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Charcuterie - Books & Purchasing

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My neighbors' father cures his own hams for his version of prociutto. After visiting Barcelona this past week and chickening out on smuggling a Serrano ham back, (the prices were so inexpensive), I would love to somehow make my own version of a Serrano ham. Though my husband just may leave me this time if I turn the wine cellar into a place to hang these hams. :lol:

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Are there any women chefs at DC, MD, or VA restaurants who make their own charcuterie? I hope so. If not, why not?
Out of curiosity, why does it matter if the chef is male or female?

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It doesn't. Alot of restaurants are doing charcuterie-- as in more than a couple of years ago; I haven't heard about alot of women chefs doing their own and I was just wondering why. Now that Pam the Butcher isn't at Brookeville, I was wondering if any women are, either on the market end or in restaurants.

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It doesn't. Alot of restaurants are doing charcuterie-- as in more than a couple of years ago; I haven't heard about alot of women chefs doing their own and I was just wondering why. Now that Pam the Butcher isn't at Brookeville, I was wondering if any women are, either on the market end or in restaurants.
If you want to know the reason why many women chefs aren't I think it's a question of history. Butchering and especially smoking and curing have been exclusively male jobs for a long time prior to now- I'd say that it's only been in the last 30 years or so we've even seen numbers of women approach this field. I'm not sure that this is like other professions such as being a lawyer or a doctor where the skills can easily be taught to the masses- good curing and smoking are close kept family secrets and require families to open their minds rather than individuals striking out on their own. I don't think there should be this gender barrier, but I think it's kind of a reality. I'll say, though, I'd like to see more women able to do this should they wish to, but I can understand the reluctance to let "outsiders" into the trade.

This said, I place some level of importance on women as chefs and food artisans. My growing wine collection is increasingly more focused on female winemakers.

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If you want to know the reason why many women chefs aren't I think it's a question of history. Butchering and especially smoking and curing have been exclusively male jobs for a long time prior to now- I'd say that it's only been in the last 30 years or so we've even seen numbers of women approach this field. I'm not sure that this is like other professions such as being a lawyer or a doctor where the skills can easily be taught to the masses- good curing and smoking are close kept family secrets and require families to open their minds rather than individuals striking out on their own. I don't think there should be this gender barrier, but I think it's kind of a reality. I'll say, though, I'd like to see more women able to do this should they wish to, but I can understand the reluctance to let "outsiders" into the trade.

This said, I place some level of importance on women as chefs and food artisans. My growing wine collection is increasingly more focused on female winemakers.

Thanks. That's very enlightening. Now, if we're talking closely guarded secrets, I wonder what it would be like to do a taste test of charcuterie from local restaurants? My food memory isn't particularly sharp. While I can tell the difference between homemade and not, I'd be interested to taste the difference between four or five next to each other. . .like a wine tasting.

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Other than being hysterical progenitors of cooties, Jane Grigson alludes to women as being responsible for most of the domestic cooking and processing of pork products in “Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery” based either on historical tradition or feminine solidarity. There is a historical distinction between the domestic traiteur (pâtés, rillettes, terrines, fresh sausages) and “professional” (dry cured, smoked) charcuterie purveyors, which, not only requires differing mastery of technique, sanitation and measurement, but was strictly regulated by medieval royal edicts to ensure health standards, proper distribution of raw vs. cooked pork pieces, and Lent sales. I would wager that French ménagères likely executed most if not all domestic kitchen tasks for generations prior to WWII when women were expected to perform household duties, whereas professional charcutiers and traiteurs who practiced their phalocentric trade outside of the house were almost exclusively predisposed with XY chromosomes and hairy asses. In Bordain's Cook's Tour “Where Food Comes From” vignette, the pig is slaughtered by the patriarch and the women rush to collect the blood and innards for sausages or whathaveyou.

The formulations in Ruhlman's Charcuterie are rushed and based on confusing and illogical English measurements. Salt proportions for brines are too high and suggested brining times too short. Metric measurements are much simpler, especially when calculating percentages, but all quantities in the book are rounded up or down. A percentage breakdown of ingredients would be preferable so that recipes could be adapted to any amount, as Len Poli does. Most exhaustive of all, the $300 15lb 1000 page 2 tome opus Encyclopedie de la Charcuterie.

Ann Cashion has been known to get whole hogs which invariably leads to a variety of cured/forcemeat preparations.

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Any particularly good place to buy rillettes and terrines this time of year? Holiday entertaining approaches...

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Any particularly good place to buy rillettes and terrines this time of year? Holiday entertaining approaches...

They have rillettes at Whole Foods. I've never tried them.

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They have rillettes at Whole Foods. I've never tried them.

And Arrowine usually has a basic selection of good-quality charcuterie, etc. I'm looking to see if anyone can push me past that.

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From a cursory glance, La Tienda sells neither terrines nor rillettes. And all the iberico sausages are out of stock until spring 2008.

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Would Cheesetique have something like what you are seeking? The website mostly lists cheeses (obviously), but I've seen enough of a variety of products there that it might be worth a call.

