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!Quick edit!
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.Bacon IntroAdding Flavor to your BaconBacon Recipes- Preparing the Bacon at Last...Brining Part 1Brining Part 2Preparing Jerky - Intro and the CurePreparing Jerky - The MeatPreparing Jerky - The Equipment and Drying TechniquesPreparing Jerky - Preparing it! (Finally)Superzero115's Duck/Chicken Confit RecipeBeyond the Basics - Combining Brining, Smoking, and Air Drying IntroPancetta - Intro, Prep, and CureAir Drying the PancettaUsing Pancetta - Recipes, Techniques and AdviceQuick Guanciale Recipe per Reader RequestFrom Brine to Smoke - Intro to Pastrami and Corned BeefCorned Beef Recipe and TechniquesPastrami Recipe and TechniquesPics of the Juicy Pastrami Glory!General Lamb Cooking AdviceThe Portal of Doom and Sausagery - Innuendo and Sausage Making Guide...Better Homes and Gardens Chili RecipeLTTP Holiday Eating EditionBalsamic Beef RecipeTactical Turkey FryingPulled PorkDeep Fried Chicken Bacon Ranch BallsSmoker? I hardly Knew her!Credits and Web-Links