Saturday, April 16, 2011

April Charcutepalooza- Smokin' the good stuff

What a busy month! Yes, I am a day late, but I got my taxes filed...took a trip to Beverly Hills (specifically to go to the SAAM Dining Room - part of José Andrés' The Bazaar with a tasting menu similar to the minibar in DC) and Dana Point, CA, hosted a retirement dinner on April 14 for a dear colleague that I will miss tremendously and we spent last weekend at the Westmoreland State Park to direct the Quantico Orienteering Meet.  I had business trips to Topeka, KS, New York City and Atlanta, GA. I think those are legitimate excuses.... I work hard and play hard!

Shoulder, Ventreche, Jambon and Back Fat

The best part of the month was that  I attended the Stonyman Gourmet Farmer Cochon & Charcuterie: A Workshop from Gascony in Virginia's Blue Ridge taught by Kate Hill and French butcher Dominique Chapolard. I now dream of bringing home a half of cochon and delicately disassembling the muscles into beautiful cuts of pork.  We were given the products of Dominique's work and that is the source of my pork that I smoked for this challenge.  I enjoyed the day with fellow Charcutepaloozers and area chefs that attended the workshop.  We had a wonderful lunch prepared by Susan and Alan James with perfect wine selections from Gascony region in southwest France. 

Spicy Rub on Rolled Shoulder

Now I have the superb pork product and I just got an email that my Bradley Smoker is arriving on Friday. My plan of attack:  Use the tied piece of shoulder for Spicy Smoked Pork and use the other shoulder pieces for Tasso. I had the spicy rub in the spice drawer from another use, so I coated the shoulder and placed it in the fridge the night before.  I had the dry cure mixed up from the bacon challenge that I used the next day for the Tasso.  I let it cure in the fridge four hours, then I rinsed and covered it with the spices listed in Charcuterie. I guess I have developed a pantry of a charcutier resulting in rapid prep.... 

Dry Cure on Tasso

Cured, rubbed and ready for the Smoker

Next step assemble and season my new Bradley Smoker.  I have to say my first experience with the smoker was a bit of a problem... While seasoning my smoker, I found the bisquette dispenser was advancing two at a time, allowing the unburned bisquettes to fall into the water bowl and turn to mush. It is annoying enough that Bradley locks you into buying their products to make the smoke, but I get down right pissed when their machine wastes their expensive bisquettes.  I sent them an email, and their email robot sent back a suggestion that the advance button is stuck or it needed cleaning. It was brand new, so it doesn't need cleaning. I don't think the button was stuck either, but I haven't had time to use/test it again. I suspect the calibration of the advancer is off. So much for my rant on the Bradley Smoker.... It made really good smoke even if it used 20 bisquettes in 4 hours instead of the 12 it was supposed to use. (I figured out a way to salvage some of the unburned bisquettes for later use.)

I kept the smoker temperature around 200 degrees. I put an oven thermometer on the same rack as the meat. The thermometer in the door registered about 20 degrees lower.  It took about three hours to get the meat to an internal temp of 150.  Doesn't it look good?  The best thing about making Tasso is that you must use it in Jambalaya. I make a pretty mean Cajun style Jambalaya. My first cooking class in 1985 was a three hour session at the New Orleans School of Cooking. I learned how to make a great roux, gumbo, jambalaya and bread pudding with a bourbon sauce. I have adapted these techniques and recipes over the years to make them my own.  

Oinkjoint Jambalaya

1/2 cup red-brown roux (see below)
2 cups chopped onion (half red, half sweet yellow)
1 cup chopped bell pepper (half red, half green) 
1 cup chopped celery
3 cloves garlic minced
3/4 lb Tasso chopped
1 lb Andouille Sausage sliced
Chrystal Hot Sauce to taste
1 teaspoon Cayenne (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon fresh Thyme
1 cup long grain rice 
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth
Salt and Pepper to taste

Dark Brown Roux

To make the roux, stir 1/4 cup vegetable oil and 1/4 cup flour over medium low heat until it turns deep red-brown. Be patient, keep stirring so it doesn't burn. (You can make larger portions and refrigerate for later use)   Add trinity: onions, peppers and celery to the hot roux and cook until soft, stirring frequently.  I love the smell of the trinity and roux when it first comes together. 

Trinity and Meats in the Roux
I use a 1/2 inch chop on my trinity for this version of jambalaya because I want texture in the final dish. Add the garlic, Tasso and Andouille Sausage and let brown.

Cold Smoked Andouille

The Andouille is house made. It is my first attempt at cold smoking. I made this for my Mardi Gras party using the recipe in Charcuterie on page 167-168.  I will do a separate post on this project. But I was lucky, because it was 25 degrees outside the day I cold smoked on my gas grill which helped me keep the temp around 90 degrees. 

Look at that smoke ring on the Tasso

This Tasso was amazing. The flavor, spices, smoke and high quality pork made for a yummy jambalaya. 

Season the pot with the Chrystal Hot Sauce, cayenne, thyme to taste.  I also add Meat Magic at this point. For variations, you can add some sauteed chicken breasts or thighs.

Ready for the Oven

Add the wine and chicken broth. Let cook for a couple minutes. Taste for seasoning.  You should over salt at this point.  Add the rice and make sure it is distributed evenly through out the pan. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and place in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes until rice is tender.

Fluff and Check Seasoning before you serve
Just out of the oven, taste for seasoning, it may need more salt. Open an Abita and get ready for some goodness.  It took us three meals but we ate the whole pan. 

Spicy Smoked Pork Shoulder with Oinkjoint Jambalaya

 I shredded some of the spicy pork shoulder that I smoked with the Tasso and served it on the side. 

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