Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Charcutepalooza! an archive of French/Italian porky goodness

When the tide of good food starting rushing in, we all jumped for joy!
Then a meat storm happened. People were finding good farm raised products at their farmer's markets and in their CSA boxes.
Next a hurricane of butchers became 'cool' and pig tats appeared on all the wrong places.
So now, as the Salty Tsunami known as Charcutepalooza (created by the dynamic dames Kim Foster and Cathy Barrow otherwise known as The Yummy Mummy and Mrs Wheelbarrow) hits the international shores, we can say- we've been waiting for you all along! Welcome to our worlds. A world of charcuterie.

Our world is the Old World. As our banner says, we've been savoring the old world, one pig at a time for ...a while. Like a lot of you have been making hams, hang salumi, and grinding sausage longer than the trend, We- Judy Witts in Italy, and me, Kate Hill in France- began learning about this brave Old World centuries old trend when we both landed on foreign shores- about 25 years ago. We were thinner, younger...and considerably more naive.

So we invite you to look around here- a dual blog we started making while writing a conference seminar for IACP- called Saints Preserve Us- the tale of three pigs presented with Mr. Fergus Henderson, our meat mentor.

It started here: and although we both are celebrating Charcutepalooza on our own blogs with new posts- there is a lot of good food here. Explore and enjoy! and don;t hesitate to ask us questions. or start a conversation about Italy vs. France- we love to play that game!

Judy is still cooking up the best of Tuscany at
Kate is still preaching the Gascon gastronomy at

Monday, August 09, 2010

Seed to Sausage learning on the farm in France

We talk about all things pig here. We banter around those European meat terms- lardo and lardon, porchetta and jambon, guanciale and coppa like secret passwords to a private world.  But in southwest France on a small family farm, the whole hog really begins with one small seed- of corn, wheat, barley, sunflower... and thus  Seed-to-Sausage is born.

Come vote for Our Seed to Sausage video in Protein U's "who's your butcher?" contest.
Then come join us in Gascony for new Artisan Butchery & Charcuterie workshops beginning Sept 20 2010. More information is here on Kate's site- 

Saturday, March 13, 2010

French PIG- the butcher & the cook April 2010

If you can't come to Gascony, La Gascogne will come to you!

Join me and Dominique Chapolard of the Ferme Baradieu, Mezin, Gascony, France
for a series of French PIG workshops to be held in mid-April in four West Coast locations:
Napa, Sonoma, Portland & Seattle. We will be cutting and cooking before and after the sold out IACP conference session in PDX on April 24.

Each of these four  French Charcuterie Cuts & Seam Butchery classes are unique:
  • Hands-on Full Day workshop w/ lunch & Porc & Rose' wine tasting dinner- Sonoma, CA
  • Evening Demonstration Charcuterie Cuts & Seam Butchery + Farm Dinner- Napa CA
  • Morning Hands-on workshop only, very limited space. Portland OR
  • Full day demonstration in seam butchery and charcuterie workshop w/ lunch- Woodinville WA sign up for The Herb Farm workshop here .
For more details on other workshops, go to . interested in a French PIG workshop near you? contact Kate Hill via the comments below.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sweet Onion Pork Stew- l'Escadaoun- a Gascon specialty

My favorite French ‘pulled pork’ is called l'estouffade or l'escaoudoun in the Gascon patois. Tasted in a hideaway of a cafe in the Landes forest called La Croute du Pin near Reaup where it was made with the typique Noir de Gascogne pig, I re-created the dish here at Camont with most of the shoulder from Camas’ graduation pig. Once it cooked in the sweet onion sauce for a two hours, I ladled the sauce pork into large canning jars. When unannounced friends arrive for dinner, I’ll cook some Monalisa potatoes and serve them floating on an island of sweet onions pork, just like Madame did.

Recipe- for  Estouffade de Porc- l’Escaoudoun
  • 2 kilos / 4 1/2 lbs. of farm raised pork shoulder, cut into large cubes
  • 1 kilo of onions, sliced thinly
  • 2 soupspoons of duck fat
  • 1 bottle of sweet wine wine (jurancon or cote de gascogne)
  • 1/2 bottle madera, sherry or white port
  • 1 generous glass of armagnac
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • a large bouquet garni- lovage, bay leaf, thyme
  • sea salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, a lot of it!
  • a large pick of quatre épice  (ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves)
The basic recipe is to cook all of the above until the onions have melted, the pork is falling apart and the flavors of the sweet wine mingle with the onion in a caramel-colored sauce.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Cut #2- Pork Shoulder basics

The Shoulder Cut of Pork is one of the most versatile cuts of meat in traditional Italian and French cuisine.
In France, the shoulder or épaule is cooked, cured, roasted, stewed, braised and made into pâtés.
A succulent shoulder roast stuffed with prunes and shallots is a classic French Sunday lunch. This summer we butchered the graduation carcass with the intent to can or cure all of the meat from half a pig. As I made a list of what to make with each cut of meat, I worried over the shoulder. The 25 pound boston butt and picnic ham is a lot of meat. (chart and pix of American cuts here)

In the end,  I decided on a smothered braised recipe I had eaten in a rustic restaurant in the Landes Forest. My escaoudoun a la Croute du Pins was made from artisan French pork like this farm produces.

