[infobox bg="redlight" color="black" opacity="on" subtitle="Charcuterie"]Adventures in Culinary School[/infobox]
I'm currently going through 2 weeks of intensive Charcuterie training in the second half of Level 4 at The International Culinary Center, and I couldn't be learning more or having more fun. I've never made a pate or a sausage in my life so the experience is completely organic for me.
My chef instructor, Chef Sixto, is quite the charcuterie pro and has brought in venison and duck from his hunting expeditions for us to turn into various confits and pates. We're specifically focused on pork however this level, and on the first day of Charcuterie my classmates and I broke down half a pig for the different dishes we're making for our upcoming buffet. Seeing an animal whole (or almost whole) provides an entirely new level of respect and admiration for not only the art of butchery, but for the animal itself and where your food comes from.
As the Farm to Table class, we all have a special interest in food sourcing, sustainability, and the humane treatment of animals. The ICC does a fabulous job of responsible sourcing for the products we use, and our pig for our buffet is no different. We broke down the animal into different parts, taking out the tenderloin, separating the shoulder from the ribs, the ribs from the stomach, and the butt from the hip. Once the animal was broken down into recognizable cuts we took it down further, separating meat from fat, and fat from skin. We'll use each and every part of the pig for a different dish. For example, we've sliced pieces of fat into thin segments to line the molds for a Country Pate. The skin will be turned into Chicharones.
We're also using quite a bit of meat to make sausage and chorizo..and that's where the fun comes into play in this post. Once we processed the meat and fat, we put what we reserved for sausages through the meat grinder. It was my first time using this machine. It's pretty incredible...you load up the tray with whatever you need ground up and with a flip of a switch it comes out in whatever thickness you determine.
From there, you season the ground meat and put it in an industrial mixer. It's almost impossible to season the pork by hand as the quantity is a bit overwhelming and hard to season evenly. After that, the seasoned pork goes into the sausage maker, but not before prepping casing beforehand.
Here you can see us running water through casing to clear it out and get it ready to make sausages. Casing is actually the intestinal tract of an animal and what sausage is traditionally wrapped with.
Now we're ready to make sausage! All you do is place the seasoned meat into the sausage-making machine, place the casing on a round tube the meat flows through, and start twisting the level to apply pressure. Once the meat starts coming out you manage it by hand to make sure the final result is evenly sized throughout.
Finally, you take the sausage (or in this photo's case - chorizo) and tie links so the result is individual sausages or links. Poach or pan fry and enjoy!