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Archive for January, 2011

Christmas Dinner Part 3


OK, I admit it – a day or two has turned into a week or three! And I really don’t have an excuse: Christmas dinner happened, and I had all the pictures to post – I just didn’t do it. Maybe I was exhausted and burnt out after an intense week of 4 major dinners, parties, packages arriving daily with ice cream, cookies, candies, chocolates and other edible things that this still-fit and trim (but barely) body needed like a whole in the head. So I just stopped. After Christmas dinner I didn’t cook, write, or anything.

Well it’s been almost three weeks and now I’m back, and ready to really get Devour going for 2011. First task: finish off Christmas. I think where I left all’y’all hanging is the pig’s feet. And I KNOW you are wondering with a perfect mixture of fascination, and yes, horror, what the hell is he going to do with those squelchy icky things we last saw simmering in a stock pot? Read on and you’ll find out!

The boned feet were ground in a meat grinder first

Since my goal was to ultimately make a sausage I needed to grind the feet to ‘chair a saucisse’, or sausage meat. I boned the feet then forced them through a hand cranked meat grinder. The result was sausage meat with the consistency of hamburger.

The sausages contain about 40% pork belly as well

The next step is to cut a 1lb piece of pork belly into 1″ cubes. Those are then frozen which makes the grinding process much easier.

Grinding the pork belly

Now that I have my ground ‘chair a saucisse’, I’m ready to finish up my meat mixture with herbs, spices, and booze.

The ground feet and pork belly are combined in a bowl...

I’m using nutmeg, allspice, salt, pepper, garlic, fennel seeds, and cinnamon. To bind in goes eggs and maybe a little heavy cream.

All the ingredients are added to the bowl and combined thoroughly

Now I’d like to offer a very special welcome to my first crises in making this recipe! This is a little package of pork based sausage casings. Unfortunately I can’t find my sausage funnel, the device you pipe your meat-mixture through into the casings, anywhere! So I’m stuck stuck stuck in the mud with no way to get out until I think of something….wait! WAIT! Cheesecloth! YAY!!! Julia Child mentions in one of her videos that one can replace casings with cheese cloth and poach a sausage with excellent and very similar results. So I measure out cylinders of my ‘chair a saucisse’ onto squares of cheesecloth, and roll them up into sausage shapes.

Place an elongated amount of chair a saucisse in the center of a section of cheesecloth, then roll it into a sausage shape


After tying off the ends, they are ready for poaching. In the case my poaching liquid is about 50% water and 50% white wine (you know, the bottle that was opened weeks ago and has been sitting in the fridge ever since).

Pig's Feet Sausages ready for poaching

Since this is a post about Christmas dinner and not just the unlucky foot of a pig, lets go back to some other stuff I’m doing. While the sausage simmer, I combine a whole shredded red cabbage with some salt pork, vinegar, red wine, garlic, sugar and spices and wilt on top of the stove in a pot. This simple side will be perfect with the fresh ham.

Red Cabbage, simmering on the stove

Speaking of the ham, its time to get it in the oven actually, this is the first thing I did Christmas day when I began to cook for the dinner. It needed a good 4+ hours in the oven.

Roast the ham high on a rack over a roaster. This ensure even circulation of heat

At service time, we eat the watercress salad garnished with blood orange slices while the poached sausages are sliced into coins and sauteed in lots of butter

Sauteeing the sausages to crisp them up

After our salads we serve the soup in little cups. Just little ladles of soup that are spiked with a generous dash of truffle oil and shaving of parmesan. I wish I had a picture to show you other than this one, but by now I’m in full service-get-dinner-served-before-I-go-crazy-and-our-guests-get-restless mode. So I didn’t have a chance to take a picture as planned..waaaaaaaa! Here’s the soup in production though. Like I mentioned before, the soup was forced through this food mill three times to ensure a silken almost cream like texture.

Acorn squash soup; before (on the right), and after (on the left, being forced through the food mill

Dinner is served! Sliced fresh ham is mounded on a two section platter with braised cabbage on one side. Everything was excellent! The sausages were rich, creamy, porky, and luxuriant. A slice of ham, a coin or two of the sausages with a big spoonful of braised cabbage really brought Christmas home to all who generously attended our dinner. Starting with the salad and soup was a good way to transition from fall (squash) to winter (bitter greens, citrus). I need to give a shout out to the friend who brought homemade pepper mint stick ice cream, and another one who made a delicious pumpkin cake. All were devoured with gusto.

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