Brined, smoked range chicken and a Charcuterie Challenge

9 Jan

This morning I decided that the 3 thawed range chickens we were planning on smoking today should sit in a brine overnight. Good planning on my part, eh? A search on the net lead me to this post, and a recipe for a quick brine, perfect for those of us that want something now or at least sometime today. Here is my version:

I mostly followed the recipe with ingredients I had on hand. I added Italian parsley and sage from the raised beds (that made it through last nights temps of around 9 degrees Fahrenheit) then added some of our farm raised dried red pepper in addition to about a cup of Red Guitar (!) Old Vine Tempranillo Garnacha left over from last night.

While on Michael Ruhlman’s site, a cute picture of some red pigs caught my eye. CharcutePalooza? Right on! What a coincidence! Though I did not see any telltale wattles on the pigs, I clicked to find out more.

Interestingly, I had just this past Friday, conversed with a local farmer friend about preserving meats and told him this was my year for learning about how to make Virginia style hams, prosciutto and all other good things porky: smoked preserved and otherwise cured.

I love how things come together in life and the universe gives you a kick start when you really need it. This is all part of my journey here in Tennessee towards learning the old way and in doing so, I plan to document artisan skills that are nearly lost. I believe it’s why I became a farmer in the first place and is a perfect opportunity to stay focused on the goal. Here are the “Ruhls” as posted on the Mrs. Wheelbarrows Kitchen site (see link to site above re: charcutepalooza).

“The Ruhls

* Let’s celebrate the age-old talents and skills of charcuterie with contemporary takes on techniques, flavors and presentation.
* Let’s agree to use humanely raised meat, sourced as close to home as possible.
* Let’s write about our experiences. Not just how the charcuterie is made, but how we use it, serve it, flavor it.
* Buy a copy of ‘Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing’ by Michael Ruhlman.
* Cook along as often as practical. There’s no obligation.
* Post about your experiences on the 15th of the month.
* Display the Badge, if you are so inclined;”

I am joining this challenge if only for the pork portion (since that’s what I have) in order to keep things simple. Duck Prosciutto, January’s challenge sounds wonderful, maybe next year? I’ve been hoping for a pond this year in order to raise more fowl. Yet another Mr. Pink Guitar honey do list item… The cool thing about this challenge though, is that anyone who has access to humanely raised meats can participate.

So I am off to purchase the book, please feel free to join me in this challenge, I would love your comments. Oh, and I will keep you posted on how the smoked chicken turned out.

UPDATE: Well, the smoked chicken sat in brine for a few hours and then went into the smoker:

Then we phoned up our West Coast expert smoker friend, Steve, for advice. Here is what we SHOULD have done, and will do so next time. Brine for at least 12 hours, then, and this is critical: RINSE THE BIRD prior to smoking. We only had our chickens in the brine for a few hours and did not rinse them, so, although we sacrificed full tender juiciness, we still got great flavor without too much salt.

The chicken was delicious, even with our errors in planning. I would love to tell you that we sat down to a fabulous meal of smoked chicken, a nice bit of couscous, some healthy winter greens and then complimented the smoky flavor of the chicken with a sweet ginger/plum chutney, but we got it to the kitchen and devoured it with a chopped salad. The bad, blurry picture below shows how horribly IMPATIENT we were to try the chicken. Sorry, the picture just doesn’t do it justice.

The next day, it was served in sandwiches with that beautiful ginger/plum chutney mentioned above – sent to us this summer by more good friends on the West Coast. We feel lucky to get to eat such wonderful food and it is even more satisfying to know that we raised those chickens here. We also really appreciate all of the good help and flavors sent from so far away!

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5 Responses to “Brined, smoked range chicken and a Charcuterie Challenge”

  1. Kathy January 9, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

    The smoked turkey Steve made for Christmas dinner was so absolutely wonderful that it made me want to try some on our own! I found a book on how to build a smokehouse on Amazon for 1.57 so that is on it’s way as well.

    • pinkguitarfarm January 11, 2011 at 8:27 pm #

      Kathy, I called Steve for input, see updated post. A book on how to build a smokehouse? Thank you! I’m sure it’s too much to ask to send out Mr. Kneer Ranch to supervise Mr. Pink Guitar in the construction?

  2. Warner aka ntsc January 9, 2011 at 4:31 pm #

    Glad to find you. The Yummy Mummy did blame me personally for this, I’m the Warner she names http://theyummymummy.blogspot.com/2010/12/charcutepalooza-2011.html

    Duck breast is available from http://www.dartagnan.com/ although at this instance the site seems to be down.

    • pinkguitarfarm January 11, 2011 at 8:31 pm #

      Blame is a good thing in this case. Loved the pix of your duck breasts! Looking forward to all of your posts regarding the challenge. Thank you for the link!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The February Charcutepalooza Challenge is the Salt Cure – bacon, pancetta or guanciale. Posting date is 2/15/11. - January 15, 2011

    […] (so far the only goose breasts participating), and how the French and Italians make duck proscuitto. Farmers are joining, city-dwellers, bloggers you know and love, and one young chef who has us all […]

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