June Charcutepalooza Challenge: Stuffing

This month, the Charcutepalooza challenge was to case sausage. Poultry sausage, to be precise.

Now all you dear readers know I love me some duck, so I figured what better bird to bind than that. Duck sausage, ground with pork fat and cased in flavor. I like the sound of that.

Duck Sausage

 

These duck sausages are very special indeed, prepared with love from the Pacific Northwest. And this is a special day, since yesterday I foraged my first morel mushroom! With the excitement of mushroom hunting still fresh in our minds, we utilized some beautiful Chanterelle mushrooms that were stashed in the freezer from the fall (thanks to my partner in crime). The addition of carmelized onions sauteed in Chantrelle butter and fresh Douglas Fir pine needles makes this a duck sausage a thing of beauty.

The meat was ground last night, the mushroom, onion and herb mix rough chopped and folded into the meat mixture. It’s been sitting overnight for the flavors to meld, and tonight, on the 15th of the month (surprise, surprise), we case the sausage, juuust in time for the June deadline.

I can’t wait to try these. Some of my favorite ingredients, made with my favorite man, these sausages truly embody the flavors and energy of the Pacific Northwest.

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The May Charcutepalooza Challenge- Grinding

Merguez or chorizo, merguez or chorizo…hmmm. How ’bout both?

This month, for the May Charcutepalooza challenge, we grind. The wonderful, balanced combination of meat and fat. Merguez, a North African inspired yet French influenced lamb sausage rich with red wine and roasted red peppers. Chorizo, of the Mexican variety and not Spanish, smoky and flavorful with Ancho chiles. With two wonderful things to choose from, we ended up making both. The Merguez was frozen (not before we sampled a bit- wonderful!) and will be cased later.

With the chorizo, we made simple tacos topped with an avocado-tomatillo salsa and home made 7 month old cheddar. A squeeze of lime, the pop of cilantro, these tacos were proof that great food doesn’t have to be complicated. A simple meal of hand made ingredients shared with friends is a great thing.

Hot Smoking: The April Charcutepalooza Challenge

This month, the Charcutepalooza challenge was hot smoking. A neurotic overachiever through and through, I opted to make the Tasso ham, and to also case and smoke Andouille sausage. 10 pounds of pork shoulder and seasoning, several bottles of wine, many long nights of cooking after 8 hour shifts in a kitchen, a lover as dedicated to food as me, and the sweet, spicy, smoky results are amazing. We smoked them both with hickory chips in a small Weber grill. The Tasso is a bit more cooked than we had hoped, but it still tastes great. The Andouille turned out damn near perfect. I give you Tasso Ham and Andouille sausage, our very own Southern-style goodness in the Pacific Northwest.

Duck, duck…duck!

As a child in grade school, I sat on the playground in circles with folks my own young age and waited, with eager anticipation, to be the chosen one. One after the next, they called it out. Duck! Duck! Duck! Duck!

Even at this fare early age when we wanted so badly to fit in, we each secretly wanted to be the unique “Goose!”, to be the one who was picked out of the circle, called something special. I even have some midwest friends of mine that insist that as children they played “duck- duck- grey duck” and not “duck- duck- goose”. I know, I think it’s weird as well. Yet the principle remains the same.

However, all games aside, this dinner set a new precedent. Exit childhood whimsy, of running in circles. No playground fancy could prepare one for the DUCK WELLINGTON.

An overindulgent feast of fowl, the duck wellington is a true thing of beauty. Layers of duck liver terrine, duck confit, and seared duck breast wrapped in puff pastry. Hours to make, minutes to enjoy sopped in sweet satiation. Step aside, geese and grey ducks. This game is for serious contenders only. I am pretty sure I’d chase someone in circles for more.

Duck Wellington

Where there’s Smoke…there’s Fire.

The April Charcutepalooza challenge: Hot Smoking. Canadian bacon, or Tasso ham?

Tasso ham it is! As of right now, 5 pounds of pork shoulder are sitting in dry cure. Tonight, they will be rinsed and seasoned, and tomorrow they will be smoked. In addition to the Tasso, more pork is cubed and ready to be turned into spicy, smoked Andouille sausage. Tuesday is gonna be a hot one…

And here it is, a balmy 40-something-degree April evening in Seattle…Tasso ham smoking outside on the grill, Andouille sausage ground and ready to be cased. The Andouille will sit overnight to develop its pellicle, and it will be smoked tomorrow night. It’s not yet hot, sticky or humid here in the Pacific Northwest, but it sure smells like Cajun country.

Corned Beef!

The corned beef brisket and tongue are ready!  After sitting in the brine for 5 days, the brisket was simmered for over 3 hours. The tongue was cooked overnight for about 12 hours in the crockpot. Both are falling apart tender and tasty. To complete this sublime moment of having my very own corned beef, I needed fresh rye bread. After looking at a few recipes, I settled on a dark, sweet Finnish rye that sweetened with molassas and soured with buttermilk. Easy to make, and really tasty! Corned beef sandwiches on dark rye bread, slathered with a spicy whole-grain horseradish mustard. Reminiscent me of my childhood, but so, so much more grown up…

I think the folks of mrswheelbarrow.com are right. This IS sexy.

A Witches Brew

Pickling spices done Wednesday evening. Over 6 pounds beef brisket and nearly 3 pounds of tongue sitting on the counter, due to my partner in crime. Tonight, I make the brine- a warm, sweet enticing elixer. Aromatic, salty, and pretty to look at. It’s inviting, wafting tempting smells, billowing sweet steam. It is a bit sexy, if you will. If I didn’t know better, I’d take a dip myself!

Thanks to forces more nocturnal than me, I wake this Thursday morning to my brisket and tongue sitting patiently in the brine (thank you nocturnal assistant). There they will stay for 5 days, until the beginning of next week, when I can cook them off and savor the glory that is a simple piece of meat, brined and corned…