Nocino (Green Walnut Liqueur)

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There’s a large old walnut tree in the work car park and every year yellow-tailed black cockatoo’s get to the walnuts before they have a chance to fully ripen. The cockatoo’s are pretty clever as they carry the unripe walnuts and drop them from a height onto the nearby concrete footpath to crack the walnut shells open. As a result, each year I miss out on the massive bounty of walnuts. So almost 3 years ago, (the reason why I say almost 3 years ago is because I made it back then placed it in a dark cool place and forgot about it. I was moving house recently and came across it while packing). I decided to do something different and picked the unripe green walnuts to try my hand at making nocino. Nocino (pronounced no-CHEE-no) is a dark liqueur made from unripe walnuts, that is delicately nutty and has subtly spiced flavour. Nocino is a traditional Italian liqueur that is perfectly paired after a rich meal. Most of the recipes that I have come across are very similar; some use more and some or less sugar, add or omit certain spices, vary the length of time. The liqueur should sit and mellow for the flavours to develop. It turns out it is also very easy to make, here’s how.

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Cured Pork Tenderloin (Mini Lonza)

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Cured pork tenderloin has the size, shape and resemblance of a salami stick and makes for a perfect quick dry curing project, which you can eat within a month of making it.

Lonza is the much smaller cousin of Lonzino. Lonzino is made from the loin of the pork which is a much bigger cut of meat and takes a lot longer to cure. Lonza is made from the tenderloin, which a very lean with little to no fat at all, which is what makes it such a quick project. Lonza is often likened to bresola, which is a similar product but made with lean cuts of beef.  Both lonza and bresaola have a mild, clean taste owing to the absence of fat. Since the tenderloin is very lean, the flavour of the meat is greatly influenced by the diet of the animal. Try and source a locally raised, heritage pork that has been allowed to forage and fed a diverse diet. Anything less will lead to an inferior product. If you’re able to spend the money, its worth it.

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Camel Basturma

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Basturma is a highly seasoned, air-dried, cured meat. It is traditionally made in  Armenian, Turkish and Russian cultures. It’s usually made from beef, but was once made from camel meat. It’s cured, dried and coated with a highly spiced mixture called Chemen. Bacterial growth is prevented because the meat is dry cured with salt, and because fenugreek is a key ingredient in the paste. Fenugreek and garlic have antibacterial properties and fenugreek acts as a natural insect repellant.

It takes at least 5-6 weeks to cure, so make sure you make it in advance to when you will need it. Making Basturma at home does involve a few steps over a number of weeks, but if you can persevere it will definitely be worth it! Continue reading

Guanciale

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As far as cured meats and charcuterie goes, this is one of the easiest to master. It’s great for beginners! The hardest part about making guanciale is waiting  for it to air dry.  Guanciale is a whole pork jowl that has been rubbed with salt, herbs and spices then air dried. It is also an economic project as the jowls are a fairly cheap cut and the ingredients are very simple. In my opinion it’s far tastier than bacon and even pancetta. It has a texture and consistency much like bacon but the depth of the flavour is much greater. It is similar to pancetta and can either be eaten raw if sliced thinly or cut thick and pan fried to add flavour to many dishes.

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Emu Oyster Fillet Prosciutto

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Originally I wanted to make a bresaola with the emu meat. When I purchased it from the butcher it came vacuum packed and when I opened it I realised that I wouldn’t be able to do what I first had in mind due to how the meat had been cut. I picked out the larger pieces to be cured and the smaller pieces to make biltong with. The colour of the meat was an incredible ruby red and as you can see above darkened considerably. I based this recipe on a duck prosciutto recipe that I use from time to time – it is very simple.

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