Jan 31, 2011

meat

A happy moment in this drab month: I discovered the butcher I regularly window shop at stocks pork cheeks.  So no explaining what cut I need, no drawing little pig pictures, and no raising of their suspicions about my unpatriotic Euro-centric interests.  Well, not really.   They are friendly people, but now there is no waiting for a less than obvious cut of meat to become available.  One day we'll need to talk about a head, but not yet.

Some clicking, waving of my magic card, then a man appeared at my doorstep.  Dressed in his apron with just enough splatter to confirm authenticity, he dropped a box.  Let's count: the cheeks,  a pack of four;  one pork hock, for things where skin, gelatine and pork are called for.  A breast of lamb, thick rib cut far back almost to the belly, for a sub-zero barbecue.  And a pigeon, a pheasant, a rabbit.  It is game season with Elizabeth David here.  Finally, a paprika sausage, because their sausages really are good.  That is it, I think.  Meat for the next hundred weeks. 

But why the cheeks?  Because it is time to cure again.  My previous attempt, undocumented, unreported, was a failure.  Duck prosciutto that took too long to dry, and a suspiciously liquid attempt at pancetta.  Lesson: my shed is not airy enough.  This time the target is guanciale, an Italian bacon made from pork jowl.  Especially good in pasta, they say,  as it's too rich to have alone.   Intensely flavoured, but above all, beautiful.  And easy, they claim.


So, right now, I have two batches of two cheeks each in the fridge, where the cure is drawing out the liquid.   For the one, I'm following Michael Ruhlman's recipe: 70g salt, 70g sugar, a lot of thyme, crushed garlic and half a teaspoon of curing salt.  I'm using a coarse sea salt, and a sticky brown sugar that could have grown up to become molasses.   The second cure is less sweet: 70g of the same salt; 40g sugar, but white this time; then my instinctive pickling spice mix of pimento, pepper and toasted coriander.  I fondle them every second day.  

I'll give it a week, then weigh them again. 

7 comments:

Marie said...

El sal ook erken: ek is die moer in met duck prosciutto. Now ja.

On with the sow. I mean show. Thanks for reminding me about cheeks. I shall hunt some down when we are back in Brooklyn and we will eat them in a slow-simmered Something with a fresh sauce of green Sonething on the side. Have never made them, but have eaten them and loved them, out.

Mal Content said...

Are you willing to share the name of the butcher...?

Adele said...

Wow! That meat pack sounds fabulous! I need a butcher like yours.

Jeanne @ CookSister! said...

You are a braver man than me...! You have my endless admiration for even attempting all this charcuterie, even if the pancetta did mysteriously liquefy (!). Great image of you fondling the pork cheeks on a regular basis ;o)

jvdh said...

Marie - Keep calm and carry on. Laat weet maar hoe die alternatiewe metodes uitwerk.

MC - I meant to, because they deserve some credit: Uptons of Basset http://www.uptonsbutchers.co.uk/

A - And right now I'm mostly not eating it, just holding on to the diversity. Nothing with fur or feathers attached though. (Yet.)

J - It is a beautiful cut...

Marie said...

Was hulle in plastic baggies in die yskas, of in bakke?

jvdh said...

Tupperware. Sakkies sou ook gewerk het, dink ek.