Having been an avid canner and fervent locavore for several years, I've slowly been sourcing more of our meats from local sources. We only recently got a stand alone freezer, making large purchase impossible up to this point. As a home food preservation junkie, the next logical step seemed to try my hand at preserving meats by making "charcuterie", the blanket term in French for any preserved or processed meats. I guess we call them deli meats in English but it covers a lot more territory in French.
When I heard about Charcutepalooza I had to join. I was searching for a reason to hit the $25 free shipping on amazon.com anyway, making the timing perfect.
My copy of "Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing" by Michael Ruhlman arrived about a week later (along with a bubble lawn mower for a friend's little boy... talk about a weird combination of items).
January's charcuterie item is duck proscuitto. Duck is expensive and I waffled over buying it. I finally found 2 small breasts for $8 and went for it.
The process is simple: you submerge the breasts in salt for 24 hours, rinse the salt off, pepper well, wrap in cheesecloth, and hang in a cool place for a week.
Eep. That last part is freaking me out.
For anyone accustomed to keeping meat in the fridge to prevent spoilage - so pretty much everyone in modern times - unceremoniously hanging meat in what is essentially a closet is, well, scary. That's why I approached the duck purchase with such trepidation. What if I spent $20 and it rotted instead of cured? It's a waste of money and some duck would have died for no reason.
For the sake of Chacutepalooza we're supposed to have our meats cured, consumed, and blogged about by 1/15. Since I only just hung my meat on Monday, and today's Wednesday, that's not going to happen. My duck should be ready by this coming weekend because the pieces were relatively small. I'll write about eating it another time.
Can I laugh now about having said "hung" and "meat" in ths same sentence? Tee hee hee. I'm going to do a lot of snickering about sausages, salami, and meat.
I've had one prior experience with homemade charcuterie, having made bacon last fall. I guess I never got around to blogging about it. I didn't care for the smoke I had used so the resulting bacon wasn't as good as I would have liked. I have a feeling this Charcutepalooza challenge will advance my techniques at some point in 2011. Who knows, maybe I'll actually invest in a real smoker? The thought of smoked salmon makes my mouth water.
Do any of you have experience making charcuterie? What did you make? What would you like to see made during Charcutepalooza?