Sunday, February 20, 2011

Pork, Pork, Pork, Never Enough Pork

Uh, oh, I just re-read the Charcutepalooza Ruhls and discovered I was supposed to post about my delicious pancetta by the 15th!  Oh well, I did post about my quiche, which was delicious, but I never put up all those other photos and descriptions of all the other dishes I made with the pancetta.  So here goes!
Salted, bagged in fridge for seven days
Rolled and ready to hang
Yes, I'm a little OCD about all the string, but I wanted to make sure it was tight enough so no mold grew  inside....  We have another building on our property, not attached to the house, which contains some exercise equipment and a pool table.  It's easy to control the heat and humidity and the pancetta hung on an exercise bar.  We had already made pancetta in December so I bought this second half of a pork belly in order to make another pancetta within the required time frame.  After two weeks of hanging, it entered my world of pancetta-palooza!

I use pancetta for so many different dishes.  I used it to cover my meatloaf:

Pancetta meatloaf with winter squash
I decided to make a new spin on the classic BLT, so I made myself a PLT!

It actually wasn't a true PLT because I added a slice of swiss cheese.  I was really hungry!  Thinking about the Food52 Citrus & Olive challenge, I also used some pancetta to start off a braised lamb with oranges and olives.  Unfortunately, it didn't make the contest cut but it sure tasted good!  I'm not crazy about the photo, but for a tasty and easy way to add some more depth of flavor I often add pancetta to many meat braises.
Lamb with pancetta, oranges and olives
My favorite dish is one that was made completely from scratch.  I made winter squash ravioli with a pancetta cream sauce.  It's my favorite use of pancetta so far!  The saltiness and flavor of the pancetta combined with the sweet kuri squash filling of the ravioli filled my mouth with such a wonderful balance of flavors.  I think I could eat this once a week!
Winter squash ravioli with pancetta cream sauce
Finally, tonight I'm making a half leg of lamb for dinner and I'm still trying to decide if I should lard the leg with pancetta and garlic, or bone it and stuff it with pancetta, garlic, and maybe some spinach....  The goodness never ends.  I am so thankful for Charcutepalooza!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Charcutepalooza and Food52

I absolutely could not resist.  When Food52 posted this past week's contest requiring a pairing of citrus and olives, and I knew I would be bringing a pancetta and comté cheese quiche to a Superbowl party, I had to enter....Plus, Mrs. Wheelbarrow had, just the week before, announced the new Food52 and Charcutepalooza partnership.  It was fate....

I love orange and olive salads.  I like the color of black olives, although my favorite for taste is the picholine.  Since I live in a very rural area in north Idaho, I was lucky enough to receive a jar of mixed "French" olives for Christmas.  This became the perfect moment to enjoy those olives.  I know that some are picholines and some are niçoise, but other than that, it's a gamble.  At least they still had flavor.  I put several in the salad.  I used both navel and blood oranges because I cannot resist the color.  And, at the moment, we have Maya sweet onions at the local grocery store, so that became my onion of choice.  Actually, they are sweet, but they don't hold a candle to our almost local WallaWallas.

As for the quiche, well, I have been making a number of pancetta dishes for the February Charcutepalooza challenge, and for the Superbowl party I thought a quiche would be a good "finger food."  Since the pancetta has such a different flavor than bacon, and since I had some Comté, I thought that sounded like a rather good combination and, from comments made, people really liked it.  Two challenges, two simple and classic dishes. What could be better?

Orange Suprème and French Olive Salad with Sherry Vinaigrette

1 navel orange, suprèmed
1 blood orange, suprèmed
French olives, to tasted, pitted
Thinly sliced sweet onion
Romaine lettuce
Salt and pepper

Suprème both oranges by removing all membranes, skin, and pith.  Many videos are available online.  If you're relatively skillful with a knife, hold the peeled orange in your hand, over a bowl, while cutting out the membranes.  This saves the juice for the salad.

Using the flat blade of a knife, push down on the olives to remove the pits. 

Very thinly slice about a quarter of a sweet onion. 

With your hands, tear enough romaine lettuce for two into your preferred bite sized pieces, add salt and pepper to taste, and mix in the simple sherry dressing.

Top with some navel and blood orange suprème segments, olives, and onion.

Sherry Vinaigrette for Two

1 T. Spanish sherry vinegar
2 T. olive oil
1 T. juice from orange suprèmes

Mix thoroughly.

Pancetta and Comté Quiche

Pie Crust:

1 1/4 c. flour
Pinch of salt
1/2 c. chilled butter (unsalted)
scant 1/4 c. ice water

Combine flour and salt in food processor bowl.  Cut the butter into approximately 12-14 small pieces.  Add to flour.  Pulse on and off until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Drizzle in water until it loosely comes together after several more pulses.  Lie large crumbles on plastic wrap,  Using the wrap over your hands, slowly mold this into a flat round.  Refridgerate for about 15-20 minutes.

Remove from fridge and roll, turning, until large enough for quiche pan.  Make sure you have enough to cover the edges.  Cut off excess.


1 1/2 cups shredded Comté cheese
4 eggs
1 3/4 c. half-and-half or cream
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of nutmeg
4 slices cooked pancetta, cut into large dice
1 T. butter

Sprinkle 1/4 - 1/3 of the cheese over the bottom of pie shell.  Beat the eggs with half-and-half, salt, and nutmeg.  Fold in the pancetta and cheese.  Pour into quiche crust and dot with butter.  Bake at 375F for 35-40 minutes, until middle is slightly puffed and golden brown.  Let cool and serve.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Pancetta Heaven

Pancetta beginnings.  So, before the February challenge, my husband and I had already received a pork belly for Christmas, so, we ate half the pork belly braised, and now we're making foods using our cured pork belly.  However, I want to be part of the monthly challenges and deadlines for Charcutepalooza so last Thursday, I picked up another half of pork belly.  On Friday I started the curing process and have been massaging the salt and herb into it everyday.  We'll probably do the tight roll on Saturday.

In the meantime, my dear friend, Mark, gave me four wild goose breasts that a friend had given him.  Mark is sooo generous!  Since they had no skin, and, being wild, no fat, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with them.  But, in true Charcutepalooza spirit I said to myself, "wild goose breast confit"!  I have enough duck fat frozen so I only needed to defrost the fat and season the goose breast (again, Charcuterie).  Tomorrow morning the confit begins...sigh...I can already feel the love.