Venison Summer Sausage

In round two of turning venison scrap from my father into something more edible, I made a dangerous choice – a sausage of great familiarity. Summer Sausage. It is easy to cook without context when the only question is “Does it taste good?” I guess easy is relative, because it seems easy in comparison to when you are cooking something familiar and add “Does it taste right?” to “Does it taste good?” Venison summer sausage is, when combined with Ritz crackers and cheese, the most popular pre-dinner, post-lunch food in Wisconsin. When given venison scrap, how could i have ignored the opportunity to stock the pre-dinner, post-lunch larder for the year, or more likely, the remainder of April?
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Shoyu Ramen

I am a sucker for the milky, porky tonkotsu ramen broth which is super-charged with porcine collagen. It is one of the few opportunities one gets to drink gravy without being scapegoated, and let’s be honest tonkotsu broth and gravy are not terribly different when either are done well. You could understand my surprise when, upon trying both tonkotsu and shoyu ramen at a new local shop, I favored the shoyu. Had I overlooked shoyu ramen just because it was not the John Bonham of broths that tonkotsu is? Continue reading

Venison Boudin

Every now and again I get venison from my father. He is generous with the venison he hunts with his cousins and while the hunting aspects have never taken with me, I have become comfortable cooking venison. As I have grown more comfortable preparing venison in different ways, I have tried to repay his generosity with giving some of the venison back, in the form of sausage, ham, etc. After cleaning out his freezer, he found nearly eight pounds of venison scrap and asked if I could do something new with it that he might like. Continue reading

Fry-Up Terrine

Missing my Irish breakfast on or around St. Patrick’s day was a mistake. Diverting from my daily oatmeal for a plate full of sausages, rashers, and eggs requires a good excuse and St. Patrick’s day is a great excuse. I had even acquired a bit of black pudding from the Butcher and Larder for this very purpose.  I missed my chance for a full breakfast and I can own that, but I still had the blood sausage and a hankering for a fry up.

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Lap Yuk

Remember when pork belly was an off cut? Those days are gone. Long gone. While it is good for butchers and good for hog farmers (and really good for diners) how the belly and other former off cuts have moved closer to the mainstream, it is not so great for home bacon makers. However, our local market purchased a few acorn-fed Tamworth hogs and while the chops and ribs flew off the shelf, the belly was not even put out for sale. Moving to the burbs means living in the safe-zone much of the time, food wise, and the belly has yet to reach full market saturation here. When I asked if they had the bellies from the hog, they commented “yes” and “what are going to do with them?”. I mentioned bacon making and it got their attention enough to wrap a big belly and give me a price that I had a hard time believing. Continue reading

Nduja-Pumpernickel Roasted Chicken

It is the time of year where I remind myself by reminding you how this is not a recipe blog. The most noteworthy thing about our dinners is how positively uninteresting they are. Protein, green vegetable, non-green vegetable, and pickles/condiments. This year, the annual reminder that I am not an interesting recipe provider comes after tinkering with our weekly roasted chicken.

Time after time, I noticed the copious schmaltz at the bottom of our cast iron pan after roasting the chicken and wondered how to best keep the fat with the chicken. It is incredibly tasty but, while it is useful when reserved and reused, why not use it to make the bird better, so I stuffed absorbent pumpernickel crumbs under the skin. Continue reading

Cascara

Cascara combines two of my favorite things – coffee and turning the parts of things which are usually tossed in the compost into something delicious. These tossable parts described are the dried coffee cherries which are a result of the process of turning harvested coffee beans into those beans that end up in your cabinet. You can steep them in hot water as a tea. Continue reading

Fermented Cashew Puree

I am from Wisconsin. Cheese is made from dairy. This is not negotiable.

But I had a dish labeled “Cashews and Orange Vegetables” at the brilliant restaurant, Elizabeth, last year which tasted just like macaroni and cheese and I was transfixed. Salty and funky with a distinct flavor of whatever comes in the foil packets in the blue boxes. I remember remarking on how it was cool to use cashews in place of macaroni. In reality, the cashews were in place of the cheese. Also in reality, macaroni and cheese from the blue box does not contain anything which would qualify it as cheese by my qualifications above, so scratch that analogy. Continue reading

Goose Schmaltz Kishke

Sometimes having zero context gives freedom, but there is a fine line between having the freedom to use your own style and messing up what others hold very close. Food, on top of being nourishment, is such a sentimental thing. People talking about food go on about grandmothers. Cooks with amazing training and mind-boggling skills devote hours recreating junk food from their childhood. It goes even further when things get cultural. It goes back far further than grandma in cases like these and my instincts, as I found in this case, are often wrong. Continue reading

Backbone Stew

After being disappointed by several new highly regarded, cheffy cookbooks over the winter, I decided to pull in the reins a little and look to some of the classic teaching cookbooks – I mean, I could not stop buying them altogether. In an earlier post, I referenced the Good Cook series as great resources, so I picked up a rare UK only edition on Game. Searching for old cookbooks reads a bit as I was record collecting and it is not entirely far off. There is a collection aspect to it. There is the thrill of the hunt, like record collecting. And like collecting classic records, the content is, in many cases, timeless when you hit on some great books. When I was searching for the Good Cook “Game” book, the Foods of the World series kept coming up in searches. Like the Good Cook series, it is a Time-Life series, but from earlier on -  the late 1960s/early 1970s. When I looked into the books, it seemed the be encyclopaedic – 54 volumes with narrative and recipes. I found a used complete set online for a few bucks per book and picked it up in short order. Continue reading

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