Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bresaola and coppa (sorta)

The cut of meat that is supposed to be used for bresaola is not one that's available from New Zealand butchers. Here it's part of a larger cut that usually gets made into corned silverside. This week, however, Scotch fillet (aka rib-eye) was on special in large bits for $18.99/kg (usually more like $28.99) and I bought a hunk with the idea that I could use some of it for bresaola, or a close approximation. I dissected it out, using the large muscle for curing, and keeping the surrounding fattier meat for eating as steak or whatever.

I cut as much fat and silverskin off as I could, and have rubbed it in a mixture of salt, sugar, curing salt, thyme and rosemary from the garden, and black pepper and juniper seed from the pantry:

It now needs to sit in the fridge curing for a while before I hang it up to dry.

My other "sorta" thing this weekend is coppa. We can get pork shoulder OK, it's what I use all the time for making sausage, what we can't get is "beef middles" - the large bits of beef intestine into which coppa is supposed to be stuffed. I must see if I can find someone who butchers their own beef, because I can't find any sort of beef casings anywhere. Maybe we export them all? Who knows.

Anyway, I'm making skinny coppa. I cut three bits of meat from the shoulder I used for the "smoked" pepperoni, and cured them with salt and curing salt in the fridge for a few days. I figured they're only little so the salt will get into them a lot quicker than it would a big hunk of meat so they won't need two weeks curing.

Yesterday I rubbed them in a mix of grated orange peel, pepper, a little sugar, and some cardamom and allspice, then I stuffed them into 38mm pork casing like so:

They're hanging up in the pantry with the pepperoni now, drying. I'll have to keep an eye on them and make sure they don't dry out too much, being so skinny.

Cold smoking (fake)

I don't have facilities for cold smoking. I was making a fermented sausage a few weeks ago that wanted a "light cold smoke" mainly to discourage the growth of mould, and I had a brainwave. If it's just to discourage mould, I thought to myself, then surely painting on this stuff …

… would do just as well. It is, after all, made from smoke that's been deposited on some surface or other and then dissolved, so it has all the same stuff in it that smoke from a fire has. Then I started thinking further. When you cold smoke something all you are doing is drying it and depositing this same stuff on the surface. Maybe liquid smoke would be good for more than just discouraging mould.

I tested my theory on one link of each of the two batches of sausage I had maturing by swabbing them with a paper towel dipped in liquid smoke, and guess what? They turned out tasting fabulous. So this week's batch of sausage (pepperoni, which is not meant to be smoked but who cares, I love smoke flavour), was hung up to dry overnight, and has now been bathed in liquid smoke:

And has been hung up again to dry and ferment.

I'm thinking I might just buy some pork belly and try smoky streaky bacon.

Sourdough elephants

I am trying really hard to minimise the amount of rubbish I produce. I recycle as much as I can and re-use where possible. Throwing away sourdough starter every week when I feed it bugs me, so I've been looking for ways to use it. I recently discovered sourdough pancakes, which are delicious; the old sourdough gives them a sort of banana-ish flavour.

This week I thought I'd see what happened if I baked  some sourdough pancake batter, with additions (spices and fruit), in muffin cups.

What happened was a lesson in muffin basics. If you develop the gluten in muffins (usually by over-mixing, but in this case by leaving wet for a week), you get little volcanoes. My volcanoes were extreme, with the "lava" overflowing and pouring onto the baking tray. One strategically placed sultana turned its muffin into an elephant:

They tasted fine though, and I quite like tough muffins.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


This is why I didn't do many food things at the weekend:

My elder granddaughter Emily, whose one aim in life at present is to be a fairy, is kicking up a fuss about wearing trousers to kindy in the cold weather. Enter Grandma and the sewing machine, and a few metres of cheap needlecord. Two dresses for the big granddaughter, and two for the small one. Hopefully these wee frocks over the top of tights and warm tops will be girly enough to satisfy the fairy yearnings.

I also made matching dresses for the dolls I'm giving them for Christmas. Yes, I know it's months until Christmas, I like to be prepared.

Prosciutto Pt 2

My leg of pig had been sitting covered in salt for two and a half weeks at the weekend, so it was time to move on to the next step in its transformation to prosciutto.

It's relatively firm to the touch now, the salt has drawn out a lot of the moisture in it.

Firstly I washed off the salt with water …

… then I washed it in wine. It should have been white wine really, but all I had was red, so red is what I used. A nice Central Otago Pinot Noir, at that.

I left it soaking in the wine for an hour or so, turning it over every now and then.

Next step was to give it something to hang by. The last (and only other ) time I did this I used string, and it broke after about eight months, so this time I'm using wire. And I put a bit more salt around the hole and the knuckle, just to make sure no nasties get in there.

