Charcuterie 101 Cooking Class & Rillet Recipe

Hi food friends! 

A few weeks ago I took a charcuterie 101 class out in Lacombe at the Ellis Bird Farm. This class was put on by Chef Blake Anderson of Terre It Up catering and Todd Lawrence of Soil To Salt. These 2 gentelmen were amazing, hilarious and passionate about meat!  

(You can follow chef Blake on Twitter @terreitup and Todd @soiltosalt )


To clear things up, charcuterie is a style of cooking dedicated to prepared meats such as bacon, ham, sausage, terrines, galantines, ballotines, pâtés, and confit, primarily from pork.

In this intimate class of 12 people we learned the basics of making your own sausage, curing bacon, rendering lard and making pâté and rilette (my personal favourite!). 

We started the class off prepping all our pork by chopping and cooling. When working with ground pork it’s very important for the meat and all your tools to be very cold so that the fat doesn’t just melt into the meat. 


Our workstation


Prep for the garlic sausage


Bacon slabs


Yum look at that fat!


Blake showing off the pork!


Todd getting the meat grinder ready


Course ground


Adding the aromatics to the fine ground


So after all the meat was cut and well chilled we ground and ground and ground some more to make our sausage (3 kinds) and pâté. 

To make the pâté we used a combo of course ground and fine ground pork shoulder and liver, herbs and spices, as well as some liquid. Then a loaf pan was lined with caul fat (could use bacon or plastic instead) and half the meat mixture pressed in then we added whole pistachios then topped with the rest of the meat. We then placed it in the oven and cooked it ‘Bain Marie’ style (placing the smaller pan into a larger pan with warm water). 


Patè mixture ready


Lining the cooking pans with cule


Adding pistachios


Slicing the pate



After the sausage meat was ground and seasoned we chilled it some more. Can’t have that meat getting too warm and the fat melting. Then we prepped the casing and started filling. After the sausage was filled we twisted the links. 


In the beginning of the day we also started the rilette. Rilette is similar to pâté, in that it’s made from pork, but with this dish the meat is cubed first then cooked slowly in fat with the aromatics until it is tender enough to shred. It’s then mixed with some of the cooking fat to form a paste and cooled. 


Pork and aromatics


Lots of fat for it to cook in


Pan out of the oven looking tasty


Begining to shred the pork


Shredding by hand but can also use a mixer

This day was so much fun! And I met some amazing people who I hope to see again some time! I’m also working on getting my own grinder and sausage stuffer to be able to make my own meaty treats. 

There was talk of a Charcuterie 201 class in which they would teach cured meats such as salami. I hope that’s true cause I’d be there in a heartbeat!

Rilette du Pork


– 3lbs boneless pork shoulder, cut into roughly 2″ pieces

– 2-3 sprigs of thyme

– 3 bay leaves

– 5 cloves 

– 1 cinnamon stick 

(put thyme, bay, cloves, cinnamon into muslin and tie)

– 1-2 whole bulbs garlic, sliced in half

– 2 celary stalks, cut into 3-4 pieces

– 1 onion, cut into quarters

– 1 leek, cut into 3-4 pieces

– 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper

– 1 Tbsp salt

– enough pork fat to cover the meat while cooking 


– Put the pork into a large roasting pan and toss in the vegetables and muslin wrapped aromatics. 

– Top with enough melted fat to coat the pork then sprinkle with salt. 

– Cook meat at 300F for 4-6 hours until the meat is tender and falls apart. 

– Once cooked, remove meat from dish and set aside to cool. When the meat is cool enough to touch, mix it either by hand or using the paddle attachment of a mixer until it is quite fine. 

– Add enough of the leftover fat to the shredded meat to create a spreadable mixture and mix for about 2 minutes. 

– Taste the mixture and adjust the seasoning. 

– Pack mixture into small jars ensuring its packed tight with no air pockets. 

– Cool in fridge then top with a little more fat just to coat the top and seal the meat. 

– This should last about 2 weeks in the fridge or you can freeze it and it will last months! 

– Allow to come to room temperature before serving (about 1 hour out of fridge). 


Thanks and until next time, enjoy your adventures!



Pampa Brazilian BBQ Cooking Class and a Gluten Free Cheese Bun recipe 

Hi food friends,

This weekend I attended a cooking class at Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse. The class was on Brazilian BBQ and included lessons and recipes for making Picanha (their signature rump steak), lime-coconut prawns, marinated chicken drumsticks, warm onion salad, Pampa’s potato salad, and a gluten free cheese bun called Pao de Queijo. 

Our instructors for the day were Archie and Anup. They were fantastic at explaining things and let us get hands on with the techniques. 

We began the class by starting the fire! The trick they showed us to lighting the charcoal started with an empty wine bottle. They take sheets of newspaper and tie them around the bottle then place the paper wrapped bottle in centre of the BBQ and pull the bottle out. This creates a well for air to circulate in. At this point they pour the charcoal around the paper then light the paper from the inside. They exclusively use Dragons Breath charcoal in the restaurant which is a hickory/oak blend. Now we left it to get nice and hot and let the charcoal catch, this takes about 20 minutes. 

