charcutepalooza, cooking fail, curing meats at home, fail, salt curing

Guanciale: Phase 3

How about fail? Failure in the form of questionable green mold on the meaty side of the cheek. Taking the advice from Michael Ruhlman, whose book I’ve been using in Charcutepalooza, I listened when he asks you to ere on the side of common sense if you question it. So, I did.
In a few weeks I’ll try again when the Missus gets some jowl from a co-worker who’s getting ready to bring a few pigs to slaughter.

beef tongue, culinary experiment gone bad, fail, spacecake

The End of the Tongue

Sugar Work.
Peeling a foot long piece of cow’s tongue.

These are three things that come to mind as:

1) Best left to professionals
2) Best done sober.

Needless to say, the end of the tongue adventure did not end well. I know exactly the moment it went wrong, too—the moment that I decided to, on my day off, get a bit…fuzzy. While defrosting (or, as it really was, taking a hammer and chisel to) my freezer I found a lowly thumbnail sized piece of a “medicinal brownie.” I used the excuse of a wonky shoulder to justify munching it around noon.

Now, a side note… if you, too, find an Alice B. brownie in your freezer and can’t remember who it was from or how long it’s been in there… proceed with extreme caution. And for the love of anything right in the world DO NOT work with offal.

So, noon time brought the start of what was a very cerebral deep tissue mind fuck. It also brought my putting the brined beef tongue into a dutch oven with some cabbage for a 4 hour stewing @ 275 degrees. It was around 3 that the dread starting trickling in. The thought of having to take that step of peeling the cows tongue ,while it was hot out of the water, was quickly becoming too much to bare.

And I want to apologize right now to the animal that provided the tongue that would be the center of my meal. I goddamn butchered the thing because I couldn’t stand the thought of actually touching it. As it came out of the water, my general sensitivity focused on the hairs and how it remind me of my cats tongue. Then there was the rubberiness of the outer membrane. Even just thinking about it now sketches me out.

So, I held onto some tongs and my Shun knife and prayed that I wouldn’t get sick as I thinly sliced the membrane away from the muscle. By some divine hand, I did not. I returned the butchered piece back to the pot and covered it as my hand shook. I had just touched my culinary limit. At dinner, I picked at a few pieces, but left some on my plate. I was completely unable to separate my queasiness even as I sobered up.

I was completely in it for over a week. I checked on it every day to make sure it was still immersed. I picked it up and checked for discoloration. I just stopped short of naming the fucking thing. But when it came down to it, I couldn’t meet my culinary challenge. While I’ve enjoyed the brains and frog legs at Evangeline and the Beef Tongue Ruben at Duck Fat, I am not a person meant to work with offal. Experiment FAIL.

in the pot

Finished with home pickled red onion and 3 Little Pigs Whole Grain Mustard.