic BBQ rub and which he sells in commercial form all over the place. As I remember I added some smoked paprika and my own chile powder mix to spice it up a bit.

But step one of grilling salmon is: cure it first. Just a quick cure before going on the grill will make it firmer and juicier and just all around better. I used the leftover laks salt/sugar mix and sprinkled it on, then left it for an hour.

You can see that it's starting to give off liquid and it helps form a nice pellicle, a tacky surface on the meat, which will help hold the smoke from the BBQ. Those are collars and belly in the photo, I was prepping them for their brine while this was curing.

After an hour or so I washed the fillet, then put the rub on it. Let that sit while I lit the BBQ. Advice on grilling fish:
  • Keep the skin on. Before putting it on the grill, oil the skin side.
  • Use smoke wood, I used alder here. You want a good medium heat on the coals.
  • Brush the grill really well first. Then apply cooking oil using tongs and a rolled up paper towel. Then on goes the fish. When it starts to flake and goober little bits of fat/protein then it's basically done. Don't overdo it, particularly if it's really fresh. If you want you can oil another section of grill, and flip the fillet over (meat side down) really quick before removing.
  • If your grill is really crusty, or your fish really fragile, you can also grill the fish on a piece of aluminum foil. This is also a good way to do the honey/ginger/soy glaze because it caramelizes and cooks on the foil.
Served with a bit of lemon/dill compound butter and a salad. Best fish evar!

Collars and Bellies

The collars are my favorite part of the salmon. There's a lot of fat and cartilage in that area, and when grilled or broiled it just comes out fantastic. The bellies too are pretty great, brined and quickly grilled. So the collars and belly went into a brine of soy sauce, ginger, garlic, star anise, and chile. Bring everything to a boil and cool, then in go the collars and belly. Steamy!

I let it hang out for a day or so. Then the collars and belly went onto a very hot grill until just done, served with some stirfried bok choi from the backyard. In retrospect I might have left out the star anise, I'm just not that big of a fan. But I have this whole huge jar of them so I feel obligated to use them.

Salmon Flakes

So there's a lot of meat on a salmon. And a lot of it gets wasted if you just eat the fillets. (Especially if I'm the one filleting it for you!) So you take the spine, and all the trimmings and bits leftover and throw them on the grill till done. Let it cool a bit, then pick out all the meat and discard all the bones.

That's a lot of flaked, cooked, slightly smoky salmon. Easily a pound and a half. You could make salmon salad with it. Or do what I did: salmon omelettes and salmon cakes. For the omelettes, just add a handful in when you're stirring the eggs around, and serve with a bit of lemon, dill and sour cream. For the salmon cakes get a big bowl and throw in anything that sounds like it should be there. Panko? Check. An egg or two? Check. Salt/pepper/cilantro/kaffir lime leaf/Rooster Sauce/chopped onion/garlic/whatever? Check. So long as it forms a patty. Then flour, egg dip, panko crusting and into a pan with some oil and clarified butter. Cook till golden brown and delicious. Serve with dill mayo or on a hamburger bun with some lettuce, remoulade, etc. We did both!

Fish Head Soup

Waste not want not. We had the head leftover, and some of the flaked salmon. This soup came from Hank at Hunter Angler Gardener Cook.

Into a pot went the head, a 2x3" piece of kombu, and some ginger slivers. Cold water to cover the head. Heated until 190 degrees, then left to simmer for half an hour. No boiling your salmon heads! Also, remove all the gills. I missed a spot (oops) but it didn't ruin it. Once done, strain off reserving the broth. Once the head cooled a bit I picked the meat off.

Those big white bits are the cheeks, and are one of the absolute best parts of the salmon. There's some other heady bits, and you can see a bit of gills that got through. They are bitter and not good eats.

Doctored up the broth with some mirin and soy sauce to taste. Then into the bowl went a tablespoon of miso. Poured a bit of stock on it and mixed throughly. In went some cooked somen noodles, some dry wakame seaweed, salmon bits from the head plus some of the BBQ flaked salmon to beef it up, and stock to cover. Subtle and delicious. A fairly easy and excellent soup using leftover nasty bits! Only wish I'd had some green onions for it.

