Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Last of the Venison

I shot two hinds (female deer) about 2 weeks ago just before the season ended. They hung for about 10 days which is 3 days longer then I would normally hang them for but the weather was so cold it was perfect. I butchered them on Saturday and cooked the saddle that evening with a bunch of friends - served rare it was mind blowingly tender. The next day I made venison garlic sausages (garlic, allspice, sage, salt + pepper) and venison prune and brandy sausages. The garlic sausages turned out great though I haven't tried the prune and brandy ones yet. In all I made about 16kg of sausages, 4kg of diced, and about 8kg of mince, 4 shanks, 3 leg roasts and 1 leg which I boned and am currently marinating for to make venison braesaola. In order to combat the excessive saltiness I experienced the last time I tried it I am definately going to take Justin's advice and soak it for half an hour after it has been hanging for a month or so.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Simple way to make Parma ham (in theory)

This link gives extremely clear instructions on how to make Parma Ham. Whats also interesting is the lack of salt that they use which seems to be because they are only rubbing in the cure/salt mix and then vac packing it. I'm really excited by this as when I made my homemade proscuitto (parma ham) I was left with a huge amount of salt to get rid of. Today I bought curing salt and starter culture from their site...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Underground Market

Wow came across this today. What an excellent idea - an underground market!

and check http://www.chow.com/blog/food-media/

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Pork and Rabbit Rillettes

This Hugh F-W recipe calls for the use of lard which is a surprisingly fun thing to make (refer to previous post) and doesn't stink out your kitchen as one might think it would http://www.channel4.com/food/recipes/chefs/hugh-fearnley-whittingstall/rabbit-rillettes-recipe_p_1.html
The first time I made this I forgot to pour the skimmed juices through a fine sieve on to the shredded meat which would have decreased the calorie content but neglected a lot of flavour. The second time I did not forget and was rewarded ampley. Another note I would make is that if the pieces in the baking tray are starting to brown just turn them over and if you are in any doubt as to wether or not the rabbit pieces are done or not then leave them in a bit longer it really has to be flaking off the bones which saves you a lot of effort when it comes to shredding the meat.

I have eaten rabbit a number of times over the past couple of years this has been by far my favourite way to enjoy rabbit. Apparently the rillettes method can be used with pheasant, chicken, venison anything really.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Making Lard

If you have reared your own pigs and they are one of the more traditional breeds such as saddleback or tamworth you may find that you are left with a considerable amount of fat.
If you are unsure of what to do with this fat particularly the flare fat (suet) that surrounds the kidneys and inside the belly I would suggest that you make your own lard. How I made my own lard was by mincing the left over fat, put it in a saucepan with about an inch of water in the bottom and heated it on a low heat for about an hour or so it eventually becomes quite transparent and liquid. I then sieved this mixture into a container and poured from this container through a funnel into a number of kilner jars that I had scrupulously cleaned. These jars should be left with the lid off until the following morning when they will have transformed into a brilliant snowy white and waxy substance which can become a trully wonderful component of many dishes (such as pork and rabbit rillettes). If you have used leaf or flare fat to make the lard it will be perfect for use in baking (something that I have yet to try). An an article I read in Meatpaper Issue 9 detailed a trial which was conducted to find out whether or not lard was better than butter for making pie pastry. As making a pie with just lard would seem to be a bit too fattening the trial used half lard half butter versus just butter in order to make a pie crust. The trial involved a blind tasting with 5 judges whom proved unanimously that the pie made with half lard half butter was far superior.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Venison Bresaola

For people who might be interested in dry curing meat the bresaola method is the easiest to do in my opinion and is definately one of the most satisfying to prepare due to the smell of the marinade which the joint sits in for a week. The process involves deboning a leg of venison (the beef version uses top rump) and rolling and tying the joint but you must make sure to trim off all fat.

To make the marinade combine red wine (500ml), 2tsp chilli powder, 4 cloves garlic, 6 bay leaves, 500g sea salt, 1 tbsp cracked blackpepper, plenty of rosemary and the same of thyme, 3 tbsp sugar. Place the venison in a plastic or earthenware container (a metal container will react with the salt). Cover it with all the ingredients giving it a thorough massage at the same time. Turn the joint over every day for a week to make sure both sides get enough marinade. Wrap in muslin or fly proof mesh and hang in a cool, dry, airy place. Its ready when its firm to the touch but not like a rock either. When you take it out of the muslin wash it with red wine vinegar and dry it with a cloth. Then it is ready to be sliced thinly and have olive oil, lemon juice and parmesan drizzled over it. While my venison bresaola did taste great it was a little salty and had to be accompanied with salad leaves and a good amount of lemon juice to cut through the salt. Perhaps use less salt than is stated above.

This video shows how to take the bone out of a leg of lamb but it is relevant for leg of venison(the guy in the video is not me by the way). You would trim off more fat tho as venison fat doesn't have much flavour and since you're not cooking it it doesn't need fat to coat it. After taking the bone out tie it up with string and ignore the bit about butterflying. Then your joint is ready for the marinade.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Homemade Proscuitto

My first attempt at making homemade proscuitto started in 2007. I got the inspiration to give it a try from reading Hugh F-W's Meatbook which has been a bible of mine for a number of years - it is hugely imformative and well written but if you're reading this blog you have probably read it already so i won't go on about it. The method I used was very simple put the leg into a wooden box with some small holes in the bottom tilt the box slightly and add a good covering of salt on the bottom of the box (some salt will be lost through the holes) then put the leg on the salt and cover the leg with more salt till you can't see it anymore. I got a piece of plywood big enough to cover the inside of the box and put a big piece of granite on top and left it like that for a month. The combination of the salt and the weight draws out the moisture. Took it out of the salt washed the salt off with vinegar and hung it for 9 or 10 months. Strange molds did start appearing on it but I scraped it off and rubbed it with vinegar apparently the white mold is good mold but the rest should be scraped off when it appears. The following video shows me cutting into the leg for the first time, to say i was surprised at how good it tasted would be a massive understatement! This was filmed March in 2008.

The fact that the above method worked may have been due to beginners luck as I tried it again last year, and it didn't work at all which I discovered when I cut into it and several maggots dropped to the floor - heart breaking experience need I say. Having researched this I have come to the conclusion that the reason why this didn't work was because one needs to weigh the leg and give it 5 days in the salt box per kilo - I just gave it a month and didn't bother weighing it. Weighing is a good idea also as it can be a good indicator of when the ham is ready - as in when the ham has been hanging for some time it becomes lighter and lighter so when it has lost say (and this is a guess) 30% of its original weight you can assume that it is time to tuck in.