by Fiona Lim and Joel McDonald

This is the second instalment in an ongoing GFR series by Fiona Lim, Executive Sous Chef at George restaurant. Under the watchful eye of Executive Chef Lorenzo Loseto, Chef de Partie Joel McDonald received an entire Tamworth pig from Perth Pork Products, a.k.a. the de Martines family farm near Stratford, Ontario. He has been breaking the animal down and making all manner of charcutierie and sausages, as Lim chronicles his progress. Click here to see Part 1 and here to see Part 2. – Malcolm Jolley, Editor

March 8th

Joel is back from his vacation in Mexico and happy to return to his porky endeavours. The offal is fully pickled now, and although he has had some misgivings about this take on headcheese, there are very few chances to turn back in charcuterie. This certainly isn’t one of them. He removes the pieces from the brine; two ears, a snout, a tongue, four trotters, and cleans and trims them for the terrine, carefully removing any hairs that were missed, and picking the meat from the trotters.

March 9th

He rinses and dries the garnishes for the terrine. Melting down the reduced pork stock from the bones, he adds half a litre of cooked black trumpet mushrooms. He would have preferred pine mushrooms but they are out of season. As the stock comes to the boil he layers the meats in the mould, adding some of the stock-infused mushrooms at the half-way point. As he is covering the whole thing over with stock, he thinks he may feel some grit against the spoon he is using to guide the pour. The mushrooms might be sandy. Perhaps there might be sand in the remaining stock now as well. At this point, we will have to wait till tomorrow to find out.

March 10th

The terrine has turned out to be gritty. The only thing for it is to melt it down, remove the meat from the hot stock, then strain the remainder though cheese cloth. On the up side, the terrine has also turned out to be too vinegary, so the stock will need further adjustment to compensate. Joel opts to use dried cherries bloomed in marsala instead of the trumpet mushrooms and adds a generous splash of wine to the stock. A dozen sprigs of rosemary serve to mediate the harsher edges. He also chooses a different mould for the terrine, opting for a wide flat shape so that when it is cut, it will yield slices that look like bacon with red meat and nearly black ‘fat’.

March 11th

Everything is much better this time. The terrine cuts well and looks good. It is not gritty, and the flavours, though pronounced, are balanced. Joel plates up a sample for chef, garnishing with a couple of Marsala soaked cherries, a tiny quenelle of foie gras mousse, a miniscule dollop of grainy mustard, and a salad of shaved chicory and cracklings made from the skin of the Tamworth’s confited leg. Chef likes the terrine and the presentation, it is to be the amuse for the night!

March 19th

The pancetta is ready, as is the guanciale. The lardo seems to be a little flat, perhaps it needs additional salting and a re-hang. The kitchen crew always appreciates Joel’s sample plates so he is careful to send up a lot to the main kitchen.

March 26th

The salami has finished curing. Absolutely redolent with black pepper, a little will go a very long way. Chef likes it and Joel starts to break down the hot version first, so that it may be vacuum packed. He has decided to use it on his amuse. We are in the fortunate position of having just received some Virgin Mozzarella; very mild in flavour and silky in texture. It proves to be the perfect accompaniment to the peppery salami.
Mission accomplished: Virgin Mozzarella, Warm Red Bean Salad, Pepper Salami; the amuse bouche for this evening.

The sweet version of the salami will have to be packaged next week. The guanciale, coppa and pancetta have to be packaged as well, but they are continuing to develop, so Joel is not worried about letting them hang a little longer.

Fiona Lim is the Executive Sous Chef and Joel McDOnald is the Chef de Partie at George. Their Tamworth project was done, in part, to compliment Chef Lorenzo Loseto’s Monthly  Slow Food-Inspired Italian Dinner series. Click here to find out more.