Many a month I've lurked on these boards and perused the advice and questions that have been posed and I have to say it is indeed a great place to get a different perspective on pretty much all that ails us (and all that doesn't).
Anyhow, I figured I'd give back a bit and post an advice thread for once with encouragement to contribute by all who would like to! This thread topic, which is near and dear to my heart, involves a style of cooking I've recently discovered, namely, Charcuterie!
What pray tell is Charcuterie? Charcuterie is the wonderful art of preparing, preserving, curing, or smoking meats and other various items into forms that both heighten and change their flavor but also preserve them in more flavorful ways than modern day preservation methods. A wee bit of history will help.
This art of preserving food originated mainly in the 15th century in Europe, particularly in France as a means to preserve and prepare various parts of the Pig when it was slaughtered. Since food was much harder to come by in those days and selling raw pork at the time was forbidden, utilizing as much of the hog as possible and making it last turned into a profession that came to designate a variety of Craftsmen that were responsible for the regulation and production of pork products for most of France in that time period. Or in a word, Charcutiers. Originally this craft focused exclusively on the pig and its byproducts, but over time it has encompassed a large variety of meat products that would benefit, or require preservation and alternative preparation.
So why, may you ask, in this day and age would we need to concern ourselves with this art when we have so many different ways of preserving all our foods? Well in a word, "taste". After experimenting a few times with just different types of bacon and jerky I've found that the extra effort is well worth it in terms of taste and variety. Particularly bacon, I've found I can't stand store bought stuff anymore as it just doesn't do the fresh stuff justice!
So anyhow, I'll keep this thread to the point and on topic, I'll post a few recipes first to give you an idea, plus I'll include links to various sites around the internet to pick up some supplies I've found useful. If anything I can suggest, please don't be daunted by this type of cooking! Aside from sausage preparations and a few specific recipes for dried hams, most of these recipes require little more than ingredients, some Ziploc bags and patience.
Ah yes, before we truly begin, a word on that last bit. The majority of these recipes are not "quick" or "30 Minute Meals" by any stretch of the imagination, the shortest recipe takes on average about a couple of days, with some of the more advanced recipes up to a year. With these kinds of time frames it can be kind of obvious why this craft has disappeared from the modern kitchen, but the style and the results still don't make it any less relevant!
Alrighty then! Let's begin!
This post I'm going to initially focus on the easier recipes that I've actually managed to complete and post the pics that accompany them. We'll start with the least labor intensive recipes concerning Bacon and Brining and graduate eventually to more advanced techniques that cover Jerky and Sausage making as well! All in all, the ride will be delicious!
Decided I'd hotlink the instructions/recipes here to the Original Post since I see this is going to be a rather large thread as time goes on.
Adding Flavor to your Bacon
Bacon Recipes- Preparing the Bacon at Last...
Brining Part 1
Brining Part 2
Preparing Jerky - Intro and the Cure
Preparing Jerky - The Meat
Preparing Jerky - The Equipment and Drying Techniques
Preparing Jerky - Preparing it! (Finally)
Superzero115's Duck/Chicken Confit Recipe
Beyond the Basics - Combining Brining, Smoking, and Air Drying Intro
Pancetta - Intro, Prep, and Cure
Air Drying the Pancetta
Using Pancetta - Recipes, Techniques and Advice
Quick Guanciale Recipe per Reader Request
From Brine to Smoke - Intro to Pastrami and Corned Beef
Corned Beef Recipe and Techniques
Pastrami Recipe and Techniques
Pics of the Juicy Pastrami Glory!
General Lamb Cooking Advice
The Portal of Doom and Sausagery - Innuendo and Sausage Making Guide...
Better Homes and Gardens Chili Recipe
LTTP Holiday Eating Edition
Balsamic Beef Recipe
Credits and Web-Links