Overload of Mangalitsa Jowl

I had a picture message from Chef Windus today and was not pleased with what I saw. The weight of the 2 massive mangalitsa jowl that I had hung in the curing chamber caused everything to come crashing down on itself. I am told that nothing was lost during this disaster, but it is still a bummer. I am off today, but Chef is taking care of putting it all back in. We have had to resort to using thick oven racks thanks to the weight of the lovely mangalitsa (but I'm not complaining). The soppressata will surely be done by the middle of next week, and the coppa feel like they are really starting to lose some weight. Our country ham will come out of the cure on the 24th and we are planning to cold smoke it with white oak for 18 hours or so. Until then....

After the accident....

On the left is 20lbs of Mangalitsa Guanciale which caused the accident!!


I was very pleased with how this pepperoni actually turned out, due to the fact that it was stuffed by hand using a pastry bag. There really weren't any air pockets (except for one or two tiny ones) and no smearing. I do think that it probably could have used a bit more fennel and definitely more cayenne or red pepper flake, but overall the flavor turned out nice. I pulled this one at 32% because it felt firm and the casing aren't that big. It dried for about 4 weeks. The rest will continue to dry, but I actually like they creaminess that you get on the palate. I think this is partly that it hasn't over dried and also that I used a mixture of mangalitsa fat and wagyu fat, and mangalitsa shoulder. This is probably the most expensive pepperoni I have tasted thus far. I really like using the mangalitsa fat because it so creamy even when dried. You can see in the picture the difference between the mangalitsa and wagyu fat. The wagyu has a yellowish hue to it (some of which is picked up from the spices i think).

The Chamber is Growing

Here is an updated shot of the chamber. I have since rearranged it into rows, in which I can slide the older meats forward and hang the newer behind without much difficulty. So as it continues to fill up it will look a bit more organized. I do have a couple things I want to tackle here in the next week or so (N'duja, Boudin, and Summer Sausage), but we have the Epcot Chefs Gala, a couple of off premise catering events, and a big buyout coming up, so it will be tough to squeeze it all in. But for now, here is the chamber. The Pepperoni and Sopressata should be done soon, so some tasting notes to come.

More preserving and pickling

I know this entry is kind of late, but nevertheless I feel it is worth posting. With all of the amazing produce we get in the spring (most of which is foraged and reeived in abundance when available) and even as busy as we are, it is often hard to keep all of it fresh before you use it and unfortunately lose it. So, i have (and for a little while now) been studying preserving and pickling through the use of sugars, salt and vinegars. We do a few different styles of pickling at work. The one we use the most is a quick pickle where we'll pour a hot pickling liquid over, say celery, let it cool to room temp before we ice it down and stick in the fridge for a day or two. Another is allowing the natural lactic acids to build up and ferment for things like sauerkraut and kimchi. A few of the other guys at work, along with myself have been messing around with different recipes and types of kimchi. The first one I did turned out pretty good, but was too spicy for most. Another one that was done, which was sweet and a little less spicy, was a kimchi based mostly around cucumber as the main ingredient. This was then pureed and allowed to drain for a consomme. The flavor is really nice, a bit spicy but very light and sweet from the cucumber. We have a couple different kinds going right now including a swiss chard kimchi (where i made a brine that is poured over the kimchi. a technique that I have never tried before) and another batch of cucumber for the tasting menu. The other one, which is great for most things is using a mostly vinegar and salt based solution for things like dilled verts, dill pickles, pickled okra, etc. However the most recent that I have been exploring is pickling flowers and fruits. The first attempt ending up in a mango vinegar, and my latest some spring onion blossoms. I used a mixture of water, sugar and a chradonnay vinegar. I wanted it to stay sweet, and try to cut some of the pungent onion flavor that the blossoms burst with, but not too much of it.

I have unfortunatley not messed around too much with preserves, but did have some nice strawberries come in for a VIP dinner, and was able to grab a couple of the extra pints and thought it was time. So, I did a mixture of vanilla, sugar, lemon juice, white port and starwberry. Can't wait to use these up in the near future!!

Hear is a shot of a couple of ideas that i've been throwing around based on two main ingredients: squash preserves from last june and a red mole.

Wagyu Tenderloin, Hasta la Pasta Squash Preserve, Red Mole, Cocoa Meringue, Soubise, Burnt Onion, Freeze dried corn powder, salad of roasted carrots and tops, Candied Marcona Almonds

Honey brined Mangalitsa Loin, Red Mole, Preserved Squash Butter, Spring Onion Pudding, Cocoa Meringue, Micro Cilantro, Candied Marcona almond

Charleston, South Carolina and Mangalitsa Country Hams

I recently was able to take a trip up to Charleston for a couple of days (it worked out that my 2 days off for each week connected Mon and Tues, and Wed Thurs... Thanks Chef) and absolutely love everything about that whole area. The city itself, the history, the cuisine, the passion for everything they do, southern traditions, the towns surrounding Charleston,.... you get the point.

The first time that I traveled to Charleston was for my anniversary. My wife and I took a few days and went in to eat at McCradys restaurant. I guy that used  to work at Bluezoo (Chris) had worked there and I had heard nothing but great things about it. We did the Chefs tasting menu, and it was one of the best meals I have had. All of the flavors married well together. Southern inspired dishes with local ingredients (most of which are grown by the restaurant), simple plates with such depth in flavor, and a mixture of classical and modern avant garde techniques. However, the one thing that I really wanted to try, the Charcuterie plate, i did not get the chance....

So, back to current times.... I was able to put a couple of days together to stage in the Kitchen with Chef Sean Brock and his team. They were very hospitable and I was able to learn a lot just in the two days I was there. I would love to be able to spend at least a week straight with them, just to take in all that they have to teach me. The amount of knowledge and resources in the kitchen is ridiculous. I thank them for having me and putting up with me for those couple of days and if you are ever in the area, you MUST check it out. The charcuterie program there is freakin awesome thanks to the Sous Chef Travis and one of the cooks Jeremiah. They really know what they are doing and have a tremendous passion for it. And YES, this time I did have the charcuterie plate and some of their bar snack menu items. This is what we had that I can remember. Fried Bologna with beer mustard, duck rillettes with cranberry ketchup, coppa, duck mortadella, a couple of different kinds of salamis, pickled cauliflower, house pickles, pickled green beans, and more duck rillettes (they are amazing!!!). Unfortunately I was only able to snap a couple of photos.

This is a pic of the kitchen setting up for service.

And here is a pic of some of their country hams. Had to weigh close to 40 pounds each

I almost forgot to take a pic of the fried bologna.... I was killing it!

We also have a country ham going and will be putting a couple of more in the cure when we get our next big delivery of Mangalitsa from Torm. This was cured with a mixture of salt, cane sugar, red pepper flakes, black and white pepper. I can't wait to taste this one. It will cure for at least a day per pound, then we'll smoke it and age for at least six months. Wish I had started one of these six months ago. Oh well.