Dominique Chapolard and I are excited to announce a series of two-day workshops in the USA in late April 2013. With two days to explore the French charcuterie pig- we can devote time to both hands-on seam butchery and making charcuterie a la . How does the Chapoalrds run their 100-acre farm and support 5 families with just 30 sows? Dominique calls it the Short Circuit- I call it Full Circle farming. However you call it, the trick is in working not just nose-to-tail but seed-to-sausage. Come learn how and why the Chapolard Family chose to butcher and transform into added value charcuterie all their pigs- 8 to 10 every week- selling them retail at local markets. Workshops are limited in size by venue to no more than 20 participants.
Camont is a bit of a revolving door these February days. Students in and students out as we begin our Spring Butchery & Charcuterie sessions. This week was a full stretch and limbering up as four students and I made a five-day dash through elements of French Farmstead Charcuterie- farm to cutting room to kitchen to market.
Notice in the first photographs, a normal sized pig- 6 months and the XL pig next to it. It’s a given that first timers here are stunned by the size of the 12 month old, 400 lb pigs- the XL Cochons. Then the color of the meat- deep red and sturdy. The pigs are lean and the fat ratio is moderated by their diet from 6 to 12 months. But what happens next that shocks students is flavor.
Sitting at lunch in Christiane and Dominique’s house, the surprise of the week might just have been the simple, straight forward shoulder roast studded with garlic and roasted at 200′ C or 390′ F- in other words- a very hot oven for 1+hour plus per kilo. the meat was tender, falling apart and full of flavor. A bowl of buttery potato puree absorbed the pan juices–perfectly simple. Amazing flavor.
I start to get into a groove of shopping, butchering, salting, and smoking as we reel off the a list of French Basix- charcuterie style.
- noix de jambon- those little one kilo+ boneless hams made from the seamed out muscles; peppered, smoked and hung for 4 weeks.
- Lamb hams as above
- pork tenderloin stuffed with foie gras
- duck breasts stuffed with foie gras
- magret de canard- fat duck breasts stuffed with foie gras and au nature.
- ventreche- fat slab of belly bacon and rolled like pancetta
- hocks & heart – brined
- poitrine de boeuf roulee-spiced & hot smoked for pastrami
- flank steak- butterflied and rolled, salted, peppered and hot smoked
- Fricandeaux- paté de campagne
- Paté and terrines en croûte: veal, pork, rabbit, prunes
- Rillettes de canard
- Full on Cassoulet Chapolard featuring confited pork cheeks, rind sausage, ventreche et al.
- Pork Shoulder a la Chapolard
- Paupiettes brasied with winter vegetables
Five days isn’t very long for a , but I dare say I think it changed a few lives- at least in one restaurant kitchen in St. Louis, MO and a butcher shop in Australia. I can only imagine what the 4 new students arriving today for 4 weeks are going to discover! For more information about booking a one or 4-week Butchery & Charcuterie-at-Camont course, just click HERE.
And look for some workshops coming your way in April!
It starts here.
Fall. Autumn. L’Automne.
The season changes the minute the brochettes disappear and the crepinettes appear. It’s Autumn in Gascony, friends. Here, a complex seasonal shift of Gallic precision happens as the days shorten. The night markets stop abruptly, the kitchen gets serious again, and an army of tractors clog up the roads as they harvest the ripening orchards and vines- apples, pears, plums, and grapes.
Unperceived to the non-Gascon eye there is another sort of harvest afoot. I am never sure of the exact date. I just know that we must wait for the first fall rain. Then something magical and briny happens. The briny Atlantic and Mediterranean oysters that have been en vacances all summer, take a cold water shower and start to plump up again (it’s a sex thing). Next, the butcher’s cases are bare as the Butchers go en vacances themselves (adios Dominique & Christiane!). And then, when they return, and only then… do the seasonal packets of caul fat wrapped porky goodness called crepinettes appear.
Crepine is the French word for caul fat, that magical spider’s web of fat and transparent membrane that comes from the inside of a pig’s offal locker. Like an sturdy piece of lace, caul fat acts as a flexible barrier between the white offal and the red offal of our generous pig. Crepinettes are made as the fall season begins and are one of the first things we learn when first tackling the Fresh Charcuterie Section of Week One here.
Closer to the New Year, crepinettes may enclose a sliver of truffle as above. But here in the Lot-et-Garonne, where sweet-tart prunes serve as the perfect counterpoint to the sausage all year round, I’ll slide a pitted prune in the center of the packet. So what’s the deal with the oysters?
Raw Oysters and Crepinettes or grilled sausages are a classic tradition in the Bordeaux area of Aquitaine. I like the suggestion of a glass of Sauternes from Bill as a way to round out the flavor wheel- briny, honey, spicy, sharp, meaty and golden brown… pretty much sums up how I like to start my fall menus at Camont.
Someone said Crepinettes? I agree, now is the time, Elissa!
The day started with a conference call about how we are going to make the new book. Where do we start, how to publish it, who wants to read it, what will people think? Navigating new waters as ‘artisan publishers’, maybe I should say ‘farmstead publishing’ instead, looks like it’s going to be fun! Daunting, confusing, scary…but ultimately a F.U.N. ride.
So after a session of setting up the bones of this long creative collaboration called Clinch-Hill, I set out to the market with a list of errands to do. After all, Saturday we do chores, right? The morning led from market (duck sausage, paté grand-mere, & a jambonneau from Patricia, tomatoes, eggs and the most amazing slab of melting Gorgonzola from Bernard) to café (un pression & un galopin of Stella from Thierry). Then from café to farm to pick up a few things left from the last crop of butchery students at the Chapolard’s. Read More
If you are following that great global charcuterie project- Charcutepalooza either virtually or in your own kitchens, then here is a special cadeau from us admirers- here on the Gascon Farm.