So it's now hanging from a broom handle which is balanced across the top of the spare shower:

When it's dried a bit I'll take it down and beat it with my rolling pin before coating the raw meat bits with salted lard.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Adapted from Michael Rhulman's Charcuterie.

Chicken livers and pork mince. Each sprinkled with sea slat, a sprig of thyme, and a bay leaf, and left in the fridge overnight.

Thyme and bay leaves discarded, the livers get nicely browned on the outside, then onion and garlic are added, and then brandy to deglaze …

… I didn't feel like dirtying the mincer, so I chopped the livers the old fashioned way, with my mezzaluna/hachoir/whatever you want to call it …

… before adding them to the pork mince along with the onions/garlic/brandy mix.

An egg, some milk, a bit of flour, some nutmeg and white pepper, and a fair bit of parsley went in next …

… Then I hunted around in the fridge to find something else tasty to out in and found these caperberries …

… So I chopped them up and in they went:

I poured the rather wet mixture into this little terrine:

Popped on the lid and stuck it in a low oven in a bain marie:

I think it was in there for an hour or so, the internal temperature was about 72°C when I took it out anyway.

I made some crackers too:

A jolly good mid-afternoon snack. With plenty more to eat.

Another hearty stew

Literally. Freely adapted from this.

Sautéed mushrooms …

… mixed in with pork mince, flour, milk, seasonings …

… and a bit of chopped parsley, thyme, and rosemary …

… stuffed into a couple of sheeps' hearts, then trussed up with string. Not a lot of space for stuffing in a sheep's heart, even with the wall between the ventricles removed, …

… so I made the leftover stuffing into little meatball things, and browned everything in a little oil …

… before putting it all in the small slow cooker with some flour.

Then I sautéed carrot, onion, and bacon …

… and put that on top of the hearts.

Red wine, tomato paste, and a frozen block of pork stock/jelly went in last …

… and then the slow cooker went on overnight.

I haven't eaten it yet, but it tastes delicious. Quite rich. I'm going to have it with cabbage steamed with grated apple and black pepper.


There was oxtail at the supermarket the other day. I love oxtail, but it's not so easy to find these days.

I pulled this huge heirloom yellow carrot from the garden; I only needed about a third of it!

I browned the oxtail bits (a lot more than this photo shows) …

… and put them in the small slow cooker with the chopped carrot, some onion, garlic, tomato paste, red wine, some flour, salt and pepper. Turned it on and left it overnight.

In the morning I woke up to this:

I let it go cold during the day so I could get the fat off the top, then re-heated it in the microwave two days in a row for my dinner. Stews like this improve with reheating.

Marrons glacé

Chestnuts are not a traditional food in New Zealand, in fact I'd never seen anything other than a horse chestnut until I saw these in the supermarket the other week:

I must say, people who rely on these things as a staple starch certainly have to put a lot of work into getting their food. There's probably some trick to peeling the things that I don't know.

However, what I did was to slit the shells, par-boil them, then peel off the outer shells. I tried to peel the inner membrane too, but the chestnuts started to disintegrate.

Once they'd cooled I reheated them quickly in hot water so just the outsides were warm, and they were a lot easier to deal with.

The procedure for making marrons glacé is very similar to that I used for glacé kiwifruit, but on day five you boil the chestnuts for a few minutes in the syrup and added sugar, then leave them for two days, then repeat and leave them for four days.

After that you drain them …

… and dry them:

I've never eaten marrons glacé before either, so I'm not sure if they've turned out the way they should. They're nice though.


Firstly flour tortillas.

Flour, melted lard, salt, water. Same sort of proportions (with lard taking the place of butter and water of milk) as scones.

Kneaded, divided into six bits …

… rolled out as thin as can be …

… cooked on a hot cast iron griddle for less than a minute on each side …

… perfect:

I am never buying these again. They are so easy to make, and I can make as few as I want, no need to use ten at once.



Then corn tortillas.

Masa harina, water. Mix.

Sounds easy, but getting exactly the right proportions is a bit trickier than flour tortillas. This mix is a little dry, I ended up adding a bit more water to each lump. The mix wants to feel about the same as gnocchi dough.

Rolling it out isn't quite as easy as flour tortillas either. You need to roll it between two bits of plastic. I used a couple of bags.

I also found that it was not so easy to get them flat on the griddle, and they ended up somewhat corrugated.

But then I had a brainwave, and cooked the rest in my panini press.

Nice and flat, but you need to be careful not to cook them to crispness. A hotter panini press might be a good idea too.

Still, I think I'll be making these again too. It might even be worth getting a tortilla press, but I have no idea where I'd keep it. My kitchen is full.