Petit Pavé de Poitou
Origin: Poitou, France
Milk Type: Raw
Petit Pavé de Poitou is a great example of a classic Loire valley goat cheese in all the best ways. The raw milk cheese is produced on the same property as the goats are milked, therefore making it a farmhouse cheese. Crafted by a single maker, this cheese is made in very low volume compared to other Loire goat cheeses, making it a rare treat to have it reach our shores.
Weighing only 100 grams, this tiny cheese is thankfully large on flavour. In a traditional ‘pave’ (paving stone) rectangle, the Petit Pavé is a golden cream colour with a slightly wrinkled rind. The high lactic notes of goat milk are blended with an aroma not unlike bundled hay, drying in a field. Once open, the luxurious and cheerfully salted paste of Pavé has difficulty staying inside it`s rind. It is best eaten all at once!
Like it`s cousins from all over the Loire, Petit Pavé de Poitou is remarkably well suited to sweet accompaniments, such as clover honey, or fig jam… Just don`t forget the tiny fouée, a traditional snacking bread from Touraine. To drink, at least keep the idea of it`s origin in mind… A sauvignon blanc will work wonders with it, Ontario, New Zealand, or French.
750 ml kosher salt
500 ml golden brown sugar
30ml cracked black peppercorn
8 garlic cloves
8 sprigs thyme
8 sprigs rosemary
2 bay leaves
Orange peel (optional)
With a sharp knife, cut all the way around the leg bone, close to the knuckle. This will sever the tendons and allow the meat to slide down the bone without tearing during the cooking process. Trim excess fat from legs to help speed the curing process & acquire more duck fat for when you’re ready to cook the legs. Chop the trimmed fat into small pieces, and cook in a heavy bottomed pan to render all the useable fat.
Duck legs, trimmed & cut
Pick leaves from 2 sprigs of thyme & rosemary, smash 2 cloves of garlic with the flat of a knife & then combine all the rub ingredients in a medium bowl (reserving the remaining thyme, rosemary & garlic; and all of the bay leaves).
Ingredients for the rub.
Setting yourself on a tray lined with parchment paper, gently work the curing rub into the duck legs, until they are well coated.
Ready to be combined
Arrange them neatly in a single layer, & place 4 of the thyme, rosemary & bay leaves and smashed garlic cloves onto the flesh side. This is where you can be a little creative to add your own flavour profile. I added orange peel and a small amount of freshly grated nutmeg. Press them between two sheet pans & parchment paper, weighing it down with something heavy, like a cast iron skillet.
Allow to marinate/cure for 8 hours on the counter top or 24 hours in the fridge.
When the curing time is finished, rinse the excess rub off of the legs, & pat dry. Place legs in a oven safe vessel, then carefully pour the gently warm rendered duck fat over them.
Ready for the oven
At this point, add your remaining aromatics (thyme, rosemary, garlic) and place in an oven pre-heated to 230 F. Checking it occasionally to ensure it is cooking slowly, with only gentle bubbling in the fat, cook covered for 2.5 – 3 hours.
Your duck legs will be ready when the thigh bone easily comes away from, with minimal tugging.
Warm, rich, & delicious. Perfect for fall or winter days.
It’s now ready to be enjoyed, crisped whole in a skillet and served with lentils, or as part of another dish; a salad with beets & chevre or a cassoulet. Given that confit is the traditional way to preserve duck and goose legs, you can cover them in the fat they were cooked in and if properly stored in your refrigerator, can last for several weeks.
The next leg of our Paganelli Salumi tour took us through their spaces dedicated to fermenting, curing, & drying… The aromas coming from the rooms were unbelievably delicious; heavy with intoxicating aromas of spice, salted pork & fermentation.
The speed at which the gentleman worked was mesmerizing.
The above coppa were then rolled in pepper spice blend and stacked, waiting on a trip to the brine pails. Just one of many points that makes Paganelli`s Salumi stand head and shoulders above the other domestically produced charcuterie on the market, is the fact they import their own Slow Food certified sea salt to cure their meats, to as closely follow the original processes as possible.
Netting, ready to catch some Gentile.
In one of the many chambers in Paganelli`s 3500 square foot facility, they hang rack after rack of their Gentile, Umbro & Cacciatore sausages; first to ferment, and once ready, further along the line to cure & dry.
Cacciatore, hanging in the fermentation room.
After several weeks of carefully monitoring and care, the sausages are ready to be cut and packaged.
Finished salami gentile, after curing & drying.
The last step before seeing the light of day; a protective vacuum sealed sleeve.
Packaged salami Gentile, ready for customers.
There are more than a few surprises hiding in the various rooms of Paganelli`s Salumi; and the below photo is one. We were already huge fans of their flat pancetta`s so we were delighted to see the first batch of the rolled variety. It is ideal for starting a carbonara or an antipasto platter.
