Saturday, December 24, 2011

Cured Egg Yolks

I have been playing around with the idea of curing an egg yolk for a while.  I have tried many different ways and have found the one I like the best.  Many of you may be asking yourself, why is this guy curing an egg yolk, and what in the hell is he going to do with it when its done.... Simple because I can and I am going to eat it!!  For those of you that don't know me that well, I have recently quit my Big Boy job to pursue my dream of doing Charcuterie and working in a Restaurant full time.  This has been a passion of mine for a long time, and thanks to my friends Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman from AMIK for sparking my passion.  Anyway onto the topic at hand, the wonderful world of the Egg!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Beer vs Wine dinner at AMIK

Recently at AMIK (Andrew Michaels Italian kitchen) we hosted a Beer vs Wine dinner.  It was five courses of amazing food, each paired with a wine and a beer.  The guests all voted on each course to which pairing they like the most.  I really wanted to take pictures of each course, and explain each one, but this did not go as planned.  This was the first opportunity for my new little company to make its debut.  I supplied the appetizers during the cocktail hour before the event.  It was very successful.  There was pretty much nothing left, and Burning River meats has some new fans.  Here is a couple pics of the menus.

Sorry for the Break.

I have been super busy as of late with my big boy job and with my little Charcuterie company so I have not been able to post anything.  I have a lot of things in the pipeline to get up here.  Plus I am starting a new blog. as well.  Thing have been going great.  I have been Staging in a friends kitchen and learning more about the commercial kitchen.  I had a great spread at a local charity event, had the opportunity to cook for John T. Edge   director of the Southern Foodways Alliance.  And have done much more.  I will get pics up soon, and some sell sheets up so you can order some of my sausages and assorted Charcuterie.  Thanks for checking back and I look forward to posting more soon!!  Just since I have been away, don't forget.  Source local, and Love Your Meat!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pickled Vegetables

I don't only play with meat.  I love the acid, and the vinegar flavor of anything pickled when eating charcuterie.  It breaks up the fattiness of a terrine, goes great with any salumi.  This is one of my favorites here.  The crispness of the Cauliflower, and the sweetness from the fresh carrots are great.  And the little zip from the peppers.  I make mine a little different, I use a mixture of Champagne vinegar and distilled white vinegar.  The Champagne gives more sweetness and depth of flavor, where the distilled white vinegar gives you the punch of acidity.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tasso Ham Recipe.

This salty and spicy pork treat has its roots in Creole cuisine.  Creole cuisine is really a style of cooking that blends  many cultures flavors together.  Including French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Greek, Asian, as well as the taste of the South.  No wonder why there is so much going on with this meat.  Tasso Ham is not meant to be eaten on its own, it is more of an ingredient.  As well it is a meat poser, being that it is not even a ham at all.  If you look back to my previous post on Primals, you will see that the ham comes from the rear leg of the pig, when tasso is made with the shoulder, or butt, which is on the front of the animal.  Here is a boned out shoulder.
I was proud of this one.  I have been practicing my butchery skills a lot recently and was able to get this blade out in a couple minutes and was able to maintain the integrity of the shoulder.  Not to shabby I must say!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Best Salsa Recipe around!!

I know that is a big statement.  There are so many types of salsa.  Fresh salsa, cooked salsa, fruity salsa.... where does it end.  It's like a little Mexican bubba gump.  I am a huge fan of any type of salsa.  This one here I started making a few years ago and have perfected.  It is a very rustic type of Salsa Rojas, a cooked Aztec style salsa.  There maybe some ingredients that you don't thing should be in salsa, but suspend disbelief this stuff is really good.  Big part of this is getting the ingredients as fresh as possible.  I went to the Winchester Farmers market, here in Memphis.
This place is great.  They have produce, and items from all over the world.  Specializing in Mexican, and Asians.  There fish is so damn fresh it is swimming.  I recommend going to this place on Tuesdays and Thursdays that is when they get their fresh fish and produce.  Sundays are freaking nuts at this place.  Onto the salsa.  First thing I do is get all my ingredients together.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Meat Cookies ...(aka. Sausage balls)

Okay, Okay, I know that this is about the most pedestrian and trailer park thing, but it is one of my favorite things.  My family has been making a version of these for years for the holiday parties.  Whenever the guys get together you have to be sure that I am making massive amounts of these Meat cookies.  I am sure you are asking yourself right now.. Self why does the chubby guy writing a blog call these meat cookies.  Lucky for you I have an answer....It was a cold winters night, the winds were strong and the cold was biting, I was dressed as a lumber jack and she...... Sorry started getting side tracked.  Andyway, back in the day, the guys would get together for a weekend of Halo, beer, the smelly jar(don't ask) and some macho bonding.  I made back then what I called sausage balls, and my Buddie Trent said, Damn those are some good meat cookies, and well not being very inventive on our own, it stuck.  And we have turned this not only into a tradition, but also a challenge.  These have been made a hundred different ways, but this is the tried and true!!  And before I go any farther I am going to let you know that I used store bought sausage for this dish.........I know, I know, the guy who is always talking about sourcing local and making everything from scratch used Bob Evans sausage. Bite me, I was out of pork and had this in the freezer, and when a fat man has a craving, watch your fingers.  So I got rolling.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Saucisson D'Alsace-Lorraine

Sounds pretty fancy, right.  As you may know by now I love all things sausage.  I could be the Bubba Gump of the sausage world.  Everything needs a little pork in it.  And one thing I have never made was a Fresh French Sausage.  And hey from what I hear the french kinda know what they are talking about when it comes to food.  Just saying.  So I stumbled across this recipe in Charcuterie and french pork cookery I knew I Had to give it a shot. The first step is to make a small batch of Quatre Espices, also known as Pate Spice, do not waste your money and purchase this pre made, very simple, and you most likely already have all of the components at home.
  • 30g black peppercorns ground
  • 8g freshly grated nutmeg
  • 6g ground cinnamon
  • 6g freshly ground cloves
Simple as that.  This is a great spice to have on hand for any French, or Middle eastern cooking.  Time to get my Mis En Place going.

