Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Oh sweet pig ...

Beginning was difficult today. It took me all morning to extract those three tiny, little title words from my over stimulated brain. We (I take liberty, it may just be me) always travel the most complicated paths before coming back to what usually makes the most sense. Simplicity. The path, of least resistance.

I had visions of so mysterious must read titles such as In the strangest places … then, I shifted and went for the one word wonder of Gratitude … then, I went to the possibly poetic Every day at 5am a man wakes up … then, because I was driving myself up the wall, I stopped. I sat quietly for a moment and asked myself a simple question: what do I want to say? Genius, I know.

The answer came back whispering (in an odd Eat Pray Love'ish sort of way): Pig … oh sweet pig … tell them about the beautiful, *fat (see rant later), succulent little breakfast sausage that fed seven hungry soccer players on the weekend. So here I am dear readers, with my story.

It all started last year, with these same seven hungry men, sitting around my breakfast table in silence. Silence.

Now, if you have ever been around a group of men, you know this is a very rare occurrence. So rare in fact, that I can almost picture David Attenborough’s voice (as always he would of course be ever so conveniently placed in the perfect observing position) in the background with “here, we have a group of men participating in a most elusive ritual, silence… watch carefully now and you will witness one of life’s most mysterious states amongst men in their packs

Yes … anyhow, I went outside hoping to witness the cause of this extreme rarity and there it was staring me right in the face. The one thing, the most powerful force, the culinary kryptonite that can render the most verbosely inclined men silent. Meat.

There, in the middle of the mountainous pile of eggs, plates of feta and sweet, fall tomatoes nesting and happily glistening in olive oil and fresh basil, lay a sizzling plate of Soujouk (soujouk dear readers, is a lovely, stinky, gorgeous cured sausage of Armenian origin).

All around me were faces planning their next move. What was the fastest way to the soujouk? How much could be taken without offending the rest of the pack? What was the best strategy for fastest plating to retain maximum heat? Who would have to go down once the last piece battle began? It was awesome. So marked was I by this extraordinary experience that back in present day, with looming breakfast ahead, here I am with another secret to expose (starting to get a liiiittle concerned about this confession theme here …).

I dear reader, am a selfish individual.

There, I’m out. I’ve said it.

There are very few things in life that give me as much pleasure as watching people relish food. Especially when this relishing is collective and it involves food directly from a farm. It literally makes me happy. So selfish as I am, I jumped at the chance to recreate last years meatty joy. But naturally, I could not present the same sausage again (God forbid, I know!). This time I wanted to make the little bundles of meat joy myself.

So naturally, this meant I had to hunt the perfect pig, or at least (let’s be real here) our farmer who reared one. In comes farmer extraordinaire Jean-Pierre who’s farm La Ferme le Crepuscule is responsible for feeding me (you will be hearing more about him). This week, he had the most beautiful ground pork ever (seems I didn’t have to hunt far) and so it was my duty to showcase its pure magnificence with the proper preparation. That said, I am about to share a little gem with you that could not be easier to make and is gorgeously delicious. This is a simple sausage recipe adapted from Alton Brown that will knock your socks off (I dare you to try to figure out where the citrusy hint comes from, because frankly I’m stumped).

Warning: if you do not have a meat grinder, ask your butcher to grind the required fat into the pork. I realized too late that I don’t have one (how could I possibly not know that I do not have a meat grinder for heaven’s sake you ask … I mean really, it’s just one of those things you just know you have or don’t have you say …) so I had to leave out the extra fat (sacrilege - I hate myself - from freaky not knowing no meat grinder incident I know!)

The lesson: please, remember the fat or you will (if you are obsessive like me) wind up making the whole thing again, yes, like I did (the “fat free” version was so flavorful and awesome but a tad, well, sans fat). This second batch resulted in full, plump, bronzed, succulent fatty glorious sausage. Thank you dear pig.

Okay, I’m done. Time to dish.

Here is what you need:

2 pounds pork butt, ground
1/2 pound fat back, ground with the pork
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon organic light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (Turkish if you can please)

Special equipment: meat grinder (yeah … I don’t know how I missed that ...)

Here is what to do:

Combine glorious pork with all other ingredients and chill for 1 hour. Form into perfect sausage shapes. Refrigerate and use within 1 week or freeze.
For immediate gobbling, sauté little bundles of sausage joy over medium high heat. Sauté until brown and golden turning on all sides to ensure an even tan (approximately 10 minutes. Keep warm covered in aluminum foil until ready to serve.

Enough for 7 hungry men.

Was meat induced silence achieved you ask? No. This year ravenous bunch diving into everything leaving crumbs in wake was achieved, but very noisily. This year, I had stiff competition that I had not planned for and am convinced I would have persevered given the following elements had been eliminated: Big screen TV, football, soccer and hockey (seriously, how many critical sporting events can be on at the same time!).

Even the most heavenly meat does not render man silent when in his most beloved state, watching sports, with his pack, in front of a big screen TV. David, are you there?

In the end, this is what it’s all for yes?

For those of you curious about the rest of the morning Menu, it was:

Farm eggs (24!) with cream scrambled in organic butter with feta and fresh dill
Pancetta crispy and lovely
Moroccan Olives
Sliced Lebanese cucumbers with lemon zest and sea salt
Creamy, ooozy Bulgarian triple cream feta with drizzled olive oil and Turkish red pepper flakes
Greek, farm extra thick and creamy yogurt
36 hour French baguettes
(Seems like the United Nations here … yes!)
Bagels (Montreal only please if you can, I have to discriminate here, they are the best)
Ferme Reid raspberry jam
And beer

Lots and lots of beer …


  1. I was lucky to be part of this amazing feast of food and the one last year! All I can say is that it was simply amazing! Even though words arent enough to express the culinary fiesta I find that you expressed very well the taste and atmosphere! Thank you for the blog I really enjoy reading! You are an ambassador of tastebuds.

    And the football is no competition just a complimentary.

  2. Thanks Deniz! I was not able to reply to posts before this afternoon so I am a bit late ... I so look forward to next year :)! Ambassador of tastebuds ... that's awesome :). xox