Lamb Crepinettes, potato salad, haricot vert
K-Paul Meatloaf, melted potatoes, broccoli
I volunteer at the CUESA Kitchen two Thursday evenings a month (more or less) to help with cooking classes. We prep food for the students, wash dishes and set up and break down equipment and furnishings. The most recent class was “Sausage Making” taught by Dave “the Butcher” Budworth.
On my way to the class I had visions of meat grinders and sausage casings arrayed around the rolling stainless steel pods used as counters. There was none of that. There were mounds of herbs ready to be chopped and spices ready to be portioned, boxes of ground pork, ground lamb and caul fat. The class would not be making sausages in casings as I had envisioned, but crepinettes.
I’m familiar with the word because Fatted Calf sells crepinettes at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, but I had never seen nor eaten a crepinette. That evening I learned how to make a crepinette and Saturday, dined on my own homemade crepinettes.
Sage was only one of many ingredients that went into the sausage. We also picked and minced fresh thyme leaves and parsley, and minced long green Anaheim chilies and garlic.
Each pod was set up with a tray of sausage making supplies. Ten students worked at each station.
Caul fat is the spider web of fatty membrane that encases the internal organs of pigs, cows, and sheep, and it can be used in a variety of meat-friendly ways. Chef Vuong Loc of Portage Restaurant in Seattle calls it “kind-of like the original combi oven, because it allows the meat to roast and steam at once. It can get to a super hot temp because it’s fat, but it also keeps the moisture locked inside. It gives the meat a unique texture and adds flavor.”
Lamb is mixed with the other sausage ingredients and gently formed into patties, which are then wrapped in caul fat.
The crepinettes are ready for the students to take home, where they they are to rest in the refrigerator overnight and then will be ready to grill.
I just happened to have a pound of ground lamb at home. I took some caul fat home from the class (one of the perks of volunteering) and got started on my crepinettes the very next day. I had been experimenting on a recipe for Mom’s German Potato Salad and these lamb crepinettes would make the perfect accompaniment.
Carol’s colleague, Sarah, had said she had a fine bottle of Satori Zinfandel she wanted to share sometime — another perfect accompaniment — both Sarah and her bottle of Zin. We invited her for Saturday dinner. (OMG, I’m trying out two new recipes — but Sarah is used to that.)
I have to say, that was one fine dinner,
A few days later, I wrapped a meatloaf — K-Paul meatloaf, my favorite — in caul fat. Hey, just a giant crepinette.
Normally, that meatloaf spreads out and cracks on the top when it is free form in a baking dish. This one stayed round and high and was very moist.and solid, not crumbly at all. Tasted good, too.
Here’s a K-Paul meatloaf I made recently before I ever heard of caul fat for wrapping meaty goods.
That’s a really good meatloaf, just different. I like ’em both.
A new culinary weapon is discovered through the magic of volunteering for CUESA; and I have enough caul fat in the freezer for many more dinners.
recipe from American Charcuterie by Victoria Wise
(I adjusted the recipe for one pound of meat)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup currents
2 tablespoons pine nuts
3 pounds boneless lamb shoulder ground through small plate
1 teaspoon minced fresh little chili
2 long green Anaheim chilies, minced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine
Heat butter in skillet, then add currants and pine nuts. Saute until currants are plumped up and pine nuts are slightly browned.Let cool for 10 minutes.
Add to lamb along with all other ingredients and mix well with hands. Form into patties. To wrap, place caul fat on counter and divide into 4-inch squares. Top with 1/2 cup (4-ounces) sausage and wrap neatly. (for appetizers, shape 1 tablespoon sausage into balls and wrap in smaller pieces of caul fat.) Refrigerate overnight. To cook, saute in a little butter over medium heat or grill 15 minutes turning once.