When Cathy and I first talked about curing meat together, it was barely more than an idea for me, a sexy idea.
I envisioned myself hanging salamis and standing in the basement, cutting off hunks of the stuff for people to sample, with the jack knife I just happened to have in the back pocket of my jeans. I imagined myself talking about mold and humidity, as if it were second nature. I envisioned a passion for meat so deep, I would give it all up to make artisanal charcuterie, which I would sell out of the back of our jeep, under-ground style, to restaurants, chefs and Brooklyn hipsters.
That never happened. I love curing meat, but not so much I want to sell it on Flatbush Avenue. I also love brining, making bacon and even tangling with sausages. I like the feel of the meat in a way I never had before, probably because I never felt so much of it, so intimately. I learned just about every kind of cut of meat can be confited, which is both weird and amazing and makes you want to try it out on anything you have lying around. I am no longer afraid of opening Michael Ruhlman's book and doing something from it, anything. It’s not my calling, but it has changed my kitchen, changed me.
But more than meat and the kitchen swagger, what made this year great was you, or really all of us together - being a part of a school that wasn't a school, the bad sausage jokes, people bickering about pink salt, the moment we made something we were quite sure we couldn't make and it came out amazing, how we stared botulism in the face and confronted our fear that we might kill a family member with our home-cured meats, how we figured out that mold is sometimes something you can just scrape off and move on from, the idea we were all in it together, not doing this alone. That was the best.
That's why you should read every single one of the posts below, because these people made something bigger than meat. And that's what we had hoped Charcutepalooza would be. Thank you for that.
Final Challenge Reminder
Just to remind you all: December 6th is the due date for the final challenge. THAT IS TOMORROW! We must have it by midnight. Please send us:
•your name, blog URL and email address
•a profile photo (jpg format)
•50 words describing your Charcutepalooza experience (not your bio, just what you learned this year)
•links to the 12 Charcutepalooza monthly challenge posts on your blog
•links to TWO of the Charcutepalooza blog posts you want to nominate for the grand prize competition
Send all of it to CharcutepaloozaATgmailDOTCOM. We will be looking for an overall knowledge and creative undertaking of the challenge, your original or adapted recipes, good writing, good photography.
This is going to be so ridiculously hard for us. We have been blown away with all the posts lately. But we are so excited to see what you've done. Thank you for playing along this year. I can't even begin to describe how I'll miss the #Charcutepalooza hashtag on my Tweetdeck.
1. Bite Me New England
Spanish Chorizo as food…and jewelry
2. Hounds in the kitchen
Six year old Lilly makes lardo in what may be the best food video ever.
3. One Vanilla Bean
Home-made Chorizo with a recipe for Lentejas Estofadas con Chorizo
4. Taste Food Blog
Wilted Spinach Salad with Warm Balsamic Vinaigrette, Toasted Pinenuts and Cured Pork
5. In Scott’s Kitchen
Man on a meat-curing mission….salami, bresaola, soppressata, Noix de jambon, proscuitto
6. A Cook Blog
Salami & Cheddar sandwich…totally from scratch, top to bottom
7. Eat, Drink, man, Woman, Dogs, Cat
Facing Fears: This is way bigger than Chorizo
9. Vivek's Epicurean Adventure
Turning Pepperoni failure into inspiration.
10. Belm Blog
Salami, Bresaeola, Lonzino in steps, or...being unwilling to "cop to the suckage."
EXTRA: A Cook Blog
Eight amazing Thanksgiving courses using charcuterie in EVERY COURSE.
1. Dabblings & Whimsey
2. Snappy Service café
3. Nic Cooks
4. Eat Live Travel Write
5. Butcher's Apprentice