Sunday, October 30, 2011

What exactly is charcutiere?

I'm starting a new professional cooking class next week - Butchery and Charcutiere.  Many of you may know that I worked as a butcher for 2 years and loved it.  Alas, I never was able to talk the owners  of the butcher shop into letting me make artisan Charcutiere.

It took me 5 minutes searching the web to figure out how to spell the word, so what exactly is it?  It's a general term for prepared meats, pates, terrines, foie gras, pickled vegetables, dried fruits and cheeses.  It's such a huge subject that the region I want to concentrate is Alsace, France.  Why that region of France? My ancestors on my dad's side come from there and I love that style of food, lots of beer, lots of sausage and foie gras, potatoes and cabbage!  Great food for our climate from October to April.

This is a veggie terrine that I made years ago with spinach, roasted red pepper and butternut squash.

This is a chicken pate en croute - it is a pate baked inside pastry and is heavenly!

I'm sure there will be a lot of fun stories coming from my new class and a lot of my followers will be able to sample, simply because what I make I can't possibly eat all myself.  

A little history?  Alsace has been passed back and forth between Germany and France for centuries.  It is on the border to Germany and after the end of WWII Germany had to hand it over to France once again.

To ease you guys into the joys of "Alsatian" cuisine, here's my favourite recipe that I'm going to make for dinner tonight.  This recipe has just a few ingredients and is super easy to make.

Braised Pork Belly - Serves 4

6 lbs of Pork Belly
Apple Cider
Caraway Seed
1 large onion, sliced
2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
White vinegar
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 250 F.  Put pork belly, fat side up in deep casserole pan.  Put in pan, around pork belly onion, apples and caraway seed, pour in enough apple cider and a couple splashes of vinegar (and maybe some of your favourite beer) so that liquid is 3/4 of the way up the side of the pork belly.  Cover with foil and put in oven for abut 4 hours.

After 4 hours remove from braising liquid (keep this!!!) and let sit for about 10-15 minutes.  After resting, cut into 2" x 2" pieces.  Heat broiler in oven.  Place pieces on cookie sheet and place under broiler to crisp up the top of the pork belly.

Serve over mashed potato or braised cabbage with the braising liquid and a large stein of dark beer!

Next week I hope to have pictures of my first day of class if it's not too gruesome...hehe!

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