Hudson Valley

Accidental Locavore PigThis year, not only was there a pig, but also a lamb…

This is a re-run of my post after the event last year in case anyone wants to attend week 2. We talk about nose-to-tail eating, but how does it really work? Come and see what happens when two chefs take on all the parts of a whole pig.

We’ll be focusing on using all the parts of the pig–smoking ribs and bacon, making a variety of sausages and stuffing the head to make headcheese (one of my favorites from last year!).

There’s still time support Slow Food Hudson Valley and get tickets for the second part on Saturday, March 25 from 10-4.

Saturday, the Accidental Locavore and about a dozen people watched three chefs tackle a pig. It was part of a two-day program Slow Food Hudson Valley put on to promote snout-to-tail eating (which reminds me–what happened to the pig’s tail?) or “butchering, preserving and sausage making a heritage pig.

Accidental Locavore Tom and Half PigWe were in a freezing cold farmstand on Kesike Farms in Red Hook NY, watching Chef Tom work his way through half of a hundred-pound pig. He did it with very few tools, and the ones that he’d chosen were all easily acquired, if not already in your arsenal. For the whole pig all he used were two boning knives, two hand saws and a sharpening steel. One of the hand saws, a Japanese, flexible bladed one, was a recent purchase from Lowes. In case you’re interested in breaking down any sort of animal (bigger than a chicken), remember knife first, then saw.

As he went through the pig he used a technique he referred to as “seam butchering” or finding the seams between the bones or muscles and using them as reference points. Between American and various European methods, there are a lot of ways to butcher a pig—choices you get to make as you cruise along.

Once Chef Tom got through cutting the pig into his basic cuts, he went back section by section, boning almost everything except the baby back ribs. He showed up his way of tying up various hams and roasts. While he was working, there was a lively discussion of the best ways to use each of the parts. Neck bones (which I forgot to ask for) are supposed to make your regular tomato sauce just amazing! Cumin, for some reason, played a major role in almost everything—it was simply the joke of the day.

After Tom was finished with his business, Chef Dan whisked away a lot of pork for stew and got to work, with help from some CIA students, on our lunch, a southwestern pork stew/chile, which was great and might actually have had some cumin in it…

Accidental Locavore John and TomThen Chef John stepped up to demo how to prep the various pork products for bacon, sausages and headcheese (yes, you use the whole head). He made a brine, using some for a loin and injected another piece with brine, explaining when you would inject versus when you would submerge. The liquid injected, should be 10% of the weight of the meat you’re using. The head and feet also went into the brine. We’ll see what happens to them next week.

Accidental Locavore Injecting BrineAfter the brining, John showed us how to do a bacon cure. It’s essentially a dry rub with salt, sugar, and whatever spices you want to add to the mix. You coat the bacon with the cure, cover it (or put it in a Ziploc) and refrigerate. Every other day, you need to flip the meat so it gets cured evenly. Another thing to look forward to next Saturday!

Accidental Locavore John Making SausagesFrom there we went on to making sausages. When you make sausages, it’s really important to cook and taste the meat before you stuff it. I always thought you just made a mini patty and fried it. No, no, no. Chef John said it’s not a good way to see how the finished product will actually taste and the texture is completely different. His way? Make a sausage-sized log, wrap it tightly in Saran Wrap, and poach it until it’s done. Then taste and adjust the seasonings. We ended the day, tasting his sweet Italian sausages and a southwestern green chile sausage. Both were really great and even better? We got to take some home.
Accidental Locavore Testing SausageI can’t wait for next Saturday! Lots of smoking going on next week. And we’ll get to try our bacon, make some tasso, have some ribs, even some headcheese. Sound tempting? There are spots available so come join us–Slow Food Hudson Valley has all the info.

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Accidental Locavore Gathering – Morel Edition

by Anne Maxfield on June 2, 2014

Accidental Locavore Ready to ForageForaging for mushrooms is something the Accidental Locavore has wanted to do for years. Ever since a friend of mine gifted me with a big bag of chanterelles he found behind our golf course, I’ve wanted to go in search of mushrooms. However, unlike some kitchen experiments that might make you sick if screwed up, gathering the wrong mushrooms can kill you – definitely a deterrent! So I was happy to discover (and join) the Mid-Hudson Mycological Association.

Accidental Locavore Dryad SaddleThey were promising a morel walk for the past couple of weekends, but the morels weren’t cooperating until last Saturday. The walks are all kept very hush-hush so interlopers won’t go out and pick all the mushrooms. Then, late Friday night, an email giving the time and secret meeting place went out to the members. About fifteen foragers met in a parking lot and once we were briefed, we took off for the woods. Because it had rained (a lot) the night before, our first challenge was fording a couple of small streams. Once up in the woods, it wasn’t long before someone found the first fungi, a couple of Dryad Saddles.

Accidental Locavore MorelFurther into the woods, our first sighting of morels! There were three decent-sized ones, close by a dying elm tree. Once everyone got to admire them, the person who discovered them picked them, and we were on our way. Up a trail past old discarded washing machines and wrecked tires, we hiked on. Suddenly, in the middle of the woods, I had a wardrobe malfunction. My hiking boots, which hadn’t seen the light of day in years, suddenly delamintated. At first it was just the heels flapping around, but before too long, both soles fell off! Rather than risk slipping and falling (note to self, next time, bring a hiking stick), and since my feet were rapidly getting wet, I had to turn back. Reluctantly, I let everyone know, packed my soles in the bag I was going to use for the morels, and hiked back to the car, driving home in bare feet, since boots were ruined and socks were soaked.

Accidental Locavore Trashed BootsIt didn’t help to get the next midnight email, saying how successful the walk had been, with everyone (except me) going home with morels! But I have a better understanding of where to look for them, and a network of people I can send photos to if I need confirmation. I’m looking forward to the next secret meeting and a walk in my own woods to see if there’s anything out there.

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