One thing that has always fascinated me is the art of making charcuterie. For years, I have longed to learn the craft of salting, smoking, curing and drying large, fat-laden slabs of meat. I’d even bought a copy of Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn’s, definitive tome on the subject, Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing. Late at night, I would greedily pore over those pages, lusting after each photo and dreaming of someday presenting my loved ones with my own delicately spiced and perfectly balanced versions of sopressata, guanciale, pâté and confit. I discovered other like-minded, charcuterie-loving bloggers as well – trailblazers in the metamorphoses of pork, duck and foie gras.
Until very recently, I have only admired those adventurous, bacon curing, salumi making souls from afar – never daring to venture into those uncharted waters myself. Then, I found out about Charcutepalooza, a twelve month blogging extravaganza devoted to celebrating the “elegant craft of salting, smoking and curing” meat. Each month, the group tackles a different type of charcuterie, using Ruhlman’s book as a guide, and the participants each post about their experiences. With over three hundred members and counting, Charcutepalooza is a great opportunity to explore, learn and share the ins and outs of homemade charcuterie.
I sat on the fence for a long time before I decided to join the group. I worried that I wouldn’t have the time or the resources to follow through. I also worried that the hot, muggy climate I live in wouldn’t be conducive to hanging and curing meat. And, I was really afraid that I might unwittingly kill someone with my carnivorous creations! However, when I finally found a local source of fresh duck and pork bellies, I threw caution to the wind and signed on.
I had already missed the first Charcutepalooza assignment, which was making duck prosciutto. I decided to start there anyway as the process looked pretty easy. It seemed like a good way to get my feet wet, and the end result sounded pretty awesome.
Little did I know then that my plans would soon go awry. read more >>