Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Pendulous, Salty Meat

So I got a deli slicer for my birthday. Which I sort of asked for, in that not-exactly-asking-but-making-it-pretty-obvious-way that my expert wife has figured out over the years. It was a tough call, since I really want a new juicer (the old one suffered a child-related mishap, rendering it useless) but the one I want is three times more money than the slicer. So I got a slicer. It was win/win, really, since she knew that the minute I opened it I'd rush out and buy hunks of meat to cure, hang, and then slice into glistening tissues of salty splendor for us all to enjoy.

And that is pretty much exactly what happened.

I made duck prosciutto and bresaola. The duck is something I've had down for a while now, and it's just obscenely good. My first few tries at the beef ended up too salty, but I've arrived at the right curing time and this batch is the first one that's ready for prime time. Four days on the cure. No more, no less. It's ever so tasty, and makes a toe-curling carpaccio. I sliced both of the turgid, fleshy obelisks into silky slices, and arranged them on a platter. Over the top, a hand-picked selection of our finest winter greens: arugula, red mustard, mizuna, and some little sprouty things that taste wonderful but I forget what they are (they were part of a spicy mesclun mix and the packet is long gone).

Good unfiltered olive oil, a drip of balsamic, and a couple of grinds of pepper later, we were face-deep in the best damn appetizer known to humankind. Honestly, when you can make food this good at home, there's no point in ever leaving the house- especially to pay too much for mediocre restaurant fare. I ended up heaping many more greens on the plate after I took the picture, so it really was a salad. I just didn't want to obscure your view of the proud, pink, glowing glory of my meat.

To finish, a straight-up penne alla puttanesca. This was elevated above normality (which is pretty damn good) by the use of some of the cured duck prosciutto fat that I trimmed off after cutting it down from over the sink. If there's a tastier lubricant for a skillet on the planet, I haven't found it yet. Good anchovies, good olives, good capers, and homegrown parsley made it perfect. A couple of tiny little pepperoncini gave it the requisite zing. When forced to use canned tomatoes- as we are, since this summer was not so productive- I find that puttanesca is much better than arrabiata (our other standard) since it masks the canned flavor of the tomatoes so much better.

Still fuming about the Burgundy for the previous night, I opened a 2003 Jaboulet Vacqueyras. I've praised it before and it is every bit as good as ever, if not more so with more age on it. Having said that, though, at this writing I did finish off the last glass of said Givry and it may yet reward further patience; it's softening to a point where the mouth starts to live up to the nose. Another year or five (or at least a vigorous decanting several hours before dinner) and I'd be willing to try it again. Burgundy is such a fickle, frustrating thing- and as rabbit holes go, on the pricey side. But when it's good, it's better than anything- except homemade charcuterie.

Or a good dick joke. Right, Claudia?


Julia said...

A slicer is something to envy. (Go, wife!) Even more so is the knowledge with which to make duck prosciutto and bresaola. You *could* provide the latter of the two. Lessons in house cured meats, please?

The Spiteful Chef said...

I absolutely agree. Since it's starting to get slightly colder in my own personal neck of the shithole woods, I might be able to cure something effectively without losing the farm to insects or mold.

Plus, I do love hard, thick, purple meat. Heyooooooh.

Jo said...

I do not believe that my envy can be adequately expressed within the confines of this box. Would u have your wife ring up my husband and pass along a good word for me please?
Happy birthday you lucky b@st@rd!

Zoomie said...

Beautiful presentation on the appetizer, as always.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Gorgeous meats... the title of your post sounds like a Shakespearean insult.

cook eat FRET said...

so like you wanna hear something really embarrassing? I don't get the dick jock reference. and now I feel kinda dumb.

cook eat FRET said...

jock = joke
I'm typing on an iPhone.
it likes to spell for me.
how nice

We Are Never Full said...

oh FUCK yeah. a slicer is one of those things i can only fantasize about - not until we actually live somewhere with more than 3 cabinets and 4 drawers will this be possible. what a great gift. hard, salty/sweet meat is the best.

World said...

A slicer in my kitchen??? I dont think that will happen anytime soon.

The food looks so delicious!!!

Presentation is great.