Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

culinary bear

Confit Duck

Recommended Posts

What to do with the fat ??

I keep making confit and save the fat and use it for the next batch. At the risk of sounding stupid, what else can I do with the fat. I am starting to have quite a bit and do not know what else to do with it. My confit "skills" are self taught so I do not have the benefit of anyone telling me what to do with it.

Any ideas ?

One use seems to be just using it as a cooking fat - instead of butter, for instance, for sweating or sauteeing something. A lot of recipes in Paula Wolfert's new edition of The Cooking of Southwest France call for duck fat, goose fat or unsalted butter as the cooking fat for onions and garlic.

Edited to add: I'm still hoarding duck fat to make a confit, so I don't know much about this. I hope someone else chimes in with better uses.


Edited by Smithy (log)

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is a great all purpose culinary fat. It is particularly good for roasted potatoes (in their various forms), or for sauteeing.


Nathan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What to do with the fat ??

I keep making confit and save the fat and use it for the next batch. At the risk of sounding stupid, what else can I do with the fat. I am starting to have quite a bit and do not know what else to do with it. My confit "skills" are self taught so I do not have the benefit of anyone telling me what to do with it.

Any ideas ?

Actually, duck fat is a vile substance and will probably harden in your arteries immediately. You should ship it all to me so that I can dispose of it in an approved toxic waste landfill. :laugh:

(OOPS! I think Mayhaw Man tried that on another thread.)


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, wow. I've never eaten duck confit and I've definitely never made it, but after reading this thread I really think I'll have to give it a go. Right now I don't have an appropriate pot to cook it in (was going to go with the, uh, non-sous-vide method) but that should be fixed soon....

Edited to add: I would also love, love, love the recipe for seven-hour onion jam as mentioned by someone upthread.


Edited by jeniac42 (log)

Jennie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hi eGulleters,

I put up my first batch of confit in January (thanks for the great instructions and play-by-play photos). My first jar was good (not quite great, though), in May, and I hoped to use the 2nd today. However, I just checked it closely, and noticed a small spot of green, powdery mold on the side of the jar!! I can't find info in any of my books on what to do in this case.

So, what to do?? If I won't endanger my life (after all, I am a mom), could I try to cut the 'bad part' off the leg and not worry about the rest? Or, throw away the whole piece altogether, and see if the other piece in the jar is OK? Can I let my nose be my guide in this case?

And the 'Car Talk' part of the question -- as in, pertaining to the confit, but not really -- I promised to cook it for a date, an ex-chef! So...do I try to salvage my efforts, and hope it's charming? Find the best confit in town, and make a quick switch? Or just go pick up a couple of NY steaks?

Thanks! And bon appetit to all!

-Alison

I don't have an answer for yo on this but I'm curious as to what you decided? Did it smell funny?? I think confit has a strong smell so I'm not sure if I would recognize it as bad, or would I??

Gotta make some duck confit................

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm addicted to dark meat poultry so my next project will likely be a sous-vide turkey thigh confit. I'm figuring around 14 to 16 hours at 180 degrees should get the job done, but I will probably pull my first sample out after 8 - 10 hrs just to see how its coming. Since rendered turkey fat will be harder to come by I figure I'll use the duck fat & live with the differrent flavors.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Anyone ever try to confit a whole duck?

Am sure it can be done but unsure why anyone would want to. First, the shape of the bird, with its huge cavity, means a prodigious amount of fat would be required. Second, you'd be confiting the breasts, which don't take to the treatment as well as the legs and wings do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What carswell said, though confit breasts actually are quite tasty. Still, it's not worth confiting the whole thing unless you have a moulard (sufficient layer of fat) that you are willing to marinate, vacuum seal, and confit sous vide.

So, did the confit as recommended by Culinary Bear today. My only suggested amendment: If you can go lower temperature, do so. I did moulard legs and wings at 185-210 degrees F (my home oven won't sit at a temperature more precise than this range) and I got extreme confit doneness after 8 hours; I would have been happier with a cooking temperature 10 degrees lower. It may well be the difference between muscovy/barbary and moulard/pekin. If using the latter, my personal 2 cents are to work at 190 degrees. Coincidentally, Thomas Keller's Bouchon cookbook recommends the same (190 degrees for 10 hours).


