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
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
As a legit Irish-American, I have a certain amount of guilt inherent to feeling responsible for the drunken displays of youthful exuberance so associated with St. Patrick’s Day. This year, while on a long pre-dawn jog, I saw a group of twenty-somethings in green lined up outside of a bar at 6 AM waiting to drink. Now, I regularly see bar workers leaving the bar while on my run, but this was a first. Coincidentally, this was the year where I stepped back from novelty St. Patrick’s day meats of years past, both corned beef tongue and corned beef, Guinness, and cabbage sausage, and went traditional. Continue reading
Before meeting my lovely bride, I had no tradition on New Year’s Day. We watched football, but nearly every New Year’s Day was spent the same way as my Christmas Day – in a car. Granted, my interest in food as a cultural touchpoint had not been piqued, but I was unaware of the traditions of cotechino & lentils or greens and black-eyed peas. The first New Year’s Day that she and I spent together, her mother was visiting and prepared a New Year’s meal of cheese grits, collard greens and black-eyed peas. I did not understand the significance until she explained after the meal, but I would never spend another New Year’s day without eating collard greens and black-eyed peas.
One of my resolutions for 2012 is to learn more about classic Southern cooking and food traditions. Through some cursory research and discussions, I found that there are folks who are very particular about mixing different types of greens and how there are particular ways of cooking different types of greens. These details are what I am interested in learning more about. Continue reading