Back after a few weekends of travel, and just in time to show our cousin’s Rob and Mandy around Austin. Rob happens to be a BBQ historian and aficionado. So coming to Austin was part visit, part research.
We made it to Snow’s BBQ, which is about an hour from Austin. Snow’s has a reputation for being the best BBQ in Texas. The pitmaster, Tootsie Tomanetz, is an 82 year old, who sells her BBQ once a week. Saturday mornings. She opens her doors a smidge before 8:00am and keeps them open, until they sell out, usually before noon. We started our day at 5:00am, in order to get in line before the open, to guarantee ourselves a taste of all their offerings.
This wasn’t the only BBQ that we shared this weekend, but it was by far the most interesting experience, and the food lived up to the hype.
Now, that we are finally back from traveling, I am quite excited to share the story of our last charcuterie project.
About a month ago, before heading to Buffalo for our end of the season crawfish extravaganza, we endeavored on this new challenge. Our little play gourmet and I started scouring the local farmer’s markets for ducks. It wasn’t until our third try of that Saturday morning, that we came away with some beautiful magret ducks. You can only imagine how proud our boy was to come home and show off, to his mom, his bounty from our successful mission.
In preparation for the brining, of the ducks, we had also stopped to pick up some spices, including juniper berries, fennel, and anise.
We proceeded to toast these, before grinding, in order to release maximum flavor. This is added to salt. And the ducks are cleaned and prepped for the first phase.
Now the ducks are ready to be fully incased in salt, which will help to draw out some moisture, as well as season the meat.
Once incased in the salt, this will occupy the fridge for three days. The overwhelming scent of juniper and anise fills the fridge. Once the three days are realized, the salt has hardened around the ducks, creating a nice cast.
We brush off the salt, and wash the ducks with some left over white wine that is taking up space in the fridge. The ducks have turned a dark color at this point, and feel substantially harder.
The next step for these ducks, is to hang out in the curing chamber until it has lost about 30% of its weight. To prep for that, we wrap them in cheese cloth, put a fancy tie around them, and weigh them.
And here is where they will chill while we jetset for the next couple of weeks, and hope that hurricane Harvey doesn’t kill the power (which thankfully it didn’t).
THREE WEEKS LATER
Our little Play Gourmet has a keen sense for the health of our ducks. We have talked about them, and checked on them, and now FINALLY, it is time to get them down.
We weigh them one last time, to make sure they have cured long enough.
Probably my fondest element to this and every culinary project we do, is just how serious our little play gourmet takes his jobs. With much anticipation and meticulous care, we get the string off and start to unwrap.
And very eagerly, await to see what the ducks look like now.
What I failed to capture was just how much our little play gourmet LOVED this flavor. If you ask him, it is his favorite. The following night, he even popped out of bed asking for some duck for a midnight snack.
Pictures don’t do it justice. But here is an attempt.
I expect to go duck hunting [at the farmers markets] again very soon.