Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Thanks Irene

I know I missed Charcutepalooza again.

And I'm sorry and I'm disappointed in myself. 

Between the week long power outage (Thanks Irene), loosing everything in my fridge and freezer, packing for vacation, and being out of town for a week, there was just no time to make and or eat any sort of dish for the challenge. 

Hopefully I have a nice day off this Sunday and can make up for the time lost. We shall see.

If you are curious as to what I have been up to please check out the regular blog Good for the Palate

I just returned from another food filled vacation. It's a repeat city, but all new adventures... the distant land of Asheville, North Carolina.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Charcutepalooza August 2011: Vietnamese Spiced Paté and Another Banh Mi

Dive in face first. No, rather tongue first. Don't forget to sniff.

This paté is good.

It's goooood. I mean damn near delicious. I did myself proud with this one. I guess I've learned something.

The outcome seemed uncertain. I have to admit that I just don't enjoy grinding meat with my kitchen-aid. Next purchase: industrial strength meat grinder. Donations are welcome.

Oh yeah, and cleaning chicken livers SUCKS.

But I got it all together and ended up with some tasty, lip smaking paté, and a couple of really fantastic, pretty authentic banh mi.

Here's what ya do for the paté, well besides eat it of course:

After you make the paté, it's best if you leave it in the fridge for a day to flavor-ate before you eat it.

I am surprised mine came out so well seeing as I only had time to let it come to 120˚F instead of 150-160˚F before shoving it in the fridge for 24hrs. I had to leave for work so I didn't have any other option.

The second day I slowly brought it to an internal temp of 70˚F in a 200˚F oven (in a water bath). Then I cranked the heat to 350˚F until the internal temp did reach 150˚F. I pulled it out, cooled it on the counter and returned it to the fridge to flavor-ate. I don't know what the difference would have been if I didn't twice-bake it, but I was pretty happy with my results. The flavors were outstanding. Texturally it was a bit dry, but for my first shot at paté, I'm feeling proud.

Of course I had to go back and try to make banh mi again, like I promised. When I made them last time I had never had an authentic banh mi. Then I went to Vietnam (that post will happen eventually), stuffed my face, and returned to try again.

My first banh mi was awesome, but with the paté it was down right fantastic. Only thing that seemed to be missing was a thin slice of porchetta like sandwich meat. I have two more homemade Pork and Rice Sausages in the fridge so maybe I will attempt a banh mi colossus sandwich of epic drool inducing awesomeness again, after I climb that meat mountain.

If you want to see how I originally made the banh mi check out the post here. And for the sausage check out my video on making sausage, and the recipe here.

This time around I added a splash of fish sauce to the sirracha mayo, and used napa cabbage instead of bean sprouts. I also only had frozen carrots so I ended up with carrot flakes instead of shredded carrot, with no detriment to the sandwich.

I got sneaky and used the extra pork fat from the pate to spread on the baguette before I toasted it in the sausage pan.

Make this, eat this, enjoy this. 

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Affordable Challenges: A Pork Terrine - Charcutepalooza Apprentice Challenge July 2011

I made pork stock. 

Then I made headcheese... well, actually it was toecheese.  I didn't have access to a whole head, so trotters did the trick. 

It was the perfect cool, quick snack on an otherwise unbearably hot day.

Last month I bowed out of Charcutepalooza due to monetary constraints, but this month's challenge is budget friendly, using less pricey cuts of "meat". They may not be great for your family grill-off, but the gelatin and collagen are made for stock and the tiny pieces of meat are perfect for less beautiful endeavors. 

This is the recipe I loosely created for the 'terrine'. 

Traditionally a liquor like cognac, port, or brandy might be used to add a bit of sweetness and depth to a terrine. I wanted to try something experimental with this dish so I ran up to Dawson's Liquors in Severna Park to pick up a bottle of beer instead. I went with Mikkeller Big Worse Barleywine Aged in Bourbon Barrels. 

