Monday, July 28, 2008

Anthony Bourdain, Slow Food, and Feeding the World

"As much as I admired and appreciated the slow-food movement, and the increased interest in better, more seasonal ingredients, there was a whiff of orthodoxy about it all that I felt contradicted the chef's basic mission: to give pleasure. I'd met a lot of hungry people in recent years and I doubted very much whether they cared if their next meal came from the next village over or a greenhouse in Tacoma. The notion of "terroir" and "organic" started to seem like the kind of thinking you'd expect of the privileged - or isolationist. The very discussion of "organic" vs "nonorganic", I knew, was a luxury. I've since come to believe that any overriding philosophy or worldview is the enemy of good eating." Anthony Bourdain

I greatly appreciate this quote as it states much of my feeling on why I participate in groups such as Slow Food. I believe Slow Food is a suburb organization, I just feel that some people forget that others don't have everything that they have received in life. Not everyone can afford the $4/lb tomato some of us buy, so just think of that before you start to lecture someone on their eating habits.

I have been a member of Slow Food for about five or six years and have found many a friend from participation. Just this past weekend I attended the first official dinner for the new Saratoga Slow Food chapter up at Top of the World in Lake George, NY. A very good meal, utilizing many local ingredients from local farmers, including Sheldon Farms where I cooked for a Slow Food fundraiser yesterday, both breakfast and lunch so I am a little burnt out.

Usually I find the conversations to be wonderful with great topics on food and culture and how we can "ideally" live. I occasionally get disappointed when I bring up topics of helping to feed those that are less fortunate than some of us. The conversation will invariably lead to how they should be eating locally and more nutritious foods, but I rarely hear how we can do this.

For the last year I have been researching this project that Rutger's University, I believe through the IR-4 program. The idea was to take a city block in NYC and convert it into a multi-tier farming facility with I think about 32 floors. Each floor would pretty much contain the necessary essentials for meals, with each floor coming into season after the prior floor was harvested. this one building would be capable of feeding the entire island of Manhattan for the full-year.

Many people would complain that this project is not "natural" due to the fact that obviously it would utilize artificial lighting and fertilizers. However, natural fertilizers could be used and quite honestly, I don't think the homeless or working poor truly care where their food comes from daily, this is evidenced by the growing waistlines reported as many have turned to cheap eats like McDonald's cheap menus or some that are in food-deserts and must shop at the local bodega which is over priced junk food. This project would be getting quality food into their homes, and for those of us that can afford the higher priced heirloom vegetables and other specialty items, we could still buy as we have been.

When thinking about our foodways it is great to idealize, but we also need to ground ourselves in reality. Yes, the localvore thing where you eat within 100 miles of your home is great, but it isn't always feasible for all people. So think about your audience and the lifestyles of some of the people you run into before you preach to them. Sometimes you can do more harm than good for the effort by putting off a person who has less than yourself.

Currently watching :
King Corn
Release date: 2008-04-29

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Slow Food Saratoga Region Breakfast and Luncheon at Sheldon Farms

Have a Slow Food Breakfast with Us

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We can't (or won't) bring you breakfast in bed but it won't be hard to get dressed for a gorgeous Chef-prepared tasting menu of local food, served amidst the fields in which it was grown.

Chef Christopher Tanner has created a fantastic tasting menu for this benefit event for Slow Food Saratoga:

Gazpacho in Cucumber Cups (think bloody mary, byov)
Sweet Corn Blinis with Maple Creme Fraiche
Mountain View Farm's Berkshire Bacon, Roasted Corn, and New Potato Hash
Hot Corn Fritters Drizzled with Maple Syrup
Squash Blossoms Stuffed with Berkshire Pork Sausage and Al Ducci's Fresh Mozzarella
Chef-made Charcuterie · Mrs. London's Fire Bread · Sweet Butter
Mrs. London's Croissants · Sissy's Sour Cherry and Blueberry Jams*

*Made by Sissy Hicks, former chef/owner, The Dorset Inn

When: Sunday, July 27 9 - 10:30 a.m. Where: The Lawn at Sheldon Farms Market
Tickets: Slow Food Members $15 Non-Members $20 Please reserve. Seating limited.