Mayur Subbarao, aka "Mayur"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Today was the confit showdown, pitting sous-vide against my tried and true crock pot method which I've been using for several years. After reading this thread and others, as well as the recipe in Paula's new book (which arrived Thursday!) I went out on a limb with several changes to my technique, and I changed duck from Muscovy (from Grimaud Farms) to Pekin (from a local butcher). After reading Paula's recipe I wanted to try something other than Muscovy, had a hard time finding Moulard but I think I have that solved for next time.

I dry-brined using a new cure. I've gone back and forth between the 'green salt' in "Bouchon" and my regular cure, 50/50 Morton's kosher and sugar with black peppercorns and fresh bay leaf. This cure was 4 cups Diamond Crystal salt, 2 cups sugar, a bunch of coarsely cracked black pepper and about half a package of fresh bay leaf coarsely chopped in a spice mill. I had 29 Pekin legs and I covered them liberally top and bottom with the mixture and then placed them in a single layer in a vacuum bag (9 to a bag) and then vacuumed them. My old method was multiple layers in whatever storage bin was large enough; I found that with that approach the bottom layer got more brine as the liquid accumulated, so using the bag proved to be both space saving in the fridge as well as more uniform. After bagging 9 legs I realized that the bottoms were a little light on cure so I modified the approach to first put some cure in the bag and then coat the leg and then lay it on the salt layer. Worked great. Bags went into the fridge at about 8 pm last night and this morning at 7 I rinsed and got ready to split the batch between sous-vide and the crock pots.

For the sous-vide legs (12 of them), I split the legs between four bags. I put a couple of chunks of cold fat on the skin side and then laid it in the bag and then put some chunks of fat on the flesh side once it was in the bag. In hindsight, while this looked great on the counter (fat pressed tightly to the duck), as soon as it was in the water it didn't matter, so next time I'll be less concerned about a single layer and careful placement. In fact, the more duck you can cram into the bag the less wiggle room once in the water and things start to melt, plus I think you'd get more even contact throughout the cooking process.

Bagged duck went into the water bath that was preheated to 82.2 degrees C at 7:30; following Paula's advice for Pekin ducks, I planned on six hours in the water.

The rest of the ducks went into two crock pots with melted duck fat set on low. As is typical for this approach, I found that the bottom layer of duck cooked faster than the top and I took part of the batch out after about five hours and the balance at six.

I was a little nervous about the sous-vide batch as I didn't plan to take the ducks out of the bag until the holiday dinner a week from now, so I'd not be able to 'see' as much. At six hours they were tender to the squeeze, so I took them out and put them into a cooler full of ice water. Well, three of the four bags made it. I had a seal failure on the fourth when taking it out, so I got to compare the two methods side by side.

The sous-vide legs had less shrinkage and no browning at all on the skin (I get some in the crock pot). I notice that the Pekin has much thinner skin than the Muscovy, not sure how well it will handle the storage and prep, so there was some tearing of the crock pot legs due to handling. Not a problem with the sous-vide legs.

I bagged the crock pot legs 6 to a bag and then filled the bag about 1/3 full of melted duck fat. Using my Mini-Vac pro packer I set to manual I carefully removed as much air as possible without sucking too much fat past the sealer. I found (accidentally) that this unit there's a positioning bar that acts as a barrier to the fat that seeped out of the bag, so on subsequent bags I let the vacuum run a bit longer.

Both batches smelled great, and the 9 sous-vide legs were left in the original bags with their fat and cooking liquid.

I bagged three bags at a time into a larger storage bag for aging this week in the fridge, we'll eat them next Sunday when I'll provide additional tasting notes.

My next batch I hope to obtain some Moulard from Preferred Meats; from one of Paula's post they might be the best west coast supplier.

I took a bunch of pictures as well and I'll add them later when I have more time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Greetings All,

Culinarybear, THANK YOU for starting this forum! I am still a rather new member of EGullet, and have thoroughly enjoyed reading this forum, from start to finish. I have learned so much from you, Paula Wolfert and others here - so thanks to ALL!

Twice I have made confit of duck, and after reading this forum, I now know why the first was great, and the second, less so :hmmm: . The first was of Moulard duck legs and the second from whatever kind of duck my husband bought at Wholefoods.

