Friday, January 28, 2011

The Charcutepalooza Monthly Round-Up & Give Away

Just to up-date you: We've been focused on our pork belly around here. There's been lots of work with a pepper mill. It was not always easy. We had to use a little muscle.

And there was the copious use of herbs. Every herb I had in the fridge. Whether they went with pork or not. Because herbs are pretty. Like wild flowers.

And the bacon has been in the frying pan. And the pancetta is up and hanging.

We are on our way in the February challenge. But before we go there, what about the January challenge? What about the duck prosciutto?

It's my job to give you a round-up, some the best, most funny, thoughtful, provocative Charcutepalooza posts from the January challenge and offer you a monthly prize, a small token of our gratitude for playing along. I have to admit, this month I wasn't organized. There are nearly 300 of you now and it's taken me some time to read all the posts, make sure no one has been forgotten, and get a sense of who you are. It's been a pleasure, for sure. But a little bit of madness, too.

Here's what I know about the round-up: Whether or not, we pick you for a round-up has nothing to do with the grand prize. That is it's own thing. Being in the round-up seven times will not help you win the grand prize, and not ever getting mentioned here will not weigh against you. The grand prize has specific parameters - the winning post must have great writing, a terrific recipe using cured meat, lovely photos, the whole package. This monthly round-up is different.

What we're looking for is much more nebulous - Really, we're looking for a story. The thing that makes charcutepalooza different is the stories, the people, the community. It isn't really just about the meat, or the pink salt, or threats of botulism, or whether the belly should be rolled or hung flat. It's about how the process of curing impacts you, changes you, drives you batty, makes you do something crazy, brave, nutty, stretches you, helps you learn about yourself, causes an argument with your spouse, shines a new beam of light on something you didn't know about yourself.

This weekend in the New York Times, Neil Genzlinger wrote a controversial piece called "The problem with Memoirs". It touched people, rankled them. Ruhlman came out in support of memoir on twitter. God knows I love them - a well-crafted memoir is a beautiful thing. But the piece was a reminder not to simply write for the sake of writing. Let's face it, hanging your duck breast in the cellar and checking it obsessively isn't exactly riveting. Think of your blog post as your memoir. It takes some work to make that curing process interesting, to give us some perspective and history, to grab us with details and exploration.

At the end of the Times piece, I think Genzlinger nails it. He writes, "Maybe that’s a good rule of thumb: If you didn’t feel you were discovering something as you wrote your memoir, don’t publish it."

I have to agree.

If you are going to be doing a year of Charcutepalooza with us, and your blog is your memoir, you might as well be discovering something new, something bigger than how to make pancetta, something you can dig into, something that will change you, change us - your community - just by having read it.

So, when we look for great posts for the round-up each month, we're going to be searching for good photos and people who get white balance, of course, and we definitely want to feature some fabulous recipes, recipes that inspire us to take to the stove and re-create them. But mostly, we'll be looking for pieces of you. Insight and discovery.

Here are our picks this month in no particular order. Read them. Enjoy them. We can't wait to keep reading every single one of you this year. And next month, I'll be much more organized. Promise.

1. Charcutepalooza makes vegetarians start eating meat.
Eat, Drink, Man, Woman, Dogs, Cat

2. Prosciutto & a Tartine
Taste Food

3. Triple X Nibbles
Bona Fide Farm Food

4. Killer salad with duck prosciutto.
Healthy Green Kitchen

5. People turn their wine refrigerators into curing chambers.
Bite me new England

6. A cookbook author laments what to do about her small breasts.
Poor Girl Gourmet

7. Duck prosciutto pizza.
Oh Briggsy

8. Duck cracklins.
Foodie with Family

9. Duck Prosciutto, Chanterelles & Spicy Tomato sauce over Pasta. (and the cat likes the Duck Prosciutto)
Eat Live Travel Write

10. Duck Prosciutto Two Ways (and Ruhlman's favorite post of the month)
One Vanilla Bean

Now, for the giveaway. Our January prize is this beautiful tile, hand-painted by Renee at Kudos Kitchen. Go over to her site, visit her, give her some love. She is beyond talented and her tiles - I've seen a few now - are gorgeous.