I loved the flavor of the toecheese. The only problem was that I didn't get enough gelatin from the stock. Next time I would recommend adding a touch of gelatin just to keep the form together. I also suggest soaking the dried apricots in the barleywine to plump them up and get some of the kick from the 12% ABV. 

I froze the remaining stock and will be using it for flavoring many delicious dishes. It is fragrant and wonderfully translucent. I'm proud of my skimming and simmering skills this time.

Keep a close eye for another Charcutepalooza post this month. I'm planning to make a Pork and Chicken Liver Pate.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Narcissism of the Sausage - Charcutepalooza June 2011

Photo by Chris Rausch

"We spent ALL day cooking" says Chris, happily. His eyelids are drooping. It's 9pm on a Sunday evening and we still have dessert in the oven.

I woke up late, prepped the kitchen, and got my hands covered in sausage for this month's Charcutepalooza challenge, Bulk Breakfast Sausage. I moved on to a highly experimental Peach and Cherry Crisp, trying to use up all my fruit before it becomes puddles on my counter. Then I left the house to exercise for a short bit, while Chris cooked up a delicious Shrimp and Corn Chowder for dinner.

We cooked, ate, cooked, exercised, cooked, ate. It was the perfect Sunday.

Last month's Charcutepalooza challenge was actually supposed to be bulk sausage, and this month's was supposed to be cased sausage. I got a bit ahead of myself and made the cased sausage last month so I had to backtrack. In case you missed it, here's a link to last month's sausage post "You Never Sausage a Place!". (puns intended)

Photo by Chris Rausch

My bulk sausage application was inspired by the middle ages. A few years ago Chris and I discovered Scotch Eggs at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. A Scotch Egg is a hard boiled egg, wrapped in sausage, coated in breadcrumbs, and deep fried. They're portable, they're sustaining, and they're chock full o' protein. They are the perfect marriage of two glorious breakfast foods, egg and sausage.

The origin of the name Scotch Egg is uncertain because the dish originated in 16th Century England, not Scotland.  The original recipe was likely inspired by Nargisi Kofta, a Moghul dish whose name basically means Narcissus Meatballs. These particular type of Kofta contain chopped hard boiled egg, and some type of meat, along with herbs and spices.  I can only guess why egg meatballs were named after a man so obsessed with his own beauty that he died lost in his own reflection. I suppose it must be because when you cut the eggs in half the two sides are such a beautiful reflection of each other, all you want to do is get lost in their dashing good looks. I could care less where the name originated, I just want them in my belly.

Photo by Chris Rausch

5 Hard Boiled Eggs
Bread Crumbs
Canola Oil

Photo by Chris Rausch

2.25 lbs Ground Pork Shoulder
1.5 Cloves Minced Garlic
15g Kosher Salt
1 Tbsp. Cracked Black Pepper
1/4 Tsp. Fresh Grated Nutmeg
1/4 Tsp. Ground Ginger
Sprinkle Dried Oregano
Sprinkle Dried Basil
10 Large Leaves of Fresh Basil, Finely Chopped
1/2 Tbsp. Chipotle Pepper Powder
1/2 Tbsp. Ground Marjoram
Fresh Water (filtered if you wish)

Boil your eggs and peel them before you get started. I tried to leave them a little softer in the center, knowing they would cook more in the oil.

I picked up some local pork shoulder from Lagenfelder Grand View Farm on Maryland's Eastern Shore, and ground that with the Kitchen Aid. Mix your spices, plus 1/3 cup of water into the ground meat. All of the measurements are flexible based on your preference. You want to test the sausage before you use it because it's always easy to add more of any ingredient.

Photo by Chris Rausch

After peeling the eggs run them under water or dip them in milk and roll them in flour.

Wrap the sausage around the egg, using just enough to form a thin, but even jacket around the whole egg. I would recommend about 1/4" thick. 

Photo by Chris Rausch

Roll the whole thing in bread crumbs and then roll around on a cutting board to help even out the coating and compact the bread crumbs. 

Photo by Chris Rausch

Fry in canola oil at 357˚F for around 5min, or until golden brown. Be sure to rotate so it cooks evenly.