I have the great fortune to live here in the heartland, south of the Twin Cities. Living further south is a Frenchman who raises moulard ducks and supplies both duck and foie gras to the chefs in the cities. On Fridays, he passes through Rochester and will stop to deliver to me :wub: . After reading through this forum yesterday, and through the cassoulet forum, I called and ordered moulard duck legs (8), gizzards (1 lb) and duck fat to use in confit. I also ordered some breast meat and carcass bones while I was at it.

Also due this week are some grass-fed lamb shanks that I plan on turning into confit as well. I am conflicted about what fat might be best for the lamb - I plan to use garlic and rosemary, and wondered if olive oil would be best, or if organic lard from pastured pigs would be better. I would rather save my duck fat for the ducks... Does anyone have advice for me, regarding the lamb?

Many thanks,

Lynnette in MN

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Lynnette,

I used pork fat when I made confit shanks; the lamb makes the fat unusable after cooking so don't waste the duck fat on those. The moulard legs make good confit legs, and I buy whole Pekins to break down into (single-portion) magrets, skin for rendering fat, and carcasses for stock. The Pekin legs get the confit treatment too, but I usually wind up processing everything into rillettes.

Will you have photos of your production?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hi Lynnette,

I used pork fat when I made confit shanks; the lamb makes the fat unusable after cooking so don't waste the duck fat on those. The moulard legs make good confit legs, and I buy whole Pekins to break down into (single-portion) magrets, skin for rendering fat, and carcasses for stock. The Pekin legs get the confit treatment too, but I usually wind up processing everything into rillettes.

Will you have photos of your production?

Thank you! Yes, I usually do take pictures of food ventures - especially since joining egullet. I have never done lamb shanks this way - and have no recipe - so it will be an experiment, but I was inspired by all I read yesterday. The shanks will be delivered tomorrow evening - frozen, so it will be a few days yet. When you say that the lamb makes the fat unusable - do you mean for duck, or for anything? In other words, could the lard be used for lamb again? What temperature do you use for the lamb confit - same as for duck?

The duck will arrive on Friday, and for that confit I use one of Emeril's recipes. This time I hope to retrieve the legs *before* the meat falls off the bone. I will also be adding duck gizzards to the confit this go-around, for use in salads later.

It's funny, how moving here last year has changed how I cook. I used to be a vegetarian, not so long ago. My husband likes duck, so I ordered some duck from a guy in the local food network. When I met him, he asked if I needed some duck fat to cook the legs. I had never heard of confit before, and to use animal fat?! :blink: Well, Let's just say that since this summer all the meat I buy now is grass-fed and healthy, so yes I use the fat that comes from them. And, I am no longer a vegetarian - far from it! :raz: DH loves it that I now cook with a fuller pallette, and I am having a ball! Next stop - cassoulet!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You might like to prepare the lamb shanks in olive oil. You can strain the 'used' oil and reuse it for cooking meat and vegetables.

Be sure to strain it through cheesecloth and keep the oil in the fridge.

Marinate 4 small lamb shanks (about 14 ounces each) trimmed of excess fat

in a mixture of 1/2 cup orange juice, 1 tb chopped parsley, 1 to 2 teaspoons sea

salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest, l teaspoon dried thyme, and 2 sliced garlic cloves for about 8 hours.

About 3 1/2 hours before serving time, remove the meat from the refrigerator. Wipe the shanks clean. Prheat the oven to 300 degrees. Put the shanks and 8 large garlic cloves, whole and unpeeled, in a 9- or 10- inch shallow glass or ceramic baking dish. Pour over about 2 cups olive oil and cover the pan with foil. Bake in the center of the oven, turning the shanks every hour, for about 3 hours, or until very tender..

Brush some slices of french bread with 2 tablespoons of the cooking oil and toast lightly in the oven while the lamb is still baking. When the lamb shanks are done, remove the cooked garlic from the oil. Squeeze the creamy pulp from the skin and spread on the toasted bread. Remove the lamb shanks from the oil and nestle in some prepared puree of greens such as spinach. Serve with garlic croutons on the side.

page 31, Mediterranean Cooking, revised version. HarperPerennial 1994.