This tile can easily be yours. All you have to do is be a part of Charcutepalooza and leave a comment here and tell us about your writing, your blog, what you want to get out of making all this meat this year. Lay it on us. We'll randomly pick a winner and let you know who that is on February 15th, when Cathy and I announce our March Challenge.

Love having you all with us. As Cathy says, "Go forth and cure..."

xo Kim
One of the Dames of Meat

Charcutepalooza loves our sponsors. D'Artagnan offers 25% off the meat-of-the-month. If you aren't receiving your email with the secret code for Charcutepalooza members, register here. And the trip to France - an awesome grand prize deliciously designed by Trufflepig and Kate Hill at Camont.



Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite said...

Kim thank you so much for including me in this first roundup along with some awesome posts! It's on my list to go through and check out some more of the (gulp!) 300 blogs participating, though I do admit my #charcutepalooza column in Tweetdeck helps to keep track of things...

What do I want to get out of this? I want to push my boundaries in the kitchen (I already did - am not a duck eater, have now eaten it three times in the past month in various guises) - I want to be able to confidently work with meat and not always just leave it up to my other half. Learning new things is always good and when the end result is something beautiful I can share with my friends, even better. Thank you for all you do.

Rachel (Hounds in the Kitchen) said...

Thanks for the roundup!

I want to share the joy my family has in sourcing, curing, and cooking with meat. I want to help people learn how charcuterie can add pops of flavor to their meals and give chefs a new creative outlet.

Warner (aka ntsc) said...

I've been doing this for several years now. I've got my fifth prosciutto curing and will hang it next week.

The duck prosciutto was one of the few ideas in Charcuterie I hadn't done and now I have 3 pounds of it in the freezer.

I'm interested in food preservation, I'm about to do my second marmalade. Winter is the time for doing lots of stocks and citrus. Keeps the house warmer.

With three hundred fellow travelers I hope to pick up a great deal that is new.

Janis said...

I love playing with food! I have been canning for years. When I was in California it was for fun but now it is so that if I get snowed in I will have tomatoes and jams and all sorts of pickled stuff. I mean really. Curing meat is new to me and I am now obsessed. I fully expect that in the Spring I will have a takeout window in front of my house. Neighbors will be lining up to buy my "goods". I will call it "Nice to Meat you".

Natalie Sztern said...

Unfortunately mine is still losing weight in the guest room: probably till tomorrow. However I hope you get to read it because indeed this past two weeks flooded memories back of when my son had his bar mitzvah in 1999 and I was the first person in Montreal to be able to serve Kosher Duck. Our caterer had just brought it in as a Kosher product and not a soul had yet to serve it at any yes doing the Duck was a great memory.

Plus just yesterday I made duck legs, roasted for the first time ever; I have never made Duck

Winnie said...

Love seeing your girlies doing their meat-y duties :)
Thanks for including me in the is so appreciated! Great giveaway, too- I love Renee's beautiful tiles and the one she made for charcutepalooza is amazing.

I am a "from scratch"/diy girl and have always been that way, but I've never delved into anything like this with meat. Been making my own bread, yogurt, etc forever and have more recently started canning. Charcuterie is something I never thought too much about since I don't eat much meat. But when the opportunity came along to be part of this group, I realized it is a logical thing for me, as I am pretty much hyper obsessed with eating pastured meats and avoiding chemicals whenever possible. The bacon I just made is simply not something you can buy in a store (I used organic, grass-fed pork belly and no pink salt), and I am relishing every bite. Just like I will for the rest of the things I make in the months to excited!

Christine said...

Thanks for a bit more direction on what you are looking for, and I applaud your efforts in reading all 300 monthly. Just as a point of clarification, with the huge amount of palyers, do you only want one post per month?

