'Setting his coarse feeding and slovenly habits out of the question,
there is no domestic animal so profitable or so useful to man as the much maligned pig,
or any that yields him a more varied or more luxurious repast'
Isabella Beeton, Book of Household Management 1861
I had seen a mysterious ad in Map magazine with a few interesting pictures of bees and flowers and a cryptic website address only. Upon visiting the website, I discovered The Joynery. This is a great concept that's been started by Jess Daly. It brings together those who are interested in teaching and showing with those who are interested in learning and doing. The Joynery offers short classes of a few hours on anything you can imagine from learning how to create bee friendly gardens to mastering Sodoku. If you want to learn how to make the perfect sponge cake or get make up tips on creating a dazzling smoky eye, you can find classes at the Joynery.
It had been a while since I'd been to a cooking class so when the opportunity arose to sign up for a 'How To' afternoon on meat curing, I was in! Like many in the food community, I'm interested in knowing more about my food. Where does it comes from? How is it made or grown? What are the ingredients and additives? The idea of learning to be a little more self sufficient and controlling at least some aspects of the production of the food I consume, appeals to me. So, on a warm Sunday afternoon I sauntered in to the Coorparoo Bowls Club and joined 8 others to learn about meat curing and sausage making. Teachers for the day were Pig in a Pickle husband and wife team Adam and Ebony who had travelled all the way from Nana Glen near Coffs Harbour to the Big Smoke.
The class was a no nonsense hands on type of affair so after brief introductions and some basics about hygiene, it was down to business. After a BLT chaser so we could taste their delicious bacon, it was straight on to sampling some home made salami then into the kitchen to learn how to make our own. For this activity, we were divided into two groups to decide upon key flavourings and then set about preparing the sausage mix that was to form the salami. We opted for red wine, white pepper, garlic powder and chilli. After grinding and mixing our spices and chopping in the back fat, we fried off a small patty to taste test and adjust seasoning. Once satisfied, we filled a sausage casing, tied off links, pricked air bubbles then weighed and tagged the raw salamis (weighing the salami is important to calculate your curing time).
A discussion and tasting of home cured bacon, prosciutto and rolled pancetta and the dos and don't of salt and brine vuring was followed by the opportunity to create our own sausages. I went for the classic combination of pork, fennel and apple with some fresh rosemary for good measure. After mixing and tasting, it was time to tackle the sausage filling machine. Daunting as filling the sausages was, learning how to tie the links by twisting them against one another was positively perplexing. I'm sure after another few dozen I would have been a master. Along the way, Alex and Ebony were on the spot to answers questions, offer suggestions on technique and steer unsteady hands.
As interested as many of us are in gaining a new skill, most us don't want to commit a lifetime to learning it. These classes fit the bill. I left the class with a kilo of homemade pork sausages, a set of instructions and links to resources, a much better understanding of home meat curing and an enthusiasm to give at least a few of the specialities a go.
I'd love to tell you that I have my own little salami curing away but in Qld, the only way to store and dry these safely is in a temperature and humidity controlled wine fridge. Alas, I do not own one. So, someone else jagged my delicious homemade salami. There are classes in spaces all over Brisbane and for a relatively modest outlay of dollars and a few hours, you can pick up a handy new skill.
various classes all over Brisbane
Pig in a Pickle
small goods and preserving workshops