Around 8 PM on New Year’s Eve, we were in the midst of the second course of our annual lower-case-b bacchanalia at The Butcher and Larder. A cast iron skillet was piled high with pig’s tails and another with Beef Tendon ‘Duk Bokki’ – a take on the Korean rice/fish cake dish, but in this case topped with beef tendon. With hours to spare in the year, I was eating something which could qualify as the best thing I ate in Chicagoland in 2014. Continue reading
There comes a time in your life when Valentine’s Day might happen on February 1, February 28 or even May 5. For us, it was February 21. And yes, I realize the following:
- Valentine’s Day is a greeting card profit-center
- Not everyone currently participating in a relationship participates in Valentine’s Day
- Not everyone, maybe not anyone, regardless of relationship status cares.
Yet, there I was preparing our Valentine’s Day meal, as one of our few remaining traditions dating back to, well, dating and I was doing so a week late and trying, and failing, to be judicious about not going to excess.
Spending time in airports lately, I have been thinking back to our trip to Japan. After an hour waiting for a plane, the thoughts invariably go to the ramen we had. One of things that has been eating away at me is how the use of aroma oil, whether is be the black and bitter māyu or the light scallion oil, most places we visited had house oil which along with the tare would create bowls unique to their makers. The oil also works to keep the bowl near a boil. Continue reading
In the wise words of Jennifer McLagan, rillons are “a big brother of rillettes and less work.” Knowing the wise words from her blog would likely be detailed in one of her great cookbooks, I went to my kitchen cookbook cabinet and guessed it would be in “Fat“, I had guessed wrong. The recipe for rillons was in “Odd Bits“. One of the only ways to describe Jennifer’s books is with paradox. Her books are simultaneously approachable and adventurous – albums of hits and deep cuts – and Odd Bits was right along those lines. It doesn’t EPCOT-ify offal or off cuts. Continue reading
Sometimes having zero context gives freedom, but there is a fine line between having the freedom to use your own style and messing up what others hold very close. Food, on top of being nourishment, is such a sentimental thing. People talking about food go on about grandmothers. Cooks with amazing training and mind-boggling skills devote hours recreating junk food from their childhood. It goes even further when things get cultural. It goes back far further than grandma in cases like these and my instincts, as I found in this case, are often wrong. Continue reading
This year we finally got a holiday goose. There really is only one time of year where one would pay the expense (and the expense is far more substantial than it ought to be) and with the girls waist deep in stories referring to a Christmas goose, we took the plunge. The thing is a goose is big and we have 2 adults and 2 preschoolers, so after trimming the fat from the goose, I cut it in half. Continue reading
Fully admitting being long past the coolest that I have ever been and not even claiming that I was ever that cool to begin with, in my hey day, I could pass myself off as relatively cool. Large music collection, a dog, and a working knowledge of independent film – Jim Jarmusch films especially. One of my favorite Jarmusch films, “Coffee and Cigarettes” is a collection of short stories over … well, coffee and cigarettes. Continue reading
If you live in or have spent time in Chicago, you likely know about Italian Beef. If you don’t or haven’t, you may not. It is not actually Italian and it is only beef in theory. There is not anything particularly beefy about it. It is usually comprised of an ultra-lean cut of beef that is cooked medium, then shaved on a deli slicer, and then cooked again in its juices. Then it is shoved into a hard roll, topped with giardiniera, and dipped back into the juices. To me, it is a monstrosity. Continue reading
After finishing my slice of smoked porchetta di testa, I realized that I had about eight pounds of deliciously smokey pigs head left over. While having a freezer full of porcine treats is nothing to complain about, one of the hard parts about eating less and having only one other adult in the house to share is that we end up with more leftovers than we know what to do with. We have jars of preserves in the pantry, jars of rillettes in the fridge, packages of bacon and sausages in the freezer. Continue reading
This project has been in the hopper for years, literally. Three years after attending the first butchering demo from Rob Levitt, done while at Mado, and following with the “Dueling Testas” demo, I have deboned a pig’s head. What seemed impossible after watching Rob do it at the demo is not only currently possible, but something that with a little practice, everyone should be doing. Continue reading