Foongfest’s Salt Challenge Wrap Up – The Obsession
It’s been about a month and a half since I first got involved in this online cult known as Charcutepalooza. These folks are crazy. They believe in the god of cured meats. They tweet and blog excitedly about getting pork jowls (yeah, that’s the face/jaw of a pig), firm breasts (many claim it’s ducks’ breast), rubbing bellies (of a pig’s), “meating” up with each other, and they worship and adore of lard as though it’s the best invention since sliced bread. I’m proud to be one of them.
February marked the salt cure challenge. What the heck is this you may ask? Well, Cathy aka Mrs Wheelbarrow and Kim aka The Yummy Mummy are challenging us to cure bacon and/or pancetta or guanciale and blogging our results. Well, in the words of Barney Stinson, challenge accepted.
The main purpose of the challenges aren’t so much about charcuterie (that’s cooking devoted to prepared meat products) recipes as opposed to using what was made. But of course, with curing meat being such an integral part of the process, it’s hard to avoid writing about it.
What I didn’t know is that this unleashed some sort of strange passion within me.
The truth is that I spent more time focusing on the curing process than using the finished product. I devoured books relating to Charcuterie and Nose to Tail cooking. I began learning about the anatomy of the pig in great depths. Once, without hesitation, I drove for over two hours just buy a smoker in order to smoke bacon. I was frequently asking the pig farmers at the farmers market for a whole pig’s head every chance I got. I even cut myself for the first time in 3 years while skinning a jowl. Really, curing meats became an obsession.
And so it brings me back to what I’ve done over the last month. Rather than give you detail after detail about how I went about curing my meats, I’ll save it for another post this week. (It’s generally quite simple though, coat meat with a salt-sugar-curing salt mixture, leave it in the fridge and wait for a week then hang dry/smoke.) At the same time, I probably don’t have as fancy or creative a recipe as some of my well esteemed Charcutepaloozans. These folks are awesomely creative. Ideas like bacon jam, pancetta bread and bacon desserts are hard to beat. So in humility, I submit to you one of the ways I used both pancetta and bacon – a cabbage filled crepe. Wait, a cabbage crepe, you say? Where’s the bacon? Where’s the pancetta? Well, hang in there buster.
You start off with rendering off the fat and crisping up the bacon and pancetta, then removing the pancetta to add into the crepe batter. Saute the bacon with some chopped up cabbage (or any other green of your choosing for that matter), deglaze with some vermouth or white wine and you have your filling. For the crepes, mix in the pancetta with the batter (made in the 2:2:1 eggs-liquid-flour ratio) and start then start making crepes. Stuff the crepes with the filling and… boom! There you have it.
I hate writing recipes so here’s my go at it. I have my personal notes (as in how I jot down cooking ideas) below that.
Recipe (Makes 4 crepes)
1 slice bacon (sliced into ¼ inch strips)
8 oz cabbage (about half a head)
2oz dry vermouth
2 large (2oz) eggs
2oz flour (I use AP but wheat or rice flour should work too)
1 slice pancetta (sliced into ¼ inch strips)
- In a bowl, beat the eggs. Add the liquid for the batter and the flour and mix till smooth. Let sit for 30mins or up to a day.
- Place bacon and pancetta on different sides of a cold pan. Bring the pan up to a med-high heat and cook till crisp. Remove the pancetta and a tablespoon of oil from the pan and set aside separately.
- Place cabbage in the pan and sauté till wilted, about 5-10 minutes. When wilted, deglaze with dry vermouth or white wine and cook for another 2-3 minutes and set aside.
- Mix in the crisped pancetta into the crepe batter.
- Heat up another pan (12-inch non-stick or a cast iron) on medium high and wipe it over with a paper towel soaked with the rendered fat from the bacon and pancetta. When the pan is heated, pour in 2 oz of crepe batter and swirl the pan such that the crepe batter is evenly distributed. When the batter has firmed up (about 2 minutes) flip on the other side for another 30 seconds to a minute. If the crepe turns out too thick for your liking, add more water to the batter.
- Fill the crepe with the cabbage stuffing and fold into quarters (or half). Serve warm.