Food donated by Mrs. London's Bakery, Mountain View Farm, Sheldon Farms, and prepared gratis by Chef Christopher Tanner in support and celebration of the new Slow Food Chapter.
Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit Slow Food Saratoga.

And/or Enjoy a Slow Food Lunch...

deppAfter our breakfast, or the Courthouse brunch, you'll want to visit a farm or two .... and the next thing you'll be hungry again!

Chef Chris Tanner and Sheldons continue the Sunday Slow Food Benefit with a siesta-time fiesta.... from 1 pm - 3:30 pm. Stop by for a nice slow Yucatan-inspired meal to enjoy here or take home for supper.

We have not heard definitely that Johnny Depp will not be stopping by to partake in this very generous meal of Mexican goodness.....

Fresh sweet corn and black bean salsa with fresh tortilla chips
Cochinita Pibil (Traditional Yucatecan Pork Shoulder Slowly Roasted in Banana Leaves)
Chef-Made Tamale
Pickled Red Onions · Red Beans with Chorizo · Rice
Grilled Sheldon Corn with Lime Butter
Guacamole · Tomato Onion Salsa
Fresh hand-made stone ground white corn tortillas · Valentina Hot Sauce

When: Sunday, July 27 1 - 3:30 p.m. Where: The Lawn at Sheldon Farms Market
Tickets: Slow Food Members $20 Non-Members $25 Nap in the Hammock $100
Please reserve.

Ingredients donated by Sheldon Farms and prepared gratis by Chef Christopher Tanner in support of the new Slow Food Chapter.

Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit Slow Food Saratoga.
How (and many reasons why) to join Slow Food Saratoga

As a member of Slow Food Saratoga you'll receive discounts on Slow Food events in the Saratoga/Capital District area, in New York Cityand around the'll meet fascinating people who enjoy good food and good living ... you'll receive Slow Food USA periodicals, beautifully designed and illustrated, provocatively written. Your membership includes:

  • A one-year subscription to the Snail, which covers good, clean and fair food issues such as sustainable seafood, alternative food distribution, protecting biodiversity and regional food traditions.
  • A selection of publications from Slow Food International that feature in-depth stories of the movement from around the world.
  • The Food Chain, our monthly e-newsletter that highlights the activities of our 160 convivia, our diverse programs and the latest headlines in food sustainability.
  • A personal membership card and a copy of the Slow Food Companion (for first-time members, mailed quarterly), which details Slow Food's mission, network and projects.
  • Membership in the Saratoga Convivium and invitations to local, national and international Slow Food events ranging from seasonal feasts to film festivals, farm tours to taste workshops.
  • Discounts on merchandise including the Slow Food Guides to New York City, Chicago and San Francisco and other items in our General Store. Call for member discount or order through the monthly Food Chain.
An individual membership equals only $5 a month.... Start saving with these great events by visiting the web (Link below - Amex, Mastercard and Visa accepted). Or stop by the farmstore for a brochure and membership form.

'There are consequences to the decisions we make every day about what we eat. If we support the people who take care of the land, cook the food ourselves
and come back to the table, we will discover a delicious way of life,' says Alice Waters,
founder of Slow Food Nation, Slow Food International vice-president, and author of the foreword to Come to the Table: The Slow Food Way of Living.

black snail
Meet Chef Chris

Chef Christopher Tanner is a certified executive chef and member of the American Culinary Federation. With experience at numerous restaurants in NYC, Saratoga and Florida, Chef Chris is currently teaching at the prodigious culinary arts program at Schenectady County Community College, plus working on his Master's degree thesis in gastronomy at Boston University. He is classically trained in French haute cuisine as well as regional Italian, Mexican and Asian cuisines.
We have opened our roadside stand at the Christmas Shop on Rte 50 in Wilton, noon-6 pm, seven days a week. We are also at The Saturday Saratoga Farmers' Market and the Sunday Dorset Farmers' Market.

