Sunday, February 6, 2011

More of the February (and some of the January) Challenges

First, more on the duck prosciutto.  Here's how it looks when you do it right.  A lovely alpine cheese- Hickory Grove from Flo and Portia at Chapel Hill Creamery, rustic bread, and some bracing homemade tangelo-lime marmalade. Salty, bitter, creamy (the flavor scientists miss that one) sweet. Smooth and chewy.  And the red table wine from Languedoc, Chateau d'Oupia Les Heretiques (thanks 3 Cups) a really good, cheap complement 

Next- more on the guanciale I started last week.  Here's how it looked after a week of sitting in the fridge coated with sugar/salt/spices

Here it's been thoroughly rinsed off, and is about to be liberally coated with some ground black and red pepper . . .
 . . . until it looks like this. It's now ready to start hanging.

As it's doing here. Note that I have poked a hole through the "tail" end of the jowl, and tied the twine through the hole.  Usually I just truss the thing up, but decided to give this a shot.  Now, astute observers  will note that I have chosen not to hang this in the box. Why? Well, I've had nothing but success hanging guanciale in this very spot for the last 2 years, giving little consideration to temperature or humidity.  The meat itself is so laden with fat that I feel there's very little risk of drying out, which the box tempers, if only moderately. I figure, if it ain't broke, why fix it.

Alas, this won't be fully cured in time to reveal on the 15th for the Charcutapalooza challenge, but no matter.  In about 3+ weeks, it'll be delectable.  Little crisped up cubes are the perfect fat to throw in a pan when roasting ANY vegetable - squash, carrots, potatoes, asparagus, zucchini - it takes EXCEPTIONALLY well to greens - kale, chard, collards - and you will never eat Brussels sprouts again any other way once you've roasted them with guanciale; and , of course, found a reliable purveyor of pasture raised pork who can offer you jowls which you can now cure yourself following my can't- miss directions here.

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