Slice and serve with hot sauce and a light summer fruit salad.

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Photo by Robin Riebman

As soon as we finished eating breakfast I coerced Chris into clearing away the mess in the kitchen with the promise of baked fruit. Nothing motivates Chris like a pie type device. The mention of the word sends him in to a tourrets like haze where all he constantly babbles "Bake a pie. Eat a Pie. Bake a Pie. Eat a Pie...".

I had some overripe South Carolina peaches and about a quarter of a bag of local bing cherries from Carter Mountain Orchards in Charlottesville, Virginia, that were beginning to shrivel. I did fully intend to make a pie, but then I realized I'd have to par bake the crust and all hope was lost. A pie was not to be. That's just too much work.

Photo by Robin Riebman

If you haven't figured it out yet, I am no baker. I don't know how to follow a recipe, and I'm impatient. Since I am aware this is not proper behavior for a baker, I make no attempts at recipes which require strict adherence. In this case, I researched a few pie/crumble/crisp recipes on my favorite dessert blogs and decided to wing it.

I was certain that the bubbling and oozing would indicate perfection, and if all else failed, I could go get ice cream and serve the crumbles a la mode.

As it turns out, crisps are pretty easy. And if you are a normal human being who needs structure check out Sprouted Kitchen or Honey & Jam for fantastic recipes.

Photo by Chris Rausch


Preheat oven to 350˚F

2 Chopped Ripe Peaches
1/2 Cup Pitted Cherries
1 Tsp. Fresh Mint
1/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar
1Tsp Ground Cinnamon
Dusting of Fresh Nutmeg
1/2 Tbsp Flour
Pinch Salt

1/4 Cup Rolled Oats
1/4 Cup Flour
1/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar
3 Tbsp Chopped Walnuts
1/4 Cup Crumbled Ginger Snap Cookies

2 Tbsp. Chilled Cubed Butter
2 Tbsp Milk

Just mix topping ingredients in one bowl, and filling in another.

Photo by Robin Riebman
Grease 1 medium sized tart pan, or two small ones, or really whatever device you want to cook the crumbles in. Don't put them in a glass dish or the filling will burn. Split filling between two dishes, split topping between two dishes, and sprinkle over tops. Cube 2tbsp of chilled butter and sprinkle 1tbsp over each tart.

Photo by Chris Rausch

Bake 10min until top begins to get crispy, watch the nuts don't burn. If they start to burn, place a piece of foil gently over the crisps. In the last 5-10minutes pour 1 tbsp milk over each dish, to help the crisp adhere to itself, and help it brown. Allow to cool before eating.

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Photo by Chris Rausch

Sprouted Kitchen isn't just for dessert. While I cooked the crisp, Chris pondered dinner. He promptly decided to fix up some Summer Corn Soup with Shrimp, since apparently he has had his eyes on the recipe for about two months. Chris does follow the recipes, and he always comes out victorious (he really likes that I am sharing this fact with you).  So, while I enjoyed my time at bikram he destroyed the kitchen, yet again.

This was a darn tasty soup, even though I don't like corn (gasp!). I think the sweet potato was a creative addition and its tame sweetness is the perfect partner for the corn. Next time, I'd suggest grilling the corn, just because I prefer that flavor, and it would add a little more depth to the soup.

Chris noted that he used 5 ears of corn instead of 4, sweet potato instead of a Yukon gold, only 1 tsp of oregano, 1 tsp of cayenne (no red pepper flakes), and no sour cream.  Also, he only used basil and no we picked some chives from the garden, instead of scallions for the shrimp mix.  Otherwise he followed the recipe exactly. I for one didn't miss the sour cream and was happy to have a soup sans dairy. Particularly on a hot day, dairy isn't my thing.