The heirloom tomatoes are ripening, sweet corn is sensational, green beans at their most luscious, and yes the Pennsylvania peaches have arrived. We also have Milky Way bars (please ask.)
We look forward to seeing you, and thank you for your support,

Pat and Albert at Sheldon Farms

Thursday, July 3, 2008

What the heck is this Charcuterie Things?

A number of people have been asking me what this charcuterie thing is that I do. I usually give a simple answer that it has to do with sausages, terrine, pate, galantine and the sort. However, I started to realize that they probably did not know what a terrine, pate or a galantine was either. So in the interest of education I thought I would post the Wikipedia article which I personally wrote a few weeks ago describing the different aspects of the craft. The article is not complete, it is missing items such as confit and I do not have specifics found in different cuisines, so check back soon and there should be some more info on there. The platter you see up to the right there is an example of a competition platter I did a couple years ago utilizing charcuterie skills. I hope everyone has a wonderful 4th of July.

Charcuterie, derived from the French words for flesh (chair) and cooked (cuit), is the branch of cooking devoted to prepared meat products such as bacon, ham, sausage, terrines, galantines, pâtés, and confit, primarily from pork.[1] Charcuterie is part of the garde manger chef's repertoire. Originally intended as a way to preserve meats before the advent of refrigeration, these preparations are prepared today for their flavors that are derived from the preservation processes.[2] Charcuterie in Italy is known as salumi.


The Romans may be the first to have regulated the trade of charcuterie as they wrote laws regulating the proper production of pork joints; it was the French though, who raised the skill to an art. In 15th century France local guilds regulated tradesman in the food production industry in each city. The guilds that produced charcuterie were those of the charcutiers. The members of this guild produced a traditional range of cooked or salted and dried meats, which varied, sometimes distinctively, from region to region. The only "raw" meat the charcutiers were allowed to sell was unrendered lard. The charcutier prepared numerous items including pâtés, rillettes, sausages, bacon, trotters, and head cheese. These preservation methods ensured that meats would have a longer shelf-life.[3]

Products created with forcemeats

Forcemeat is a mixture of ground, lean meat emulsified with fat. The emulsification can be accomplished by grinding, sieving, or pureeing the ingredients. The emulsification may either be smooth or coarse in texture, depending on the desired consistency of the final product. Forcemeats are used in the production of numerous items found in charcuterie. Proteins commonly used in the production of forcemeats include pork, fish (pike, trout, or salmon), seafood, game meats (venison, boar, or rabbit), poultry, game birds, veal, and pork livers. Pork fatback is often used for the fat portion of forcemeat as it has a somewhat neutral flavor.[4]

In American usage, there are four basic styles of forcemeats. Straight forcemeats are produced by progressively grinding equal parts pork and pork fat with a third dominant meat which can be pork or another meat. The proteins are cubed and then seasoned, cured, rested, ground and then placed into desired vessel.[4] Country-style forcemeats are a combination of pork, pork fat, often with the addition of pork liver and garnish ingredients. The finished product has a coarse texture.[4] The third style is gratin which has a portion of the main protein browned; the French term gratin connotes a "grated" product that is browned.[4]. The final style is mousseline which are very light in texture utilizing lean cuts of meat usually from veal, poultry, fish, or shellfish. The resulting texture comes from the addition of eggs and cream to this forcemeat.[4]


Derived through French from the Latin sal, "salt", sausage-making is a technique that involves placing ground or chopped meats along with salt into a tube. The tubes can vary, but the more common animal-derived tubes include sheep, hog, or cattle intestinal linings. Additionally, animal stomachs, bladders, as-well-as inedible casings produced from collagen, plant cellulose or paper are used. Not all casings are edible; inedible ones are primarily used to shape, store, and age the sausage.[5] There are two main variants of sausage, fresh and cooked. Fresh sausages involve the production of raw meats placed into casings to be cooked at a later time, whereas cooked sausages are heated during production and are ready to eat at the end of production.[6]

