A few years ago, I made a dry-cured, long aged lamb ham. Results were mixed. It was delicious, but a little dry. My opinion is lamb ham, which has gotten a big press push this Easter season, suffers from a lack of rind. It dries a little more quickly than I’d like and works better aging in humid atmosphere. Once I took down the smokehouse for the Spring/Summer season, my hot smoker was back up and running, and waiting to be used. Thinking about what to make for the first hot-smoke of the season, I thought a city ham would be simple choice, but with the pure mass on a pork leg created a reluctance which pushed me to a city lamb ham, city hamb.
Everyone is on year three of bacon fatigue. I mean, if someone is wrapping pepperoni pizza in bacon, and not pepperoni or better yet, nothing, we are not in good times. With that in mind, when you read “Corned Beef Bacon” in your mind, or if you read aloud to yourself, please read it is as “CORNED BEEF bacon” and not “corned beef BACON”.
No matter how you say it, while evaluating St. Patrick’s Day dinner at our house, I lamented having to cook, and eat, boiled meat. Realizing corned beef IS boiled meat, I frankly wanted corned beef and cabbage to happen without boiling. Continue reading
With the February temperatures dropping below zero, I changed the cold smoking set-up to be a Lil’ Smokey Joe grill in the cinder block smokehouse with a shelving unit beside it. After trying to simply pipe smoke into a frigid smokehouse, I was getting nowhere. Even with a grill in the smokehouse, the temperatures reached 80 degrees only once over a two week smoking period. Even with putting the heat in smokehouse, the temperatures were a little low for smoking a country ham, but perfect for smoking food which would liquify at warmer temps.
I had spent a late evening paging through the most recent Noma cookbook (the journal was a fascinating addition to the cookbook, seriously) when I read a recipe for smoked marrow fudge. With temps where they have been, smoked marrow was an achievable project. Continue reading
‘Ndouille has been percolating in my head for a few years. Andouille in the form of ‘nduja. Smoky, spicy and spreadable. When it came time to put the idea into action, it did not work. It was smoky, spicy and spreadable. I could check off the boxes and it was not bad. It just was not good, either. It was not great and it was not a so bad as to require tossing. It was in the terrible, awful, no good middle ground. In addition to middling sausage, an outdoor guest was brave enough to take a bite out of all but one of the chubs left to hang in the garage for three months. Continue reading
Life has been busier than normal and the time I spend in the kitchen, one of my favorite ways to unwind, has been inconsistent. In an effort to simplify and refocus my kitchen hobby, I went back to an ingredient, ham, and a preparation, terrine, I feel both comfortable with and inspired by. Continue reading
Duck is delicious. It has a rich and complex flavor. It should make great sausage. However, I have made duck sausages multiple times and never once liked them. Every time, the classic flavors I paired with them taste too sweet – maybe they are classics because their sweetness balance the richness of the duck, but either way, they are not suitable as sausage flavors. When I happened upon a stewing duck at a farmer’s market, I grabbed it and stuffed in the freezer. Continue reading
With a large and growing cookbook collection, I get asked by friends who may not have the same cookbook issues, “How do you choose which book to cook from – much less what to cook from the book you choose?” This has to be a common question. My answer – I will grab a book based on what I have at home or based on what the season is. Sometimes, I will see something online which will push me to get back into a book. When I do find a book, the driving force behind picking a recipe is almost always a new technique or ingredient I want to try. In this case, there was a technique which included boiling beef tongue after smoking it. I was skeptical. Won’t you boil off any smoke flavors? Wouldn’t the other way be better? I had to try it for myself. Continue reading
A fifteen minute walk through a small-town Wisconsin farmer’s market yielded some of the finest variety meats I have had in some time for prices so low I could not fathom how there was so much to buy. In a state where offal is less flashily portrayed and truly ends up on your grandma’s dinner table rather than on a contrived dish using her as a prop, I was surprised to see offal from seemingly pristinely raised animals being ignored. Even so, there was an old man in traditional Amish garb selling what appeared to be some great lamb. I asked about offal and he brought out what he had. For a couple dollars (literally), I bought every last lamb heart the guy had with him. Then some ground lamb as well to make it worth his while. Continue reading
The weeks following our return from Japan proved to be a somewhat rocky re-entry. First, it reminded me how life does not wait when you are away, but rather piles up like the newspapers on your front step. Second, our jet lag combined with our girls’ new middle of the night loneliness made days next to impossible. Finally, after a week of eating better than maybe any other week of my life, what were our options when we got home? (I guess make everything out of koji.)
Sitting at dinner with great company on a frigidly cold winter night, a dish came out with lamb pancetta. A few of the guests were surprised by the substitution of lamb for pig in the pancetta. After discussing the intricacies of how to make lambcetta, I offered to make some for a friend with a fantastic sense of taste. I asked what he wanted flavor-wise and he suggest to go off-script with cinnamon. When looking through a spice shop, I noticed cassia buds which are simply dried buds of the cinnamon tree and carry similar, but more floral flavors than more traditional cinnamon. Continue reading