Edited by Wolfert (log)

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Marinate 4 small lamb shanks (about 14 ounces each) trimmed of excess fat

in a mixture of 1/2 cup orange juice, 1 tb chopped parsley, 1 to 2 teaspoons sea

salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest, l teaspoon dried thyme, and 2 sliced garlic cloves for about 8 hours.

page 31, Mediterranean Cooking, revised version. HarperPerennial 1994.

WOW Paula! You have made my day!!! I smiled when I saw other's exuberance when you responded to their posts and now I feel the same way :wub:

The flavors in this recipe sound absolutely perfect! My first thought was to use olive oil, because I wanted a Mediterranean flavor, so I am delighted that you agree. Hmmm I can almost taste this now. YUM!

Paula, I must say that you have truly inspired me, and well beyond this recipe. When I started cooking meats again, I bought first The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen, Bones, and All About Braising. Well, when I read YOUR book, I went back and ordered two more by you – and I can hardly wait for the next one about cooking in clay. Yes, I am just about to buy the cassoulet casserole you commissioned to be like yours, and there are three other clay pots on their way to right now. Bless you - there's nothing like jumping in with both feet when something inspires me like you have.

I will save the fresh lard for perhaps some pork confit.

Thank you so much!

Lynnette

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am currently preparing duck confit and have taken pictures at every step. Would it be too redundant to CulinaryBear intital post for me to post them?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dear all,

I'll be making confit de canard tomorrow and afterward will put it in a jar to age for two months. I have a pressure canner and according to USDA standards I should pressure-can the duck in the fat at 11 pounds for about 90 minutes (quart jar). However, it seems that most of you just do the normal boiling water canning. Is this correct? Would using the pressure cooking technique overcook the duck?

Thanks for the feedback.

Alan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm sure others will chime in on this, but for two months aging I don't pressure-can. Pack the duck in a sterile container and cover with hot fat.

Pressure-canning will subject the duck to much higher temps than the original confit process.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay, here is my experience making muscovy duck confit.

First. the duck fat:

gallery_40263_2501_137560.jpg

Fortunately, living where I do in the Heartland, I have access to many farms and their products.

This is the fat almost rendered; the hagolen light gave terrible color:

gallery_40263_2501_471779.jpg

Most of the rendering was done in a slow oven.

The rendered fat was first golden:

gallery_40263_2501_228376.jpg

But later cooled to a creamy white in the refrigerator.

I have no picture of the muscovy duck legs marinating (salt, pepper, shallots, thyme and bay), but here is where I started layering the 8 legs in a 7 qt LC:

gallery_40263_2501_1411396.jpg

Because of the size of the pot and the number of legs, I am showing the top layer upside down to show how I fit the legs together.

gallery_40263_2501_280102.jpg

Here, the legs have been covered with mostly liquid duck fat:

gallery_40263_2501_743609.jpg

I set all to cook in a 190 degree oven; rather than trying to take pictures of the pot in the oven, I moved the LC to the counter to take this one:

gallery_40263_2501_799195.jpg

Out of the oven - top legs were disarranged so I could check the bottom layer.

gallery_40263_2501_507514.jpg

Here are the cooked duck legs being fit inside Tupperware to confit.

gallery_40263_2501_477215.jpg

Two legs were just too long to fit, so I pulled that meat to pack into a jar. When I poured in the fat, the careful packing became loose:

gallery_40263_2501_116022.jpg

The rewards in the refrigerator: Leftover confit fat chilling with duck jelly, and to the right, legs nestled in fat...

gallery_40263_2501_918836.jpg

The duck jelly was salty but might tasty:

gallery_40263_2501_474365.jpg

I used the jelly to "salt" the duck stock I was making at the same time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fabulous pictures! I was wondering about the apparently mottled skin on your duck legs though, is that normal?


Martin Mallet

<i>Poor but not starving student</i>

www.malletoyster.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Fabulous pictures! I was wondering about the apparently mottled skin on your duck legs though, is that normal?

Thank you! I think the salt mottled the skin...


Edited by Lynnette (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lovely photo documentation, Lynette.  I made my first duck confit several weeks ago and am gearing up for a cassoulet session with most of the meat.