Emulsified sausage

Emulsified sausages are cooked sausages with a very fine texture, using the combination of pork, beef, or poultry with fat, salt, nitrate, flavorings and water. These items are emulsified at high-speed in a food processor or blender. During this process the salt dissolves the muscle proteins, which helps to suspend the fat molecules. Temperature is an important part of the process, if the temperature rises above 60 degrees for pork or 70 degrees for beef, the emulsification will not hold and fat will leak from the sausage during the cooking process.[6]

Pâté, terrine, galantine, roulade

Pâté and terrines are often cooked in a pastry crust or a earthenware container. Both the earthenware container and the dish itself are called a terrine. Pâté and terrine are very similar: the term pâté often suggests a finer-textured forcemeat utilizing liver, while terrines are more often made of a coarser forcemeat. The meats are chopped or ground, along with heavy seasoning, which may include fat and other proteins. The seasoning is important for pâté and terrine as they will generally be served cold, as the seasoning must be increased as the flavors will be muted when cold.[7]

The mixture is placed into a lined mold, covered and cooked in a water bath to control the temperature, which will keep the forcemeat from separating as the water bath slows the heating process of the terrine. Pâté and terrine are generally cooked to 160 degrees, while terrine made of foie gras are generally cooked to an internal temperature of 120 degrees. After the proper temperature is reached the terrine is removed from the oven and placed into a cooling unit topped with a weight to compact the contents of the terrine. Then it is allowed to rest for several days to allow the flavors to blend.[7]

Galantine is a chilled production of poultry created after the French Revolution by the chef to the Marquis de Brancas. The term galant connotes urbane sophistication. Other origins are suggested: the older French word for chicken géline or galine or the word gelatin which sources suggest that the spelling of gelatin transformed into the words galentyne, galyntyne, galandyne, and galendine. The galantine is prepared by skinning and de-boning a chicken or other poultry. The skin is laid flat, with the pounded breast laid on top. A forcemeat is then placed on top of the pounded breast. The galantine is then rolled with the ends of the breast meeting one another. The galantine is then wrapped in cheesecloth and poached in poultry stock until the proper internal temperature is reached.[8]

Roulade is similar to a galantine. There are two major differences, the first difference is that instead of rolling the poultry evenly for the ends of the breasts to meet, the bird is rolled into a pinwheel shape. The second difference is that when the roulade is cooled it is chilled after it has been removed from the poaching liquid.[8]

Salt-cured and brined products

Salt serves four main purposes in the preservation of food in the charcuterie kitchen. The first is inducing osmosis: this process involves the movement of water outside of the cell membranes of the proteins, which in turn reabsorb the salted water back into the cell; this process assists in the destruction of harmful pathogens. The second is dehydration, which means that the salt pulls excess water from the protein, which aids in the shelf-life of the protein as there is less moisture present for bacteria to thrive in. Fermentation is the third, in which salt assists in halting the fermentation process in meat which would otherwise completely break it down. Finally, salt assists in denaturing proteins, which in essence means that the structure of the proteins are effectively shifted, similar to the effects of cooking.[9]

Before the discovery of nitrates and nitrites by German chemists around 1900, curing was done with unrefined salt and saltpeter (potassium nitrate). As saltpeter gives inconsistent results, and has been outlawed in the United States for culinary uses since 1975, nitrate and nitrates have increased in popularity for their consistent results. Nitrates take a considerably longer period of time to break down in cured foods than nitrites; because of this fact nitrates are the preferred curing salts for lengthy curing and drying periods. Nitrites are often used in foods that require a shorter curing time and are used for any item that will be fully cooked.[10] Eventually a portion of the nitrates will break down into nitrites.[11]

Nitrite has multiple purposes in the curing process. One purpose is flavor, the nitrites give a sharp, piquant flavor to the meat. Secondly the nitrites react with the meat molecules to produce nitric oxide. In producing nitric oxide the iron becomes incapable of breaking down the fat in the meat, thus halting rancidity. The binding also creates the characteristic reddish color found in most cured meats. Finally the nitrite inhibits the growth of botulism which would ordinarily thrive in the oxygen-deprived environment in the sausage casing. German scientists originally named botulism poisoning Wurstvergiftung or "sausage disease". The term botulism derives its name from the Latin term for sausage.[12]

