Ask Rennie Vol. 7: Death For Dinner
Posted on July 21st, 2011
The dog days of summer always make me question the point in continuing on. My muumuu collection has lost its savor. I’m over the paleta craze. I don’t care how much artisinal elderflower water you made this spring, which chef secretly snorts coke off of the back of every menu in his restaurant after close, or how thoroughly you researched that chorizo. But then I remember that if I’m dead, I won’t have any way of seeing who’ll actually come to my funeral. Suggestions? I need something to stay my hand that isn’t as tired as last night’s chardonnay.
Pestering the Reaper About Takeout
Oh, Sweet P.R.A.T.,
I too, know the darkness that takes hold of one’s soul when the weather puts itself at odds with all that is designed to delight. Even as the fields turn to ripeness, one’s thoughts find their fallow season, and are laid low by the heat–but, despair not! The remedy, as ever, is close at hand, and one that I have no small experience with, dear P.R.A.T.–and, it is far less final that accepting the kiss of the blade or the embrace of the evil tincture that you think you long for.
Why wait for the uncertainty of someone else’s funereal arrangements on behalf of your exalted person? Take charge, Monsieur, and host your own, whilst you draw breath! I suggest, more plainly: a dinner party, thrown by your living body, in celebration of your deceased self. Robert, ever the faithful valet, feigned indifference when I first conceived of mine own despite being historically bad at hiding his private horror (that quirked brow is your tell, dear Robert), but! let not the censure of servants deter you! How else is one to ferret out the affection amongst one’s friends that keeps on drawing breath, if not by a dinner designed to fork the wheat from the chaff? Death, they say, is the great equalizer–death dinners, no different. There, amidst the covered dishes and rillettes, lies the essential nature of each of your guests–and, one would hope, a reason to continue on, despite the dogged heat of these interminable months. And the menu!
We suggest a progression of preparations that move from hot to cold, so as to capture the true flavor of the passing of the animus from the body–unconventional to be sure, but, P.R.A.T., you strike me as a man willing to flaunt convention for the sake of the ideal, and as such, I have great faith that you will conceive of a collection of plates designed to move both heart and palate in celebration of your life. Below, please find the recipe for a most fitting funereal dish: boudin noir. May it feature at your table, when you invite those whom you would test to dine.
Yours, even at the last,
G. de la R.
Boudin Noir (care of this excellent article):
1.25 meters (4 feet) hog casing, 34 to 36-mm diameter
350 grams finely minced onions
90 grams lard
75 grams (1/2 large) peeled, cored, and minced apple
100 grams pork fatback
150 grams lean pork
6 grams minced garlic
10 grams minced flat-leaf parsley
12 grams (2-1/2 teaspoons) fine salt
2 grams (1 teaspoon) ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon quatre épices
90 milliliters whole milk
1 tablespoon calvados
375 grams fresh pork blood
1. Sweat the onions in 75 grams lard over medium-low heat until they start to melt, about 30 minutes. Drain. Cool to room temperature before mixing with the other ingredients.
2. Sweat the apple in 15 grams lard over medium heat until it starts to color, about 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature before mixing with the other ingredients.
3. Grind the fatback and meat through a fine blade.
4. Soak sausage casing in warm water for 15 minutes. Rinse inside of casing with cold water.
5. Combine the cooked onions and apples with all the remaining ingredients, except the blood, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle. Use the lowest speed to thoroughly mix the ingredients. Add the blood and mix. Immediately stuff mixture into the casing. Do not overstuff the sausage.
6. Place the sausage in a large pot. Fill the pot with cold water. Cover the sausage with a drop lid. Heat the water to 85 to 90 °C (185 to 195 °F) and maintain it in this range. Poach the sausage for 18 minutes and until the internal temperature reaches at least 74 to 77 °C (165 to 170 °F). Carefully lift the sausage out of the water and place on a baking sheet. Rinse the sausage with cold water. Cool it in a refrigerator. Wrap sausage in plastic wrap until ready to use.