February 02, 2007

Why Buy It When I Can Make It?

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You guys are so imaginative! The bonus picture in my last post was just salmon. That is, if you consider home cured and smoked salmon, just salmon. I don’t. I consider it amazing salmon! Salmon that I cured and smoked myself! That’s right, I have now cured my own salmon. What was once something I could only buy from others, I can now produce with ease, in the comfort of my own home in a mere two days. It’s easy! Who knew? And curing my own salmon is just the beginning thanks to Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. I must say, I’m a fan of Michael Ruhlman’s. Before Charcuterie I had read The Making of a Chef, The Soul of a Chef and The Reach of a Chef, all excellent Ruhlman books, as well as The French Laundry Cookbook which is co-written with Thomas Keller and Susie Heller. My most recent Michael Ruhlman acquisition is Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing. I want to make everything in this book. Just like I’m hooked on Dorie, I’m now hooked on Michael too. Future posts may well say something like “Michael said this was how you make…” and you might wonder; who’s this Michael character? No need to wonder, it’s Michael Ruhlman, and I’ll be making a whole lot of recipes from his book. How many people do you know who make their own bacon? Well, now you can say at least 1, because I am currently in the process of making bacon. This makes me happy to no end. Bacon! The candy of meats. Rest assured, there will definitely be a large and enthusiastic post about it when it’s complete.

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How does all of this relate to the beautiful picture of pasta you see at the top? That sauce is no ordinary sauce. It’s made with Mexican chorizo sausage that I made myself! Chorizo sausage is something that I’m always looking for at the Farmer’s market in the summer, but it never occurred to me that I could make it myself. But now I have and it’s fantastic, especially in pasta sauce. Chorizo sausage is just another example of one of the many, many gems that can be found in Charcuterie, (oh, and my chickens lately are being brined like they've never been brined before!). You might also have noticed that the pasta that is being smothered by my chorizo sauce looks much more delicious than anything you could buy in a store. It also looks much better than my ugly ravioli. I should always post about my problems, (food related anyways) because someone out there is bound to have a solution. In this case, I had pasta problems. My homemade pasta was tough and I was having difficulty making ravioli with it. I complained about said problem and The Husband from My Husband Cooks and Gattina of Kitchen Unplugged came to the rescue with suggestions for improvement. I hadn’t been happy with any of the pasta recipes I had tried previously, so I decided to give The Husband’s recipe a go. The result was the best pasta I have made to date. And I solved the ravioli problem by eliminating ravioli altogether and instead rolling out long, thin, wide noodles. Eventually I will have to learn to make ravioli properly, but for now, what’s the point? Is there really such a big difference between eating pasta with sauce on the inside or sauce on the outside? The only difference seems to be the time it takes me to make it. With ravioli I end up spending way too much time shoving filling in and pushing air out of a little ravioli that really doesn’t appreciate being worked over so much. Besides, I really like big noodles and when I make my own, they can be as higgledy-piggledy as I want them to be and I can say they’re supposed to be like that.

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Higgledy-Piggledy Pasta by Bri, (Adapted from The Husband)

2 cups all purpose flour

2 eggs

A pinch of salt

¾ tsp chipotle powder

A pinch of garlic powder

Enough water to make it all come together in a ball

Put everything in the food processor and pulse to combine. Add water slowly until the dough comes together in a ball. Let it roll around the food processor a couple times, then let it rest. I used lots of extra flour and my pasta maker to roll the dough out into thin sheets which I then cut into thick strips and hung up on the back of a chair while I made my sauce of Mexican chorizo sausage, onion, garlic, red pepper, tomatoes, shiitake, cremini and oyster mushrooms with a little beef broth and wine. I liked the addition of the chipotle pepper to the pasta, it complemented the chorizo nicely, (it also has chipotle in it). Winner!

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christine said...

Mexican Chorizo salsa?! I think I died and went to heaven. That sounds incredible!

K and S said...

I think it is so neat that you cured your own salmon! Love the looks of this pasta too :)

Meeta K. Wolff said...

Oh incredible! A great mexican/italian mix! Just fantastic! Love that first picture I could just dive into it!

Rachel said...

Home cured salmon! Ohh la la!
When my husband lived in Texas he missed corned beef and corned his own. I don't I have the energy for either of those activities.

Husband said...

This looks gorgegous. I never have thought to that sort of flavoring to the pasta and we love chorizo in our house. Beautiful recipe.

Lis said...

Congrats on the pasta making! Woo!! It looks KICK ASS! I am very excited that you are curing your own meats now and I can not wait to see the bacon!! Mmmm bacon!

Anonymous said...

Excellent, Bri! I agree - finding homemade ways to make things is so liberating!

leslie @ definitely not martha said...

Pasta, sausage AND salmon?

I am in AWE. I bow to your ambition and success when it comes to DIY!

Great job!!!!! I might try chorizo.....

Freya said...

My God Woman! You make your own chorizo AND cure your own salmon! Why are you not paid to do this stuff?
The pasta looks so good!
How easy is it to make chorizo at home by the way? Perhaps you could email me to let me know?

Anonymous said...

You impress me more and more each and every day!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Well, after you blew my mind with salmon and bacon then you free me to think different about pasta forms. I like the idea of not stuffing ravioli.
I've been experimenting with pasta and will have to try this recipes.

wheresmymind said...

Purred chipolte might be interesting too :)

Anonymous said...

you're hired!

can't tell you how gratifying it is to hear the joy in your voice over curing your own salmon. yes, exactly! it's a revelation, no? wait till you taste the bacon.

all best wishes with your excellent blog and your joy in the kitchen!

Jenny said...

Oooh, I want to run right out and buy a pasta maker! (But I won't, though I'll put it on the birthday wish list.)
However, can you send me the recipe for making chorizo sausage? I can't find any around here and would love to have some available.

Gattina Cheung said...

'higgledy-piggledy'... Brilynn, you're full of humor and creativity!!! Now salmon?! What next, bacon?!?!?!?!?! You're darn good! Congrats on pasta, it looks wonderful!
Seriously (hehee), I did want to make (salted) cured salmon sometimes ago. I can only get frozen (half) salmon, do you think it's good enough?

Anonymous said...

Brilynn you are an inspiration.One day when I am not chasing 3 children around and being a cook,maid,chauffer,therapist etc I am going to attempt making sausages,pastas...anything I can.Thanks for a great post!

Anonymous said...

So true, why buy what you can make! And that salsa sound soooo gooood. Mmm. The Italian loving Mexican in me loves this combo.

Ari (Baking and Books)

Valentina said...

How envious I am of you making all these wnderful things at home. I can only make the pasta - no salmon, or bacon..I will give this pasta dough a try as I have been looking for a good dough to use my pasta making machine for the first time.

Rachel Rubin said...

Oh wow! You are definitely inspiring me. I have been reading "Heat" by Bill Bufford and it has me wanting to make my own pasta.

Linda said...

making pasta is one of my favorites. it's not complicated, just labor intensive but the meal always tastes that much better because you worked so hard. fresh, home-made pasta is incomparable to dried, store bought.

Brilynn said...

Rachel- I am currently in the process of curing corned beef too!

Freya- You raise a good question- why isn't anyone paying me???? And making chorizo at home is ridiculously easy, so hop to it!

Kristen- That is my goal, to continuously impress you. Just you.

Ruhlman- I may or may not start stalking you... oh no, I've said too much...

Gattina- I'm no expert, and although it would probably be better with fresh salmon, go ahead and give frozen a try, what have you got to lose?

Scott- I'm sure your pasta be far better than mine and you won't have to lie and call it higgeldy piggledy pasta just because you can't cut in a straight line.