Thank you Lori. I too made the confit for Paula Wolfert's cassoulet recipe. I have all the ingredients readied to start it as soon as I get over the flu.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just used up the last of my 6 legs of duck confit. I had them stored in a large jar- the kind that bars and restaurants get their olives and pickles in- huge. So I have a lot of duck fat left of course but there is some meat parts that came off while I was digging out the legs at different times. Do I just render this all down, strain it and then freeze my cleaned fat for future batches?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Content

    • By devinp
      I just finished curing my first lomo, and all looks/smells/tastes great except a couple sections inside the lomo that could be black mold?  I kept the exterior clean from mold (I had mostly white and some green pop up during curing, but wiped with vinegar to keep clean).  This picture shows one of those spots closer to the edge in the fat, but there was a second near the middle of the loin that I cutout already.  Unless I find more substantial sections, I think I'm good just cutting away those parts, but would love second opinions..  Thanks.
       

    • By CarsonWyler
      I'm looking for guanciale, preferably in the Sonoma County area but am willing to travel a bit or order online if necessary. Any ideas?
    • By Glen
      Looking to learn and ask questions about home curing meats.  I have an 11 lb batch of genoa salami going and it is my first batch.  Worried about the PH level not dropping as needed.  Need some advice.   I followed the Marianski recipe exactly.  I have a pH meter and the starting point was 6.15pH which I thought was unusually high.  2.5 months in, I am about 73% of starting weight yet my pH is only 5.88pH.  My curing chamber is consistently at 57deg. F. /80% humidity.  My pH tester seems calibrated properly using the calibration solutions.  I am using the meat probe adapter and just sticking it in the salami until the tip is submerged etc...Thanks in advance for any suggestions or reassurances. 
       
      Glen

    • By liuzhou
      It is possibly not well-known that China has some wonderful hams, up there with the best that Spain can offer. This lack of wide -knowledge, at least in the USA, is mainly down to regulations forbidding their importation. However, for travellers to China and those in  places with less restrictive policies, here are some of the best.
       
      This article from the WSJ is a good introduction to one of the best - Xuanwei Ham 宣威火腿  (xuān wēi huǒ tuǐ) from Yunnan province.
      This Ingredient Makes Everything Better
      I can usually obtain Xuanwei ham here around the Chinese New Year/Spring Festival, but I also have a good friend who lives in Yunnan who sends me regular supplies. The article compares it very favourably with jamon iberico, a sentiment with which I heartily agree.



      Xuanwei Ham
       

      Xuanwei Ham
       
      more coming soon.
       
       
    • By Daily Gullet Staff
      by Chris Amirault

      Anyone who wants to write about food would do well to stay away from similes and metaphors, because if you're not careful, expressions like 'light as a feather' make their way into your sentences and then where are you?

      - Nora Ephron

      I attended a training last fall at which we were asked to share an object representing something important about mentoring, our focus for the week. I suspect that few in the workshop had difficulty coming up with their tape measures, baby photos, and flower pots, but I usually find this sort of assignment challenging, preferring simple denotations to forced connotations.

      On the drive home, I rolled down the windows, sensing that the air was turning slightly crisp and cool. I savored that harbinger of autumn in New England, when my thoughts turn to braises, stews and charcuterie. After a summer of keeping the oven off in my non-air-conditioned kitchen, I dreamed of daubes, considered new curries, and generally jonesed for the promise of meat to come.

      And then I realized that I had a perfect metaphor for mentoring: my 5 lb. vertical sausage stuffer from Grizzly Industrial, Inc. The next day, I lugged the apparatus to the training, hiding it behind a door for fear of ridicule. When my turn arrived, I hauled it out and clunked it down dramatically on the center table. "Good mentoring is like a sausage stuffer," I said, "for at least ten reasons:

      + + +

      That's the article as I started writing it. But over time, Nora's words came to haunt me. The whole shtick began to smell a bit fishy, and I began to fear that, like many tropes, this metaphor turned attention away from a trickier, worrisome truth hiding in plain view.

      But unlike many tropes, the worrisome truth I was hiding is in the object, and not the subject, of the metaphor. That is, the metaphor wasn't really about my relationship to mentoring. It was really about my relationship to sausage.

      Imagine the scene: I whip out my sausage maker and give ten reasons why my metaphor is bigger and better than everyone else's. (I did mention that I was the only man among three dozen women in that training, didn't I?) Laugh if you want, but one's sausage is important to many a man. A quick perusal of this topic reveals that I'm not alone. (You did notice the gender breakdown in that topic, didn't you?)