Although the shoulder meatis fattier than some other cuts, it melts in your mouth when cooked well. Start to compare cuts in the butchers or supermarkets and then taste the differences by choosing two cuts and cooking the same dishes with both of them. The echine,high up on the shoulder makes a great roast but I prefer a braising and stewing the shoulder.

I wonder what Judy will make in Tuscany? 

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ribs-in-Jar: french fast food

This week at Whole Hog we started with the bone gnawing questions of what do Italians and French cooks do with ribs. Judy prepared a fabulous Naples-style Ragu here that turns into a Two-Meal Miracle. I decided to make a fast and furious rib dish to share with friends- French Fast Food.
What was so fast? I drove 4 kilometers to the nearest butcher (now that my 1-kilometer butcher shop has closed!)- 3 minutes. Bought the ribs- 2 minutes. Came home, cut them into single bone pieces- 6 minutes. Placed them in a large canning jar and poured marinade materials over them: a drizzle of our own honey, splash some red wine vinegar and apple juice & a generous pinch of salt and pepper- 4 minutes. Closed the jar, shaken not stirred and let rest while hanging out in the garden (read weeding!).2 hours doesn't count. Cooked the ribs over the grill with the sausage I bought for that night's dinner and then returned the ribs to the jar to store in the fridge.
Then I popped open a jar of simple summer beans I had canned last week (with thyme, bay leaf and Lovage)- 30 seconds. Placed the beans in a casserole dish- 30 more seconds. And slid them into a cold over, turned on a medium heat. 30 seconds de plus! Now just wait until hot- 30 minutes and EAT!

That's an easy 16 1/2 minutes of work, two hours of waiting, and 30 minutes to heat through.

I call it Ribs-n-Jar.
Not all French food takes a long time; the beans were done ahead of time one afternoon. It took me about one hour to shell and cook the fresh beans with the herbs and another 2 hour of canning time while I was doing something else (yup, weeding).Now I have three jars waiting for another fast meal.
The juices of the meaty ribs runs into beans to make a rich sauce.  Beans. Ribs. What's not to like? 
P.S. For all you "I don't have time to cooks", Check out some of the other things I have been cooking this week at my Kitchen-at-Camont here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

One Pot- Two Meals: Naples-style Pork Ragu

When Kate tossed the proverbial bone- RIBS as our Franco-Italo challenge for pork this week, I immediately remembered a rich luscious sauce I had in Naples last year at the bread festival I attended.

Strangely enough the sauce is called Ragu Genovese- Genova-style sauce. The recipe is not from Genova, but it is rather frugal- as are the Genovese, using equal weight of onions to meat in the sauce. The ragu is a classic for the traditional Sunday lunch or holidays and evokes images of mamma up early at the stove with the large pot simmering away all morning filling the air with the profume of love!

It is a long, slow cooked sauce which develops a deep rich flavor lost in todays fast food world.

Not only is the sauce fabulous, but the technique of cooking whole pieces of meat in a tomato sauce, creates two meals from one pot of cooking.

I chose the meatier thicker ribs for this recipe, leaving them in large pieces, which can be then cut for serving.

Salsa alla Genovese

inspired by Favurite- Renato Rutigliano

The traditional recipe often uses a whole piece of beef, a potroast.
I have found many families use various cuts of pork, ribs, sausages and or necks to enrich this sauce.

2 pound/ 1 kg pork ribs
2 carrots
1 celery stalk
3 pounds of onions ( I used the local red onions)
2 cups white wine
1/2 cup olive oil
4 tbs butter
4 tbs lard
2 ounces pancetta or salami chopped into tiny strips or cubes
salt and pepper
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 cup tomato paste
1 cup tomato sauce ( optional)

-Finely mince the carrot, onions and celery together and place in a pan large enough to hold the meat and vegetables.

-Also add the olive oil, lard and butter. Add the chopped pancetta or salami.

-Season with salt and pepper.

-Place the meat on top and start to cook over a low heat.

-Stir the pot occassionally to prevent sticking, the vegetables will give off a lot of liquid.

-Cook for at least one hour. The onions should start to caramelize.

-Add the wine, 1/2 cup additions at a time, letting it absorb into the sauce.

-Add the tomato paste dissolved in the hot water and the tomato sauce. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

-Cover and let cook for another two hours at least.

In Naples they say "pippare"- s tiny bubbling like the hot lava from Vesuvius!!!My friends actually cook the meat for at least 6 hours, you can immagine Grandmother getting up at 6am to have lunch ready at noon!!!

I cooked my ribs for two hours and then cooked the sauce for another hour. The sauce should glimmer when done and be very thick. Some people do not add any tomato sauce at all and more traditionally only tomato paste.

-Remove the meat from the sauce and keep warm.

-Serve the pasta with the sauce, a traditional pasta are Paccheri, a huge oversized hollow rigatoni.

The meat is served as a main course, mashed potatoes would be great to absorb the extra sauce!
I immagine this is where the idea of spaghetti and meatballs came from and Pollo alla cacciatore.Where meats are cooked in sauce and in America, the meatballs were left on the pasta! Chicken cacciatore is the same, often served with huge amounts of sauce, immagine how much nicer it would be to use that sauce on pasta and serve the infused chicken on its own.