January 20, 2007

Cochon & Charcuterie

a Year of Curing & Cooking in Gascony

Every year is the 'Year of the Pig' in France. January's cold weather invites the traditional slaughter of family pigs all over rural France. Fugitive abattoirs transform barns, garages, and backyards into small pockets of illicit gastronomic rebellion. These quiet winter days gear up to an industrious pace: plumes of steam escape stock pots filled with leeks and carrots; spices and herbs flavor the whole head-- cheeks, ears and tongues, simmers in a giant marmite destined for boudin noir or blood sausage; iron cauldrons of water boil over open flames ready to bathe and shave the carcass; linen sheets are bleached, naturally heavy and stiff, to receive the innards—the hearts, lungs, and guts. This is the real deal where the whole beast, nose-to-tail, is transformed into a year’s worth of food. In a weekend, whole hogs are wrapped, stuffed, jarred, canned, salted, then aired, aged and smoked. Homemade 'chair cuit' (the root of charcuterie or cooked meat) fills the French larder and is deliciously devoured throughout the rest of the year.

Like in the Chinese calendar, 2007 is the year to celebrate the French pig in all her delicious forms. Learn to make your own fresh sausage, dried saucisson, bacon, ventrĂȘche and boudin. ‘L’Art du Cochon’, as the farmer/butchers Brothers Chapolard proclaim, is the art of transforming the pig into food. We are doing just that all year long in my French Kitchen, this year and every year…in Gascony. Weekend workshops as well as longer programs are available for individuals and small groups. Oh, and there’ll be plenty of basic cooking classes as well! Come join me in France for this special year-long piggy event!
For a list of dates beginning in February email me.
Bonne Saucisse to everyone!

No comments: