Winter Charcuterie Dinner Party


The final challenge for Charcutepalooza was to make a whole mess of charcuterie items and throw a party to celebrate the makings.  Thank goodness I had a whole month to prepare, because that’s how long it took me to do it all.  If I had not done the eleven preceding challenges, this final project would have been impossible.  All the practice has had an effect.  It was a real pleasure to make this food and an even bigger one to share it with my friends.  Charcuterie items included duck proscuitto, maple cured bacon, paté and pork confit.  Recipes below include Roasted Butternut Squash & Maple Cured Bacon Tart, Chicken Liver & Duck Confit Paté and Pork Confit Parmentiers.  Enjoy!

Maple Cured Bacon

The maple cured bacon recipe is from Michael Ruhman’s Charcuterie.  Talk about easy.  I purchased a 5 lb slab of pork belly from my neighborhood butcher, who had already trimmed the belly square.  I combined the salt, pink salt, brown sugar and maple syrup, spread it over the belly and put it into the fridge.  I flipped it every other day, and after a week, it was cured.  Then I rinsed it well and set it to dry on a rack in my refrigerator over night.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to smoke it, so I added a little all-natural liquid smoke before slow roasting it at 200 degrees in the oven.  When the internal temp hit 150, it was done.  Not as good as smoking it, but pretty good none the less.  My 5 year old daughter and I celebrated the next morning with thick cut bacon for breakfast.  Fantastic.  Like bacon candy, really.  Why did I buy bacon before?  Making your own is worth it.

Pork Confit

Out of all the charcuterie items I’ve made over the last year, this one has to be the most versatile.  This recipe is also from Michael Ruhman’s Charcuterie. The 5 lb pork shoulder has lasted me over a month.  I’ve cooked it with eggs, potatoes, black beans, burritos, stir fry and BBQ sauce.  It has some hamy flavors, some fall flavors, a little sweet, and a lot savory.  And of course it’s just delicious on it’s own.  The preparation was simple, although the actual cooking took quite a bit longer than I anticipated.  The first night I seasoned the large chunks of pork with garlic, shallots, sage, pepper and bay, along with a little pink salt.  This sat in the fridge until the next night, when I rinsed the pork, patted it dry, then submerged it in rendered lard from my local butcher.  I placed it in a 190 degree oven over night for about 8 hours.  I thought this would be enough time, but the meat still had not become tender. I refrigerated it until I got home that night, then returned it to a 200 degree oven for another 4 hours.  Perfect!  Into the fridge it went, where I’ve been unearthing pieces of pink gold ever since.

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A chronicle of my adventures growing, preserving, cooking and eating from my garden and everywhere.