During this time we made some of the other recipes (see below for the Pao de Queijo – Cheese Bun recipe) and prepped the meats for the fire! I feel like fire needs an ! after it is that wrong? 

Though we learnt a marinade for the prawns and chicken and how to skewer those I’m going to concentrate on just the beef or you’d be reading all day here. 

So their signature meat, Picanha, is a rump roast which is the equivalent to a top sirloin. You want to leave the fat on the meat because it gives it good flavor and keeps the beef moist but if there is any silver skin you want to cut that off because it would be tough and chewy once cooked. It is also very important to make sure you get the meat right on the skewer so that it doesn’t spin around and can cook evenly.  

Archie getting the Picanha ready

Anup showing how to skewer the meat


Picanha on the skewer

The meat shouldn’t move when you shake the skewer

Once the meat is all skewered up they strictly use sea salt as the seasoning. Very generously season the meat with salt, after cooking you brush the excess off. Now if you don’t have the ability to do a roatisary you can do 1″ thick steaks in the same manner with the coals and the salt. 

So once the meat is all skewered and seasoned you want to stir your coals and even the heat out a little. Then you want to put the meat as close to the hot coals as you can and start your rotation so that it gets a good sear. Once it’s got a good sear you can move it farther away from the heat source and continue to cook the meat through to whichever doneness you prefer. At Pampa what they do is remove the meat and carve your first serving off. But before you carve it off make sure you brush that excess salt off the meat. They just use a stiff bristled plastic brush like the kind you would use in the kitchen for scrubbing pots. After carving the first serving they re-salt the meat and return to the fire. And on the process goes throughout the night. 


Meat over the fire


The caipirinha is Brazil’s national cocktail made with lime, sugar and cachaça (a Brazilian liquor). And before they served us lunch we all got to try our hand at making our own signature cocktail with our choice of fresh fruits. 

Me shaking up my own version of a caipirinha

Then we all got to sit down for lunch and enjoy the fruits of our labours. 



As part of the cooking class we also got a sample of the charcoal and salt (more than what I’ve show in the picture) that they use and an apron. 


It was a fun morning and a great lunch. I would highly recommend the experience to try. It would make a great gift for the men in your life that like to cook… with fire!

Special shoutout to my classmates for the day: Jason, Charlene, Gonny, Jen, Brent, Amanda and Darcy! Now onto the recipe!!

Pao de Queijo (Brazilian Gluten free Cheese Buns)


– 3 eggs

– 275ml canola oil (or any other oil that has mild flavor such as vegetable oil)

– 1tsp salt

– 3C tapioca starch (rooster brand is available at T&T)

– 1/2C fine grated Grana Padano Cheese 

– 1/2C fine grated Asiago Cheese

– 275ml whole milk (at least 2%) 


– Preheat oven to 375F and grease a mini muffin pan. 

– Using a blender, blend eggs, oil and milk together. Add the cheese and salt to the mixture and blend until smooth. Add tapioca starch in small batches and continue to blend. 

– Scoop mixture into baking pan filling each cup full (they will puff up in the same manner that Yorkshire pudding will) then bake for 12-15 minutes or until they become a light golden brown colour. 


Here are some pictures of us making the Pao de Queijo…



Thanks and until next time, enjoy your adventures!


Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Kevin Bacons (Bacon Wrapped Smokies) – Recipe

Hi again!

So just in time for New Years I’m bringing you a recipe that is a little indulgent. But since it’s the holidays I’m sure your not counting calories for another couple days anyhow 😉
I wanted this recipe to have a fun name so I call them Kevin Bacons. What they are is a mini smokie (or mini pepperoni) wrapped in bacon, baked with brown sugar and then finished in a maple and brown sugar glaze. I promise you these are a crowd pleaser. I made them at Christmas for a pre dinner appetizer and a double batch was almost all gone before the turkey was served.

Kevin Bacons

– 1 pack mini smokies or mini pepperonis (I get the smokies from Costco and the pepperoni from Save On)
– 1 pack bacon
– 1 Cup brown sugar
– 1 Cup maple syrup
– Toothpicks
– 1 Tbs Dijon mustard or 1 tsp Sriracha (optional)

– Line a baking sheet with either parchment paper or aluminum foil.
– Cut bacon into thirds. I cut mine straight in the pack as this helps it all hold together and not slide around while trying to cut it.
– Open pack of mini smokies or pepperoni.
– Wrap each mini smokie with a piece of bacon and skewer with toothpick then place on the baking sheet. Line them all up touching each other in neat little rows (see picture below)
– Once they are all wrapped take about 1/3 cup of the brown sugar and sprinkle it on top of them then lightly pat it down.
– Put tray into oven and turn on to 350F. These will take about 20-30 mins to cook (until the bacon gets crisp). Keep an eye on them as once they are done it won’t take long for the sugar to start to burn.
– Remove from oven when done and using a slotted spoon or slotted spatula transfer them into either a crock pot (if taking to a potluck) or a baking dish.
– In a bowl combine the remaining sugar (2/3 C), the maple syrup and your mustard or hot sauce and whisk together then pour over your smokies.
– If they are in a baking dish then pop them back in the oven for about 5-10 mins just to warm them back up. If you’ve put them in a crock pot then keep them on the lowest setting until they disappear, which shouldn’t take long.