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.


Genie said...

What does something like this taste like? I can't imagine going through such a laborious process if the end result isn't delectable. How long will something like this keep?

Christopher Allen Tanner said...

Terrines like this usually keep 3-4 days as it is made from fish. A pork terrine will generally keep a couple weeks, especially if stored in the terrine with a layer of pork or goose fat covering it to keep it from oxidizing.

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