Nitrates and nitrites have been noted to react with one another and form nitrosamines which are known to cause cancer. Recent research has proven this risk to be minimal, but regulations in the United States limit residual nitrates and nitrites to 200 parts per million (0.02%) as a cautionary measure.[12]

Curing salt blends

There are two main types of curing salt mixtures used by the charcutier. The first is known by multiple names, including "tinted cure mix", "pink cure", "prague powder", or "insta-cure #1". The mixture is 94 percent sodium chloride and 6 percent sodium nitrate. When used, the recommended amount is a ratio of 4oz/113g for each 100lb/45.36kg of meat or 4 percent of the total weight of the meat. This blend is colored bright pink to keep the charcutier from confusing the mixture with regular salt.[13]

The second curing salt blend is called "prague powder II" or "insta-cure #2". Also colored pink to differentiate it from table salt, this blend is produced from salt, sodium nitrite, and sodium nitrate. This mixture is used for dry-sausages that require a longer drying period which requires the presence of nitrate.[13]

Seasoning and flavoring agents

Sweeteners and other flavoring agents are necessary in the production of many cured products due to the harsh flavors of the curing salts. A number of sweeteners can be used in curing foods, including dextrose, sugar, corn syrup, honey, and maple syrup. Dextrose is seen often in cured meats as it not only mellows the harshness, but it also increases the moisture content of the cured product while not adding a sweet flavor to the cured meat. The sweeteners also assist in stabilizing the colors in meats and it also helps the fermentation process by giving a nutrient to the bacteria.[14]

Numerous spices and herbs are used in the curing process to assist with the flavor of the final product. The sweet spices regularly used include cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, mace, and cardamom. Other flavoring agents may include dried and fresh chilies, wine, fruit juice, or vinegar.[14]

Fermented sausage

Fermented sausage are created by salting chopped or grounds meats to remove moisture, while allowing beneficial bacteria to break down mild flavored proteins into highly aromatic and flavorful molecules. Bacteria, including Lactobacilli and Leuconostoc, break down these protein molecules and create lactic acid which not only affects the flavor of the sausage, but also lowers the pH from 6 to 4.5-5, making the environment less suitable to bacteria that may spoil the sausage. The effects are magnified during the drying process, as the salt and acidity are concentrated as the moisture is extracted.[15]

The ingredients found in a fermented sausage include meat, fat, bacterial culture, salt, spices, sugar and nitrate. Nitrate must be added to fermented sausages to stop the formation of botulism bacteria. The sugar is added to aid the bacterial culture in the production of lactic acid during the 18-hour to three-day fermentation process, the time depending on the temperature in which the sausage is stored at: the lower the temperature, the longer the fermentation period. A white mold and yeast normally adheres to the outside of the sausage during the drying process. This mold adds to the flavor of the sausage but also aids in preventing harmful bacteria attaching itself to the drying sausage.[15]

There are two main types of fermented sausage. The first would be the dry, salted, spiced sausages found in the warmer climates of the Mediterranean in countries such as Italy, Spain, and Portugal. As these sausages contain 25-35% water and more than 4% salt, they may be stored at room temperature. The sausages of northern Europe are usually contain less salt, usually around 3% , 40-50% water and as such do not dry well in the humid climate of countries like Germany.[15]

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Charcuterie: Preserving a Classical Skill

One of my favorite parts of classical French cooking is the preparation of garde manger items. Specifically I love pates, terrines, rillettes, sausages and other similar items which are more specifically considered charcuterie. I go through phases of what I like to prepare depending on the time of year and other outside influences, such as seeing fresh product used to make such items. During the summer I tend to lean toward seafood and poultry items, while the fall and winter tends to bring forth heavier pork preparations along with turkey and game meats.

Many of these items were originally prepared as a way of preserving food longer or using pieces of the animal that there was little other usage for. Today we have such access to ingredients that not only do we get to utilize ancillary proteins in our kitchens, but we can use just about any flavor combination we desire, as long as it is tasty.

