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.
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Right now I’m a sloth. I’ve felt languid ever since the days started shortening. Typical me, I had grandiose catch-up plans for Thanksgiving break, but that never works. It turns out, I went back to Rhode Island to visit family and friends and lay on my parents’ couch and watch cable.
The days were even shorter in New England (I swear the sun started lowering at 3:30!). But a striking blue light covered everything at that magical hour. It made the cold and darkness worth it.
Now I’m back in Austin where it’s 80 degrees in December. Although I’m reluctant to admit the bright light makes me a bit peppier, I still long for chilly temperatures. The leaves are always oranger on the other side.
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It always starts with the lead ‘shroomer talking a big game. He makes grand promises of the mountains of chanterelles or bolletes that await. Next thing you know, you’re fighting over a small piece of pluteus or chicken of the woods– the edible dregs of the mushroom world. The head ‘shroomer will scoff at any fungus you find, but when HE finds the same species, you’d better plop down in the grass and listen to him expound upon it’s wonders.
In this chanterelle and morel-less state, you might find yourself getting excited over a polypore (you know, that boring shelf stuff growing on trees). One woman might quietly add, “Wood ear is supposed to be good for cholesterol.” And the mushroom man will proclaim, “Yes, wood ears ARE technically edible but no one in their right mind would want to eat them!” If she’s brave, she might offer a fascinating retort, “The Chinese use them in sweet and sour soup.” But the mushroom man will disregard such input– he’s the expert.
Or you could find yourself sitting around a camp fire with a kooky Russian drinking home-distilled spirits. She’ll tell you innuendo-laden stories about tripping on magic mushrooms (ugh, I don’t want to think about that).… Read the rest
I didn’t bring this recipe back with me from living in Spain– it’s actually inspired by a dish from a bar in New Orleans. In my mind, Mimi’s in the Marigny is more famous for boozing hardcore at 4am instead of food. The website says “the vibe at Mimi’s in the Marigny is more house party than hotspot.” That sort of kills me, but I reluctantly admit that’s its an apt description. These delicately creamy mushrooms cradled in melted manchego cheese on crisp toasts are just as satisfying when sober. The mushrooms are best cooked in sherry, but I’ve begrudgingly cooked them in white wine a time or two. The results were still outstanding.
Mushroom Manchego Toasts
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 small shallots, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3/4 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 1/4 cup sherry
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon cream cheese
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1 baguette, thinly sliced
- 1/2 pound of manchego cheese, thinly sliced into triangles
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are translucent and just lightly browned.
2. Add the garlic to the shallots and cook, stirring frequently, for about three minutes.… Read the rest
Once upon a time in New York I was gifted a shiitake mushroom log. I dutifully soaked it and placed it in a plastic container in my closet. Dustin feared mushrooms would start popping up in our tiny apartment, but that never happened. Actually, nothing ever happened. For months I held out hope that mushrooms would sprout, but mostly I was just too lazy to haul the gross log down five flights of stairs to the trash.
But Back to the Roots has made my dream come true. This kit is a brilliantly designed cardboard box containing a substrate inoculated with oyster mushroom spores. It also includes a spray bottle for spritzing twice a day for ten days until mushrooms appear. But they didn’t appear by that time. Taking cues from my log experience, I gave up spritzing. Then one day I walked into the guest room and saw glistening oyster mushrooms exploding from the bag! I don’t know if I’ll be able to grow $20 worth of mushrooms, but it’s been a fun activity overall. I’m always on the lookout for new hobbies/ ways to waste my time.
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