Charcuterie, A book that will change my life (a little).

"Embrace the sausage." p. 100

Cookbook authors are notorious for making unsubstantiated, general statements. They are often authoritative sounding, but hardly methodological. I haven't purchased a cookbook in years. I recently borrowed Ruhlman and Polcyn's Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing. This is more of a fun text than it is a cookbook. Soon, I'll have to buy it.

The chapter on sausage making is worth the price of the book. The authors are rigorous in their safe preparation of the tastiest and least expensive cuts of meat. A central theme in the book is flavorful, but tough, fatty cuts of meat can be tenderized by mechanical means as an alternative to long cooking methods like braising. I learned grinding meat isn't just pounding a piece through the grinding attachment of your Kitchen Aid (I can assure you, that careless approach does NOT work). It requires attention to sanitation, careful measurement and temperature control. They use mass rather than volumetric measurement throughout the book, essential to any accurate preparation description. The techniques aren't hard, but attention to them will result in a truly special piece of meat rather than relying on the corporate-level sausage skills of the big meat houses.

Just a few items I can't wait to do or have already found indispensable:

• A Carolina tangy barbecue sauce (it's already on my stove).
• Brining times based on cut of meat.
• How to make jerky from venison (we have a ton of venison on hand).
• Making pancetta from $2/lb pork belly.
• Merguez preparation (although Mediterranean Imports makes a great one).
• Grinding my own turkey breast for my special meatballs.
• Room temperature fermentation of vegetables to pickled vegetables.
• and soooo much more, can't wait to try more of the preps.


Chilebrown said...

I agree. This book is on my shelf.

Andrew said...

Welcome to the dark side-I can say with certainty that your life won't be the same as sausage formulations drift through you mind at all times of the day and night. Don't forget the confit section-the duck confit is incrediable. Get the duck legs at CAM, rendered duck fat at the game place in the north market (pretty cheap too, $5 for a pound).

mac said...

Yep, I started blogging about month after I got the book. Good times.