A 2 Day Course on Charcuterie and Whole-Hog Butchery

  • With Chef Brian Polcyn

    “Demystifying the craft of Charcuterie, one student at a time”

    Welcome to the 2-day course curriculum by Chef Brian Polcyn, where quality pork and Charcuterie is our passion. Chef Polcyn has owned and worked in restaurants for the past 40 years, a professor at Schoolcraft Culinary school for 20 years, written two books on the subject of Charcuterie, and has traveled the country doing these Charcuterie classes for the past 6 years. He is a true Chef from Detroit, an engaging instructor, and a wealth of knowledge on the craft of Charcuterie. Chef Polcyn’s 2-day course is a compressed version of his 5-week class he has taught as a professor at Schoolcraft College in Livonia, Michigan, for the past 20 years.

    For each course a heritage breed pig is procured to be used as a demonstration tool/visual aid. The first day is primarily demonstration and lecture by Chef Polcyn on European seam butchery techniques (known as “The Big Eight”), a tradition of butchery used by the masters of Charcuterie for centuries. Questions and note taking are encouraged and a steady pace of learning is maintained as Chef will butcher half a pig during the first day. Day one ends with some cooking and recipe demonstration from the fresh cuts of pork as well as mise en place for the next days cooking (8-10 recipes will be performed each day). Day 2 we will do some sausage, pate, terrine making and have an in depth discussion on the art of curing and smoking meat. Chef will butcher the second half of the pig using USDA cuts for a side by side comparison to the cuts produced by The Big Eight technique. Day 2 ends with a tasting of all of our creations and an open discussion on what went right and wrong during the butchering and cooking process.

    A critical facet of this course is to teach resourcefulness. No two pigs are the same, therefore; no two pigs will be butchered the same exact way. Chef will clearly and concisely explain how to approach each whole hog you plan to butcher in order to create consistent and quality Charcuterie.

    An additional component of every class is that we are participating in saving heritage breed pork and the small American family farms that raise them. Great food starts with great ingredients, and this holds no more true than in the craft of Charcuterie. There is no comparison in flavor between a factory raised pig and the heritage breeds of Berkshire, Duroc, Mangalitsa, Hereford and others. Know your farmer, respect the pig, and eat lots of sausage.

    2 Day Course Curriculum

    Day 1:

    9:00am to 9:30am – Breakfast and Brief Introduction with Class Photo

    9:30am to 11:00am – Discussion on the Big 8 cuts of Seam Butchery and their comparison to USDA cuts

    Butchery Comparison Chart:

    11:00am to 12:00am – Overview of Basic Fresh Sausages and Various issues and Flavors

    ➔ Smoked Hunters sausage
    ➔ Zampone
    ➔ Mortadella

    12:00am to 1:45pm – Pates and Terrines

    ➔ Duck Terrine with pistachios, mushrooms & ham
    ➔ Country Terrine
    ➔ Chicken mousseline with chanterelles

    1:45pm to 3:00pm – Confit and Smoke House Creations

    ➔ Porchetta di testa or Schinkenspeck
    ➔ Duck Confit with Star Anise
    ➔ Pork Shoulder Confit Steak
    ➔ Madeira Duck Ham
    ➔ Fennel Cured Salmon

    3:00pm to 4:00pm – Charcuterie and Beverage Tasting and Class Debrief

    Learning Objectives for Day 1:

    ➔ Butchery technique as it pertains to Charcuterie
    ➔ Sausage casing handling
    ➔ Sausage stuffing techniques, such as linking, ring, and bubble knot.
    ➔ Basic grind method
    ➔ Primary bind
    ➔ Emulsified method for sausage
    ➔ Forcemeat & their practical application
    ➔ Straight, Country and Mousseline
    ➔ Confit, Lox and Poultry Ham

    Day 2:

    9:00am to 9:30am – Breakfast and Introduction of Day Two

    9:30am to 10:30am – Cook Confit

    10:30am to 10:45am – Load Smoker, Discuss Temperatures and Smudge

    10:45am to 12:45am – Production

    ➔ English Pork Pie
    ➔ Grilled Vegetable Terrine
    ➔ Spuma
    ➔ Cured Yolks
    ➔ Dilled Salmon Rillettes
    ➔ Rillettes From Confit
    ➔ Apricot Cherry Chutney
    ➔ Sauce Gribiche
    ➔ Kiln Dried Cherry Mustard

    12:45am to 1:30pm – Discussion on Salt Box Method and creation of Air Dried Solid Meats

    ➔ Guanciale
    ➔ Coppa
    ➔ Lomo
    ➔ Prosciutto, Serrano, Culatello and Fiocco

    1:30pm to 2:30pm – Assembly of Charcuterie Board For Sampling

    2:30pm to 3:30pm – Tasting of items made in class

    Learning Objectives for Day 2:

    ➔ Saltbox method
    ➔ Brine Pump
    ➔ The All Important Pellicle
    ➔ Whole Muscle Cure Compared To Ground Cure
    ➔ Principles Of Charcuterie On A Modern American Menu
    ➔ Forcemeat Comparison

    Other topics to be discussed:

    ➔ Salami and Fermentation
    ➔ Nitrites/Nitrates
    ➔ 3 steps to smoking (wet/dry cure, pellicle, hot and cold smoking)
    ➔ salting and drying curing meats
    ➔ Drying room conditions
    ➔ Molds in drying room

    Additional Knowledge to be Gained and Applied:

    SALT is the most powerful ingredient in the kitchen. Its purpose is to extract water from the meat. Pure salt should only be used, never iodized salt such as table salt. Pickling salt, kosher salt, and sea salt are preferred. Be careful with some sea salts, as they have a variety of other ingredients, other than sodium chloride mixed in with them. CURING SALTS. These are different than straight sodium chloride or pure salt. They have the addition of nitrites and nitrates which are essential to the curing process. There are two types used. Prague powder # 1 and #2 they go by different names (see chart below) from different manufacturers but are highly regulated by the USDA. Prague powder #1 is roughly 94% pure salt and 6% sodium nitrite, this product is used in the smokehouse.

    Prague powder #2 is roughly 92% sodium chloride, 5% sodium nitrite, and 3% sodium nitrate. This product is used for ground dry cured meats (salami) in the drying chamber. They are never ever interchangeable.

    There are three reasons why we use these products:
    1. Kills botulism
    2. Turns meat pink
    3. Gives cured flavor

    Nitrites have gotten a bad rap over the years and now there are products on the market such as “Uncured Bacon” or “No nitrites added” on the label of smoked foods. Read the label and there will be an ingredient such as celery powder or beet powder. These ingredients have naturally occurring nitrites in them so the products are essentially cured because the powder themselves are the precursor to becoming nitrite. Remember nitrites occur naturally in food and come from nitrogen in fertilizer, cow dung, or anything that grows in the dirt.

    Curing Agents
    Pink Salt —————> TCM (tinted cure mix)
    Dq Curing Salt #1
    Prague Powder #1 —————> Insta Cure
    Quick Cure —————> Pink Cure
    Salt Formulas
    4 oz of Pink Salt —————> Cures 100# of Meat
    1 oz of Pink Salt —————> Cures 25# of Meat
    7 g of Pink Salt —————–> Cures 5# of Meat


    If you have additional questions on this curriculum or would like to book a 2 day class with Chef Polcyn, please do not hesitate to contact us at chefbrianpolcyn@gmail.com or visit us on Facebook at Chef Brian Polcyn

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