Posts Tagged ‘pork’

Tortiere Grandmere


I’ve been dreaming about getting my hands on my French Canadian grandmother’s tortiere recipe for years, possibly decades, now that I come to think of it.

But it wasn’t until they moved Mamere from one nursing home to another earlier this year that someone finally found a copy of the original to send out to all of the kids and the kids of their kids.  I’ve been itching to make it ever since, but the idea of a hearty, meaty pie didn’t really jive with our warmer than usual Ontarian fall.

So, now that it’s starting to be cold weather eating season, it seemed more than appropriate to give the old girl a whirl.  What you see above is a rather decimated version of Antoinette’s tortiere; I didn’t have the presence of mind to take a picture for myself until after we’d already dug in.  No matter.  It will wow you all the same.

The original made 4 pies, but I have scaled the recipe down and added bay leaf for a little extra whiff, other than that, it is as she wrote it down, many years ago.  Bon appetit!

Tortiere Grandmere


If You Can’t Stand The Heat…


Lest you start smirking about how seasonally appropriate this next dish is, wipe those silly grins from your faces because it was actually inspired by a comment left by Larbo’s friend Dan (aka the Chocolate Man).

It wasn’t enough for me to make my own ‘nduja.  Nor was it sufficient to try my hand at combining it into ‘nduja burgers.  And even after all that, my ‘nduja chocolate truffles only served to stoke the fire of my curiousity.

Nope.  I had to reach further; I had to do more.

Larbo’s friend Dan succinctly reminded me that what had initially inspired me to make ‘nduja truffles in the first place was a bizarre chocolate and ‘nduja pasta recipe on an Italian food website I’d noticed through Foodgawker.  It seemed only fitting that I should further expand on that idea in my own unique way.

Ideas have been marinating for a couple of days now, but yesterday afternoon I finally came to a conclusion about what I wanted to do.


Something Wicked This Way Comes

Truffes De 'Nduja

I’m going to preface this by saying that this post is probably not for everyone.  With that in mind, I suggest you read on at your own risk.

Just before Christmas, Larbo and I were discussing ‘nduja and fate happened to drop this on my lap.  Being that our combined aptitude for deciphering Italian is mediocre at best, the consensus we reached was that it was a recipe for an ‘nduja and cocoa nib pasta sauce, but at the time we were unable to tell whether it was actually a traditional recipe from the Calabrian region that ‘nduja hails from, or just some kind of joke or one off creation.  Both somewhat perplexed, the bizarre medley has been on my mind ever since.

Generally speaking, Larbo, Scott and I have been good-naturedly one upping each other with this ‘nduja stuff since we all started making it early last year.  It’s become somewhat of a common theme in our posts, and I’m pretty comfortable saying that it’s likely one of the top trafficked search terms that brings people to our individual sites (I know it is on mine).

But, I just couldn’t shake this chocolate/’nduja feeling, so after much deliberation I decided what direction I wanted to take it in – that which has always been near and dear to my heart; the truffle.

Miscellaneous Bar Ends


Panino Sinestro (Or, I Give You The ‘Nduja Burger)

'Nduja Burger

Ever since I made ‘nduja back at the beginning of May I’ve been playing the waiting game while it fermented, cured and hung in my kitchen window, taunting me.

During that time my friends Larbo and Scott of This Little Piggy and The Sausage Debauchery (respectively) have been churning out all kinds of wondrous delights made with their versions of the piquant spread while I’ve been quietly biding my time.  In fact, Larbo’s probably been the most prolific, creating ‘nduja di bufala, ‘nduja pate and most recently an ‘nduja mortadella to make us all jealous and drooling.  Once I work through some of my own ‘nduja reserves I fully intend to build on his pate idea, but for now I’m holding those cards close to the chest.  Lest you think that Scott’s some sort of slouch, let me tip my hat to him for single-handedly starting up a mail order business to bring ‘nduja-making supplies (and other imported Italian goodies) to the masses.  As you can see, our combined aim is to completely blanket the planet in ‘nduja fever!


In an attempt to keep mine somewhat traditional, I’d let the ‘nduja hang for as close to the year I’d originally intended as I could possibly wait.  Some of it will surely see a 1 year anniversary since my first attempt was a double batch, leaving me with close to 6 kg of ‘nduja hanging around waiting for inconspicuous consumption and culinary inspiration to strike.

