The Holidays are getting closer, but I will try to also snap some shots of what we do at the restaurant when I can (when my charcuterie is at a standstill) in order to have topics to post about. It is slowly starting to pick back up with the families starting to trickle in(Disney World is a busy time during the holidays), so don't know what I'll be able snap shots of. Nevertheless I will try my best.

Tonight the Sous Chef, Danny (a.k.a. Richard) was brainstorming and came up with this pasta which allowed us to utilize product we had lying around the kitchen. We get crazy amounts of organic produce from Hammock Hollows Herb Farm based out of Gainesville, Fl, but never know what he is going to send us. Today we had 8 cases of organic greens come in consisting of Red Romaine, Arugula, Carolina Mustard Greens, Blue Tuscan Cale, Baby Collard Greens, Mizuna, and also cases of Sunburst Tangerines and HUGE!!! Meyer Lemons (I have to try to remember to snap a shot of them... they are seriously bigger than naval oranges). We also get beautiful root vegetables, such as turnips, watermelon radishes, and kohlrabi from them. But back to the pasta....

So the Chef's pasta special tonight was 'Confit Chicken Thigh, House Pappardelle, Truffle Cream, Fall Mushrooms, Wilted Arugula, and Glazed Turnips.' It came out really nice. The great thing about running the Chef's Pasta special is that with the amount of great produce we get in, the possibilities are endless.

Pickle Crazy

It was a few months back for my third wedding anniversary that my wife and I traveled up to Charleston, South Carolina. We stayed in a hotel just outside of town, but spent most of our time in downtown.

The first day we were there, we were lucky enough to have been greeted by the Sunday morning Farmer's Market. It was awesome!!! There was great food, crafts, produce.... I mean, what an experience. Later that night we had dinner at McCrady's restaurant, and it was a wonderful meal prepared by Chef Sean Brock's staff(if your ever in the Charleston area you must go). But one thing that I had noticed while at the farmers market, and that stood out to me while dining at McCrady's was all of the different pickled items. What a great way to add contrast and/or balance to a dish. You can have salty, sweet, sour or fermented pickles.

So, needless to say, the next day when my wife and I went shopping I bought a couple of old southern pickling books and have been at it ever since. If there is anything lying around the restaurant unspoken for, you better believe I'll take it in a heartbeat. Here are some of the things that we have done. Once again, most of these pictures were taken with my cell phone, so apologies for the quality.

From left to right:
Balsamic/Port Cherries, Spicy Vanilla Cherries, Gooseberry Preserves, Pickled Sunchokes.

From left to right:
Spicy Mango Vinegar, Hasta la Pasta Squash Preserves, More Gooseberry's, Longpepper Cherries.

From left to right:
Sweet Pickle Chips, Chef Windus' Schichimi Carrots.

Pickled Organic Okra

Pickled Hot Peppers


So Chef Windus told me the other day that he is planning on clearing off some land he has. I'm pretty stoked about it. He told me that he plans on raising pigs at first, and then seeing how it goes from there. Now don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of farm to table and buying local produce, however am a bigger fan of MEAT. So, I will be helping him clear off the land and hopefully will be able to have my hand in a good bit of learning how to raise the pigs and will be able to help as well. I'll probably do some mini posts about it, but it can be followed to the full extent @bluechef. Here is picture that Chef took of the land.

suckling prosciutto

Here is a picture of my suckling prosciutto. It has been hanging for a couple of months now. This is based off of len poli's recipe for the traditional way to make prosciutto. After about a month of curing it was rubbed down with a mixture of semolina, black pepper and lard and will hang at 60 degrees with 65% RH for a total of about 6 months. It could probably go a little less, due to the fact that it is a rather small suckling ham. Hope it turns out!!! Here are some pictures of it drying.

Sorry the photos are poor quality, they were taken on my cell phone.

LONG time, NO updates

WOW!! So, it has been quite a while since i've posted anything, or done much of anything extra while at work. The busy season is upon us and I quite frankly haven't had the time to get to mess around with much. EXCEPT!!!!.... A suckling prosciutto that I cured for about a month and have recently hung, but more on that much later.

