Mortadella Made with Head

I have a love of most things created with Pork if you have not noticed by the last few posts. I ended up with 3 pig heads that I really wanted to make a form of head cheese with yet not tangy where my children would not want to eat any. I had an oportunity to let them try Mortadella a little while ago to make sure they would enjoy it and although the primary recipe I have for this is out of Charcuterie By Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn calls for pork shoulder and back fat along with several seasonings that I am not fond of, it worked great as a frame work. If you ever feel the pull to try your hand at this art, I strongly suggest checking this book out. Anyway, we pulled all three heads out and basicly disected the heck out of them. My hubby made several “stacks”; fat, solid meat, Soup Pot, and finally done/leaving the house. While he got the heads all done I; blogged, rendered fat, measured and mixed what would be needed for the Mortadella, tended the children, etc..

 

I used; meat from hogs heads, fat from same hogs heads, back fat to supplament, white wine, fresh garlic, kosher salt, pink salt, ice, white pepper, ground mace, ground roasted coriander, fresh grated nutmeg, a splash of milk, pistachios, and a large pork casing.

 

We started off with three ugly heads the one up-above was the largest and had two strange “skin tag” looking things beneath the ears. With the help of Whole Beast Butchery by: Ryan Farr my hubby trimmed and cut till the heads were “used to the fullest” and off we went…

 

The large one had HUGE Jowels I mean take a look!!!

We then took a chunk of Fat and blanched it to fold in later.

Diced the meat and put in the freezer to grind later.

Diced and froze more fat.

Put all the tools to be used in the freezer while we soaked the casings.

Once everything was cold enough and the casings had soaked we pulled the meat from the freezer, ground it with our second smallest disc in the hand crank into a cold bowl set into a larger ice filled bowl to keep it all just right. We then added the wine through salts into that meat and set back in the fridge to site while we ground the non-blanched fat. Once everything was ground we dumped the whole ball of wax into the frozen mixer and blended to emulsification…

 

After mixing I hand folded in the pistachios and should have added the blanched fat but I forgot so it is still sitting in the freezer for next time it seems. We then opened up the casings and stuffed them to full and tied off.

Once the casings were ready we submerged the whole mess in hot (170 degree F) water and cooked till the center of these hit 150 degrees F.

Once cooked through we pulled them for the heat and slid into a sink full of ice and cold water to cool.

Once cool, we had to slice into one of these to take a taste and WOW!

All in all we ended up with 11 pounds of delectable pork yummm for all our work and even though this round did not have everything because I forgot the fat, it was well worth the effort. We did learn that my ultra amazing bosch mixer really would do better to do half as much at a time and that would have helped with the end result it still worked great and we look forward to the next round. Please let us know about your own charcuterie experiences…

 

Adventures of Pork Noodles

Several months ago I had read on another blog about noodles made from pork skin that the author had savored while in my city (Portland, Oregon) at a locale that I had not heard of till that point. Hubby and I, not many months later, had the oportunity to have a date night where we had toodled off to try the faire at Ned Ludd where we had a smattering from all sections of the menu to a taste bud delight. The one thing that completely blew to top off though was those noodles what I had been anticipating as they did not disappoint in the slightest other than maybe being so rich and delectable to make small servings a necceisity. Once having tried these though I knew I had to try my hand at making them myself as the potential for other meals started percolating through my mind. I did a search online and did not find much, although I did find one blog that had some potential that I forgot about till after I started my version… I really wish I had remembered about it this weekend before I started cutting the skin but lesson learned and I will make note of what I will try different the next time, as there will be many next times for this one as all I can say is yummmmm!

Obviously, you need to start with pig skin. I decided to to try adding a little flavor as well as skin has the under-current of flavor but it is very very mild. I had no pork stock made-up but I did have beef so I decided to try that this round. I also added a huge sliced onion and a handfull of dried mushrooms, and a lump of non-rendered leaf lard. I will add a batch of slow roasted garlic next time.

