This post is part of the Festa di Salumi from Punk Domestics. It is the second of three projects from Salumi by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn.
I’m hesitant to call this cured meat “prosciutto.” Taking a recipe from Ruhlman and Polcyn’s Salumi, this dry cured leg of lamb flavored with garlic had an undertone of gaminess and character. There was also a vague jerky quality that was especially prominent after devouring the guanciale, a cut rich with luscious pork fat.
You know the drill by now: I completely covered the meat in salt and garlic slices and placed in the fridge for about two days. Then I rinsed it off thoroughly, patted it dry, and hung it from my ceiling fan. The flesh turned an exceptionally striking purple color.
I’m not sure where Ruhlman gets the eight pound lamb legs he speaks of. My boned out leg weighed in at about three or four pounds, meaning it took less than a month to dry instead of the standard three to four months. All and all, it was a satisfying charcuterie project, but I’ll probably stick to dry curing pork from now on.
I winged it making a lamb liver terrine for Charcutepalooza. I read lots of warnings about keeping the ingredients cold while making it. This prevented the emulsion from breaking, resulting in a smooth and luscious texture. The terrine’s shape became nice and firm while chilling overnight in the fridge, and there was no hint of graininess. I didn’t have one of those cute terrine pans, but the bread loaf pan worked in a pinch.
How did it taste? Good, but it could have been better. You see, I adore mustard, and I got a little carried away with it. In hindsight, I should have added something to temper the gaminess of the lamb liver instead of accentuating it. The acidic bite of the mustard mixed with the lanolin-like funkiness of the lamb liver made it taste reminiscent of Roquefort. Sounds scary, but it actually makes sense since Roquefort is made from sheep’s milk. Like a strong blue cheese, it is extremely rich, and you can only eat a little at a time.
So now I have mass quantities of rich lamb liver terrine, and it’s not exactly what I want to eat when its 110 degrees out. I sliced it into manageable portions, wrapped them in plastic wrap, and stored them in the freezer for safe keeping until cooler months. Anyone want some?
Liver is a polarizing food. Although it’s the main ingredient in delicacies like foie gras, many people cringe at the thought it. I’m one of those people. Or at least I have those tendencies. I didn’t grow up eating it, not that I’m complaining. My mother taught me liver was bad for you because it’s the organ that filters out toxins, and I can’t really get past that. I squealed when I took the slimy lamb’s liver out of the package. It smelled weird, and it looked like a human liver!
I couldn’t find a recipe that appealed to me, so I made it up as I went along. I based it on this method, substituting the flavors featured in this Irish recipe from Saveur.
Lamb Liver Terrine with Mustard and Whiskey
- 1 lb. lamb’s liver, rinsed, membranes removed, and sliced into cubes
- 2 tbsp. bacon fat
- 1 large shallot, peeled and sliced
- 4 tbsp. whiskey
- 1⁄2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup whole-grain mustard
- 1/4 cup Italian parsley
- 1 green onion, green part only
- 4 tbsp. butter, softened
- Freshly ground black pepper
1. Melt 2 tablespoons bacon fat in a skillet. Add shallots and cook over medium heat until golden.
2. Add liver cubes and a few pinches of salt to the skillet and cook for 5-10 minutes until cooked but still slightly pink in the middle. Feel free to slice open a few of the cubes to check the color. Scrape the liver and shallots into a bowl and lower into a prepared ice bath. Let the liver cool until barely warm to the touch.
3. Deglaze skillet with 2 tablespoons of the whiskey and scrape up all the brown bits. Add them to the bowl where the liver and shallots are cooling.
4. In the bowl of a food processor, combine mustard, green onion, parsley, 2 tablespoons whiskey, and pulse until well ground. Add the liver and mustard mixture to the food processor and purée for about 30 seconds. Slowly add the heavy cream in a thin stream.
5. Scoop the liver mixture into a bowl. Slowly whisk in the softened butter and add salt and pepper to taste. Spread it into a chilled terrine or loaf pan lined with plastic wrap. Refrigerate over night until set.
I finished this terrine in under an hour, so I really encourage everyone to give it a try. Tomorrow I’ll see if I achieved exactly the texture and flavor I wanted.