Here are the updates on my Salami and Merguez (and no I didn't wait this long to taste them..ha). I will start with the Merguez. I didn't think the flavor was that bad for my first attempt. There was a nice heat and salt level, however the recipe said to dry it for at least 18 days, (which was thoroughly bashed by one of the sous chefs of the resort, and I agrre with) which was probably about 15 days too long. Nevertheless, I was still able to get a nice mold growth, which I was stoked about.

The Lamb Salami I was very pleased with, except for 1 minor error... I cut the fat way too big, and do to my lack of inexperience thought that it would shrink with the meat. If it did, it wasn't by much. However, the flavor turned out really well I thought. It could have used more heat, but had a nice salami flavor with a nice hint of fennel, and then the SUPER creaminess of the fat wasn't bad with some crackers. Overall I was pleased and look forward to new adventures hopefully in the near future.

These are some of the really fatty pieces. There were others which turned out nice with a better meat to fat ratio.


So, the other day Chef Windus showed me a lexan full of brussel sprouts and said "kimchi." I had already written down a recipe a week or so before, because I was talking with the junior sous chef about stuff in our walk-in that we could try the flavors with. So sure enough, I pulled out my notebook and said "I got this." Chef cleaned them and quartered them, and I soaked them for 4 hours at room temp in a salt brine. Then I made a paste from fish sauce (didn't have any shrimp paste), red pepper flakes (no Korean pepper either), garlic, ginger, scallions, sesame seeds and sesame oil. This paste would actually be a delicious dip for a crudite (in my opinion) if you can handle the heat. Next I grated some black radish over the drained and rinsed brussels, threw in some chopped scallions, and mixed everything together. We only fermented it for 3 days (according to the recipe), but I would like to try again and move to the fridge at different intervals and see how far we could take it. The true test comes Tuesday when we'll taste it. I know that it continues to ferment, but am nevertheless excited to taste it as soon as i can.

Here is a quick updated shot of the Merguez after 2 weeks of drying...

And here is a shot of my only spot to store the products for now...

From Left to Right: american honey bacon, smoked merguez, mole lonzino, lamb salami, and the dried merguez.

lonzino and updates

I recently did a mole rubbed lonzino (got the idea from Grant at Blackhoof) with some of the suckling loins left over from our pigs. The spice rub was an adaptation of a rub we did at Beacon (when I was in New York) with a couple of spices (that I wanted to throw in), plus cure 2, salt, etc. I had never made a lonzino, but it was pretty easy. They dried up SUPER quick. They were at about 58% water loss after about 2 weeks or so, maybe. Needless to say they turned out good. There is just the hint of cocoa (I would have liked there to maybe be some heat), a nice saltiness, and a nice gamey pork finish. I was thinking it would make a good amuse with pickled corn and candied pumpkin seed powder. I'll have to try it out, maybe throw the idea at Chef. I also weighed one of my Lamb Salami today and it is right about 33% weight loss, but still feels a little soft (gonna check it in another 5 to 7 days) so I put it back into the chamber. Right now i'm hanging right around 60' with an RH of 80 - 84% (which i'm having trouble controlling due to the small size of my chamber), but all in all everything seems to be moving right along with no major problems (got a nice mold growing).

Lamb and more Lamb

I was looking through the freezer at work and came across some lamb shoulders that were in there from the past menu change. So, I went home and looked through "The Art of Making Fermented Sausages," and came across the Merguez recipe (we added some zaatar spice as well). Talked it over with Chef Windus, and decided that it would be an easy enough recipe for us to execute. (The reason that I like Marianski's book is that all of the sausages are fermented and then smoked/dried or dried.) However, when I got over to the commissary the grinder is a hand cranked grinder/stuffer combo, and let me just say that I worked out twice that day. Anyways here are some pictures of the Merguez at day 1 and a shot I snapped at day 5. My chamber is super humid, but I just have to kind of monitor it everyday, and often times crack the door to let some moisture out. Overall I was pleased with the flavor (a nice subtle heat).

