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
One bowl from my first two gallons of homemade ramen and I was hooked. It was not the best, but it was mine and it put the bug into me. Tinkering on the recipe to improve it, or in some cases make it worse, was a new “hobby”. From the order of operations to the ratio of bones to water to the time boiled, the process is set up to make it your own, but the part of the process that pleases me the most is the fabrication of the seasoning, the tare. Continue reading
This is an all too common tale of things that taste good together outside of sausage casing are great when encased together. One of my absolute favorite combinations is chorizo and banana/plantain. The sweet flavors from the fruit goes so well with the deep and piquant flavors of chorizo, a vastly underrated sausage that it is terribly easy to make at home. I happened to have a few plantains on hand and, with the smoker already running, I thought to take it one step further and smoke the plantains.
Twitter again has proven to be a petri dish for ideas. I have been using this salt for four months or so when it was suggested that you might be able to cure meat using preserved lemons. I suggested one better, use the residual salt to actually do the curing. It takes the guess work out of how much to use. Continue reading
Typically when dealing with meat heroes such as St. Fergus Henderson, St. Paul Bertolli, and others of their ilk, I stay pretty close to the road that they pave. However, once I have done something enough to be able to do it from memory, I feel comfortable making bigger choices of my own. Continue reading
Sometimes the things I throw on the smoker are fancy and sometimes they are silly, but in the case of bacon trotter gear, the output is of maximum utility and minimum beauty. It combines two staples in my kitchen, bacon and trotter gear, into a single delicious deli container full of the actual foodstuff that makes everything better, gelatinous pork stock, amplified by the flavor that everyone claims makes everything better, bacon.
Even years after starting a bacon blog that features both making and tasting bacon, there is a singular bacon experience that stands out as “the best bacon”. Benton’s. You can say the word “Benton’s” to any carnivore who knows things and watch their eyes light up. It is almost universally loved and, even still, nobody makes bacon in that style that would be even a reasonable substitute. No bacon mixes salt and smoke in the same quantity (much less quality). It seems that nobody has even tried.
I am trying. This is my attempt. Continue reading
For the past three Easters, we have switched up the traditional Easter egg fabrication process. From eggs dyed with red cabbage to beet pickled eggs, this year we settled on Rabbit Scotch eggs, but a discovery made while doing R&D for Easter was Cha Ye Dan, or Chinese tea eggs. These delicious snacks are boiled eggs that are then steeped in a brine of soy sauce, black tea, and spices. The egg shells are cracked with the back of a spoon and the dark brine colors the white egg in a spiderweb like pattern. Beautiful and delicious. Continue reading
Each week this Spring, it seems, a new flashy cookbook is released from one of the world’s cooks. We are talking about some of my favorites: Cosentino, Bloomfield, Pelaccio, Aduriz, but with limited time and resources, how can I choose? Damn that I have to choose, but I do. For me, instead of choosing between these new cookbooks, I have decided to wait to be gifted these books (given a May birthday and Father’s Day, there is still time) and to back fill my collection with some more classic cookbooks for cents on the dollar. Continue reading
I have reached my limit on Bacon. Not bacon, but Bacon. The desserts, the coffins, and festivals (where chefs have bacon shipped in and then trendify it) — all of it. The part that it is meant to commemorate, bacon, is all but eliminated and, in its place, gluttony has been substituted. When I see bacon on a menu item, it is simple to distinguish whether it is added to create balance and harmony or to advance and encourage gluttony. Not that gluttony doesn’t have any place at the table, there will always be special meals where indulgences occur, but the pride associated with the excess is what has gotten so deeply under my skin. Continue reading