Thursday, June 28, 2012

My Love Hate Relationship with the Boucherie

Kosher Boucherie in my eclectic hood.
I'm throwing a little party this weekend.  We do a few every year.  One is always in the summer.... must celebrate the long days.  This summer it's fiesta night.  Not because it's an especially summery theme, just because I miss Mexican food like crazy, and tomatoes and avocados are in season, so I can make good guacamole and salsa.  I hope it goes over well.  The french are known for being afraid of spicy food.  I'm not making habanero salsa or anything, but I was able to find some lovely jalapenos in my eclectic neighborhood and dammit, I'm going to use them.

Right, I'm also going to try to make carnitas properly.  It can't be that hard.  I've made the cajun version (smothered pork shoulder) and the southern version (pulled pork) so now I just have to make the mexican version.  Strangely, many call for using orange juice... I wonder if there is some chemical reaction that makes the meat more tender and juicy, 'cause carnitas sure don't taste like oranges.'  Where's Alton Brown when you need him?!  

So I went to the boucherie.  I got a whole pork shoulder (about 4 lbs) bone included, and the first thing he asked me was if I wanted to have the bone removed, and how I would like it chopped.  Well thank you, Monsieur Boucher, I don't mind if you do.  I used to do microbiology.  I once worked in a food safety division of the USDA.  Meat, and its associated bacteria freak me out.  I wear gloves sometimes, when I touch meat.  It's weird, freaky, whatever you'd like to call it, I know.  So I LOVE it when the butcher cuts the meat for me.  It saves me the step of sterilization of cutting board and knives, and anything that came in contact with said raw meat.  The nice butcher then wraps it all up and puts it in a lovely plastic bag, takes my money, gives me change, and all without washing his dirty meaty gross hands yet.  >nose crinkling, eye squeezing, cringe<  Just one of the lovely things here that make me have to look the other way.  

But seriously, raw meat should be handled with care.  Anything that touches it should be promptly washed with warm soapy water, including hands, before touching anything else that isn't going to be cooked (IE boiled or sterilized).  I overkill with boiling water and or bleach when cleaning, but warm soapy water is usually sufficient.  The butcher isn't the first person who is blasé with raw meat in this country, but I won't name any names... Rant over.  

If I'm not running around last minute trying to finish preparations, maybe I'll have time to take photos, and hence will post about the party and all the hand prepared goodness.   

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