This very weekend was the first time since I stuffed the ‘nduja that I’d had an occasion to cut down a finished link and give a taste, and words cannot express how truly excited I was.


Larding The Pantry

Pure As The Driven Snow

As some of you may recall, late last year I embarked on an attempt to cure my own prosciutto.

And now, as the first stage of that nearly 2 year process draws to a close, we’ve come to one of the more time-consuming and arduous tasks.

Having been rested in a salt and herb coat for quite some time now, the prosciutto is nearly ready to be smeared with a mixture of lard and black pepper and hung to be aged until it’s magically delicious.

Of course, to get to that point, one has to have a fair amount of lard.

Lucky for me I bought half a pig last summer, which came with its own lion’s share of fat.  As you may know, fat can eventually be rendered down into lard.


Unintentional Blasphemy

Wee Loaves

A little over a week ago, Larbo over at This Little Piggy posted about his discovery of Fergus Henderson’s trotter gear (a gelatinous porky broth made with (what else?) braised trotters.

Until I read Larbo’s post, I’d never heard of this magical liquid before, but had often contemplated the versatility of a pork-based stock.

There are plenty of recipes out there for beef, chicken, veal and vegetable variations, so why not a similar frenzy for pork, I wondered.

After ruminating on Larbo’s post for a little bit, I started to consider the possible uses for trotter gear.


We Can Rebuild It; We Have The Technology

Choco-Rosemary Bacon

That niggling chill in the air meant that yesterday morning I pulled the final mini slab of vanilla pink peppercorn bacon out of the freezer after I’d used the last thawed bits in a crockpot of fall-appropriate baked beans.

Thus, it seemed like as good a time as any to get started on my next batch of bacon.  Since bacon requires a 7 to 10 day lead time before you have finished product, it was imperative that I get it curing, lest I run out of delectable home-cured porkiness.

Magical Ingredients

While considering the next methods of flavouring, it occurred to me that I hadn’t yet gotten on Scott and Larbo’s choco-bacon train (though I’ve been meaning to).  Being a rabid consumer of my chocolate-covered guanciale toffee, I knew there was serious potential in the choco-bacon combo, but I wanted something more.  Leave it to me to prove that nothing exceeds like excess.  Recalling a dessert that I love at one of our favourite local haunts (Czehoski) formed the basis for this inspiration.  The chef there makes a rich and melty chocolate ganache flavoured with rosemary that is out of this world, so my mind immediately thought chocolate + bacon = good and chocolate + rosemary = also good, therefore chocolate + rosemary + bacon must = out of this world good.  And of course because I never do anything by half measures, it also occurred to me that a little pure Ontarian maple syrup might not be a bad idea either.


She’s Got Pig, And She Knows How To Use It


This past weekend project bacon reached it’s inevitable conclusion with the smoking of the first 2.5 pound slab.

Dried Out

After sitting in a honey, vanilla and pink peppercorn-laced cure for a week, I was surprised at how little liquid was expelled.  I partially attribute that to my decision to run the sea salt through a spice grinder first, which yielded a finer powder than I was expecting.  The honey was also particularly viscous, and did not adhere well at first.  In the end though, the cure seems  to have penetrated the meat fairly well.  When I retrieved it from the cure for it’s day of pellicle formation, the bacon gave off a sweet, heady aroma that was vaguely floral, possibly owing to the honey.


Bacon Is Easy; It’s Boys That Are Hard

The Secret Ingredients

For weeks now I’ve been plotting, planning, calculating, formulating my next meaty project.

From the get-go I knew it would have to be a bacon.


The hard part was determining what sort of bacon it would be. The belly from my pig was around 15 pounds, and once I divided it up, I figured I could get around 6 batches of bacon out of it if I didn’t resort to roasting any for dinner.


The Quest For Prosciutto (Or How My Own Stupidity Is Going To Kill Me One Day)…

Raw Ingredients

For a while now I’ve been meaning to get around to doing this.

Several of you have not let me forget that, either.

Thank you.

If it weren’t for your regular prodding reminders, this project would not have seen the light of day for several more weeks, at least.

And surprisingly enough, last night everything finally came together to begin day 1 of my 547 day homemade prosciutto adventure.