Spanish Chorizo

The first time I had a really good authentic Spanish Chorizo was when I was in Valencia Spain.  It was cut up small and sauteed as the base of a Paella, the national dish of Spain.  The flavors in this dish are amazing, and me being the food geek that I am, have to make as many of the components of a dish.  Only downside is that it will take weeks to get everything ready, to put the dish together.  There is a great blog out there, that I have mentioned before called Wrightfood, he has great how to recipes, not only Charcuterie by the way.  When I saw his post on Spanish Chorizo, I had to give it a go, and put my twist on it, of course.  You will have to excuse the lack of prep pictures in this post.  The first step to making a good sausage is your ingredients.  I got the pork from Newman Farms, and the Piment D'Espelette, here on amazon.  The Piment is the key to this salumi.  Very rich, smokey, and delicious.  See the Mis en Place below.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

'Nduja, at last!!

This is the salumi that started it all for me.  Sure I have been making some fresh sausages for a long time. But this mystical salumi made of fire is what really got into my Charcuterie obsession and more.  I spent some time in Italy years ago when I was in the Marine Corps, and I always remembered this insanely spicy, spreadable, and amazing sausage I used to get before I got on the train.  Turns out it is 'Nduja. I met some guys who have really helped me along in my charcuterie endeavors.  Andy and Michael from AMIK if you read my blog at all you know who I am talking about.  Mike and I were sitting around on the back patio one night having a couple cocktails and started talking about how great it would be to find someone local to make salumi and especially 'Nduja.  I said, Hell I can do that, and started my research.  Up to this point I have been making some of the easier things, Guanciale, Peperone, Soppresseta, etc... All amazing, then I decided to tackle 'Nduja.  With some help from Scott, from The Sausage Debauchery  who has an entire online store dedicated to his pursuit of Calabrian products.  I got the ball rolling.  Okay onto the 'Nduja, pronounced (in-Doo-Yah) This salumi is made from the fattier parts of a pig, the Belly and the Jowl, as well as thirty... Don't be afraid I said thirty percent is hot peppers.  The fat content of this salumi is 40-50% making it a spreadable salumi.  The meat and fat are ground, seasoned with salt, peppe rossa, hot peperonciono powder and then worked into a fiery paste.  Check out the amount of peppers in the picture below.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Papa's French Dressing

My family has always been all about food.  My grandfather Edward Ptacek Sr. was a huge influence with me and my culinary devotion.  He is the one that got my mom going and in turn me from her.  He cooked for a huge family, and put his heart and soul into it.  I was at the store with my cousin the other day and we were craving some of Papa's dressing.  This is nothing fancy, but I have adjusted it a little from his original.  Every time I taste it I get taken back to the house on Marshfield, sitting at the table, making sure my elbows did not touch the table and sharing a meal with my grandparents.  He would pull this dressing out of the fridge in a huge mason jar that had garlic cloves suspended in it....  Sorry I started drooling.  Anyway here you are.

Pickled Peppers

I went to the Memphis Farmers market this weekend and picked up a bunch of great meats and produce.  I got some pork from Newman farms, some beef from Neola farms, and a bunch of vegetables from assorted stands.  I got some great looking peppers from one of them.  They looked just like the cover of one of my new cookbooks, My Calabria.

Friday, August 19, 2011


This recipe is adapted from charcuterie by Ruhlman and Polcyn.  Have you ever had a good peperone?  Don't worry my spell check is working.  I am not talking about the Italian American version of pepperoni, that has been bastardized by the big food makers here in this country.  I grew up loving pepperoni pizza, then I went to Italy and got some and was blown away.  It was not that fatty, mixed meat, mildly spicy salumi that I knew from childhood.  This was robust, meaty, and ridonculously delicious.  This is traditionally made from beef, but here we have added chicken, turkey and other pieces parts to get the cost down.  I think you will be surprised by the ingredients, or lack of them.  The lips and assholes have been left out and only high quality ingredients are left.  This is a pic of what I am talking about.

Salumi al Finocchietto

I have ventured farther into my Charcuterie obsession and have moved on to a more challenging aspect of the craft.  Fermented Sausages and Salumis.  As you all know, I Love Pork, and all that it encompasses.  And what a better way to showcase some great pork, than to intensify its flavor by curing, fermenting, and drying it.  The beginning to this and quite a few other salumi recipes are going to come from this 19lb, shoulder I got from Mark, from Newman Farms .  I am going to use everything on this beast!!
Before being shaved, skinned, and broken down.  Below is the outcome.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

To my friends in the UK

I have been getting a lot of hits on my blog from those of you in the UK, (United Kingdom for you yanks).  I am always curious to learn different cultures of cooking.  What would any of you recommend that I try.  Have a good recipe for black pudding, or Haggis I could try.  I would love to open some local people to that delicious rustic food!!  Keep checking back!!