Sunday, March 20, 2011

bonus: charcuterie

Technically, this won't be a Babbo post, though it sort of is. There are a couple of recipes in the book that call for guanciale, which is cured jowl meat. There is a recipe in the Babbo book for guanciale, but here is the issue:

The recipe in the book is for a standard jowl, which would be about 2 pounds. I have been angling for awhile to get my hands on some Mangalitsa jowl. I could tell you all about what a Mangalitsa is, but I would be re-writing the information from the Heath Putnam Farms website, so I'll just link to them if you want to know why they are special.

Anyway, through Culinary Classics in Orlando, I got access to Mangalitsa jowl from Pasture Prime Farms, near Ocala. Here is how my e-mail conversation with Dave from Culinary Classics went, edited of nonessential material, but complete in context:

Him: Jim, I have some Mangalitsa jowl that I can send you at a good price.

Me: Ok, I'll take whatever the minimum order is. When can I give you payment info?

Before I got a reply to that, I came home to find a huge box on my doorstep. I had no idea what it even might be until I saw the return address.

Me: No freaking way!

The box was far too big for what I had ordered, or so I thought. I opened the box and saw a piece of meat that I didn't even understand. I thought it was a belly. A whole belly.

Me: I didn't order a belly.

I looked closer. It wasn't shaped like a belly. There was a label. It said it was a hog jowl. And it said its weight.

Keep in mind, one pound is a reasonable weight, and two is normal. Three is not crazy.

This one went to 11. And a half.

I'm not familiar enough with the anatomy of a pig to know how that happens, and I told Dave that I was confused and assume that the pig this came from must have weighed 1,000 pounds.

Him: It was 280 pounds hanging weight. They are all jowl.

Okay, then.

So I took to Twitter and asked Michael Ruhlman, who wrote a book on curing meat, if I could reasonably turn this T-rex jowl into guanciale. He responded almost immediately:

Him: "Not can. Must."

Marching orders accepted. After I asked a follow-up question regarding adjusting the recipe, I have started the process.

The first thing I did was separate the lobes and for now I'm only curing the smaller one. Still, that smaller lobe is almost 4.5 pounds.

Then I trimmed off the skin.

Then I mixed salt, sugar (I usually only keep brown sugars in the house, and this is demerara) and pink salt.

Then I put the jowl in a bag with some of the salt mix, and now that bag resides in the bottom of my fridge for a week. At that point, it will get a good rinse, then hang to dry for several weeks.

Then we'll start cooking.


Ronnie said...

Awesome! Loved the play by play exchange. Look forward to hearing how the curing and cooking goes.

web said...

Me (when I saw the shipping container): Is there a pig head in the garage???

Jim: Nooooo. It's in the freezer. And it's just the jowl.

Heath Putnam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Heath Putnam said...

Here's my guess as to how how Jowlzilla came to be.

Alan said...

So, uh ... you have leftover jowl then?