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.
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