Saturday, January 29, 2011

Robert Rodriguez - 10 minute cooking school

I've made Robert's Puerco Pibil from Once Upon A Time in Mexico from his 10 minute cooking school - now I'm going to have to try some Sin City Breakfast Taco's.  Yum!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Waiting on proscitutto and hoping to get better.

My life, for the past 8 months has been a constant go go go, with little time to myself. I think it's finally all caught up to me. This week I finally hit the wall emotionally and physically.  Today I had to just stay home, for the whole day, hope that losing those few extra dollars doesn't put me over the edge financially, which  I'm not sure why I'm worried about that, I'm already over the edge, and hope that this fever I've been living and working with for the past 3 days will finally go away.  I think the fever is making me delirious, because I almost had myself convinced that my body is just running hot naturally in defense of my impossible to heat freezing cold house. 

Which brings me to my prosciutto project. ("I've got a natural meat locker, I might as well cure meat.")

The instructions said the duck breasts should lose 30% of their original weight - and that should take a week.  The week has come and gone.  They weren't at 30%.  So, after God knows how many hours of sleep today, I wandered into my refrigerator - um I mean kitchen - and got a cup of coffee - and there were my duck breasts out in the meat locker/foyer staring me down.  Hmmm.  I wonder.

At 30% weight loss they should weigh 11.9 ounces. 

They are at 12.9 ounces today!  One more ounce to go.  I'm thinking they may just be ready by this Sunday - which would be 2 weeks from the beginning of this project.  I guess I should have factored in the moisture of the North Coast and of this house.  I think when Michael Ruhlman said they should hang in a moist area that always stays between 50 and 60 degrees, he wasn't thinking about those of us who live in a rain forest. 

As for the other part of my charcuterie experiment with the duck, the duck confit came out perfect!  I didn't get pictures unfortunately.  It was all I could do to get dinner together last night.  I was feeling pretty under the weather, but my 12 year old and 7 year old raved about the duck!  How many kids can say their mom serves up duck confit for dinner?  Way better then anything from a fast food joint!  They even loved my botched first attempt at homemade pumpkin gnocchi.  So ill or not, I've still got it in the kitchen. 

The rest of my day, that which hasn't been spent sleeping or weighing meat, has been spent checking out video's from IFC and discovering this funky new show called Portlandia.  When I saw this video called "Is It Local", I had to laugh.  To me this clip doesn't just poke fun and Portlander's, but at all of the local food activists out there who take things to ridiculous extremes ( we American's can really get carried away with our causes).  Don't get me wrong, I'm all about eating local when you can and in season, but you have to admit, there are some nutjobs out there who come close to taking it to this extreme.
Here's your chuckle for the day.  Enjoy! 

And I swear the last time I ate at a restaurant in Portland this lady was our waitress! 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Duck Prosciutto and More

A couple of years ago I got the book Charcuterie written by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn.  I love this book, I can spend hours looking at it, but so far the only thing I've managed to actually make out of it is is my corned beef.  I haven't been brave enough to try the "real" cured meats in the book, but I've been itching to do it. 

A couple of weeks ago a couple of things inspired me to finally take a chance.  First this post on Ruhlman's blog about a couple of women (Kim Foster andCathy Barrow) who have decided to put on a CharutePalooza challenge.  The second motivator was, that my house is so damned cold that my entry way is at the perfect temperature to hang meat to cure.  I figured I've got lemons, I might as well make lemonade - or more like I've got a natural meat locker, I might as well cure meat.

Their first challenge turned out to be a simple one - duck prosciutto, so I decided to give it a shot - the biggest challenge is living in Humboldt and trying to find duck breasts.  I didn't want wild duck, I didn't think it would be fatty enough. Turns out there is no such thing as just duck breasts in Humboldt County grocery stores, but there is this wonderful person named Pixie who owns a great little meat market by the name of Loleta Meat Market.  If you live in Humboldt, I highly recommend her homemade sausages.  They're to die for!  I gave Pixie a call, asked her if she had any duck.  Turns out she did.  Then came the hard question, "would you be willing to bone it out for me?"  The answer was no.  But then I asked if she could just cut out the breasts for me - that was a yes.  When I showed up Friday night, 45 minutes after her closing time, she welcomed me to the back of her butcher shop, pulled out the boned duck - turns out she did bone the thing - and proceeded to tell me how much fun she had doing it, and lovingly presented every part to me.  I told her what my plans were, and now I hope it comes out good, because I owe her some duck prosciutto now.  She zipped it up in a bag, charged me a nominal fee and I was on my way. 

Pixie rocks like Iron Maiden by the way - she's a rare creature - a female butcher.  She's one of my heroes.

So, back to the duck prosciutto:

I pulled out my Charcuterie cook book, and also referenced Michael's blog for the instructions.  First I packed the breasts in salt.  I got a little creative - using ideas from Charcuterie and I crushed juniper berries and added them to the cure.  (Those aren't bugs in the pictures - they're juniper berries - I promise. )

I covered them with plastic wrap and set them in the fridge to cure for 24 hours. 

Tonight I pulled them out, rinsed them, thoroughly dried them, dusted them in white pepper, wrapped them in cheese cloth and hung them in my "meat locker" of an entry way.

Now, not being the kind of person who likes to waste food I decided I would take the legs from this duck and make duck confit.  So I started that little project tonight as well.  I used Ruhlman's recipe from his blog instead of the one he has in Charcuterie because it calls for olive oil, which is much cheaper then duck fat.  I also used the spices he suggested on his blog.  Fresh ground pepper, coriander, thyme, oregano, garlic and brown sugar.  This is now curing in my refrigerator, and will spend 10 to 12 hours in a 180 degree oven tomorrow after curing for 24 hours. 

Speaking of duck fat - I then decided it would be a cool idea to get as much fat out of the remaining carcass as I can, save it and use it to fry up some potatoes in later.  When I'm done with that, I'll take the roasted duck, the neck, the leg bones and the giblets, throw in some onion, carrots and garlic and cover them in water and make duck stock.  I bet that's going to make for some yummy soup later!

So - one duck for $20 turns into prosciutto, confit, and soup stock for another day. 

So stay tuned ............ I'll be back to let you know how it all turns out.