Back to School Again

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Learning is a never-ending process in the craft of cooking. I spent the day tasting, learning, discussing and laughing with Chef Tim Bass, the charcuterist for King Estates Winery. He loves what he does! That’s why he looks a little bit like the buddha, smiling and holding his cured hams. We tasted salami’s, coppa’s, fresh sausage, country ham, pressed terrines, lardo, more lardo, pancetta, and quanciale.

Sorry doc, I’ll do a few extra laps to burn off all the cholesterol.

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A great nod of thanks to King Estates and head Chef Ben Nadolny for inviting me share in their pork processes.

 

Pig Break-down

The cool winter months are a time of preparation at the Gathering Together Farmstand. While much of the vegetable and on-farm food preservation occurred in November, the start of the new year brings a second phase to the GTF kitchen: butchery.

Less than a mile from GTF, Mosaic Farms grows and produces some of the nation’s finest heritage breed hogs. Using hand-mixed feed, sustainable land management, and so much love, owner/operator Chris Hansen has grown Mosaic steadily over the last two years. He is one of a cadre of young farmers in the region who is putting his own stamp on agriculture through his hard work, smart business practices and full bore commitment to the welfare of his animals. Last week, Hansen personally delivered a whole hog, packed in ice in the back of his station wagon, to the GTF kitchen.

Breaking down the animal took several hours as chef, JC, worked to prepare meat for copa, bacon, salumi and fresh cuts. Of the 200-plus pound whole animal, less than four pounds was determined unusable.

For a gallery of images from the break-down, visit our Flickr photo set, here. A warning: we believe people should know what their food looks like at all stages, however some of the images are graphic.

Liverwurst in the Style of GTF…

Liverwurst in the Style of GTF:

If you have a whole pig by chance, make some liverwurst and serve it to a gaggle of friends with red wine and crackers. It makes one feel elementally healthy. Split some firewood or something.

 

 

ingredient

Weight(g)

%

Scraps, shoulder, kidneys

500

33%

Liver

500

33%

Picked head

500

33%

salt

27

1.8%

pink salt

3

.2%

pepper

6

.4%

cardamom

.45

.03%

mace

1.35

.09%

ginger

1.35

.09%

onions

75

5%

Beef middles

 

Place your pigs head in a big enough pot and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil. Skim all of the scudge that comes to the surface. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add all the normal aromatics (whole carrots, onions, celery, bay leaf) and simmer for 4 hours.

Remove the head from the pot and let cool enough to handle. Strain the poaching liquid. Return it to the pot. When the head is cool enough to handle, pick all the meat from the head. It is a bit gnarl,y but you needn’t be too choosey. Everything but glands and bones is fair game. Don’t forget the tongue. Weigh the harvest from your pig’s head and calculate the recipe.

Julienne the onions and sauté till translucent and beginning to color. Pull off the fire and leave to the side at room temperature.

Weigh and poach all the scraps left over from your butchering, the shoulder sliced into pieces that will fit into the grinder, and any organs such as kidney and heart until cooked through.

Remove from the poaching liquid but keep the pot and liquid on the fire.

Take the still warm head, the bits you were poaching, the onions and the liver and pass them all through the grinder. It will be soupy.

Add all the seasonings and mix well.

Now would be a good time to test the mixture. Lay a piece of plastic wrap  flat on the table and put a tablespoon of the mixture in the middle.

Wrap up the liverwurst like a beggars purse and tie the end. Toss the little liverwurst grenade into the simmering poaching liquid for five minutes. Remove and place in ice water for five more. Taste and correct seasonings.

If it tastes right, and I bet it will, stuff into beef middles.

Place the wursts into a pot that will hold them with room to spare and fill with cold water.  Salt the water generously. Bring  to a simmer over a medium heat and poach until the wursts reach 150°F internal temperature. Drain and cool under cold running water for five minutes. Leave to cool in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Call your friends and enjoy.