I'm behind on posting, and since a couple of recent culinary activities have revolved around the pig and its myriad uses I'm going to combine two events into one porktacular post.
The other day- during our frigid cold snap, where it barely made it into double digits- I fished a big bag of pork shoulder pieces out of the freezer so Milo and I could make sausage as a fun and useful indoor activity. He loves to control the mixer speed and watch the meat come pouring out of the die. And since I had recently received some caul fat to play with, crepinettes were on my mind. Someday I'll get a stuffer and order casings, but this way is so easy and clean I'm honestly not in much of a hurry. For the first grind I added in chopped garlic, salt, and pepper, and pushed it all through the large die. Then I divided the meat into two containers and seasoned those differently before the second grind.
The first one was a pretty straightforward Italian mix: red pepper, fennel seeds, wine vinegar, and herbes de Provence. I think I'm forgetting a couple of other things, but you get the idea. For the second half, I went in an Asian direction, using ginger, 5- and 7-spice, yuzu juice, sesame oil, and tamari. I let the mixtures sit in the fridge for a few hours to unite the flavors, then portioned them out onto rough squares I cut from the caul fat and rolled them up into packets. All told we ended up with about 6.5 lbs. of goodness, which all got bagged in portions, sealed, labeled, and returned to the freezer.
Then, on Sunday I was lucky enough to be invited to join my editor in helping to make head cheese at the home of Rich and Maya who own Elephant in Kingston. I like their food, and I was excited to participate in making something I've never done before. When Brian and I arrived, Rich had already been simmering one and a half heads with some aromatics for about 4 hours.
He pulled them out, set them on a sheet pan in the snow to cool, and strained the stock into another pot to reduce while we ate lunch. He made us a fitting and exquisite lunch of Spanish blood sausage, bratwurst on braised cabbage, potted chicken liver spread, and a variety of pickles, chutneys, and mustards. I brought a pint of the new batch of kimchi and it fit right in. We gorged on this while the heads cooled off enough for us to work with them. Their poor dog was hysterical, writhing and whimpering by the sliding door as she gazed at the steaming heads just outside.
Once cool, we pulled all the meat off, separating out the fat and skin, and giving Rich the ears and other bits to chop and add in.
He seasoned it with softened mirepoix, pickle juice, some tamarind chutney, wine, herbs, spices, salt and pepper, the ladled it into terrines with a little of the reduced broth.
All in all, it was a delightful way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Good people, good food, lots of wine and laughs, and the anticipation of knowing that some of the result would be waiting for me a couple of days hence.