Seeing as we are in summer, I will share a recipe for a Trout Galantine with Dilled, Smoked Trout Forcemeat.

Trout Galantine with Dilled, Smoked Trout Forcemeat
1 tablespoon butter
2 oz. onion, minced
3 oz. smoked trout fillet, skinned, chopped coarsely
3 oz. trout fillet, skinned, chopped coarsely
2 slices white bread, crust removed
1 egg white
1.5 tablespoon light cream
pinch of salt, ground white pepper, nutmeg and dry mustard
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon fresh dill, minced
7 trout fillets, skinned, 3oz. each
Enough fish broth to submerge galantine in poaching vessal

1. Melt butter in a medium saute pan over medium/high heat and onions and cook until soft, but do allow to color, remove from pan and allow to cool.
2. Place smoked and fresh chopped trout into a large bowl, top with the sauteed onion and bread. Top egg white and cream to moisten bread and top with salt, white pepper, nutmeg and dry mustard. Place in cooler and chill for at least 1 hour.
3. Grind all chilled ingredients through the finest die of a meat grinder. Sieve through a drum sieve or strainer into a bowl over ice.
4. Mix ground forcemeat with whipping cream over iced bowl and then fold in dill.
5. Place trout fillets down on a layer of plastic wrap making sure they touch one another with the skin side up. Completely cover fillets with trout forcemeat. Once covered, roll the covered trout fillets into a log to create the galantine. Roll galantine in plastic wrap or cheese cloth as tightly as possible and tie the ends tightly with butchers twine.
6. Chill galantine while warming fish broth t0 175 degrees. Once at the proper temperature, submerge galantine in broth and poach for 30 minutes or until an internal temperature of 140 degrees is reached. Remove pan from heat, add 8 oz of ice cubes to poaching liquid and chill the galantine inside poaching vessel for 6-8 hours or until fully chilled.
7. Remove galantine from poaching liquid, unwrap and slice as desired. Serve with a dill or tarragon infused mayonnaise and a light salad as a first course or a light luncheon.

I have quite a large library of books on garde manger. Any chef would do well to have many of these in their repertoire, but any home cook with some practice can make any of these items as well. The most important part of attaining the ingredients for charcuterie and other garde manger items is to assure that the items are of the utmost freshness. So with that, I give you a list of suggested books for you to work on your own garde manger and charcuterie skills.

Book List
Garde Manger: The Art and Craft of the Cold Kitchen by The Culinary Institute of America.
Third edition is due out January 3rd 2008

The Professional Chef's Art of Garde Manger by Frederic H. Sonnenschmidt.
Chef Sonnenschmidt is a walking reference book and classical practitioner of the craft, this was my textbook in culinary school.

The Professional Garde Manger: A Guide to the Art of the Buffet by David Paul Larousse .
Another textbook style book, good writing

Modern Garde Manger by Robert B Garlough, Angus Campbell.
Winner of the International Association of Culinary Professionals cookbook award in the food reference/technical category.

Professional Charcuterie: Sausage Making, Curing, Terrines, and Pâtés by John Kinsella and David T. Harvey.
An absolute favorite of mine, especially for the sausage recipes.

Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing by Michael Ruhlman (Author), Brian Polcyn (Author), Thomas Keller (Foreword).
Aimed more at the home cook, this is a great book, and makes the topic very non-intimidating.

Pates and Terrines by Edouard Lonque (Author), Michael Raffael (Author), Frank Wesel (Author), Friedrich W. Ehlert (Editor).
An excellent book, one of my favorites. Very classical type recipes, this book is out of print, so it is slightly more pricey.

Kochkunst in Bildern 6: International Exhibition for Culinary Art 2000 (International Exhibition for Culinary Art) by International Exhibition for Culinary Art .
This is one of the books from the culinary Olympics that takes place every four years in Germany. This is one of my favorite editions, it is a book of pictures of competition garde manger platters and it is very inspirational for new ideas.

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