      Last weekend, while in the unfinished basement of a chef buddy, talk turned to our sausages, and before long we four charcuterie nuts were looking at our feet and commiserating about our failures. We shared a bond: our sausages had the better of us, and we knew it. Pathetic though it is, are you surprised that I felt a deep sense of relief, even of control, when I walked through my ten reasons? My metaphor afforded me a rare opportunity to feel superior to the process of sausage-making, and believe me, that doesn't happen often.

      My name is Chris A., and I have sausage anxiety.

      Read that list up there about my sausage maker, the instrument that I describe with distanced assurance. It's a ruse, I tell you. No matter how often I try to buck up, no matter how definitive a recipe, no matter how wonderful a pork butt or a lamb shoulder, when it comes to making sausages, I go limp with worry.

      Can you blame me? Look at all the places you can screw up, where your sausage can fail you utterly and leave you in tears.

      You grab some wonderful meat, hold it in your hands, appreciate its glory. Chill. You grind it, add some fat, and sprinkle some seasoning, whatever the flesh requires. Chill again. Slow down, contemplate the moon or something. You paddle that meat to bind it, melding flavor and texture seamlessly. Chill some more. What's your hurry? Toss a bit into a skillet, ask: are we ready? and adjust as needed. Stuff away. Then relax. If you can.

      I can't. You need to keep things cool to take care of your sausage, and it's challenging to stay cool when I'm all a-flutter about the prospect of a culminating, perfect, harmonious bind. If you read the books and you watch the shows, everyone acts just about as cool as a cucumber. But that's not real life with my sausage.

      It's a frenzy, I tell you. I know I should chill and relax, but I get all hot and bothered, start hurrying things along, unable to let the meat chill sufficiently, to take things slowly. Hell, I'm sweating now just thinking about it.

      I have to admit that I don't have this sausage problem when I'm alone in the house, have a couple of hours to kill, and know I won't be disturbed. I just settle in, take it nice and slow, not a care in the world, and everything comes out fine. But with someone else around, forget about it.

      Despite this mishegas, my wife is as supportive as she can be. She humors me patiently about these things, gently chiding, "Slow down! The house isn't on fire. It's just your sausage." Though I know she loves me despite my foibles, that sort of talk just adds fuel to that fire -- I mean, she can speak so glibly because it's not her sausage we're worrying about.

      Even if I am I able to relax, the prospect of sudden, precipitous sausage humiliation comes crashing down upon me. Think of it. All seems to be going so well -- a little too well. I'm keeping things cool, making sure that I'm taking it easy, following the plan step-by-step, trusting my instincts. I smile. I get cocky.

      And then, the frying pan hits the fire, and within moments I'm hanging my head: instead of forming a perfect bind, my sausage breaks and I break down. I want a firm, solid mass, and I'm watching a crumbly, limp link ooze liquid with embarrassing rapidity.

      Given my gender, in the past I've tried to subdue sausage anxiety with predictable contrivances: machines, science, and technique. If there's a tool or a book useful for perfecting my sausage, I've bought or coveted it. I calculate ratios of meat, salt, cure, sugar, and seasonings past the decimal; I measure out ingredients to the gram on digital scales; I poke instant-read thermometers into piles of seasoned meat; I take the grinder blade to my local knife sharpener to get the perfect edge. (We've already covered the stuffer above, of course.) I've got a full supply of dextrose, Bactoferm, and DQ curing salts numbers 1 and 2. The broken binding of my copy of Michael Ruhlman's Charcuterie has xeroxes and print-outs from eight other sources, and the pages are filled with crossed-out and recalculated recipes.

      It's the sort of thing that I used to do when I was younger: arm myself with all things known to mankind and blast ahead. It hasn't helped. I've learned the hard way that my hysterical masculine attempt to master all knowledge and technology has led, simply, to more panic and collapse.

      There is, I think, hope. I'm older, and my approach to my sausage has matured. I'm in less of a hurry, I roll with the challenges, and when the house is on fire, I just find a hydrant for my hose.

      If things collapse, well, I try to take the long view, recall the successes of my youth, and keep my head up. I mean, it's just my sausage.

      * * *

      Chris Amirault (aka, well, chrisamirault) is Director of Operations, eG Forums. He also runs a preschool and teaches in Providence, RI.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...