Here are home-friendly recipes from Alberta practitioners of the charcutier’s art. Any of these will make your name as a holiday host and cook who attends to the finely detailed and reviving art of homemade charcuterie.
pork belly, any ragged edges trimmed, rind on
kosher salt by weight (about 1 c.)
demerara sugar by weight (about ½ c.)
garlic clove, minced
cracked black pepper to taste
Rub the syrup onto the pork. Mix together the remaining ingredients – the cure — on a tray. Dip the meat into the cure to coat all surfaces and shake off any residue that does not cling. Put the meat into a waterproof plastic bag in the fridge for 5 to 7 days, turning daily. On the final day, rinse well under cold water and pat dry. Let stand, uncovered, to air-dry in the fridge for up to 48 hours to develop the sticky texture that allows smoke to penetrate. Don’t skip this step. Smoke the pork belly for 6 to 8 hours over very low heat. Cool and wrap. Fry to use. Makes 2 lbs.
1 4 to 5 lb.
pork picnic shoulder, skin on
head of garlic, coarsely chopped
ribs of celery
bouquet garni tied in cheesecloth with twine: celery leaves, bay leaves, black peppercorns thyme, marjoram
dry white wine
kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
Place the whole pork picnic into a roasting pan just large enough to hold it and add all the remaining ingredients. Cook, uncovered, in a low oven (250 F) for about 8 hours. Turn the meat twice during this time. When the meat is fork tender, remove it from the broth and set it aside. Strain the broth and reserve it; discard the solids. Remove the skin from the meat and discard it. Cut the meat into large pieces. Place the meat in a large bowl and shred it into fine shreds with two forks. As you shred the meat, add the strained broth and fat, 1/2 c. at a time. Add up to half the cooking liquid until the meat is moist and as finely textured as you want. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pack into ceramic ramekins or bowls or a pair of large loaf pans. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to cool completely in the fridge, about 4 hours. Allow a day for the rillettes to mellow before serving. Scoop out of the container, serve in the container, or invert the rillettes onto a plate to serve. Makes 2 12” X 4” loaf pans.
freshly cracked pepper
minced fresh thyme
ground star anise
bay leaves, crumbled
brandy or cognac
To make confit: season the thighs with the salt and pepper. Make a paste of the garlic, thyme, allspice, star anise, bay leaf, and brandy or cognac. Rub into the flesh. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Heat the duck fat in a large pot, add the legs, skin side down, fitting them in snugly. Simmer, uncovered, for 2 to 3 hours over low heat. Transfer the duck legs to quart jars and pour in the fat to cover. Cool, then store in the fridge. Confit keeps for a long time. To use, bring the jar to room temperature, pull out however many duck legs you need and crisp them on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a 450 F oven. (Strain the duck fat after use, discarding the solids, and freeze it for re-using.) Makes 8 confit duck legs.
To make rillettes: Pull off and discard the skin from the duck confit. Pull the meat off the bones and save the bones for stock. Use two kitchen forks to shred the meat and pack it into several ramekins. Top each with enough melted duck fat to completely cover the meat, and chill. Let the rillettes age for at least 3 days before serving. One confit duck leg makes one ramekin of rillettes.
2 4 to 5 lb.
rabbits, bones removed, meat cubed, 4 tenderloins left whole
brandy, Armagnac or cognac
minced fresh rosemary
cracked white and pink peppercorns to taste
nitrites (a.k.a. ‘cure’— it boosts flavour and helps maintain good colour — 1%, available from CTR Refrigeration, 403-444-2877)
pork belly, cubed
pork shoulder, cubed
brandy, Armagnac or cognac
court bouillon (recipe follows)
pork cheeks (optional)
quatre épices (recipe follows)
salt and freshly cracked pink and white peppercorns to taste
caul fat or slices of lean side bacon
pork fat, sliced thin (you need this if you are using caul fat)
Have your butcher bone the rabbits. Marinate the tenderloins with the brandy, Armagnac or cognac, rosemary and peppercorns for 24 hours. Mix together the salt and nitrite, then rub it over the the pork belly and pork shoulder. Cover and chill for 24 hours. Reserve the cubed rabbit meat in the fridge until ready to use.
When you’re ready to make the pâté, macerate the prunes in the brandy, Armagnac or cognac for 20 to 30 minutes, or until softened.
