Salumi: How many Chefs have been led astray by this Book?

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Salumi: The Craft of Italian Dry Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn…  What an amazing book, absolute food porn for us Chefs and foodies alike.  The problem is two fold, first, it has me curing everything in sight.  I got five Kuni Kuni pigs from Cook Pig the other day.  I normally use them all for Porchetta but got a bug up my ass and decide to make a ton of charcuterie.  I suppose I should back up and mention that I am Chef of Figue Mediterranean in La Quinta, California…  a relatively new restaurant hopefully popping up on the national level soon.  One of the big features of our operation is a charcuterie bar reminiscent of a high end sushi bar.  The intent was always that we would make our own charcuterie but I never had much time till now.  I suppose the whole opening a restaurant thing got in the way.

Figue Training 09So today sous chef extraordinaire Alex Hernandez and myself set about curing everything in sight.  Filetto cured with Aleppo Pepper and Orange; citrus and fennel cured lonzo, pancetta, spicy guanciale and my first attempt at coppa…  I scared our sommelier Celeste because I told her that I would hang my meat in her wine box since the temperature and humidity was perfect.  I think the thought of over 100 pounds of meat hanging next to her great wine selections scared her…

 

Here are photos from the day’s work sprinkled with a few other forays into Charcuterie world:

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Lamb Mortadella made from Elysian Fields lamb…  It tastes so good!  I have been serving it with house made Fig Pickles

IMG_20130712_123929_178Truffled Veal Sausage that I featured for my Bastille Day menu…  The focus was Famous Last Meals from the Bastille.  The Marquis de Sade ate these.

IMG_20130727_160925_333 IMG_20130727_144426_338cures and a rather tattered kitchen notebook dating back to 2003

IMG_20130727_145246_158 IMG_20130727_144354_346 IMG_20130727_142702_887All in all we cured 100 pounds of freshly butchered pork.  We used the salt box method which essentially is rubbing every single crevice of meat in coarse sea salt, vacuum packing everything then letting it sit refrigerated for a few days.  The basic procedure for all whole muscle meats is the same.  What varied and will vary is the seasoning in the final curing.  Since my palate of flavors includes France, Italy Spain, Basque region, Lebanon, Greece, Morocco and anywhere else in the Mediterranean I have a lot of historical flavor combinations to pull from, not too mention the mixing of cultures.  In six weeks we will have a tasty selection of house meats for our charcuterie bar.

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Tagliatelle al Pancetta e Fichi│ Hand Rolled Tagliatelle, Pancetta, Conserved Figs, EVOO

Thank God fig season is back!  French author George Blond once quipped the fig was “the manna of the Mediterranean countries.”  Especially if we take the dictionary definition literally, ‘Spiritual nourishment of divine origin.’ Figs have been cultivated since the dawn of time.  Assyria used figs as a natural sweetener; figs were grown in the hanging gardens of Babylon; they were important to the Phoenician economy; baskets of figs were buried with Egyptian rulers in the great tombs; they were the favorite fruit of the Greeks.  Figs first appeared in America in the 1600’s brought over by the Spaniards.  They were planted in California and known as Mission Figs.  90 % of USA production is in California.  Figs appear with great frequency on our menu at Figue Mediterranean (www.EatFigue.com).  One of our more popular fig dishes is our tagliatelli of figs and pancetta.

Tagliatelle al Pancetta e Fichi│ Hand Rolled Tagliatelle, Pancetta, Conserved Figs, EVOO

Chef François de Mélogue

 

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Ingredients for four orders:

400 g                          Semi Dried Figs, sliced

160 ml                        Olive Oil

80 ml                          Balsamic Vinegar

to taste                      Sea Salt and Black Pepper

5 sprigs                      Marjoram

3 cloves                     Garlic, crushed

3 thick slices             Pancetta, diced

2 small                       Leeks, diced

30 ml                          White Wine

2 T                               grated Reggiano Parmesan

 

Mise en Place:

 

  1. Marinate figs in balsamic, olive oil, s/p, marjoram and garlic for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Heat olive oil and sauté pancetta and leeks for eight minutes, or until leeks are soft and pancetta is crunchy.
  3. Add figs and marinade and white wine.

 

To Order:

 

  1. Cook tagliatelli.
  2. Heat sauce.
  3. Toss together, top with grated parmesan and olive oil.