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
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.
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
As we have done over the past four or five Valentine’s Days, my wife and I have retired from the restaurant dinner scene with a special dinner at home. Even if we had not had children over that same time, we likely would have made the move. The Valentine’s Day crowd makes the brunch crowd look like gourmands by comparison, which is really saying something, and we didn’t like dealing with exasperated servers or some of the step downs in menu and step ups in prices that we saw. We could go out whenever and save frustration by doing our thing in the comforts of home on days like Valentine’s or Mother’s days. Continue reading
In a combination of crazy wanderlust through Southern foodways and an almost Portlandia-worthy desire to lacto-ferment every vegetable that I buy, I put together this kimchi of collards. It really was not that wild of a thought as collards are the same species as cabbage, the more traditionally used brassica in kimchi, but I thought it creative especially when used as a seasoning to an impromptu encased meat that we have been affectionately referring to as the Big Jong Il. 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