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Charcuterie and Pastry Dough

There’s only 78 days left until the Charleston Wine and Food Festival and I have no idea how I’m going to make it that long. Do y’all remember last year?

sausage and shrimp rice stew
sausage and shrimp rice stew
grilled, charred sweetbreads over slaw
grilled, charred sweetbreads over slaw
Complexus Beef Tartare
Complexus Beef Tartare

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While I anxiously await next year’s festival, Alfonso has been finishing up this semester of culinary school. His favorite class, by far, was the Butchery and Charcuterie class, of which I benefited as well- a little sample here, a little sample there. Apart from bringing me delicious bits of spiced meats, Chef Fonz took to the kitchen on weekends to try his hand at “apartment-made” charcuterie. Enter forcemeat.

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I was a little nervous about the project because I didn’t think our Ninja would work as well as the school’s grinder and I thought that we were going to have a meaty mess. I was completely wrong. Ninja is the bomb. Go buy a Ninja. We ground up Boston butt and pork belly (the recipe, a variation on Fonz’s master On Cooking book) in the Ninja, added the spice mix, and wrapped that little meat cake in a puff pastry Snuggie.

pork belly
pork belly
Boston butt
Boston butt

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forcemeat in a blanket
forcemeat in a blanket
wrapping it up
wrapping it up

To be honest the name “forcemeat” did not entice me from the beginning. I was worried it would have too chunky of a texture and gross me out. But, I was wrong again! Make sure to grind it long enough and it will be smooth and creamy. After it bakes and and sets for about an hour, the tart will hold up and you can cut and sear a piece to enjoy with onion sauce.

forcemeat in pastry dough with onion sauce
forcemeat in pastry dough with onion sauce

We had fun experimenting with charcuterie-at-home and now I’m kind of hoping Chef Fonzi takes a dessert and pastry class sometime in the near future. I wouldn’t mind doing the taste testing for his final, either. Bring on the mini chocolate tarts!

On a side note: it feels a little culinarily (hmmm?) badass to grind up meat and bake it up in pastry.

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Basic Forcemeat en croûte with Onion Sauce

*adapted from a recipe in On Cooking

2 lbs Boston butt
1 lb 6 oz pork belly
3 gr. cloves, ground
3 gr. nutmeg, ground
3 gr. paprika
4 gr. black pepper
1 gr. bay leaves
3 gr. dry thyme
1 gr. dry oregano
2 T salt
4 eggs
2 sheets pastry dough, defrosted

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Grind the Boston butt and the pork belly together in a high powered blender, such as a Ninja, until smooth. Add the spices, salt, and eggs and mix together. Refrigerate for 4-6 hours.

Divide the meat mixture into two equal portions and grease and flour appropriately-sized, oven-safe dishes. Line the dishes, each with one sheet of pastry dough. Let enough spill over the sides to cover the filling. Fill each pan with half the meat mixture and cover and wrap with the pastry dough. Brush with an egg wash and cut two slits on top of each pastry.

Bake uncovered for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350°F, cover the dishes, and bake until center reaches 145°F. Remove from the oven, uncover, and let sit for 1 hour to firm up. When ready to serve, slice the loaf and sear in a pan over medium-high heat until golden brown on each side. Top with onion sauce (see below).

Onion Sauce

2 T olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 t flour
3/4 t salt
3/4 t pepper
3/4 quart chicken stock, preferably homemade

Heat the oil over medium- low heat and add the onions. Slowly caramelize the onions so they brown, but also become tender. Add in the flour, salt, and pepper and stir around to make a paste. Slowly whisk in the stock to make a sauce. Simmer the sauce on medium-low until it reduces to the desired consistency. Add more salt to taste.

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Stay with us this week because we’ve got some Spanish holiday baking going on we don’t want you to miss!

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