Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Charcutepalooza: Corned Beef and Sauerkraut

This month's challenge took a long time to do. Not because it was particularly difficult, but because way too many things such as work got in the way of doing things such as cooking and eating. But this weekend was free and rainy, so I stayed inside and made stuff.

First were these gnocchi, which were puck-like in appearance and texture. After mashing the potatoes, I added flour...more, and more, and more flour. The dough was runny and hard to handle, which made me a little overzealous with the flour. I think the problem might be the potatoes--not enough starch--and the excessive flour made the doughy taste almost too overwhelming. It didn't help that the gnocchi were big, a consequence of being fed up trying to roll the dough and spooning them and rolling them onto flour instead. Clearly, not a success, but the sauce on the other hand was fantastic: butter, sage, chantrelle mushrooms (frozen from last fall), and truffles (again, preserved from last fall). Served with a bit of pecorino and it was perfect.

I also tended to my sauerkraut. As you can tell by the label, the jar was made last week using one full head of medium cabbage. I didn't really see active fermentation, but judging from the build up of salt in the bottom of the jar, the liquid obviously overflowed due to the fermentation. I had to skim a bit of the scum off, which thankfully stayed in one big clump. While transferring it to a bottle, I tried a bit of it and found it too salty. I must remember to rinse it first before I eat it. Hopefully I do not die of poisoning.

Finally, the corned beef. A friend recently threw a St Patrick's Day party (yeah, too early. But more reason to drink excessively) and made corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes all boiled in cider. I was originally going to take the easy route and just make brined pork chops, but I liked the corned beef so much that I decided to make it. The brine itself wasn't hard: salt, sugar, spices, water, mix. Add the beef and let stand for five days. Above is a peek into the bag, since the bag is unruly and I have no pans big enough to accommodate the liquid and meat. It should be ready to cook tomorrow...hopefully it's good.

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