Thank You, Porkosity

ChowtimeBeing that we now have half a hog monopolizing space in the freezer, I’ve been tiptoeing around “the other, other white meat” territory for the last week and a bit, searching for potential new ways to prepare the various cuts of our porcine friend.

A post over at Porkosity (The Star’s food critic Corey Mintz’ personal blog) reminded me of a Minimalist podcast I’d downloaded last year for pork shoulder (that I mistakenly remembered as being cochinita pibil, but upon researching found to be pernil).  Between what I recalled of the Minimalist recipe, and Corey’s version below (which has strangely disappeared from his website), I decided to mimic the flavours as a marinade for more chops, throwing in a little tomfoolery along the way.


I don’t like orange juice, which features prominently in both versions (truthfully, I despise it), so I decided that switching it out for lime juice sounded like a fair compromise.  I also zested my lime for some extra pungency, traded in the white vinegar for cider vinegar, and ground up the annatto seeds (which make up achiote) by hand.  The garlic and salt added, I tasted a fingerful and decided I wanted something more.  Into the bowl went a handful of epazote, (which has such a pleasant ring next to achiote) and a sprinkling of ancho powder.  After it was all done, I slathered it on the chops, then left them to marinate for an hour.




While I’ve been cognisant of pomegranate molasses since at least 2001 (thanks to Christine Cushing harping about it every chance she got) it was never an ingredient I rushed to experiment with.

Examining my habits, I’ve found that my cooking experimentation and infatuation with ingredients tends to be rather transient.  When I hone in on something that intrigues me, I work with it obsessively until I get bored and then move on.  In essence, I’m trying to “master” the ingredient in a way that I find palatable (not in every way, because that would take a lifetime) before I take my next step.  In some ways I suppose you could say that I have culinary ADD (attention deficit disorder) because I jump around so much to ensure I keep those synapses popping.

As I mentioned in a previous post, while I was visiting The Spice Trader on the weekend, I happened to grab a bottle of the aforementioned pomegranate molasses, along with some argan oil (more on that later), more coffee olive oil, and some white balsamic.

I first read about argan oil back in 2007, in a book called In Bad Taste?: The Adventures And Science Behind Food Delicacies by Dr. Massimo Marcone.  Argan oil comes from the argan tree.  In Morocco, goats climb these trees and eat the argan nuts, and then dispose of the rest.  What’s left when they’re done eating is collected and oil is extracted from the remnants.  When I saw it on the shelf at The Spice Trader, I knew I couldn’t resist picking up a flask of this highly unusual oil.


Hey Pig, Piggy, Pig Pig Pig… All Of My (Dreams) Came True

There are probably less than a handful of people reading this blog who will get the titular reference, but to those that do, I salute you ;)

After a slight delivery snafu on my part last weekend, I finally took possession of my side of pork on Wednesday night from Bob, our friendly organic grocer.

Well, most of it.

It turns out that the slaughter weight of my particular hog was slightly larger than the average I’d been quoted (80-100 lbs) so my fridge, freezer and all available space is now crammed full of 147.5 pounds of high quality porkiness.  That includes one completely intact belly side, which I’ve been lusting after since I saw it and intend to use for a half dozen preparations of bacon, a whole boned out shoulder for grinding into various forms of charcuterie, a couple slabs of ribs, a bone in leg that I’m deliberating over turning into prosciutto (I’m not sure I’m experienced enough for that), plus a shitload of meat packaged into chops.  There was also a full third box that did not get dropped off containing the fat from the animal to be used for charcuterie and rendering into lard.  Luckily, Bob offered to hold it at his store for us for a few weeks while we get busy making some room, because after I put away what he did deliver, we are completely and totally full.  And that includes the large upright second freezer that we keep in the basement just for things such as this.

Ah, but what a nice feeling of fullness it is.  My mind is whirring full speed (no, it really isn’t just the godawful noise from the Indy cars) with all of the potential and possibilities ahead of me with this cache full of meat.  Just this morning I stopped off at The Spice Trader to pick up supplies for other projects and was inspired to purchase some fennel pollen with the intent to use it on one of the versions of bacon, plus some grains of paradise, vanilla powder and exotic Saigon cinnamon that I thought would be fun to experiment with, aside from my regularly scheduled purchases.  I always love going there because I come home with so many unique and interesting things to keep myself busy in the kitchen.

Stay tuned for more tales of pork possibilities.