  • Laks = 10 delicious breakfasts (frankly, we couldn't finish it all in time before it got a bit fishy)
  • BBQ = 4 awesome servings
  • Belly and Collars = two meals
  • Flaked Salmon = two big omelettes and four good sized salmon burgers
  • Head Soup = two meals
So I count 24 meals from our salmon, which works out to $1.04 a serving. Pretty sweet! I guess the lesson is, buy whole and use every bit of it. Putting in the extra work to scale and fillet it paid off in spades. The only downside is that by the end we were pretty salmoned-out. But maybe we'll get another one next week before the Alaskan season ends. And throw half on the smoker...
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Friday, August 14, 2009

New Links

Adding some links:

Road To... / 4505 Meats
in San Francisco. Great blog about charcuterie and meat, and gets in purely for the shear awesome terror of this photo.

Awww it wants a hug!

Seriously, I want to be at his house for Halloween.

Next up is Nettletown, the blog of Foraged and Found Edibles' co-founder Christina Choi. I always check here to see what goodies are in season before I head to the market.
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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Brouwer's Tour de Fat Afterparty

So New Belgium had its annual Tour de Fat down at Gasworks. My bike is currently in tragic shape, and we had stuff to do. But the afterparty was at Brouwers and we were there for that. Over the night we tried them all. Then got serious late-night coffee before heading home. Here's the taps:

There was:
  • Dunkel Weiss 30 (Outstanding!)
  • The Trip III (w/Elysian. Not great, kinda 'homebrewy' actually)
  • Le Fleur Misseur (Ridiculously floral! Combo of flowery dryhops and treating Brett correctly!)
  • Dandelion Ale (M loves this one, may have to make an attempt next Spring.)
  • Love (I love love love Love. What else is there to say? It's the unblended starter for La Folie and their other Sour Ales)
  • Abbey Grand Cru (The unlabled tap. Not a fan, too sweet. My strong dark is better IMHO :)
  • Tart Lychee (Weird! But not my favorite. M would "drink a lot of it and it would be very dangerous."
  • Transatlantique Kriek (Nom nom nom)
  • La Terroir (Wow. Strong Brett/Lacto, harsh horseblankety almost to bitter. Not as tart as La Folie though, maybe a bit more hop aromas. But delicious!)
  • La Folie (OM NOM NOM! See how seriously I take this commentating?)
  • Mighty Arrow Pale, Mothership Wit, 1554 (all good, but I can get them in the grocery store)
Also, the Gold Sprints bikes races were progressively rowdy and, as ever, God's Favorite Beefcake tore up the stage.

Here's the draught list for the night.

You might also note that one of the taps to the far left is Russian River Publication...
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Brewday: Knocktoverfest

So it's at bit late to start a Maerzen for Oktoberfest but hey, Bar Exam, cut me some slack! I find whenever you're talking about a recipe for an Oktoberfest lager it's always:

1) Are you doing it all grain?
2) Are you pulling a triple decoction?
3) Why not, what's wrong with you?

Don't get me wrong, I like decoctions. They're a pain, but I they allow me to give the beer a little sumpin sumpin and more importantly, do step mashes without adding volume to my 10 gallon igloo, meaning I can brew stronger 10 gallon batches. So with this Oktoberfest I compromised. A bit more specialty malts, a single infusion at 153-154 and a decoction to knock it out at the end. Split the batch with half getting Munich Lager, half Bavarian Lager. One liter starters on both.

Nothing went right on brew day. Couldn't find my Stopper Thermowell after the move (even now, angry at my lack of precise control over the lager temps). Record heat meant my groundwater through the plate chiller only cooled it to 75 (!?!). Seventy-five! The last batch cooled to 65 with the same water! Grrr. Still better than Miami though! Forgot to add the whirlfloc until the last 5 minutes so had to boil a bit longer. Put the carboys in the chest freezer (at 38 degrees) overnight, then in the 50 degree lager fridge the next morning. Took off like a shot within a few hours. Still going, will secondary in a few days.

