Monday, 30 May 2011

German Charcuterie ( Metzgerei )

On my recent trip to Germany where I was teaching charcuterie, I was offered hospitality unlike I have ever received before. (I think I learnt more than I actually taught on this trip!)

It started here and near to Hameln in Niedersachsen, where I met pig farmer Achim Kaiser and his family and friends. I was treated like a family member having been told to park my trusty camper in the farm yard for the night (of which you can just see in the background), I was treated to a BBQ in my honour along with sharing much beer and several bottles of schnapps. Not only that, I was informed I was to sleep in the house overnight as I would be more comfortable than in my camper, with all the schnapps I was given I'm not sure it would have mattered.

Food and it's production was the topic of conversation for most of the time and here is Achim giving me a tour of his cellar, to which was the size of a large apartment. In it was a room dedicated to the many bottles of wine which the family had acquired over many years, also two rooms of home canning. All kinds of vegetables, fruits and meats of every description, many of which were given to me the following morning on my departure.

I visited the local markets at every opportunity to sample the many meats being sold before buying what I enjoyed most.

The Germans don't seem to boast about their food like other continentals, they just get on with making the highest quality they can with a quite like efficiency.

As you expect with this country, it offers a variation of cold meats, but it is the variation and high quality that surpass our neighbours.

It is no wonder Germany is the sausage capital of the world, with all it has to offer on this subject.

At Hameln market I met Manuella a team member of Fritsch a small company whom are specialists in German charcuterie, she saw that I had an interest in her meats and invited me to see how they were made. She without any hesitation called her boss and arranged that I visit that very same day. Manuella passed me the information I needed to find the address and I was on my way.

On arrival at Fritsch the Wurstgrosshandel, I was welcomed by Jens Fritsch the owner who promptly kitted me out in disposable overalls, shoes and hair net.

Jens very proudly gave me a quick tour of his premises and explained how some of his products were developed. Here a member of his staff fills a hopper with meat ready for mincing.

Jens with some of his Mettwurst ready for smoking.

Here we have some of the magnificent Black Forest Ham which has been cold smoked.

More salami and again Jens with some freshly cooked bratwurst ready for packing.

I can't begin to tell you about the generosity shown to me during my two week stay in Germany in particular to Achim Kaiser and Jens Fritsch for allowing me to indulge in my passion for great meat.

Auf Wiedersehen

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Chicken Gizzard Salad

Chicken gizzard salad or Salade de Gesier is one of my favourite dishes, expecially this time of year where we have a great selection of salad to choose from. Sadly poultry gizzards are rarely used in UK, I can only add by saying that's a great shame.

So assuming we have already prepared our gizzards by curing them for approximately 4 hours, we now need to gently confit them for a few hours more until they become soft. Here we can pack them in fat and store them until we need them.
Start by sauteing some lardons and as the bacon begins to brown add your gesiers to the skillet to heat through. You can if you wish also warm through some walnuts at this stage.

Arrange a dressed green salad on your plate along with some citrus segments and any nuts you may use, then place your warm gizzards and lardons over your salad.

Adding a piece of freshly baked puff pastry to the dish will complete the salad perfectly.

I hope you enjoy this little salad as I do and if you do, then please ask your poultry suppliers to utilise these pieces of offal instead of discarding them.

I would like to THANK my friend and colleague Mickael Weiss of for supplying me the confit gesier for this dish.

Gizzards by post! I think that was a first, merci Mickael.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Salami Culture

Ever wondered how salami is made?

Well I can tell you, in brief it is where sausagemeat and fat are mixed together with seasonings of your choice and stuffed into large animal casings, where they are then hung and left to ferment and air-dry for several weeks or even months.

Usually a rule of thumb would be; leave your salami air-drying until it has lost between 30 and 40% of it's original weight.

To achieve the best and safest results, it is wise today to add a culture to your mix, this helps the salami start the fermentation process. This also adds flavour and it aids in attaining the white powdery mould on the surface area which is another indicator saying "I'm ready to eat".

Mike a farmer from Tavistock Devon and one of my mature pupils is here above watching over his daughter Lisa making her first salami. I can tell you Mike brought to class a great tip at this session, he explained he uses a supermarket dairy product as his culture. What is it you're asking right? Well I can tell you it's "Yakult" the health drink you often see advertised on TV.

Yakult contains "Lactobacillus casei Shirota" the same ingredient as supplied by the many specialist suppliers to the meat and cheese-makers market.

On a recent visit to my local supermarket I checked out these health drinks and they were many varieties, including many brands with fruits added.

I can see some people using these to make the smaller snack salami, so c'mon who's game for making some strawberry & chocolate flavoured pork salami? has a great source of information if you have any questions!