Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Is the Mangalitsa the Next ‘It’ Pig? -

Is the Mangalitsa the Next ‘It’ Pig? -

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Stupid and dangerous: Farm Animals Get 80 Percent of Antibiotics

Update: Farm Animals Get 80 Percent of Antibiotics Sold in U.S. | Wired Science |

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Charcuterie

From Xmas Food 2010 4
So here is the duck galantine with pistachios I made for our annual Christmas party. It smells great and the texture is exactly what I hoped it would be when I wrote the recipe.  I know this is probably going to sound conceited, but it only dawned on me today that I did not have to look up a recipe for this or any of the other charcuterie things I made. I just wrote out what to do and did it. I suppose I should not be surprised. I mean, I've been cooking for more than thirty years. Yet still, something like this is so far away from what I usually prepare that I the accomplishment surprised me. 

This pâté de campagne is redolent of garlic and juniper and really delicious and I'm chagrined to realize that I did not write a recipe for it. Oh well. 

Merry, merry folks! 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Galantine de Canard aux Pistaches: Phase 3.5

Today was a good day to cook the galantine because I couldn't cook it yesterday ;-) The cooking went pretty smoothly and the final product looks and smells wonderful. And why wouldn't it smell great after having been seasoned with thyme, shallots and cognac and poached in very rich chicken stock.

A few words about technique.

The reason I cooked the galantine in rich chicken stock goes beyond concerns about flavor. The high solute concentration in the stock actually helps to prevent the connective tissue in the skin from breaking down too much and turning the skin into mush. This is because water is needed to hydrolyze the collagen tissue into gelatin. So by reducing the amount water in the stock by, in effect, replacing it with soluble proteins, sugars etc, there is less water available for hydrolysis.

Of course, I have no way of measuring how much stuff is disolved it the stock, but when I consider that the one gallon of stock used here had been reduced (by evaporation) from three gallons of stock that was already so full of gelatin that it set up in the refrigerator, I'd have guess that it was no more than 40 maybe 50% water.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Need a Gift Idea?

How about a vintage grater from Mouli? 

I love these damned things. Few kitchen tools are more useful to me than an old Mouli grater. It's a simple thing and about as pretty as rusted out Oldsmobile. Yet it is on my family's dinner table 4 nights each week, and when it becomes defunct, I will not replace it with anything other than another version of the same thing by the same company. Of course, Mouli does not make this kind of thing anymore. Modern iterations are all stainless steel or plastic. None of these will do for me; cheap tinned stamped-out steel is the only form that will suffice. 

I think this grater is my third fourth maybe fourth fifth Mouli in 32 years. They are great, but like all things, entropy gets the better of them and they go. I've recrimped them, built new handles, and used them until the metal became so fatigued that the Mouli was mush. 

If you want to get one of these, you'll have to look for it on eBay or in some other corner of the "previously owned" market. And if you are lucky enough to find one, buy it, then send me a "thank you." ;-)
Posted by Picasa

Galantine de Canard aux Pistaches: Phase 3

Today I completed most of Phase 3 of the construction of my duck galantine with pistachios. I made the forcemeat and stuffed, sewed and wrapped the duck. I could have cooked it but there was too much other stuff going on and I did not want to bother. I'll poached it off tomorrow and post the photos forthrightly.

If the captions below the photos don't tell you all you need to know about what I did. Well, you know where to reach me!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Galantine de Canard aux Pistaches: Phase 2

In an earlier post I described the first phase in the making of one of the dishes I am creating for my annual Christmas party, and today I began the second phase in the construction of my Galantine de Canard aux Pistaches. In Phase 1, I skinned and removed most of the bones from the duck and removed the breast and lecg meat.

Today, I cut and cured the breast meat and some pork fat lardons. Both will eventually be decoratively laid inside the galantine along with shelled pistachios to break up the homogeneous appearance of the farce or forcemeat. I also cured the duck skin with salt and a bit of  nitrite to perk up the color once the galantine is poached and I seasoned the farce.

I'll let it all sit overnight before I start Phase 3 wherein I

  • grind and emulsify the farce, 
  • toast the pistachios, 
  • stuff and stitch up the skin
  • wrap it in cheesecloth and poach it in duck stock
Once the galantine is cooked Phase 4 commences. Here I

  • Re-wrap it in cheese cloth
  • Weight it and let it compress and cool
I will try to photograph the  final phase  (decorating) if I don't run out of time.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Galantine de Canard aux Pistaches: Phase 1

I'm working my way up to setting out the meal for the del Grosso's annual Christmas party. I've already decided that this year's menu, like last year's, is going heavy on charcuterie.  I pulled a 14 month old ham out of the aging room in the cellar, made a Terrine de Porc that is right now mellowing in the fridge in the garage, will make a chicken liver terrine and tonight began to make a Galantine de Carnard aux Pistaches.

I do not have the time or energy to post about how I am making everything. However, I thought you might like to see at least some of the steps involved in making the Duck Galantine with Pistachios.

Never mind the etymology of the word galantine, in classical charcuterie it is a boned-out bird that is stuffed with a forcemeat  made from the bird's muscles, sewn up and cooked. It does not really matter how you cook the damned thing as long as it comes out moist and firm enough to slice. I'm going to poach my galantine in a court bouillon (stock) made from the bones of the duck and  a mire poix. After it is cooked, I'll weight it to squeeze out any air spaces and cote it with Sauce Choid Froid (Sauce veloute with gelatin).