Raw, Stewed and Stuffed—The Final #Charcutepalooza Challenge

by fritzg · No Comments ·

This year I’ve truly been immersed in the transforming power of salt. Before I knew of the likes of Mrs. Wheelbarrow and The Yummy Mummy I had finished Ruhlman’s Ratio, started reading Mark Kurlansky’s micro-history Salt: A World History, and had begun my first charcuterie project by curing a salmon filetCharcuterie was on order.

Then Charcutepalooza entered my consciousness thanks to Ruhlman’s blog, and the year of salt reached a new level. (We even watched Angelina Jolie’s Salt in January 2011, just for kicks.) Cassoulet, Sunday gravy, and ballgame brats & dawgs have become a regular part of Mary’s (wife and charcuterie partner) and my dining during this year. For the final challenge, I decided to combine my newfound love of charcuterie with an old favorite.

Now, about the dinner. I love oysters. I’ve been contemplating the ultimate dish that would bring together pork and my beloved bivalve. I arrived at what I’m calling the Oyster Rich Boy.

There used to be a place in Tampa, Florida where oysters were $1.80/dozen with your own personal shucker called DJ’s Oyster Bar. I spent way too much money there in college. They had a t-shirt showing a comic oyster steamed, stewed and nude (hot, drunk, and shy). The theme for this meal is Raw, Stewed and Stuffed. Oysters and charcuterie are great all three ways.

Trio of Raw

First course—Raw: Oysters on the half shell, saucisson sec in sheep casings (aka, meat candy), and bresaola. I’m generally a cautious person. However, I routinely visit countries with a travel advisory and I routinely eat food with a warning label. Raw is where it’s at for oysters and for charcuterie. The bresaola just might have been the star of this trio of raw. We halved Ruhlman’s recipe for bresaola as we had a small eye-of-round since we were still unsure how our meat fridge would work. It cured for the two weeks required, was rinsed, put in compression netting and hung to dry. After 12 days the 527 grams of beef and been reduced to 363 and was ready to be consumed. It made a nice addition to the oysters and saucisson sec.

Tale of two Meats

Oyster Stew with Pancetta

Second course—Stewed: Oyster Stew with Pancetta. Oyster stew has been the first course of my birthday meal for a few years now and I knew it would benefit from the addition of pancetta. I was right.

Oyster Rich Boy Meal

Main course—Stuffed: An Oyster Rich Boy, Oysters Rockefeller Sausage. I’ve been considering different ways to do an oyster sausage since the stuffing challenge earlier in the year. Oysters Rockefeller has been a favorite since childhood. When I was a grade schooler my parents would go out for dinner to a specific restaurant on Old Brownsboro Road in Louisville where they knew I would be content and quiet with an appetizer serving of Oysters Rockefeller. I was one of those odd kids who loved spinach. And even odder, I loved oysters. The combination of the two made this nine-year-old very happy, as well as my parents. Shouldn’t be too surprising, my dad raised me to be an adventurous eater. One night he got me to try frog legs by telling me they were “baby rabbit legs”. When I commented they were a bit fishy, he told me what they really were. I liked the frog legs, still do. But, it really says something that I didn’t think twice about baby rabbit legs.

Oyster Rockefeller Sausages

The oyster rock sausage was a small, 2.5 pound batch. I began with two pounds of pork shoulder cubed and seasoned with the appropriate amount of salt from Ruhlman’s Ratio App. This was ground using the small die of a KitchenAid mixer attachment. A half pint of oysters were drained (liquid reserved) and gently pulsed in a food processor. This was then mixed into the ground pork along with a quarter cup of the oyster liquor and a little over half cup of Rockefeller sauce base—equal parts sauce and oysters. (Use your favorite. I chose Emeril’s, added some Tabasco & Worcestershire and subbed Aguardiente, a Colombian anise flavored liqueur, for the Herbsaint.) After a minute of mixing with the KitchenAid we tested for seasoning, added a bit of pepper and stuffed the heavenly mixture into five feet of hog casings.

The Oyster Rich Boy

Sautéed to 150 degrees, the sausage was placed on the cheapest hot dog bun we could find (this dish is about the meat, NOT the bread <grin>) smeared with a thin layer of lemony-spinach aioli and served with sides of homemade sauerkraut and warm, fresh potato chips. The Oyster Rich Boy is born. Bursting with porky goodness, a hint of oyster brininess and the richness of the Rockefeller sauce, these sausages are a mouthful. Not for everyday, they’re for those times when you want a bit of indulgence on a bun. The condiments for this sausage needs work. The spinach aioli was nice, but I think something with a bit more acidity is needed.

Hangtown Fry

Breakfast: The next morning, with oysters and pancetta still in the fridge a postscript to the previous night’s meal was served. My father used to make a dish he called oysters and eggs. He’d lightly sauté oysters in butter then combine with eggs and crumbled crackers. Sometimes it would be served with a side of bacon. I’ve been eating and making this dish for as long as I can remember. Recently, I discovered San Francisco’s Hangtown Fry. Legend says this was a dying man’s request for his last meal before he was to be hanged. I’m not sure the Hangtown Fry was dad’s inspiration for the dish he made me, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he ate it in SF and decided to recreate it. The main difference between the classic Hangtown Fry and his creation is the oysters are panfried. This version subs pancetta for the bacon.

Salt, pork, and oysters. I think I’ll try to finish Kurlansky’s The Big Oyster before the year is out.

Tags: awareness · food

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