4 Ears Corn
3 1/2 Cups Vegetable Stock (good quality)
1 Tbsp. Butter
1 Medium Yellow Onion, Sliced Thin
1 Large Sweet Potato
1 Tsp. Fresh Ground Nutmeg
1 tsp. Cayenne
1 Tsp. Oregano to taste
Salt/Pepper to taste

1 lb. Shrimp
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Large Avocado
1 Poblano Chile
Juice of 1/2 Lime
1/4 Cup Finely Chopped Basil
Chives (optional)

1. Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and saute to coat. Cook until the onions just start to turn light brown. Peel the potato and cut into cubes, add it to the onion. Cut the kernels of corn off the cob with a sharp knife, add them to the soup pot. Add the broth, spices and a few grinds of fresh pepper and allow everything to simmer to cook the corn and potatoes through.
2. If using raw shrimp, toss them in the olive oil and a grind of fresh pepper, and put on a baking pan. Cut the poblano or pasilla chile in half length wise, and place it skin side up on the pan as well. Bake on the upper rack for about 5 minutes for shrimp to cook through. Remove the shrimp and set aside, put the pepper back in until the skin blisters (about 5 more minutes). While waiting, peel the skin and tails from the shrimp and cut into 1” pieces. Remove the pepper and put it in a ziploc bag to cool, this will make the skin easy to peel off.
3. Check on the soup to make sure potato and corn are cooked through. Using an immersion blender or a regular blender, blend the soup to create a puree. I like to leave it a bit chunky, this is up to you.
4. In a seperate bowl, combine the shrimp pieces, lime juice, chopped herbs and scallions if using them. Peel and cut the avocado into small cubes, add to the bowl. Rub the skin off the roasted chile, cut into chunks. Toss gently together.
5. Taste the soup for seasonings and adjust as you prefer. Serve each portion of soup with a big scoop of the shrimp and avocado mix on top.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Banh Me

Official cutlery of real life butchers and fictional blood spatter analyst serial killers everywhere.  Yes, that's real blood on there... from a pig.

Words by Robin Riebman
Photography by Christopher Rausch

As soon as I tasted the Sai Krok Moo (a Thai pork sausage) I could imagine the feel of my teeth tearing into a delicious Banh Mi featuring little fingers of that porky goodness laying on a bead of sirracha mayo, tucked in by some quick pickled cucumber and carrot and garnished by cilantro. Ooooo!

I’ve actually never had a Banh Mi. I hated cilantro for the first 20+ years of my life so I steered clear. But Banh Mi always looks sooooo yummy. I wanted to make one.

I had some help making the Sai Krok Moo at My Butcher and More, in Annapolis, for Charcutepalooza, May 2011. I am traveling in Thailand, Cambodia, and then Vietnam over the next 12 days so I was inspired to make a traditional Southeast Asian sausage. I believe Sai Krok means “sour sausage” and Moo means “pork” in Thai. Here is a cool site with some other Thai sausage recipes I would love to try.

I’m headed to Vietnam tonight and you better bet I will be trying an authentic Banh Mi and will be able to compare.

According to my research a true Banh Mi should include patè, but I’m poor. It should also be made with grilled chicken, but well I had pork, and that beats chicken everyday.

So I made this other thing. I call it the Banh ‘Me’.

Banh Me
Makes 2 sandwiches for fairly hungry adults, or even if you’re not hungry, overly enthusiastic food lovers.

For the Sandwich
1 Baguette
Mung Bean Sprouts
1 Meduim Carrot, julienned, or shredded if you are lazy
1 Small Cucumber, deseeded and again, julienned or shredded if you are lazy
2 Green Onions
3 Small Sausage Links

For the Condiments
Rice Wine Vinegar
Fish Sauce
½ Lime, juiced
1 Spicy Pepper (I had a jalapeno, but a birds eye would be more authentic)
Green Onions

Ok, first you have to get the Cucumber and the Carrot pickling. In two separate small bowls combine 2 parts sugar to 3 parts rice wine vinegar. Just make enough to barely cover the carrots and cucumbers. Put them in separate bowls. Let them hang out.

