by Fiona Lim and Joel McDonald

This is the fourth and final 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, here to see Part 2 and here to see Part 3. – Malcolm Jolley, Editor

Making lardo

Preparing lardo for crostini

April 1st

Joel is packaging the sweeter of the salamis today and is happy to find that it is immediately milder then the hot version. While the black currents are barely noticeable they bring out the more floral and fruit tones of the black pepper. Vacuum packing the sausages seems to mellow the flavours; perhaps due to the more even distribution of fat while the sausage is under pressure. Joel’s other project for the week is the whipped lardo but he will work that in next Saturday as today has been dedicated to making on of the fresh sausages we use in the restaurant.

April 10th

Time to cut one of the precious blocks of lardo! Joel cuts it into large sticks to feed into the grinder. The fat is then chilled in the freezer until very solid, but not actually frozen. Once ground he places the fat in the bowl of our food processor and whips it until light and creamy, being careful that it doesn’t heat up. Food in a food processor can get quite hot; hot enough to melt fat, and that’s the last thing we want to happen. He removes the cool, whipped lardo from the bowl, and tastes it. The flatness he was worried about before has disappeared, replaced with a slightly salty herby flavor that reminds him of raw milk butter. He lays out a plate of canapés. With some of our pastry chef’s wonderful spiced marmalade, a quenelle of whipped lardo and some radish spouts on come crostinis., it is a feast for the eyes and palate! A sous chef exclaims that it doesn’t need the marmalade; Joel retorts that it doesn’t need the bread for that matter!

April 15th

Joel has proposed that the remaining whipped lardo might make an interesting substitute for a standard pie crust recipe and he thinks a Tamworth pork pie would make an excellent conclusion to this journey. Who, after all, wouldn’t want to end a long journey with a pate en croute? The coppa is also nearly ready. He will cut into it next week to check the progress. Taking a cutting of sausage is something he usually doesn’t mind doing, but with only five coppas, he would rather not risk sacrificing one until he’s sure it’s going to be delicious. Patience.

April 23rd

And at last we come to the end of the Tamworth, which appropriately enough, is the right hind leg. Turned in to Coppa and dried for 8 weeks, Joel eagerly cuts the firmest sausage down from the hanging rack and cuts into the middle of it. The meat seems firm, glossy and evenly cured with very few air pockets. The pockets that do exist are blessedly free of mold. It slices beautifully, paper thin with out tearing; each slice is like a porcine stained-glass window. The juniper is the most obvious flavour to come though, with a hint of sage and a peppery finish. This is his favourite product to date.

Joel is pleased: “What a great end to an immensely satisfying project.”

Tamworth Diary Summary

Here are a few before and after shots from our whole adventure…

Back fat on February 4th becomes...

Lardo on April 10th.

Trotters, tongue, ears, snout, kidneys and head on February 4th becomes...

Black vinegar head cheese on March 11.

Pork Belly on February 5th becomes...

Smoked and unsmoked pancetta on March 19th.

The left leg on February 5th becomes...

A confit ham on February 23rd.

Jowls on February 4th become...

Guanciale on March 19th.

The right shoulder on February 9 becomes...

Spicy black pepper salami on March 26th.

The right leg on February 5th becomes...

Coppa on April 23rd.

Reserved shoulder meat on February 5th becomes...

Quail's egg and artichoke terrine on February 9th.

Thank you. We hope you’ve enjoyed The Tamworth Diaries as much as we have! – Fiona and Joel.

Click here to find out more about George Restaurant including Chef Lorenzo Loseto’s Monthly Slow Food Inspired Dinner Series. George is a Certified Good Food Fighter.