S. said...

I am a cheesemonger with a limited palate of charcuterie and see this as the best way to expand my knowledge and gain an understanding of a topic that I've been a bit ambivalent about. I will, at years end, finally be able to check it off my 'to do' list.

Rachell said...

I am psyched to read up on everyone's meaty adventures. My husband and I are happy to expand our preservation skills from canning to curing. We're learning so much and having a great time even if our family and friends think we're crazy!

Lynn said...

Thanks so much for including me in the roundup. I am blown over by all the talented people participating. Reading everyone's work is an education.
I am thrilled to be learning so much about curing, preserving, and cuts of meat I have never worked with. For me, Charcutepalooza is another step towards living a less commercialized life.

Basia said...

I am exploring the different ways to work with meat and anticipate that the year will be spent sourcing and butchering the highest quality meats from our local farms. I am excited about the possibility of curing meats. I would love to apprentice to a butcher to learn about the different cuts of meat.

foongfest said...

I'm a food nerd. Seriously. On Food and Cooking sits on my night stand. Visiting the restaurant supply store is my idea of a good time. I spend the closing minutes in bed every night thinking about my next cooking adventure. I guess you can say I have more thoughts about food than I don't know what to do with.

A couple of months ago, I made my first batch of bacon. The whole process was enjoyable. I thought to myself "Hey, maybe I explore the world of charcuterie"

Lo and behold, a month later, I hear about charcutepalooza. Holy crap, there were other crazy 'food nerds' out there that completely geeked out about food and charcuterie. How can I not say no?

And so this year, charcuterie and blogging is one of my outlets to express my food nerdiness. Curing meat is fun, but curing meat and sharing the experience with other people is funner.
(Ironically, the last blog I when I blogged about being vegan for a month.)

~ foongfest

Divina said...

WOW- this is going to be some year!
As I live in the land of prosciutto and preserved pig- I never really needed to learn to do it myself- but as a teacher, it is nice to be able to pass on traditions.
I will be following along and comparing the old ways here with Ruhlmans recipes.
I got carried away this month had did a pancetta, bacon and a guanciale. The duck breast was such a success, that it will probably become a monthly recipe.
Mille Grazie!

Scott Davis said...

That tile is gorgeous!

My plans for this year are to follow along and learn as much as I can. I've dabbled in curing meat before, making duck breast hams and saucisson from pork tenderloin. However, I've never tackled bigger things like pancetta, bacon and guanciale. Last year a friend gave us some guanciale he made and it was wonderful. I wanted to make it since, but just never got around to it. It's not like pork jowls are the easiest thing to find. As easy as it was, I doubt I'll go back to buying it.

The other thing that attracted me to this was the group dynamic. I had a blog before and recently started a new one, but have never felt much part of the food blogging community. This seemed to be a good opportunity to get involved in the community. I'm still just a little blog with mostly a few friends as readers who wanted to know what I'm cooking these days. It got started from me posting pictures on Facebook of what I've been making. Already I've made new friends.

This year of meat also fits into my evolving need to be close to my food. We belong to a meat CSA. Last year probably 75% of our meat came from that farm, where I know the farmers and have seen in person how the animals are treated.

Lastly, I needed a new hobby. This fit in nicely.

Sean said...

Get a job, Scott. (I kid, I kid! And you can have more of my guanciale as soon as it's done.)

For me, after last year's guanciale, I've been meaning to get more into home curing, but kept procrastinating. So when you and Cathy launched this thing, I was absolutely stoked. Thank you for being such an incredible inspiration to us all!!

fieldandtable said...

I feel as though I could retype what everyone else has already written and it be true for me, too.

I headed back to school a few years ago to study horticulture and focusing on food crop production. This year I've started an urban farm that employs developmentally disabled adults. Along with working with the disabled population, I hope to use the farm to host workshops related to food and food production. I'd love to be able to teach people basic cooking techniques and farm-to-table eating.