In another little bowl combine 2 tbsp fish sauce, juice of ½ lime, 2 tbsp sugar, and rice vinegar to cut lime/ sugar. Add sliced pepper to desired level of tongue annihilation, and let sit.

Get the sausage cooking via your desired method. Grilling is preferred.

Slice baguette into thirds and save 1/3 for munching. Slice other pieces in half lengthwise for sandwiches.

In another small bowl combine the mayo and sirracha. Make it spicy to your taste.

Slice the green onion into shards or rounds as desired.

After you cook the sausage, let it cool and slice it into quarters lengthwise. This encourages the porky fingers to stay on your sandwich.

We used a grill pan, and immediately smooshed the baguette halves into the juices on the still burning pan and let them char a little while soaking up the goodness.

Spread sirracha mayo on the baguette, pile on sausage, cucumber, carrot, cilantro, and mung bean sprouts. Drizzle a bit of the lime vinegar over the whole thing, or use as a dipping sauce, and CRUNCH!

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

"You Never Sausage a Place!"

Charcutepalooza, May 2011
words by Robin Riebman
photography by Christopher Rausch [blog/flickr]
video courtesy of the Annapolis Sound

No, I’m not talking about that billboard for South of the Border on US 95. I’m talking about My Butcher and More in Annapolis.

I spent last Tuesday morning with Fidel, the Meat Manager, learning how to make sausage for this month’s Charcutepalooza Challenge featuring ground meat!

Grinding is the first step in the sausage making process, and the technique we are concentrating on for Charcutepalooza. For me, the importance of the Grinding challenge is not about learning how to grind your meat; it is about considering the source of your ground meat for the purpose of health, and as a matter of respect to the animal whose life was sacrificed for your nourishment. If you know the source of your meat it's a little easier to put a face to your food, bringing you compassion and appreciation for an animals life.

Grinding is a pretty basic technique you just need special equipment. You can go out and purchase a grinder if you want the freshest ground meat, or you can just pick out a cut and have your butcher grind it for you.

We ground all of our meat from fresh cuts at My Butcher and More. Our meat was sourced from the Eastern Seaboard. All of the meats at MB+ are aged on location to intensify the flavors and ensure the meat is at its prime. For our sausages we used single cuts of meat. Our pork came from Dorsey Meats in Woodsboro, Maryland, and the lamb shoulder from Shenandoah Valley co-op of Virginia. These farms produce humanely raised meat, that is hormone and antibiotic free, and grass fed.  The chicken breast meat came from Murray’s in New York. Mike is still searching for local chicken, so please share if you know of any sources.

I'm not going to explain all the ins and outs of making sausage, equipment, and safety concerns in this text. If you want to learn how to make sausage you should watch my very first video (courtesy of my new partner, the Annapolis Sound)! I cover the basics of making sausage. Watch me learn and look silly. If you want to read up, here is a really great site on the basics.

In all we made 4 types of sausage. We spent all morning mixing, grinding, measuring, and stuffing.
We followed the sausage making process all the way from cutting down a leg into a useable cut of meat, to throwing the sausages on the grill, to greedily snapping up the little chunks of sausage goodness.  

Shenandoah Valley Leg of Lamb

The Lamb Chopper
Fidel taught me how to make the sausages by hand, using a simple funnel, rather than using a machine stuffer. This method is how he learned and he feels it is best to start out simple to keep the task manageable. We made 1lb batches of each type of sausage, using all natural casings. With small batches, and some practice, I think you can complete the whole process from grinding to casing in 15 minutes.

In honor of my trip to Southeast Asia we made a traditional Thai sausage, a Moroccan lamb sausage, a Thai chicken sausage, and a collaboration sausage by Fidel and myself. I let Fidel take the recipe lead on this project, because after all, I am just learning the technique. I recommend starting with a simple recipe. Experiment the second time around. Just be sure to keep everything clean and watch for cross-contamination.

It's best to allow the sausage to sit for a day and marinate inside the casing to intensify the flavors, yet another reason making small batches and testing the flavor is imperative. As meat flavor intensifies so does salt and spice so be wary.

