Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Charcuterie

A term I'm sure few are familiar with.  Charcuterie is essentially the art of curing meat.  Now we can just throw it in the freezer or fridge, but it was done before refrigeration was around.  I also thinks it's knowledge and a skill set that is very good to have.

I got the opportunity to attend a Charcuterie class put on by Rachel from Hounds In The Kitchen and her husband Alex.  I was lucky enough to actually win a seat at the class because of a giveaway Rachel was holding in honor of her birthday!

I've been wanting to go to one of her classes, but hadn't yet gotten around to it.  I now know what I was missing.  This was the last class of her Preserving Series, but I hope to be able to attend another class in the future.  Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures, as the best camera we own is my Droid X which takes great outdoor pictures, but crappy indoor ones.  This will be an all word post, but I'll try to make it short. I promise.

We learned a lot about charcuterie in general with regards to different methods, techniques, etc.  We discussed confit, which is a method of preserving meat in fat.  We also talked a little about salt curing, rillette, and stuff like bacon, pancetta, and sausage.  I wasn't even aware that sausage was a form of charcuterie!

I've done some charcuterie before when I corned beef for St. Patrick's day this year.  It was a lot of fun and easy so I was immediately interested in more.  Alex and Rachel did a great job breaking things down to very simple and easy to understand instructions.  They passed around some pork belly (in a bag) that they were curing for bacon so everyone could feel the firmness of the meat.  They also made some sausage so everyone could see how easy it was.  They at least made it look easy.  Just like everything else, it seems like it would be a very involved process and way more hassle than it would be worth.  They made it a point to specifically say that making your own sausage wasn't saving you any money, but it gave you more control.  The good news is, it doesn't seem to be as difficult as what I thought it would be!

They cooked up a couple of links of the sausage for us to try, along with some of their spanish chorizo (I think), and pancetta.  We also got to try some of their recently blogged about squirrel rillette!  It was delicious!  I imagine that most people reading this are having a similar reaction to what Lynette did, but all I have to say to those people is don't knock it until you've tried it!  It really tasted very similar to dark chicken meat, and was really great as a rillette!

All in all, it was an awesome night!  Everyone got to take home some sausage, I for one took home a lot more knowledge, and definitely the confidence to try my hand at some more charcuterie.  Unfortunately with a very nosy kitten and a basement that is short, cramped, and probably too gross, we won't be hanging anything to dry, like pancetta.  Someday we will, but while we're here I'll stick to something less likely to end up in the stomach of a certain trouble maker, like bacon and sausage.

I want to say thanks to Rachel and Alex for not only providing me a free seat to the class, but also for putting on these classes.  It takes time out of there, I'm sure already busy schedule, but is definitely a benefit to the growing local food community.  I'm sure many people feel this way, but speaking for myself, as just one uninformed Columbus food enthusiast, their blog and these classes have really helped me gain the knowledge to try new things, but more importantly the confidence to try them.

I would absolutely recommend that for anyone in Columbus that is interested in cooking food, preserving, gardening, or have kids that you're teaching to cook to look into one of her classes.  It's well worth the cost for the great hands-on work and down to earth instruction.

2 comments:

Daddy-O said...

Bravo! for another excellent post. However, gotta ask. . . whatever happened to Lynette's good camera if your Droid X is now your best one? Hers is a really good one.

Eric said...

We still have it, but it doesn't take real great close up shots. Nothing that is a point and shoot really does. It also eats batteries like crazy.