Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Yumbo Scrumbo!

We recently had the extreme pleasure of watching the Farmstead Meatsmith movies. We watched them several times, because the kids were heavily into them too. Oscar even declared that he was not going to go to Uni because he wanted to be a farmer. Cool!
If you haven't seen Farmstead Meatsmith, and you're interested in reconnecting with your food, I'd encourage you to have a look. 
They are incredibly beautiful, and the Farmstead Meatsmith man, Brandon, is eloquent, passionate, handsome and charming. Makes for good watching, let me tell you. He talks about the value that is inherent in food that's been prepared by your own hand - the social value of getting together with friends to prepare and preserve food, but also the value you place in the food because of the work you put into it.

We are lucky enough to be experiencing this on a more and more regular basis as we work towards our goal of only eating food grown/killed/prepared by us or someone we know. And this morning, after unveiling our first home-made ham, it was taken to a whole new level. 
The ham, fresh out of its night spent wrapped in muslin, then wrapped in lucerne, then put into the camp oven, then baked.
The ham was brined for 6 days (molasses and home-brew stout brine!!), then hung, then smoked for 6 hours, then baked overnight in our wood-fired oven in a bed of lucerne hay. 
In goes the molasses and stout, cinnamon sticks and cloves a-floatin'

I cannot even begin to describe the taste of this ham, and I don't want to go on and on about it - you should try it for yourself! - but I will say that the pure plain goodness of the thing comes, of course, from its deliciousness, but also the amount of work and love that went into making it. Oh, and of course the pig was happy and killed quickly in the paddock where it lived (= no stress). That's an important bit, and not to be overlooked.
Hams in the smoke house
In addition to this ridiculous ham (Texture! Taste! Joy!), we also spent 2 days preparing the rest of the pig in many and sundry other ways. This was an experience in itself, involving friendship and sharing and experimentation and learning. It was ace.

We gathered at our lovely and ever-generous friend David's house to take advantage of his facilities (running water! proper kitchen!) and excellent view. 
We used Thea's mincer to mince up the kilos and kilos of mince required for the dozens of various sausages we made, and used the very lovely brand-spankin-new sausage cannon purchased with proceeds of the July Teatowel-a-thon to stuff said sausages. Thanks y'all!!

Not too hard once you get the hang of it
We made Calabrese salami, which is a super-basic but probably-quite-delicious-based-on-our-fried-up-taste-tests recipe out of the book, Preserving the Italian Way. They're currently hanging in David's cellar, half smoked, half plain, just to see what we like best. We made Calabrese pancetta from the same book, and Matthew Evans' pancetta from the Gourmet Farmer Deli Book
Matthew pancetta in its herby salt
The pancettas both involve dry-curing for 4 days, though the  Matthew is cured in herby salt, and the Calabrese in plain salt, then washed in red wine (!) and rubbed with chilli before being hung. 
Yes yes, it looks like blood, but it's actually our Calabrese pancetta being doused in red wine
They both have to hang for around 6 weeks. Needless to say, we're just a tad excited about them being ready to eat. 

We made English pork sausages from the same book, and bratwurst and a fresh chorizo (which is almost already all gone on pizzas and spanish rice and chickpea stew and a rabbit stew we cooked on the fire with Rohan Anderson.

We got pork roasts and chops, we had crackling and of course, the hams. 

We're feeling like we now have enough pork to last us at least half a year. We had fun, and we learnt some stuff,  and we feel proud of our efforts and proud to share all our porky goodness with our friends.

And we feel happy that we had a hand in making our food - making it delicious, preserving it, and just generally getting more involved with it than a cursory visit to the deli counter. I can guarantee it's more delicious for the love that went into it.
In the cellar with, from left: Calabrese pancetta (it's covered in chilli powder), Matthew pancetta and Calabrese salamis


  1. I've just discovered your blog through a link from Rohan's blog and I just wanted to say how much I've enjoyed reading it. We've just bought some acreage of our own and I'm feeling very inspired! Thanks for the great read... and I'll be looking up those Ottoline books for my daughter!

    1. Hello there, wow thanks so much for your lovely comment. We're so glad to hear you enjoyed what you read. Hurrah.How very exciting that you're also embarking on your own small-scale farm adventure and how very wonderful that we've left you feeling inspired. This makes our day. We look forward to reading about your forays and explorations on your blog. All the best x

  2. Having Rohan to stay, I can imagine the inspiration and ideas flowing.
    Homemade ham is the ultimate, the flavour would be like nothing else.
    You really have been busy. x

    1. Hello Zara, thanks for taking the time to comment. Yes indeedy we've been busy but it's busy in the very best sense. Have you ever made your own ham? It is quite sensational and nothing like the supermarket stuff. Hope you're enjoying Spring x

  3. I'm so happy to find you! Wow - you are going gangbusters (that's a good thing...) - so inspiring. we are trying to do what we can on our quarter acre suburban block, with the help of our wonderful Mediterranean neighbours (of which there are very many!) This year we made salami for the first time, and not nearly enough for the salami habit we now have - our son would eat them whole, daily, if there were enough of them.
    I'm looking forward to reading back over your posts and seeing what comes next!

  4. Hello Kirti, thanks for your warm and enthusiastic comment and so glad to hear you're happy to find us. What a thrill for us. Yes the homemade small goods are pretty addictive aren't they?
    Our friends over at Happy Earth - have transformed a quarter-acre suburban block and a tiny fibro house and may provide you with further inspiration.
    Can't wait to check out your blog.
    All the best to you x