Basically, I want to be @podchef when I grow up. :)

I hope that I can start to gain some confidence with the craft of charcuterie. It's been something that's been on my radar for a while, but I've always found a way to put it off. Watching all the tweets has been a great encouragement that I can and should join in on the fun. Thanks for hosting this great project!

Kate Hill said...

Wow, just a big wonderful WOW! Reading these comments, as well as the tweets, the posts and the pix, makes me realize how connectivity is the real back story to Charcutepalooza. Connecting with Kim & Cathy was a spontaneous gesture...After all I live in a Gascon food heaven! and one that I am only now understanding. For me, reaching out to fellow bloggers, charcuterie loving meat heads, or timid novices and joining ranks to explore new recipes, share experiences, inspire others, and encourage one another vastly enriches my own charcuterie centric 'artisan life' in Gascony. Although I teach, I am learning so much more along with you as I drill my butchers for information and investigate the "why" behind the "how to"
Charcutepalooza gives us such a wonderful place to come together, like the kitchen table. I am so grateful to have met you all!

The PĂȘche said...

I'm just loving reading these posts, and love the idea of the monthly round up, so thanks for that.

We're participating in this to confront our choice to eat meat. As we said in our duck prosciutto post, "this charcuterie stays with you." A piece of duck hanging in front of your eyes while it cures...well, it's impossible to not think about how and why we're eating it.

Amy said...

A giant thank you to you and to Cathy for providing the motivation to so many of us to actually USE "Charcuterie".

The book had been grossly neglected at my house, despite our best intentions, and JR and I are looking forward to each month's adventure. Not least because we're expanding our menagerie from just chickens to chickens, turkeys, pigs, and (with luck and some good planning/quick shelter building) sheep. I'm still trying to determine if there's a way to squeeze a duck or 12 in on our land, too.

Ducks or no ducks, we'll need to become much more proficient at charcuterie to justify raising all of that livestock.

And thank you, of course, for including my post in your round-up. It's fabulous company to be in. To meat! To curing! To charcuterie! Hurrah!

Cheezbunny said...

I can't believe where the Year of Meat is going! I signed onto this as a fun little project to inspire me to get off my *** and do more in the kitchen (and buy a great book I have been thinking about for a long time). I am so impressed and in awe that it has turned into what it is. I feel a true sense of hope that we as a people are Finally catching on. That food is not just something mundane that you shovel into your mouth, but an art form. Something to learn, savor, respect, and cherish. Not to get on my soap box, but it's high time we realize that food traditions are in place for a reason, and we ought not forget them. I feel honored to be a part of this.

Barbara | VinoLuciStyle said...

Love seeing your girls participate; I started mine in the kitchen at a young age when it was fun and they are both accomplished cooks today; they love the experience as much as I do.

You know how much I love this whole process but what really caught my eye was your comment on that NYT article. I'm so with you. There are memoirs and then there are self indulgent ramblings. One I love and the other I wonder how they even get published. Guess we need to find Justin Bieber's publicist to get the answer to that question!

Looking forward to meeting some new bloggers through your roundup; can't wait!

Rebecca said...

WOW! I made the round-up. That makes me feel like a rock-star. Seriously.

I want to get a push toward more adventure on this. I have made a few charcuterie related things before, but I haven't branched out much beyond the basics.

I can't wait! Thank you so much for putting all this together.

Steph said...

All the round up choices were great, I really enjoyed reading them all. My prosciutto is finally ready to eat (it took almost three weeks because of a humidity issue) and I'm inspired by everyone's recipes!

I decided to join Charcutepalooza for a couple of reasons. First, my boys and I love charcuterie. Once I realized I could actually make some cured meats myself...I couldn't get the idea out of my head. We spent last summer in France and my son's interest in food sources and cooking really have taken off. I then realized that Charcutepalooza would be the perfect project to tackle with him. He's 12, soon to be 13 and finding things that we are both interested in can be challenging. When I told him about this project, he was actually excited. So, this will be an opportunity to explore all sorts of yummy meats...and to take an interesting journey with my son as he moves from a child into his first teen year.