2019 = Pig. Yay!
According to the Chinese astrological calendar, 2019 is the Year of the Pig. Now that’s a chronological event Sanagan’s can really get on board with. Our domestic and heritage breeds of pork, as well as wild boar will enhance any dishes you may be considering for your Chinese New Year feast.
Gwenyn Huang has only recently hung up her meat hawker apron at our Kensington store so she can dedicate more time to her studies in Literature at University of Toronto. We asked Gwenyn what pork the Huang family likes to prepare for Chinese New Year. Here, in her own literate words, Gwenyn outlines the preparation of pork belly fried in red wine dregs.
One of the many dishes we make in our family is pork belly fried in wine dregs. The wine dregs, which is the sediment left over from making Foochow red wine, is fermented and has a very strong flavour and is bright red. It dyes the pork bright red as well, which is why it's so appropriate for the new years. In China, red has always been a festive colour that symbolises fortune and prosperity.
Only a little is needed for any recipe since it's so pungent, which is good because it's hard to come by. (The real stuff is.) My family has a jar that we guard very jealously! But for special occasions as important as the New Year, possibly the biggest holiday in China, we bring it out for sure. But first, we heat a lot of oil and deep fry cubes of pork belly. Then we strain the lot and while the excess oil drips away from the pork, we heat a little bit of oil in a pan. We throw slices of ginger into the hot oil and let it crackle and then a heaping tablespoon (no skimping on New Years) of the wine dregs. We fry the wine dregs for a few seconds, carefully since it burns easily, and then toss in the pork belly. Once all the pork belly is coated and bright red, it's ready to go!
Thanks Gwenyn. When should we come over for dinner?
Family Day is important to Sanagan’s because it’s right in our motto: Quality Meats and Poultry from Ontario Family Farms.
The people at King Capon Farms have been part of the Sanagan’s family from the get-go supplying us with their outstanding poultry. If you come in and buy a leg or a breast or a regular whole chicken, it’s probably coming from King Capon, which has been owned by the same family since the 70’s. King Capon chicken is free-run, barn raised, vegetable grain fed and air chilled. Their birds also benefit from on-site processing saving them from stressful caged trips on the back of a truck.
Michelle is the mother hen of the operation. We asked her what she likes to cook for her family. “For a quick dinner” replies Michelle, “I make my mother’s recipe: chicken strips dipped in an egg wash, breaded, pan fried with lemon squeezed over. On a cold night I’ll do a chicken chili. I’ll grind the chicken with a hand mincer — we eat the leftovers because we can’t keep enough of those boneless skinless breast around — beans, onion, red pepper, canned tomato. It’s just something you do, you don’t write it down.”
And for a big ceremonial family meal? “We had capon for Christmas. And they were good.”
So whether your family is nuclear, extended or just you and a friend watching Netflix, enjoy Family Day and eat some King Capon chicken.
The most important thing about a New Year’s party? Have fun! What’s not fun? Stressing about the food. As a guest you want to bring something portable, pleasing and easy for the host. As a host you want to serve a celebratory spread that doesn’t require being in the kitchen until next year. A charcuterie board selected from Sanagan’s deli counter does it all.
To start with, here are some seasonal Sanagan’s exclusives and house-made items that will really flatter your New Year’s platter.
Mangalitsa: Our special speck, copa, bacon and prosciutto from the rare-breed Hungarian Mangalitsa pig. (Ontario-raised, of course.)
Premium Pâté en Croute: Our decadent pastry-encased pâté gets even decadenter over the holidays. We’ll be packing them with things like venison, smoked duck breast and foie gras. Naughty? Nice? You should still get a slice.
Holiday Terrines: Our in-house charcutier has whipped up various recipes to bring a touch of luxury to your celebrations.
Boudin Blanc: A delicate white sausage flavoured with black truffles.
Pickles and Condiments: Beerhall and Old Yeller mustard, pickled red onions, giardiniera, red current and cranberry jelly. All made by our Kensington kitchen team.
THE FIVE POINTS OF THE CHARCUTERIE BOARD STAR
Lets look at the essentials that will make your tray tres bon!
1. Cold Cuts and Sausages
Salamis, hams, cured meats and dried sausages; nothing says Buffet the Appetite Slayer like a big spread of these bite-sized delights. The cold cuts are served as melt-in-your-mouth deli slices and the sausages can be chopped into rounds for variations in texture and shape.
2. Terrines and Pâtés
These rich traditional preparations are the essence of festive nibbling. Spread these around and your New Year’s toast will have never had it so good.
Party snacking without cheese? No whey! Sanagan’s Kensington is proud to carry a selection of Ontario cheeses. Hard, soft, creamy and washed rind classic styles are available from artisanal producers like Monforte, Fifth Town, Back 40 and Forfar. If you're a Gerrard shopper, you can visit our neighbours at The Pantry for a similar selection.
4. Condiments and Pickles
The acidity of the pickles, the sweetness of the jellies, the bite of the mustard; they all add essential counterpoints of flavour, texture, colour and moisture to your board.
Fill ‘em up with crackers, toasts and bread. Even though we’re a butcher shop, we can help here too. Evelyn’s and our neighbour, Blackbird Bakery constitute Kensington’s cracker collection. And Gerrard’s got you covered with fresh Blackbird bread, daily.
THE NUTS AND BOLTS OF HAM AND CHEESE
As a starting point, you could budget 100 grams of proteins per guest. So for 10 partiers you could select 330 grams of cold cuts and sausage, 330 grams terrines and pates and 330 grams of cheese. Then add in your garnishes, bread and crackers and your guests will be greeted with the sight of charcuterie board that elegantly yet emphatically decrees — let the festive munching begin!
The above is a very approximate formula for an inexact art. Most customers will just come in, and with the help of a Sanagan’s meat hawker, build their charcuterie board navigating between their eyes and their wallet.
It was very early into my time working at Mistura, a mainstay of Toronto’s Italian dining scene, that I had my first exposure to cotechino. Bollito misto may not be the most well known Italian dish, but it is very classically Italian, relying on quality ingredients that have been simply prepared. This was the first time I had seen the dish, but while it was new to me, most of the ingredients were pretty common. The one that stuck out was the delicious cotechino sausage with its exceptional texture. It isn't a common ingredient in Toronto, and I haven't had much of a chance to work with it since, until our resident Charcutier Scott started making his own.
Like most great charcuterie, cotechino was born of a need to conserve limited meat supplies for the longest possible time. Rumour has it that this sausage's use dates to the early 1500's in Northern Italy. It is very similar to the traditional zampone, with the main difference being that zampone are typically stuffed into the hind trotter from the pig. The French produce a version of their own (which Scott has also played around with) called sabodet.
Our house-made cotechino is a combination of pork meat, fat and skin, and flavoured with ground coriander and warm spices such as allspice, cinnamon and ginger. It's the use of the pork skin that leads to the unique texture of the cotechino.
While you could, I suppose, use cotechino in most any instance where you would use regular pork sausages, there are a couple of applications we would specifically recommend for you. The combination of most accessible and traditional would be as part of your New Year's Eve dinner, served with lentils (which represent the prospect of money to come in the new year). Less traditional but equally delicious would be in place of our regular breakfast sausages at any holiday brunch. And then there’s bollito misto. This is a fantastic use of the product, but much better suited to someone who has a full day to devote to the prep, and 11 friends to share the meal with. However you choose to enjoy our cotechino, come in for it soon as we only make it through the holiday season. Felice anno nuovo!