Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Unsavory culinary term of the week: Meat Emulsion

So this is going to be a weekly occurrence in this blog. My post take pretty long to research, shoot, write etc., that I wanted to have something interesting to put out there in between big pieces.

I've always found it funny that food; a concept that today means pleasure, beauty, and fulfillment, has some of the most disgusting sounding words and terms in it's lexicon. What I will do with this series is find some of the more grotesque culinary words and let you know what they mean so they won't disgust you as much if you were to ever come across them in print or conversation. So lets begin with one of my all time favorites: meat emulsion.

Meat emulsion is where the idea for this series came from. When I was in culinary school, I came across this term and burst out laughing at the nastiness of the way it sounds. I really don't mind the two words separate. Meat.... good, emulsion.....good; so why is it that when they are put together it sounds like a really bad title for a porno and what the hell is it?

A meat emulsion is for a lack of more scientific terms is a stable mixture of meat and fat. Gross you say? Disgusting you say? Well, have you ever had a hot dog? How about a sandwich with any number of meat products on it (turkey, bologna, ham)? Well, then you have eaten a meat emulsion.

A selection of cured meats at Sophia Place in Fells Points Broadway Market

Now if I told you I was fixing you a meat emulsion for dinner, you would politely (or not) tell me to fuck off, but if I said "hey, I'm making liverwurst, then you.......... yeah, I know... fuck off.  Let me try another comparison instead.

Think of a mayonnaise (which is a stable emulsion) then you get the idea of the meat emulsion. It is when meat, fat, and a liquid are mixed together to become homogenized. This usually happens at a cold temperature because if the meat emulsion gets over a certain temperature, as with a mayonnaise, it will break. I have had a meat emulsion break on me and trust me, it is not a pretty experience. Think of meaty sponge surrounded by oil inside of a plastic bag. Got it? Yeah exactly, it's fucking gross.

Now think of a really good sausage sandwich with peppers and onions, or think of sitting at the ballpark, eating a hot dog (that you brought in) and watching the orioles lose while having the time of your life. That's what a good meat emulsion can do for you. From breakfast to dinner, the good ol' meat emulsion will be there to make you smile.

I will be getting into sausage making at some point in the future. I will go more into the making of a meat emulsion. For now though, it's better that you know what it is and to not be afraid of it. It is a lot easier than you think to make, as well as more satisfying to eat. So get ready to make you own delicious meat emulsions. Probably the greatest unsavory culinary term I know (for now).

If you have suggestions for unsavory culinary terms, I am open to suggestion.

As always, cheers everyone.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Gravlax's Mustardy Mates

I originally posted these two recipes in the comments section for the gravlax recipe. After I realized who unbelievably stupid it was to do this, I have re-posted them here for your enjoyment. They don't necessarily have to go on gravlax obviously. Let me know if you like them.

Mustard and Dill Cream Sauce:
1 cup creme fraiche*
4 tbls Dijon mustard
(Approx) 2 tbls finely chopped dill
1 Small pinch of salt
1 Small pinch of pepper

Mix together all ingredients until incorporated. Let stand for at least an hour and preferably overnight.

* You can substitute equal parts of cream and sour cream for the creme fraiche. Whisk them together and let the mixture sit out for at least 12 hours (no, it will not go bad and you will not get sick from eating it).

Mustard and Dill vinaigrette:
3 ounces of cider vinegar
9 ounces of olive oil
2 tbls Dijon Mustard
(Approx) 2 tbls finely chopped dill
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of pepper

Start with the vinegar in a bowl. Slowly drizzle in the oil while whisking vigorously. After half of the oil is emulsified you can add the oil faster. After the oil and vinegar are incorporated, add the mustard, dill, salt, and pepper. Stir until thoroughly combined.

If its too bland for you, feel free to adjust any of the ingredients. You're the one who has to eat it, make sure you like it.