But overall it went ok, got a O.G. of 1.060 and decently correct volume meaning we're on track for a beer in the 5.8% range. After a week in secondary, I'm going to lower it a degree a day to 34 and leave it till the third week of September. Then keg, carb, and serve with homemade sausages and pretzels. It's so nice to be able to ferment ales at room temperature, and use the fridge for lagers. I'm thinking I'll repitch the yeast on a Baltic Porter and maybe a Doppelbock when it's done.
Also had the problem that I haven't used this fridge for beer before. The glass shelf at the bottom was not going to work with that much weight. So popped down to Limback Lumber on Market. They cut me a new wood shelf to fit out of scrap, quickly sanded too, for $5. Sweet. Also, reason for volume discrepancies in the photo: 5.5 gallon carboy and 6.5.


Type: All Grain

Date: 7/17/2009

Batch Size: 10.50 gal

Boil Size: 13.80 gal Asst Brewer:
Boil Time: 90 min Equipment: Brew Pot (15 Gal) and Igloo/Gott Cooler (10 Gal)
Taste Rating(out of 50): 35.0 Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00
Taste Notes:


Amount Item Type % or IBU
10 lbs Munich I (Weyermann) (7.1 SRM) Grain 45.45 %
5 lbs Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (2.0 SRM) Grain 22.73 %
5 lbs Vienna Malt (Weyermann) (3.0 SRM) Grain 22.73 %
1 lbs 8.0 oz Caramunich I (Weyermann) (51.0 SRM) Grain 6.82 %
4.0 oz Aromatic Malt (26.0 SRM) Grain 1.14 %
4.0 oz Biscuit (Dingemans) (22.5 SRM) Grain 1.14 %
1.00 oz Magnum [14.00 %] (90 min) Hops 22.3 IBU
0.50 oz Tettnang [4.50 %] (15 min) Hops 1.7 IBU
2.10 items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 min) Misc
10.00 gal Munich, Germany Water
1 Pkgs Bavarian Lager (Wyeast Labs #2206) Yeast-Lager
1 Pkgs Munich Lager (Wyeast Labs #2308) Yeast-Lager

Beer Profile

Est Original Gravity: 1.059 SG

Measured Original Gravity: 1.060 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.014 SG Measured Final Gravity: 1.014 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 5.84 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 6 %
Bitterness: 23.9 IBU Calories: 269 cal/pint
Est Color: 10.7 SRM Color:

Mash Profile

Mash Name: Single Infusion, Medium Body Total Grain Weight: 22.00 lb
Sparge Water: 10.37 gal Grain Temperature: 72.0 F
Sparge Temperature: 168.0 F TunTemperature: 72.0 F
Adjust Temp for Equipment: TRUE Mash PH: 5.4 PH

Single Infusion, Medium Body
Step Time Name Description Step Temp
60 min Mash In Add 6.88 gal of water at 169.8 F 154.0 F
10 min Mash Out Decoct 2.16 gal of mash and boil it 168.0 F

Mash Notes: Simple single infusion mash for use with most modern well modified grains (about 95% of the time).

Carbonation and Storage

Carbonation Type: Force Volumes of CO2: 2.4
Pressure/Weight: 7.9 oz Carbonation Used: -
Keg/Bottling Temperature: 34.0 F Age for: 28.0 days
Storage Temperature: 38.0 F


Water: add 1gm Epsom, 2gm Baking Soda, 6gm chalk to mash. PH of mash water should be 7.2, add 0.2ml lactic acid, and 1ml to sparge water for Seattle-Tolt.

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Nitro Is Go!

The new Nitro tap is up and running! And it's sweet... But it was a pain in the behind to get going. Here's why.

I went to Ballard Central Welding to get a 5lb beer gas tank. And got one, no problem. Which is good, because apparently it's a problem to find such small tanks in some parts of the country.

Then I got home and tried to put the regulator on. My tank had a standard co2 nozzle. My reg had the female nitrogen nozzle. D'oh! Much posting to TechTalk ensues. Many thanks for all the input from everyone!

Back to the welding store. Oh, we have an adapter. It'll be in tomorrow.

Back to the welding store. That'll be $20. Argh. Ok. Finally:

Yay, more connections to potentially leak. Oh well, Teflon tape and soapy water check. Doing fine.

