There is a unique opportunity to bring a whole animal advocate and author, Jennifer McLagan, to Chicago to visit and see how we, as a dining city, have evolved. If we can accumulate enough interest, she will make the trip, so please head over to the petition that I started here and make a comment to add your support.
Lonza is one the easiest curing projects you can do. Once you get past duck proscuitto, lonza is the next obvious step, but I had stopped over in bresaola territory (duck and venison) and never made it back to dry curing whole muscles. I have a bigger whole muscle project in the works and had a bit of an unused pork loin when I started on it, so I made a little lonza to snack on about halfway through the longer cure. Continue reading
Last year, you may remember that I did a month’s worth of Thanksgiving testing. This year, nothing. As many people do, I alternate Thanksgivings with my lovely spouse. Last year, we attended two local Thanksgiving meals where I had the free reign to make what I want, so I needed tons of testing. This year, we are headed to Oklahoma and I am limited as what my contribution will be, but I pretty much knew which direction that I wanted to go. Continue reading
The ham hock. Upon first blush, the yield is too small to get the meat notoriety with the aristocrats, but the simple ankle joint of a hog that has been brined and smoked made mostly from sinew, skin, and bone is one of the most used cuts of meat in global soul food. Not just American soul food, which features the hocks in greens, peas, soups, and stews, but in German, Italian, Swedish, Spanish, and even French, yes the F word, country food as well. When people say “Everything is better with bacon.”, they really mean that everything is better with ham hocks because the salty and smoky qualities of bacon are still there, but the stickiness from the skin, gelatin, and bones are just the added bonus. Despite creating and writing for a blog featuring bacon, ham is my secret crush. Continue reading
I can not tell you how much having children has changed and enriched my life in so many unexpected ways. For instance, having children has enabled me to reflect on my own childhood with a different perspective. Growing up, each Halloween, my sisters and I were each presented with a pumpkin that was grown specifically for us. How did we know? Our names were on the pumpkins. Not drawn and not carved, but like a scar on the surface of the pumpkin. We were always amazed. Later, we realized that if you etch names into the pumpkins while they are young and growing, they would in fact scar over with the names. Continue reading
One of most often asked questions to me in the bacon making realm is why keep the rind attached to the belly. Hell, the question came up to Ruhlman at the amazing demo at Butcher & Larder a few weeks ago. As far as bacon making, while I am a firm believer in following instructions, in my opinion, as long as the rind is attached to the belly when you buy the belly, you are doing it right. Whether you smoke the rind and remove it or remove it before starting the entire process is completely up to you, mostly because the skin is delicious and useful fresh or smoked.
The most obvious use of fresh pork skin is cracklins’. To be sure, these are really, really delicious when done right, but for this post, I will let the Publican continue their domination of the pork cracklin’ world, where they make cracklins’ that will change how you look at the protein pack stoner food, and focus on two easier home applications. Continue reading