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Any particularly good place to buy rillettes and terrines this time of year? Holiday entertaining approaches...
I might be willing to part with some. Depends on how much you're willing to pay. :(

And I can say without reservations that the pates and rillettes at Whole Foods suck suck suck. If you don't want my homemade, then I'd probably order something from D'artagnan.

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I might be willing to part with some. Depends on how much you're willing to pay. :(

And I can say without reservations that the pates and rillettes at Whole Foods suck suck suck. If you don't want my homemade, then I'd probably order something from D'artagnan.

Dean and Deluca carries Dartagnan's line and some other quality terrines and rillettes

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I've heard some rumblings about this for a little while now and I'm still not sure whether or not they're just rumblings; so I'm sort of obligated not to let the cat out of the bag on this one: In the next 90 days(maybe)two forces will join(probably) and produce/sell some of the best(definitely)charcuterie D.C. has to offer.

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I just got out of Garde Manger so I've been all into this stuff the last three weeks. Just wish I had any reason to believe my family liked rillettes, terrines, etc. Maybe hit them with some and see how it goes. Grand Buffet pictures up on the blog (Which....I notice is down, so I'll have to see about) maybe this weekend.

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I've been reading Ruhlman's The Elements of Cooking, and it seems like whenever he talks about something even remotely related to charcuterie, he talks about sodium nitrite. Now that I've got my own cold smoker, I've been thinking about picking up his book and trying my hand at this noble art. I just don't like the idea of cooking with something that has such negative connotations in my mind, or of putting something in my food that's better known by its chemical rather than culinary name. With all the negatives associated with this "ingredient," is this really something I want to get in to? Will I really usher in a new worldwide botulism dark age if I don't load my sausages with the chemicals that Ruhlman suggests?

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I've been reading Ruhlman's The Elements of Cooking, and it seems like whenever he talks about something even remotely related to charcuterie, he talks about sodium nitrite. Now that I've got my own cold smoker, I've been thinking about picking up his book and trying my hand at this noble art. I just don't like the idea of cooking with something that has such negative connotations in my mind, or of putting something in my food that's better known by its chemical rather than culinary name. With all the negatives associated with this "ingredient," is this really something I want to get in to? Will I really usher in a new worldwide botulism dark age if I don't load my sausages with the chemicals that Ruhlman suggests?

Well sodium nitrite's culinary name is "pink salt" if that makes you feel better about using it. It is added in pretty small quantities so you don't have to load your sausages. I believe that Ruhlman gives a good explanation on its use in his book, but I would have to check when I get home. As a novice it is probably advisable to follow his instructions to be safe, then as you understand what is going on decide where/when you need to use it. If you want to save yourself a few bucks let me know as I have a good amount at home that I can share.

That said, I think its use really depends on what you are going to make and how (and how long) you plan on storing it. Its use is extremely important when making things like salami and such that are going to be hung at cellar temperatures for extended periods of time. Making sausages that will be consumed quickly or frozen do not really need it. Cold smoking is usually done for a long period of time and at temperatures (between 40F to 140F) where bacteria thrive.

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I've been reading Ruhlman's The Elements of Cooking, and it seems like whenever he talks about something even remotely related to charcuterie, he talks about sodium nitrite. Now that I've got my own cold smoker, I've been thinking about picking up his book and trying my hand at this noble art. I just don't like the idea of cooking with something that has such negative connotations in my mind, or of putting something in my food that's better known by its chemical rather than culinary name. With all the negatives associated with this "ingredient," is this really something I want to get in to? Will I really usher in a new worldwide botulism dark age if I don't load my sausages with the chemicals that Ruhlman suggests?

Aside from the preservative issues--if you are going to cure and store it in the refrigerator and consume it immediately or keep it in the freezer, it's not necessary-- sodium nitrite also maintains the pink color in bacon and ham. Otherwise, the meat gets kind of grey, and looks less appetizing.

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I've been making several items from Ruhlman's Charctuerie book and most of them involve various curing salts. The amounts used are fairly minute and he does address the health issues. I do believe the curing process is important in developing the flavour and colour, so I'll continue to use it. Besides, considering the amount of alcohol, nicotine, cholesterol, etc I take in, I think nitrates are lower on the list of worries!

The key thing is moderation. I've been pretty good at making a single 5lb slab of bacon last months (even after giving away a lot of it). Admittedly, I'm not so lucky at making the pastrami last - my wife demolished an entire 4 lb brisket in under a week. I got maybe two sandwiches out of it. In her defence, it was pretty damned good!

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Hung up the hams in the curing fridge a couple weeks ago. No nitrate/nitrite. In general, I'm not that concerned with the color/attractiveness aspect, and I've just never felt the need to use them for botulism control. I bought some to use with salami but I haven't used it yet (stand mixer broke halfway through salami production). I drilled the holes through the freezer compartment into the fridge compartment and luckily didn't seem to have hit any snags. Humidity was hanging up at 85% initially but a tray of CaCl pellets in the bottom of the fridge has brought that down to a consistent 70-75% since. I might try to add a fan back into the equation at some point to see if I can coax it down a little further.

post-1464-1213223126_thumb.jpg

more pics...

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