Saturday morning we did not wake up to the predicted snow, or even rain. We had a cold, clear beautiful day for a drive.
We were headed up to Napa for a class at the Fatted Calf to learn some methods of meat preservation.
The class of about 12 students took over the kitchen of the shop. We were back there with racks of sausages hanging to dry, a pot of soup simmering on the stove and all manner of ingredients surrounding us. Three techniques were being covered - brining to make corned beef brisket, smoking to make kielbasa, and potting to make pork rillettes.
We started right in cubing up pork. It was then tossed with spices and covered with lard and placed in a low oven to cook for several hours. A pan of pork that had been cooked earlier was then taken from the oven and it was drained of the fat and allowed to cool enough to shred. The meat was then seasoned and mixed with gelee and some of the fat and packed into jars. It was capped off with a bit of lard and ready for a few weeks in the fridge before eating.
I had never tried it before but it, along with many kinds of salume and pate, were on the counter for tasting during class. It was rich and meaty spread on some good levain. Our class did a whole lot of tasting, I think the guys in the front refilled our tray about 3 times.
Next up was kielbasa. For this there was some meat that had already been seasoned and refrigerated overnight. This was placed in a meat grinder. After some mixing we made a patty of some and fried it up to taste to be sure the seasoning was correct. Yum! and it wasn't even smoked yet. We all got to try stuffing the casings to make sausage links and learned how to tie them up. A batch of kielbasa that had been made the day before was hung in the smoker and hot smoked for us to take home.
Finally we were all able to see how corned beef is made. The beef brisket had been soaking overnight in a brine. To be sure that the flavor got all the way through we got to take turns injecting more brine into each piece of meat. Then the meat was placed in bags along with some herbs and spices and vacuum sealed. In a few weeks it will be ready for eating.
I have visions of this in my head:
OK, maybe without the turkey and cheese.
After class we enjoyed an enormous lunch of more pork in the form of a very juicy and delicious roast, some roasted veggies and what is likely the most wicked salad ever - arugula, toasted hazelnuts, and shaved fois gras. That salad was amazing! We waddled back to the shop for our bag of meat deliciousness and headed back home.
If you ever get the chance to take a class at Fatted Calf, jump at it. They fill up fast and I can certainly see why.
- - marcella