With a massive surplus of testa, I needed a different way to use this treat. One of the first things that came to mind was to make testa sandwiches (hint, also try pasta sauces, the sauce is amazingly rich). One of my top three favorite sandwiches, and my top “all season” sandwich, is the Banh Mi which sometimes includes headcheese. Banh mi features a crispy, crumbly baguette, the rich selection of meats offset by the pickled vegetables and the greenery. It is a damned near perfect combination. It does not hurt that these things are dirt cheap as well as delicious. If only there was a decent one to be had south of Lawrence Avenue in Chicago. Continue reading
Ham has gotten a bad name. The slimy, formless, skinless meat-like substance fills the lunch bags of kids, the buffet tables of your grandmother, and nearly every sandwich at the airport. It does not have to be this way. There are great American ham producers. Bentons makes a great ham (and the top rated bacon on this site). There are tons of great (and some bad) Virginia country hams. Unfortunately for some, Oscar Meyer makes a ton of terrible wet ham that is much easier and cheaper to get.
An additional issue with getting great ham is that you will likely need to buy a 12 to 15 pound ham. I know that my small family would not be able to take that much ham down in months and storing that much ham, so what to do? You could start a ham share, which is not a bad idea, but the alternative is to make your own. You do not need to cure and smoke an entire hog’s leg to make ham. You can make ham with the pork shoulder or in my case half of a pork shoulder, this is differentiated from regular ham by calling it a picnic ham. The result is something slightly less tender and with more sub-muscles, but no less delicious. Continue reading
Everybody (including me), but my grandfather loves tomato season, but not many sonnets are devoted to the step-sister of the season, chilis. No more of just getting only serranos or jalepenos, there are chilis ranging in heat past the beautiful orange habanero (although given the face meltingly hot salsa at the Share Our Strength event a few weeks ago from Rick Bayless, not sure that I would want them) and back to some beautifully sweet red pimento. Continue reading
With summer winding down, or the temps at least dropping into the 80’s, ice cream season is approaching a close. With that in mind and with apple/pear season still a ways away, new flavors would not be fruit based. Earlier in the summer, there seemed to be horchata fever in Chicago and while I did not catch it then, I thought that horchata ice cream would be an interesting twist. Continue reading
After making Testa and Chicken Liver Mousse last week, I felt like new doors were opened into the world of terrines and pâtés. Riding that momentum, using a brand new enameled cast iron terrine, and utilizing the leftover chicken livers from the mousse, I dove back in Ruhlman’s “Charcuterie” to find a quick weekend pâté. The pâté recipe was this one. Continue reading
This is one of those recipes that you think will be incredibly difficult. Have you ever made something where once you get everything around and ready, you prepare yourself for this incredibly arduous task, but when it goes down, you are done before you know it? Chicken liver mousse is that task and, after spending most of a day last weekend making testa, it was needed. Continue reading
Coppa di testa, or testa for short, is, from sourcing to slicing, the most difficult food project that I have undertaken. From finding a spot in the fridge for an entire pigs head to shaving the pig to attempting to deal with bones, brains, and teeth after braising for six hours, you see quickly why you do not see many people making testa at home. It is difficult. Taking on the task for me was as much about making a delicious testa as it was seeing if cooking snout to tail at home is a reasonable expectation. Continue reading
Okay, this is not bacon or even meat related, but as you have guessed by now. I like ice cream. I also love my CSA (Genesis Growers) and I love going to the Farmer’s Market (especially Green City Market) and ice cream is a great way to use the last of your market haul. With that once you get through summer berries and stone fruits, if you want to make market ice cream, you may need step away from the Breyer’s flavors.
Last summer around this time, we visited Rick Bayless’s restaurant Topolobompo and sampled sweet corn ice cream with blueberries. This past week after being gifted two bags of Mirai corn from Twin Gardens Farm from my mother, I needed to use this wonderful corn and an ice cream came to mind. I kept thinking of Bayless’s ice cream and a piece of great cornbread with honey and decided to substitute honey for some of the sugar. Continue reading
In an effort to accumulate and spend less, I have taken to checking out cookbooks from the library and only buy the ones from which I would cook regularly. This has already reaped rewards in the the two books that were at the top of my list did not appeal to me upon checkout and two that I would not have considered earlier have been really good. One of those books is Pork: King of the Southern Table. Continue reading