So one of the first things I will do differently is I will pre-cook my skin before trying to slice as this stuff is a big ginormous pain in the rear to do before. Another is take the time to make a strong pork stock instead of wimping out and using beef as the flavor was just not strong at all.

The first thing I did this round was to slice all my skin into thick noodle shape. In the future just trade this step for after slow cooking into a gelatinous yummm. Always remember to have the right knives on hand for the job that fit your hand the best way you can find. Have your knives SHARP and in good repair or you will be working way harder than you need to as well.

Once I had my “noodles” cut I dumped them into a vacu-seal bag with the slice onions (remember to add garlic next time), handfull of dried mixed mushrooms, a lump of fat (in this case a chunk of leaf lard although back fat would work well also), covered with stock then sealed. I made a large batch because I wanted leftovers for other meal ideas but I would guess about 1# would serve 4 pleasantly and when I say 4 I really mean 4 “real” servings as when we eat hear we mean it.

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Once you have your bag sealed, put it in a crockpot and cover with water, plug in and set to low. Once it is going forget all about it for about 24 hours as this stuff is going to need to slowly get mouth wateringly tender. In the future, I will skip the bag part and just dump all my goodies into a crock to make a LARGE amount to play with over time as I am thinking it should freeze alright (I will know for sure in a week when I take my test batch out to thaw for pho soup). When your “noodles” look more like gelatine than skin pull out and slice if you have not already.

I poured off most of the stock, put a small layer of more mushrooms into a skillet with bacon fat,

dumped the “noodles” in,

Added diced meat from smoked ham hock (1 hock per # of “noodles”),

Stired and simmered until the juiced had reduced by about half. Next time I make a skillet of this, I will take most of the juices and make a true simple reduction sauce adding some fire roasted tomatoes for a larger burst of flavor.

For our supper, I paired the noodles with slow roasted lamb chops that I had covered with fresh mushrooms, diced onion, dots of butter, and a mega amount of fresh ground pepper. I covered the roaster and put in the oven to cook at 350 degrees F for about an hour till tender and juicy.

While everything was cooking, I diced kalarabi, sweet baby peppers, cucumbers, carrots, celery, and persimons to go on a side salad.

Also made a dressing from homemade mayo to which I added a bunch of onion, garlic, and italian seasoning that I mixed up.

Once everything was done, we sat down to a feast that was filling and satisfying to all. When asked there were very few suggestions on how to make this better beyond adding garlic as we tend to consider garlic as its own food group that should be consumed at almost every meal.

*** if you do not have a sealer, try just putting strain in the crock pot.

 

I would love to see meal ideas from you and your experiences of pork noodles so leave a comment, thanks.

Crockpot Leaf Lard

Leaf lard is the best grade of fat from a hog. Other hog fat is great for frying but carries an under-current of pig flavor that is not desirable in baked goods. Leaf lard is light, snowy white, and amazing in that it does not impart an animal taste to the end product. If you are wanting a stunning crust or pastry this is the way to go. Leaf lard is created by rendering down the fat from the kidney area of a hog. This sounds strange and potentially hard if you have never done this before. In reality this can be very simple and rewarding. If you are able to have a butcher pre-grind your fat it will make the end result of cracklins better but do not worry if you can’t. This round I was gifted with a mind blowing deal on pastured non-grain finished leaf fat that was in strips as you can see.

I took these strips and cut into slices. I then placed the slices into a crockpot that I then added a splash (maybe 1/4 cup) of water to so it would have time to melt before scalding the fat.

Once I had the crock full, I covered it and took the whole thing outside to slow cook on low as I did not want to whole house to smell like hog.

After a couple of hours I went out to stir and check on the pot. Once all the fat had melted off of the solid bits, I poured the whole batch into a cheese cloth lined strainer set in a bowl. I then squeezed the fat through and poured this into a jar to cool and then put the solid bits into a separate jar for storage.

This solid “goo” will later be browned and chopped to add to soups, salads, and caseroles in place of bacon as it is so tasty once crisp.

The fat jars I let cool till they were solid snow white…

that is then labeled and capped.  Then a little is put in the fridge and the rest frozen for later use.