The best part of making sausage at home is that you can tailor the recipe to your personal taste. Really like fennel seeds? Add more! Hate them (like I do)? Omit them entirely. Want the sausage to burn your tongue with spicy, juicy meat love? Add some chopped jalapenos. However you like it, you make it. 

We began with ground pork shoulder. Shoulder meat is generally best for sausage because it has a good ratio of fat to meat. When making sausage you must be sure to have enough fat to keep the meat seasoned and moist, no matter what type of meat you use. I believe the experts suggest about 1:3 fat to meat ratio. Fidel also told me that the size of the grind greatly affects the texture and moisture content of the final product. The smaller the grind, the less moisture the meat will hold, the larger the grind, the more moist the sausage. 

Our first sausage was the Thai Pork and Rice Sausage called Sai Krok Moo. Oddly enough, it is "moo" that translates to pork in Thai. This ended up being the unanimous favorite. The pork was creamy and the rice held in a lot of the juices, keeping the sausage moist. Fidel has 35 years of experience in the industry and told me that the pork we used from Dorsey Farms is the best he has ever tasted.

2 cups ground pork
2 tbsp. chopped garlic
1tsp black pepper
½ tsp chicken base powder
1 ½ cup cooked cooled rice, seasoned with lime juice and cilantro
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp soy sauce
cool water

We also made a Moroccan style lamb sausage using lamb casings instead of pork. At My Butcher and More they prefer to use natural rather than synthetic casings, which limits the size of the final sausage. As you can see, the lamb casing allows for a sausage roughly the diameter of your thumb while the pork casing allows for a larger sausage. It’s all preference.

1lb ground chicken
2 eggs
1 ½ tbsp fish sauce
½ finely diced onion
½ tbsp chili powder
¼ cup cilantro
½ cup garlic

Using the fish sauce omits the need for salt in this particular sausage.

The last sausage we made was purely experimental. We used more of the ground pork, and Fidel had picked up some bamboo shoots to add, plus a few other random Asian ingredients like soy sauce and oyster sauce. Sorry, also no recipe for this one.

Anxious (to the point of impatience) to taste the fruits of our labor, we fired up the Big Green Egg behind the shop and threw the sausages on, searing them to perfection. These were some incredible, juicy, flavorful sausages. I kept half of our booty, and I am freezing it to use when I return from Asia.

Don't forget to "burp the baby".  Open and close the grill quickly to release smoke and prevent your meat from getting too hot and burning, but don't fling the whole thing open at once or you'll end up with a flash fried face.

Those juicy sausages overwhelmed my senses. The smell of the smoldering wood and burning fat and the juices slowly spilling onto the plate made me salivate. I hastily sliced into each sausage, stealing a nibble before offering them to the rest of the shop. Quietly I listened to the crunch of the knife breaking through the natural casings. Enjoying these tiny morsels I knew that every moment that went into the creation of these sausages paid homage to the animals life that went into it.

Fidel is a wonderful and patient teacher. My Butcher and More is just beginning to offer a series of butchery courses and I am eager to attend. Please take a minute while you stuff your face with that delicious pork kielbasa you microwaved while reading this (cause you just couldn’t wait to get your hands on your own homemade sausage) and check out their site.

I hope you have some time to try to make your own sausage at home for the next family BBQ.

Now for a little aside, Good for the Palate is partnering with the Annapolis Sound! As part of this partnership we shot my very first video at MB+ so if you didn’t see it up above, click here and you can watch me learn to make some sausage!

Keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming post about the “Bahn Mi” I made with the Sai Krok Moo. It’s a post not to be missed.

Since my blog has a lot of new faces I want to credit all the help.

I want to thank Mike Smollen and Fidel down at My Butcher and More for their hospitality!

Also, I would like the thank Kyle Stewart of The Annapolis Sound for taking the time to shoot a video and also for the opportunity to work with this great local news source. Hop over to their site and check out all the greatness.

And last but not least I want to thank Christopher Rausch for the amazing photography.

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