Now that the Merguez was working, I still had about 3 lbs of Lamb left over, so I thought why not try to make a Salami. I didn't use a recipe for this one, just some basic guidelines for a normal salami (cure weights, bactoferm, etc.) and then added what spices I thought would be good (fennel, black pepper, crushed red pepper, red wine...nothing too crazy). This one was definitely a challenge for me though. Everything was going smoothly since I used an electric grinder this time, however since it was such a small recipe, I wanted to just hurry up and get it done before service (which hurry up didn't happen...and by hurry up I mean pipe it into casings instead of walking over to the other hotel and use the stuffer). Nevertheless it turned out well. The salamis are incubating right now, and I will hang them in a couple of days.


When Chef Todd English was in town, we had tons of sucklings in, so I took about 6 or so of the heads and decide to de-jowl them. Now, the jowl of a suckling is super small compared any normal 200 - 300 lb pig (obviously). Nevertheless, I decided to go ahead and try to cure them and make guanciale. I did the basic cure out of Rhulman's Charcuterie book to about 5 of them, a maple glazed cure to a couple and then BBQ rubbed a couple of them. They turned out really well actually. A bit salty when eaten on their own. Chef Windus decided to use them for our Chef's Pasta dish and so they were brunoised, rendered out and used in a carbonara. Overall I was pleased, but know there is still a lot that I need to learn (and I definitely am).

Here are pictures of cooked Jowl and the dried ones.

the curing chamber (its what I have to work with, and low budget)

Chef Windus and I made some Merguez this past weekend, and I have some left over lamb, and I had this thought of lamb salami with the leftover lamb. Definitely going to be doing that here in the next couple of days, so I'm pretty stoked. Hope that it turns out caus eI'm doing this one without a recipe, just some basic guidelines.

Lots O' Suckling

I guess I should first start by telling you that most of my first attempts at creating sausages, prosciutto, or any cured muscles for that matter have been with left over suckling pig parts that aren't being used by anyone else. You can often times find me walking around with a cart of random animal parts that I have taken from the butcher before he threw them away (one mans scraps is another mans salami).

So, in saying that, the first successful thing that I actually did was, as most of my original attempts were, inspired Grant Van Gameren. If you haven't heard of him or his site, you should definitely check him out.

I took the suckling belly and cured it in a pastrami brine that I got out of my CIA Garde Manger book. Cured them in the brine for 5 days and then allowed them to dry uncovered overnight in the walk-in to form a pellicle. I rubbed them with a black peppercorn-coriander mixture and hot smoked them on a rack on the grill (I was doing it during service... not always an easy task). I then thought instead of braising them I would cryovac them with the tiniest bit of water and cooked them at 82' f for 12 hours. They were a bit salty and I think it was from being cryovac'd, however they were pretty good eaten with other components.

Here is the process from start to finish.

the blog

This blog is pretty much just going to be me documenting my attempts (successful and unsuccessful) in Charcuterie at home and at the restaurant in which I work(Bluezoo). I don't know exactly when I became completely interested in the art of curing and preserving. I think it has to do with the fact that a) I love salt, pork, offals, beef... well, lets face it, I'm definitely not a vegetarian (or vegan for that matter); b) I love the fact that you can take something and instead of letting it go to waste, you can preserve it and often times make it last indefinitely; and c) love learning about food and how different ingredients can effect it.

I believe that it's in Thomas Kellers "Under Pressure" where one of his sous chefs tells a cocky CIA student (curious about "molecular gastronomy") that "he should come back to him when he knows all that he can about NaCl....Sodium Chloride"...AKA Salt. This got me thinking. As a chef/cook I use salt in everyday preparations from dressing salads to seasoning pieces of meat, but how can I transform something into a different texture or flavor using salt, as apposed to adding modified starches, hydrocolloids, etc. (which don't get me wrong, I am also very interested in).

So, like I was saying before, due to the fact that I am just starting to build a foundation in Charcuterie I will be documenting as much as I can from failures to success stories (hopefully mostly the latter), and would hope that if anyone actually reads this blog would share thoughts or suggestions, as we are all trying to achieve hopefully the same general goal in our profession: Continuing to learn about products and using this knowledge to provide people with the best food and greatest experience that we can possibly give them.