Into the newly repainted freezer you go. Tied to the co2 tank for a bit more stability.

Yes, that is a stencil of Mr. T.

Hooked up the tap. Cranked the nitro reg to 35psi (have since moved it down a bit, still trying to find the prefect level for my setup you know. Going to redo the draught lines soon anyway, then I'll do the math and find the perfect psi/length/diameter/lovely wife? Can you do the math for me please!?!). Have the problem of pulling mildly foamy pints, but then I'm usually pulling the first pint out of a warm end of the line. Don't have it in me to tinker with the freezer to chill all the way to the tap, just put some insulation in.

Screw on the handles. The old Mendocino Brewing handle works great on the nitro faucet! It's really heavy, like "It was Russell, in the Conservatory, with the Mendocino Brewing Tap Handle" heavy. And it will turn my normal taps on accidentally, so I don't use it much. But not the nitro faucet. Sweet.

The Shoggoth's Little Peculiar American Amber half of the Shoggoth's Partigyle went on nitro. The other tap is the Triticus Minimus half of the Triticus Partigyle. (It was very delicious but has since kicked, sadly.)


And thanks again to our friends for gifting us with this marvelous new evil superpower!

Coming up on the nitro tap: Nitro Baltic Porter. Nitro Buckwheat Honey Stout. Nitrotoberfest?
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So the Bacon of Doom went so well I decided to see if the guys at Sea Breeze could pick me up a hog jowl for some Guanciale. (Italian Jowl Bacon)

And lo, they did provide.

Here's the jowl, skin on. Note again that their pigs are seriously fatty. Nom nom nom. Probably weighed in at just under two pounds.

Goodbye skin. Also, goodbye anything that looks glandular, nobbly or otherwise unappetizing. There are little gland "bubbles" that should be trimmed off. Also, it turns out I have a first edition of Charcuterie, and the second edition has a Guanciale recipe. D'oh!

Flying blind here.

I knew I wouldn't get to this post for a while, so I took a photo of the spices I ended up using. Eh, eh? Thinkin' ahead here.

Looks like I used Basic Dry Cure, Herbs de Provence, Marjoram, Basil, Nutmeg, Thyme, Bay Leaves, Black Peppercorns, and Roja Garlic. So, um, you should too.

Into the bag with you for a week and maybe a bit (I seem to remember it taking a day or two longer to cure.)

After it cured I gave it another coating of kosher salt just for good measure then hung it to dry. It'll go three weeks, there's a week left. First it went into this fridge, but then my Oktoberfest Lager needed the real estate so I moved it to the small dorm fridge, which I think will become the official meat fridge. That's a dish of salt saturated water in there, to keep the humidity up.
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Bacon of Doom part 2

So I'd last posted that the bacon was going into a cure. Well, it came out and was smoked. Then sliced. Then nommed.

The pancetta hung for nearly two weeks before I decided that the brewing closet was too warm for it. Future pancetta will hang in the small dorm fridge.


Here's the pancetta hanging in the basement. I think the humidity was right, but we were experiencing some hot weather (remember that we just had the hottest day ever recorded in Seattle on Day 2 of the Bar Exam, 103 degrees!) so this part of the basement got up to 72 degrees.

I took it down after a little over a week when a spot of surface mold appeared. Killed that off with some vinegar but then stuck half the pancetta in the freezer and have been cooking with the other half. You can see in the photo to the right how much it dried and shrunk.

Here in cross section you can see how much fat this pig had. Outstanding. Towards the end the percentage of meat got even smaller.

Seriously good lardons. I've been using it in pastas, soups, stews, omlettes, pretty much anywhere where I need cooking oil and crunchy porky bits wouldn't hurt.

As for the Maple Bacon, it went onto the smoker with some hickory, apple and alder chips until it was 150 inside. Then the skin was trimmed off and the bacon sliced these photos give a sense of scale. It is ridiculously thick.

How was it? Out of this world good. We even got a staunchly and longtime vegetarian friend to try it, and she announced it as one of the best things she has ever tasted.

And I would tend to agree.
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