Heat the court bouillon and poach the cheeks for 10 minutes to an internal temperature of 175 F. Then shred them and keep them warm. Use a meat grinder fitted with a coarse blade to grind the cubed rabbit, pork belly and shoulder, and rabbit liver, reserving the tenderloins. Mix together the ground meats, prunes, shredded pork cheeks, quatre épices, salt and peppercorns. Sauté a bit of the mixture and taste for salt content.
Turn the oven to 350 F. Line a 4” x12” ceramic terrine mould or 2-quart (medium sized) ceramic pot with caul fat, if available, or bacon. Add half the ground meat mixture. Lay the rabbit tenderloins down the centre of the terrine on top of the ground meat, then cover with the remaining meat mixture. Fold the caul fat or bacon strips over the top of the mixture. If using caul fat, lay the strips of pork fat overtop in a diagonal pattern.
Pick up the pan and whack its base on the counter to eliminate air pockets. Place the uncovered pan in a hot water bath so that water comes 2/3 up the sides of the pan and cook the terrine until the top starts to brown. Reduce the heat to 300 F and cook to an internal temperature of 148 – 150 F, about 1 to 1 ½ hours. Remove and pour out the juices from the cooked pâté, cover with parchment and place several cans on top to weigh it down. Refrigerate and age at least 3 days before slicing. Store uneaten pâté in the mould, covered. Makes one 4”x12” pâté.
Court bouillon: combine in a pot 4 c. water, 1 each carrot, celery stalk and small onion, coarsely chopped, 3 garlic cloves, bruised, 2 thyme sprigs, 1 bay leaf and a couple of black peppercorns and simmer 30 minutes. Strain and discard the solids.
freshly grated nutmeg
each, freshly cracked white and black peppercorns
finely crumbled dried tarragon
finely crumbled dried marjoram
minced dried black Mission figs
cognac or port
cloves garlic, minced
2 – 4 T.
chicken livers, cleaned and patted dry
kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper or quatre épices to taste
unsalted butter, softened (optional)
1/4 – 1/2 c
whipping cream (optional)
minced fresh thyme
melted butter for the top of the ramekins
Macerate the figs in the port or cognac. Sauté the onion and garlic in a little butter until tender and translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the pan. Raise the heat under the pan and add a little more butter. When it foams, add the chicken livers in small batches and sauté until medium-rare, sprinkling each batch with dried basil and salt and pepper or quatre épices to taste. Deglaze the pan with the cognac from the figs after the last batch of livers is cooked. Purée the chicken livers with the deglazing liquid, onion and garlic, blending until perfectly smooth. Add the optional butter and cream, reserved figs and thyme. Taste and adjust the flavour with more salt if needed. Pack into small ramekins, cover with melted butter, wrap well and chill for at least one day before serving. Makes 6 ramekins.
“Bread & Water is an emotionally arresting, beautifully written series of essays.”
~ Jurors’ Citation, Saskatchewan Book Awards, University of Saskatchewan President’s Office Nonfiction Award
“Food is a wonderful agent for storytelling... and Bread & Water demonstrates this brilliantly.”
~ Sarah Ramsey, starred review, Quill & Quire
“[Bread & Water is] An amazing feast... riveting... eloquent.”
~ Patricia D. Robertson, Winnipeg Free Press
“[Bread & Water is a] sensuous experience; she brings her poet’s eye and ear to everything within her purview.”
~ Professor emerita Kathleen Wall, Blue Duets
“A deep love of the art of cooking that includes the language of fine dining (cassoulet, confit) even if the lamb was raised in Olds and she picked the rhubarb herself... she impressively manages this collision of worlds with a wholesome, approachable style.”
~ Megan Clark, Alberta Views
“These finely focussed poems [in Wildness Rushing In] invite us into a sensuous and emotionally rich landscape.”
~ Don McKay, winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize
“The writing [in Wildness Rushing In] is honed and textured, the senses so alive that you can practically taste the language. There are moments of brilliance rare in a first book.”
~ Jurors’ Citation, Saskatchewan Book Awards
“dee Hobsbawn-Smith’s stories [in What Can’t Be Undone] are written with a poetic edge. Her descriptions, particularly western landscapes, are often luxurious, lending themselves a kind of nuanced impression, a delicate fingerprint on the reader’s mind. "
~ Lee Kvern, Alberta Views
“[Foodshed is] A rich encyclopedia of facts, farm-gate lore and original recipes... a politically engaging narrative in which Hobsbawn-Smith articulates the challenges and joys faced by small-scale producers... don’ t let the alphabet theme fool you. This is no tame nursery rhyme; it is a locavore call to arms.”
~ P.D. Robertson, The Globe & Mail