Wednesday, April 18, 2012

More of Z PIG !

Now that the butchering is basically over we've got to talk about what we did with all these parts. Most of you have heard and maybe have had Guanciale better  known in this country as pork jowls. I know I know, it is very fatty with little lean but the texture is through the roof for a super fat piece of pork and the flavor is just that…..porky !

This will make the best full flavored pasta Carbonara ever !

The thing is there are only two pieces per pig but relax, it is ok for most peeps are not into this fatty stuff so there is enough to go around for those of us who are into porkiness. We kept the skin on and seasoned the Guanciale with sea salt, black pepper, garlic and fresh herbs. It will cure for awhile and then we'll hang it to dry and mature for a few weeks.

The Lonzino is one of my favorites from the curing repertoire. It is lean, uniform in texture and very easy to master. The flavoring is up to you as long as you follow the basic curing rules.

That Lonzino is calling for  a flavor profile apart from its own !

I use cloves, cinnamon, fennel etc as I enjoy these flavors with pork.
                                          Will hang to dry for two weeks........litterally !
Sliced paper thin it goes great with some good Foccacia and a simple arrugula salad which all together would make the ultimate sandwich and that would be right up Salvatore's  alley when he flies anywhere as he just DOES NOT eat airline food of any kind but that is another story for later on. Then there is the Coppa which is really unique as that muscle is located from the base of the pig's head to the third rib. The deal here is that this piece of meat is intermingled with very tasty fat. My choice of flavorings is this: juniper, fennel, garlic and of course the regular salt and pepper as needed.
The Lardo is actually very easy to make, the only challenge is being able to get fresh thick fat back.
I must address the whole animal fat thing, some of us can't help ourselves as for us it is a cultural thing and it was part of our upbringing and tradition. So there, we and our elders before us got to taste the porkiness at an early age and it became part of our geographical roots and culinary calling. We do know better and do not abuse it obviously and a little goes a long way, that's the key. Lardo is the ultimate flavor in porkiness.

Of course Pancetta would be next on the list and as fancy as it sounds it is actually a very basic item in Charcuterie or Salumeria depending on who you talk to, Salvatore or me.

Pancetta on the way !

     Pancetta ready to cure !                               

Think bacon without the smoking part but seasoned with fresh ingredients and no sugar. Now, no sugar is one thing I can handle. The Pancetta is actually delicious and again from a health point of view there will be some doubters just eat it in moderation,  no even every day for breakfast. If you eat bacon everyday it would not be worse if you switch to Pancetta but the flavor just cannot be imitated or duplicated.
Finally, the best for last is the Proscuitto style dry cured ham and it is the best and a very special ham at that. I say Prosciutto style because the real thing can only be made in Italy and we all know how well they are following their tradition in salumeria over there.

My friend Salvatore is thinking: finally this French guy admitted that we have the best ham in the world. My take ? yes and no. Wherever dry cured hams are made the list of ingredients  in some of the best known hams is very short as it just might be salt only. The drying and ageing process is critical in order to obtain a great product. For us, we will follow the rules and stay on it no matter what. I used sea salt with a bit of sugar to cut the harshness of the salt and that is it. The key is to keep the ham uniformly salted and properly drained during the curing process which will take about two and a half weeks or one day per two pounds. After that it will hang to dry and mature.

We got lots of fat and trimmings and we made some of the most fresh tasting Andouille sausage which would make any Cajun proud. Yeah, I am talking to you guys in Lafayette LA. Maybe it is time for a little Andouille challenge but not this year as my calendar is running on overload mode. We also need to talk pork chops and it is just an OMG thing, juicy beyond expectations, very mild with super clean flavor and the tenderness through the roof, enough said just check the pic.

You got to know where to cut, know where to staaart, know where to go, you got to know how to trim it, know how to slice it, till the deal is done...........sing it Kenny !

There you have it another pig story ! Stay tuned as they say for more details as they become available.

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