When I posted the picture of Lucy and the sausage awhile ago, one of my home-cooking heros, Warner from Art of the Pig, said he thought I was making my own sausage. I wasn't. But a part of me wished I had. Warner has a way of putting these crazy ideas in my head, merely by suggesting them, which is both befuddling and inspiring.
So, I thought it over, that sausage thing. It stayed with me for a bit, lolling around back there. And I got on Twitter this weekend and started asking Cathy from Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Kitchen, my other kitchen hero, about curing meats and making sausages and how I'd do that - wouldn't small animals try to eat my meat hanging in the garage, wouldn't maggots come live in my meat, surely I could kill someone with my rancid pork?
And that's when the idea was born - Charcutepalooza.
Oh, you read that right. It's officially pronounced Shar-coo-ta-palooza. A couple gals, one experienced and a little brilliant in the kitchen (Cathy), the other a little mad, and not so experienced in the kitchen (Moi), deciding to spend 2011 curing and preserving a meat a month. For the hell of it. That includes making bacon, prosciutto, sopressata, bresaola, merguez, kielbasa, knockwurst, boudin blanc, and maybe even a pate or two.
That was all well and good, but then, a bunch of other people on Twitter got in on the act and said they wanted to do Charcutepalooza, too. That's how a movement is born. In this case, a meat movement.
So, I'm inviting you to join us starting in the New Year. I mean, it's winter, what the hell else are you doing? Cathy is going to be posting the instructions monthly on her site (I'll link it for you) and charcuterie expert and cookbook author, Michael Ruhlman is, rumor has it, on board to mentor us along when we are up to our elbows in hog casings and pig entrails.
So, this is your chance to make meat. To stretch yourself. To spend the bleak, wintery months of January, February and March producing something of beauty, something that can be sustaining and special and inspiring. Something you've never done before, maybe never thought you'd do, and not had the occasion or reason to try. And we'll be doing it together - I won't leave you alone with those entrails, I promise - so you'll have meat and make new friends. How bad can that be?
We'll be curing a meat and posting it on the 15th of every month. You will be doing it with us, if you are that cool, that awesome, that brave, that crazy. The January project will be....Duck Prosciutto. Easy peasy, people. No entrails. No pigs hanging from hooks next to the mini-van. We start January 3.
Here's what you'll need, so you can get things in order now:
1. Buy Michael Ruhlman's book "Charcuterie". (It's $35 in the book store, but only $23 on Amazon. We will make everything from this book, so consider it your class fee)
2. If you are on Twitter, follow the hashtag #Charcutepalooza11. If you are not on Twitter, no worries. I've got you covered here.
3. Grocery list: Two duck breasts (good ones, all natural, not brined, Ruhlman suggests Magret, which are the breasts from ducks made for foie gras - they are very meaty - but I'm sure any good quality breast will work), salt, saran wrap, white pepper, cheese cloth, twine.
That's it. We start in the New Year. You follow the recipe in "Charcuterie", and if you want, you can post your gorgeous meat on January 15th on your blog, in Snapfish,Facebook, or somewhere else so we all can see it, and tell me about in it comments, what it was like, how it tasted. A lot of my readers don't have blogs, don't let that stop you, this isn't about creating a blog post, or taking cookbook-worthy pictures. It's about stretching yourself, doing something to change your cooking, raise the game, get a little spark going. I just want to hear about it. The storytelling is really the best part.
C'mon. You know you want to. And if you do this one thing, here's what you'll have at the end of it...
...which you can say you made with your own two hands.
That's pretty awesome.
PS: The duck proscuitto picture above was taken by Donna Ruhlman. You can see more of her gorgeous food photos here.
Disclaimer: Ruhlman is not compensating us in any way for using his book. We just like it. In fact, Cathy totally roped him into participating in Charcutepalooza 2011. Pity him. The poor guy didn't have a chance.