Rolled pancetta, ready to debut.
If there is one form of cured meat that really gets this folks that have spent time in kitchens excited, it`s not really meat… it`s fat! This cured & dried lardo is pale ivory in colour, rich and supple as butter, and a beautiful thing to behold. I cannot wait to drape it over a roast, or render some down to start a ragu.
The bin says it all.
The final drying room at Paganelli`s was the most exciting to see. In it, one can start to appreciate the entirety of what these masters are accomplishing. With a great deal of both skill and patience, they guide this wide array of delicious and traditionally prepared meats to the beautiful forms we see at our warehouse.
Coppa, pancetta, proscuitto, lardo, guanciale… The gang is all here.
If there was a place to end this post, it is here… Hiding in the back of the drying room, were two, MASSIVE bone in proscuitto drying. Unfortunately, these beauties probably won`t done for almost a year.
I am considering buying naming rights for these two masterpieces…
A huge thanks is in order to Paganelli`s Salumi, for taking us behind the scenes to see how they work their magic.
Cheesemaker: Walter Rass, Käserei Tufertschwil
Origin: Saint-Gallen, Switzerland
Milk Type: Raw
Up close & personal.
As its name implies, Challerhocker (‘Sitting in the Cellar’) is a firm cellar aged cheese that, despite it’s somewhat creepy label, is a stunningly good cheese. After a full day worth of pressing, the cheese is moved to wooden shelves for ten months, and carefully washed with wine, herbs and spices. It is noteworthy that this cheese is not produced by co-ops, or different farms… this is one cheese made by one man; a true artisanal effort.
The somewhat terrifying Challerhocker labelling. We’re not sure exactly what they were attempting with this one.
Any fan of alpine cheeses will find a new friend in Challerhocker. The rind is a khaki coloured brown, slightly pungent and yeasty with a noticeable stickiness; given to it’s aging in a cellar and wine-based wash. Once inside, the paste is incredibly smooth, broken only by the odd eye created by gases released during the aging process. Challerhocker is both nutty and sweet; not unlike a carefully crafted praline or a not-too-sweet pecan pie. Combined with the savory zip of it’s washed rind, this cheese shines in every category.
Stand in front of a mirror at midnight and say “Challerhocker” three times…
Challerhocker can (and should!) be enjoyed any time of day; equally suited at breakfast through to a late night snack. You can certainly pair this cheese with classic Swiss accompaniments; smoked cured meats, chornichons & other pickles & crusty peasant bread. However, don’t let that stop you from eating it on it’s own, you will be glad you did, just don’t forget the Reisling!
In a pinch, Challerhocker can be used as a replacement Jenga set. Fun AND delicious!
Start with a lobe of Grade A or B Quebec Foie Gras. Either fresh or previously frozen will do nicely.
Our ingredients & equipment; previously frozen Grade A Rougie Foie Gras, brandy, sweet vermouth. Salt & pepper got cropped from the photo.
Lay the lobe of foie gras upside down on a piece of parchement paper at least 18 inches long. Let the lobe of foie gras come to just under room temperature; roughly 20 minutes outside of the fridge.
Resting at room temperature
Begin to slowly & gently work back the seam of the lobes on the under side of the foie gras.
The foie should be the consistency of slightly softened butter when working with it.
Your mission is to expose the veins that run into the lobes of the liver. They are removed to ensure a smooth and uniformly supple texture to your finished terrine.
The majority of the veins uncovered. Time to carefully remove them!
If your foie gras lobe becomes too warm and hard to work with, just put it back in the fridge for a few minutes to firm it up. Using something slender and pointed (I prefer a bamboo skewer but a paring knife will work as well), ever-so carefully, lift up the veins and pull them out.
The hard work is done!
Once you have removed the majority of the veins (don’t sweat the really small ones), season the opened area of the lobe you have taken the veins from with kosher salt and fine ground pepper. Drizzle 1/3 of you brandy and 1/3 of your sweet vermouth onto it as well.
Seasoned & ready for the pan
Using the parchment paper to form it, carefully roll the foie gras out into a long cylinder. Unwrap and season the top side with salt & pepper, and 1/3 more of your brandy and vermouth.
Again using the parchment paper as a guide, coax the rolled lobe into a long, lidded terrine, pressing it gently until it is evenly distributed along the length of the pan. Season lightly again, and pour the remaining 1/3 of the alcohol into the pan with the foie gras.
After baking gently in a bain-marie @ 225 F for 1 hour, place terrine in ice bath for 15 minutes then chill in the refrigerator overnight. Slice with a warm knife and serve with a baguette or crackers. Enjoy!
1 x Foie Gras lobe
60ml x Brandy, Cognac, or Armagnac
60ml x Sweet Vermouth, Port, Sherry or other sweet fortified wine
Fine Ground black pepper