30 January 2013

Food Lab 20: Butchering, Part 2

The thing about getting a whole lamb (or two) is that you get the WHOLE lamb (or two).  So after you've separated your shoulder meat, and cut your chops, and prepared your tenderloin, and gotten all fancy with your lambchetta, and boned out your legs, you're left with scraps. Lots of scraps. About 10 pounds all together from the two original lambs. Plus organs.

Being thrifty, nose-to-tail types like we are, we weren't just going to throw that out.

No way.

So Chef Spouse, Mad Kitchen Scientist, the Executive Committee, and I gathered to make merguez, make a second batch of stock, and have some fun with cooking offal.

If you recall, we had made sausage before, and it turns out, we did learn some things! We used the merguez recipe straight from Whole Beast Butchery, with one small change. WBB calls for a whole bunch of yummy spices, and some "wet works" (jalapeno, garlic, red onion, etc.), but it does not call for any additional fat. Who in the what where? That seemed unacceptable to us, so we added about 1/2 pound of lamb fat for every 3 pounds, totaling at just about 2 pounds of lamb fat all together. Hey, we'd rendered all that beautiful lamb fat; we had to use it for something.

OK, so what is it that we'd learned from last time?

First, DO NOT attempt to stuff 20 pounds of sausage in one afternoon.

Two, soak the casings for a while before you use them to cut down on the nasty smell (MAJOR improvement).

Three. you need the BIG tray for your Kitchen Aid sausage stuffing attachment,

Four, Mad Kitchen Scientist had improved his casing handling technique, and Chef Spouse had improved his forcing the meat through technique.

And we were only stuffing about 4 pounds of sausage - we packed up the rest loose. One thing that was kind of cool is that the added fat, which stayed fairly intact in the pieces I'd originally shaved/hacked it into in the loose sausage, basically emulsified into the meat in the process of putting it through the mechanical sausage stuffer. Can't wait to see how it cooks up!

At the same time, we had two lamb hearts (above) and four lamb kidneys (below) to deal with.

The hearts we simply stuffed with (hearts have chambers) and wrapped in bacon and roasted. Verdict? As The Executive Committee observed, fat brings flavor, and the heart is a VERY lean muscle. The bacon added some flavor and salt, and the texture was very like liver, but not quite as rich. Mad Kitchen Scientist and I liked it. Chef Spouse and The Executive Committee were more "meh." We all agreed it might benefit from some sort of marinade.

The kidneys were BEAUTIFUL. And we didn't have a lot of fancy ingredients. So we just used Julia's base recipe from Mastering (this one is very like it). You carefully remove all the fat and silver skin from the kidneys, saute them briefly (only about 4 minutes) in hot fat (we labbed butter versus lamb fat), remove them and deglaze the pan with shallots, white wine and lemon juice...and then the magic happens. You remove the pan from the heat, take your pre-mashed butter/Dijon mustard mix (did I forget to mention that?) and melt it into the pan juices, slice the kidneys VERY thin, then return them to the pan and reheat the whole thing on low briefly. Sprinkle with parsley.

Again, Mad Kitchen Scientist and I thought they were great. Chef Spouse and The Executive Committee were less enthusiastic.

So now I've butchered a whole animal, gone a second round on sausage, and tasted two new types of offal.

Next up? Something in honor of an upcoming holiday (no fair guessing!), and the return of my (now former) colleague and his spouse.

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