Artisan meat is trendy. There I said it, but being trendy doesn’t make it bad. Bacon is beyond trendy, but still delicious. Charcuterie, in general, is everywhere, but that is an improvement over it being in few select spots. However, if you are the type of person who eschews trend and stays on the fringes, today’s subject is a great spot to try. Actually, either way, it is a pretty great spot to try. Continue reading
With no interest in writing a “This is what I had for dinner” blog, I initially hesitated to write about my first time cooking a lamb neck. However, I think that braising isn’t getting a fair shake and lamb neck is getting no shake Granted a plate full of brown meat isn’t glamorous, but any exposure for this rarely used cut of meat is good and this plate full of brown meat is not only delicious, but occupies a similar place in my food heart as rillettes, terrines, and BBQ – just warmer and jucier. Continue reading
Admittedly, the recent posting has been strongly meat centric, but with vegetables and fruit in dormancy or deep freeze, you can hardly blame me. However, man cannot survive on meat alone. We need drinks and dessert. This sorbet combines the two.
Last week, Chef Paul Fehribach of Big Jones restaurant in Chicago wrote a post on the restaurant’s blog regarding a new focus on using the whole hog. While his writing is very compelling, and has been for awhile – the blog is very insightful, his passion and commitment to sourcing local whole animal products, and honesty in describing the challenges of doing this in a restaurant setting, is so terribly evident in his post that it is hard not to be inspired. For me, that inspiration led me to use some local meat in an iconic recipe from the blog from Big Jones – Andouille.
As an aside, for me, the impetus for this announcement was also very exciting. The inclusion of Big Jones in the formidable Baconfest lineup moved Fehribach to announce that they have their house-made bacon recipe set. My big qualm with Baconfest was that it didn’t seem like many chefs actually cured and smoked their own bacon. It seems like making your own bacon for the competition would be step one, but it did not seem to be priority and making your own bacon has a special place in my heart. Continue reading
Nearly a month ago, I had a random thought regarding Valentine’s Day dinner. For as long as I can remember, we have stayed home on actual Valentine’s Day, instead choosing to celebrate on a random day. This year was no different, we had a great meal at Avec in Chicago, but instead of treating the 14th like any other day, I’d try something a little outrageous – I would cook heart for Valentine’s Day.
While picking up said heart from the friendly neighborhood butcher, he mentioned that if he was cooking it, he would confit it first and then warm it on the grill. After digging a little deeper, he suggested not beef tallow since it may drive beef flavors to the extreme, but olive oil or bacon fat. The choice was pretty easy. Continue reading
Last spring, I made lamb bacon for the first time. It was an enjoyable experience and a cool experiment, but I was not completely satisfied with the results. The cure was simply sugar and salt, but the final product seemed too salty for a regular breakfast bacon. After cracking “Primal Cuts“, I immediately noticed a recipe for lamb bacon by Pete Balistreri, from Tender Greens in San Diego. Continue reading
With two lovely little ladies at home, we do not get out nearly as much as we used to, but one thing that I have noticed lately when we do get out is the increased presence of merguez on local menus. Merguez is typically a lamb sausage native to North Africa spiked with harissa and spices. Despite the sausage hailing from much warmer climates, winter seems to be a great time for the spicy lambiness of the merguez.
There are a lot of merguez recipes to be had in sausage books, but it was actually somewhat difficult to find one that seemed authentic. Given the region and the culture, the recipes with wine and pork fat seemed out of place. I love both, but neither are regional to North Africa. Finally, I found a simple recipe that included pantry ingredients that I had on hand (i.e. fennel, black pepper, garlic, harissa). Continue reading
In late 2008, we splurged and picked up a couple seats at the Mulefoot Pig Dinner at Blackbird in Chicago. It was a meal that was my first large-scale nose to tail experience where a number of chefs, a few of whom I had never eaten their food, prepared dishes from something as simple as country ham to porchetta to testa ravioli in a spectacular pork, lemon, and mustard consomme (which was my favorite). It was an amazing meal that displayed so many techniques and preparations that it was literally dizzying. While expensive, it provided, with the old Mado Family Dinners and Green City Market’s BBQ, as high dollar/even higher satisfaction events that we have attended.
Another of the highlights were the Calliettes, or crepinettes, from Paul Virant from Vie in Western Springs. A crepinette is similar to a patty-like sausage, but instead of casing, it is wrapped in caul fat, the membrane that lines the internal organs. Since the dinner, I have had the crepinette logged in the back of my mind as something that I would like to try if I ever found caul fat. Continue reading
As you may have heard, there was a football game yesterday and while many don’t care, and I certainly don’t begrudge you that, I do. Even if you do not care, it is still possible to enjoy the game through meeting up with friends and eating party food. I do not hate on chips, guac, and salsa and especially not on chili or BBQ, but I went in a different direction. Continue reading
For Good Luck