Posted by: dietsch
After a stunning year, Charcutepalooza is reaching its end, and I’m feeling a little wistful.
I was very excited when Charcutepalooza was announced. I’ve made charcuterie at home for about three or four years now, and the idea of a monthly challenge just tickled every nerd bone within me. Jen and I started making plans, immediately after Kim and Cathy announced it.
Cured meats, terrines, patés, sausages, confits. These reach deep into my memories and tug hard. My grandparents raised pigs and, yes, butchered them every year in late fall. My Dietsch ancestors weren’t much for terrines and patés, but they made sausages and they cured bacon. They also canned, froze, and otherwise preserved their fruits and vegetables. Jen and I spent a good portion of 2010 learning to pressure-can, and we felt that Charcutepalooza would be not just a great extension into 2011, but a way for me to reconnect with family traditions.
We even have a Gmail thread called, in the throes of literalism, “The Charcutepalooza 2011 Thread,” in which we started planning projects for each challenge. In the end, however, we made three things — three delicious, gorgeous, and sumptuous things, but only three things: duck prosciutto, pancetta, and guanciale.
Oh, but what fun we had. Lest anyone forget how serious we were about our fun in those early days, let me point you to Duck Duck Goose, a sort-of Charcuteturducken. A nugget of foie gras stuffed into a meatball made of duck confit. Jen seared those in a pan, wrapped them in my duck prosciutto, and then broiled them until the prosciutto was crisp.
Now, as wonderfully delicious as that sounds, we also adored a far simpler dish using the duck prosciutto, a salad pairing it with shaved fennel and radish:
In the end, though, Charcutepalooza 2011 wound up trumped in our household by Sprogapalooza 2011. Every food-directed resource we had — culinary, monetary, and intellectual — went toward nourishing Jen and the baby. That’s not to say that charcuterie isn’t nourishing — it certainly is — but what we really needed in 2011 was to just buy it from the pros and let them nurture us.
I still wonder, though, about the terrines and cures, the cassoulets and confits that might have been. And it makes me sad. But then I think, well goddammit, that just means I definitely have to teach Julian to brine corned beef, the same way my mother taught me to brine corned beef, make salami, puree apples for sauce, freeze green beans, and can tomatoes.
Charcutepalooza is winding down now, after a brilliant and exciting year. I know that Cathy and Kim are thrilled and startled, beyond words, with its success. Having met them both in this wonderful year, I can say I too am thrilled to see two generous and talented people reach for the moon and somehow grasp the sun instead.
I, the elder Dietsch, will also be feeding Julian — from the bottle at first and then eventually solids, other liquids, and even maybe the occasional gas.
This is basically a test post, so disregard. It’s here because Jen noticed when that when it was just her posting, the little “Posted by” tag was missing from the post footer, and she wanted to be sure that WP was attributing our individual posts appropriately. I could delete this, but then the “Posted by” attribution might disappear again — and we can’t have that.
But I will also weigh in here, when I have something more interesting than this to say. Feeding Julian is a vital part of my full-time job now.