“And the meatballs from Last Night’s Dinner,” Barrow added, where Providence, R.I., blogger Jennifer Hess comes close to breaking some kind of food-porn record in recapping her duck, duck goose. She rolls a mixture of minced duck confit, savory, shallot, egg and bread crumbs into cocktail-size balls; stuffs each with a nugget of foie gras; browns them in duck fat; glazes them with fig jam, white balsamic vinegar and mustard seeds; wraps them in pieces of her Charcutepalooza cured duck breast; broils them and inserts toothpicks.
Between Barrow’s easy, husky chuckling and Foster’s comic way with a story, it’s a wonder they could stay on point. After a photographer left, the pair discovered they had left the peas out of thepasta dish made to showcase freshly cured pancetta. More to laugh about.
“The cool thing has been seeing all the great ways people are using the charcuterie,” Barrow said. A collection of best recipes may fall into place when the 12 months are up.
The project’s forums are not all show-and-tell. For February, the apprentice-level challenge is bacon, while more adventurous types can cure pork belly to make pancetta. Twitter followers who search on “#charcutepalooza” got to discuss the merits of pink salt and nitrates while Bob del Grosso, micropaleontologist, chef and former instructor at the Culinary Institute of America, held an hour-long advisory session. He offered to help once he had found out about Charcutepalooza.
“People in Italy have told us they don’t use nitrates. People in France say they don’t use cheesecloth. We’re getting all perspectives,” Barrow said. “Every time I check my e-mail, there are 50 to 75 of them about all this.”
Frankly, the meat talk has worried a few blog followers of Foster and Barrow, who hope it will not overtake Foster’s humorous insights about cooking with kids in tow and Barrow’s canning, cookie- and pie-making exploits. Barrow has initiated Meatless Monday recipes in response, which helps balance her daily cooking; her husband, Dennis, is mostly vegetarian and Barrow prefers eating meat “in moderation.”
In a way, Barrow’s various careers and education all play a part in the satisfying role she has today, monitoring the project: a degree from Carnegie Mellon in organizational behavior; housewares buyer for a department store; owner of a fish market; a marketing consultant; garden coach and landscape designer.