Monday, January 17, 2011

A new obsession and an omission


I joined a group. It isn't any group. It is the Charcutepalooza group. Don't hate me. It is all Mrs. Wheelbarrow and The Yummy Mummy's fault (yeah, get a load of those names. Trouble in the making I tell ya). You can read their proselytism here. I joined. I am not a joiner. They got me though. Now it is too late to stop. Dr Food is spending his day off today researching turning our wine refrig into a meat chamber. I am not joking. The conversation went like this:

Dr Food: How serious are you about this "meat" thing?
Me: Well, I am totally committed (or should be) now.
Dr Food: How much do you want to invest to do it right?
Me: Not much
Dr. Food: For 100.00 I can turn the wine refrig into a meat room. All I need is the humidity thing.
Me: Argh....I think I am in trouble.

I AM in trouble. We bought a professional meat slicer on ebay. Good thing I married someone that is as insane as *I* am. Afterall, we met in a Food Newsgroup in the early 90's. No, chat rooms for us. It was more like an Old Days Twitter.

How do I get so off track? Ok, so I have told the story of the ugly duckling and how I made the proscuitto, but I didn't tell what it went into. This is what we did with it.


When I first unveiled it I was a bit taken aback. I had been looking at other peoples duck prosciutto for days and they had amazingly beautiful pictures of their jewels. Mine looked like a dried out piece of meat that you would find in the trashcan after your husband had told you "I will take it out" for days (No, Dr. Food of course I am not talking about YOU).


Yet when I cut into it I was awed with the beauty. Not only THAT but I can not describe how shocked I was how amazing it tasted. I screamed "OHMYGODITTASTELIKEPROSCIUTTO!") I even made the neighbor taste it. His face took on a look of horror until he tasted it and then the slow smile came over his face and he said "Damn, taste like prosciutto". My day was made.


So, I wanted something simple to showcase the flavor of MY prosciutto (see, I am getting possessive now). Fresh ingredients and keeping it simple was what I wanted. Who would I turn to for some ideas but The Minimalist himself, Mark Bittman. I used a recipe of his for Pasta With Prosciutto and Whole Cloves of Garlic (Maccheroni alla San Giovanniello)


So simple and so good!


Really it is just a matter of slowly browning the garlic and the prosciutto and then adding the tomatoes and other ingredients. The taste was amazing. I think the fact that it had MY duck breast prosciutto in it also added to the flavor.


Cut to next morning (oh wait, that is this morning!)


I took out the strata that I had made the night before (recipe calls for this sitting in the refrig over night.) I feel like one of those cooking shows that take the already made thing out of the refrigerator because there wasn't time to do it on air. Ok, so my over active imagination is taking over again. At any rate this is the strata. I have posted this recipe before. THIS time it had MY prosciutto in it.


I figured that since we were getting all fancy pants that I would have Dr. Food whip up some Mimosa's. We had champagne in the refrig (duh, who doesn't?) and so we declared Martin Luther King Day good enough reason to drink Mimosa's and eat Strata with MY duck proscuitto in it! (Did I tell you that *I* made the proscuitto?) It was a start to a perfect day.


Oh yeah, and just to pass on a public message...


Oh... Mom, please just ignore this next picture, ok? Please. Denis and Dean NO JOKES.

The next Charcutepalooza is Bacon and Pancetta. I am ready!


Pasta With Prosciutto and Whole Cloves of Garlic (Maccheroni alla San Giovanniello)
Mark Bittman

Printable Version

Yield About 4 servings
Time About 30 minutes

1/3 cup olive oil or butter
10 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
1/2 cup prosciutto or other salted ham or slab bacon, cut into cubes or strips
6 plum tomatoes, or 11/2 cups drained canned tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound cut pasta, such as ziti or penne
1 cup roughly chopped fresh basil leaves
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese, or a combination

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

2. Combine the oil, garlic, and ham in a medium to large skillet over medium-low heat. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until the garlic becomes deep golden, nearly brown, all over, 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Core and chop the plum tomatoes (or crush the canned tomatoes) and add them, along with salt and pepper, to the skillet. Stir and simmer while you salt the boiling water and cook the pasta.

4. Drain the pasta when it is tender but firm, re¬serving a little of the cooking water and adding it to the sauce if it appears dry (quite likely if you used fresh tomatoes). Toss the pasta with the sauce and most of the basil, along with the cheese. Mince the remaining basil, garnish the pasta with it, and serve.


  1. I think it is fantastic that you made your own prosciutto!

  2. That looks really really good! Whole cloves of garlic? HECK YES!

  3. I love you. I love the meat lover in you especially. I have seen so many blogs go vegetarian or vegan that I'm feeling like a minority. I love my meat. I don't plan on giving it up. That last picture with the big slab of meat made me want to hug you. I love your duck prosciutto. It looks fantastic and perfect. I hope that you'l have the opportunity to make the Armenian cured meat that my mom did my whole life; basterma. This is great.

  4. Ok, now I am officially jealous that you are getting a meat room. Anywhere I hang anything in my house the dog is sure to get it. I love the way yours is hiding behind that big side of meat. I need a place to hang meat! Your charcuterie is gorgeous!

  5. I just joined this esteemed group as well! Need to catch up with the duck proscuitto, but I already ordered MY pork belly! And I am going to make this pasta dish. Very soon. Thank you!

  6. What a heavenly looking pasta dish...I know my gang here would enjoy it! And your strata looks marvelous as well :) I'm amazed that your big doggie isn't interested in your nice slab of meat! Good pup!

  7. Please don' tell my husband about this group, I need my wine fridge! Wow, that's one nice looking piece of meat! Duck proscuitto sounds really good. Curious to see what you are going to come up with.

  8. OMG! Looking forward to that... what a big piece of pork belly...

  9. That's a smokin' belly you've got there! Have you decided what you'll do with it? I'm hoping that I can use the belly I'm getting to make one fresh bacon and one pancetta, though I'm still undecided as to whether I'll roll it or keep it flat.

    To hell with the snow --Viva les charcutepaloozies!

  10. Omg, look at you standing there with a sheet of meat almost as tall as you!! You and your charcuterie gang are totally crazy - in a good way!!!

  11. Wow, the strata looks delicious! Love both your ideas for use of the duck prosciutto. And your pork belly is simply beautiful!

  12. You totally rock! I'm totally joining in on charcutapalooza! I may be late... but I want to get to curing!!