Charcuterie

With the holiday season fast approaching, and my desire for a break rapidly increasing, we thankfully began our final course for the semester: Charcuterie and Buffets.

And for those of you unfamiliar with the term, “charcuterie,” let me simply say this: sausages, pâtés, bacon, smoked and cured meats and fish, stuffed pheasants and game animals, confits and rillettes.

Awesome, eh?

Yeah, I thought as much and thus far I have not been disappointed. After all, unlike the fast-paced, white-knuckle sautéing in the Prairie Lights restaurant, or the batch-cooking chaos of Regional and Seasonal Cuisine, this course is proceeding at a leisurely clip.

And rightly so: curing, brining, smoking, pickling, grinding, stuffing; all good things that come to those who wait.

Despite the unpleasantness of stuffing meat through progressively smaller grinding plates (let along the outright nastiness of doing the same with fish), the process has been both informative and, dare I say, fun.

Think for a moment: how many sausage links or strips of bacon have you consumed in your lifetime? I know I’ve eaten my fair share — and until now, knew nothing of how they were made.

It’s a fascinating process and, frankly, done properly, like the pros of yore, yields products Maple Leaf or Oscar Meyer can’t even come close to replicating.

Seriously.

I had the pleasure of making kielbasa one morning. A f**king revelation.

I kid you not — and I was born and raised in Winnipeg, where kielbasa and perogies and cabbage rolls are as plentiful as smoked meat, bagels and cigarettes are in Montreal.

Of course, simply making all of these amazing products is only half the fun of this particular course. We plate and serve it, too, at expansive Thursday buffets.

And in order to properly display our meat-making handiwork, we prepare show platters, smothered in aspic jelly.

Why pâtés, galantines, terrines and other various meats have fallen out of favour, I know not. I do know this, however: I’m so glad for having had the chance to prepare them, and other charcuterie. For they’re fun to prepare, a feast for the eyes, and a treat to eat with a little cumberland sauce, gherkins and, yes, a cold pint.

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