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 »
A few weeks ago, Chris Cosentino, a meat hero of mine, stopped through Chicago doing publicity for his book. His book is wonderful, focussing more on vegetables than I would have expected, and shows off some terribly exciting beginnings to meals. Our current favorite from the book is a dish of strawberries and favas, but something that we tasted at his dinner at the Publican has stuck with me the most. The dish was a fantastic plate of pasta sauced with capers, olives, and tomato – a simple puttanesca – only the pasta was not made from flour and eggs, but from pork skin. Continue reading »
Turkey was never something that I would seek out outside of the Thanksgiving holiday, but after getting a Gunthorp bird last year, I have been eating turkey on the regular – specifically leg and thigh – whenever I find local turkey. The difference between the conventional turkey and one raised correctly is remarkable. Deciding if you like turkey based on conventional turkey is like deciding whether you like beer based on Milwaukee’s Best. At its worst, turkey is dry and flavorless, but this is not that.
Stuffing a leg of turkey full of greens and other animal legs was one of those “Ideas While Running”. While my favorite blog, “Ideas in Food” is slicker and far smarter than a hypothetical “Ideas While Running” blog would be, the flow of ideas while deep into a run is fast and free and would be at least interesting insight into the thought process if not a scary look at loss of filter. The filter is completely gone, which could prove to be good or bad, but there are certainly doors being turned into windows when my heart rate elevates for a long period of time. Continue reading »
One of the benefits of keeping up with Twitter is you catch interesting side conversations between two folks who you follow. There are likely dozens and dozens of them that I miss, but one that I did not was between two authors and experts that I respect greatly, Annisa Helou and Jennifer McLagan regarding fat sheep tails and the Lebanese dish made from them called Qawarma.
As a sidenote, let this serve as first notice of Jennifer McLagan’s event in Chicago at Butcher & Larder on March 16. There will be more information forthcoming, but clear the date and let me know if you’d like to attend.
There is little to no information on Qawarma out there, but what I could find, Qawarma is a preserved confit of lamb tails. There is not much else out there, but when I read the conversation, I wanted in. The following weekend while shopping for weekly meat, I inquired about lamb tails and was greeted with the following tail. 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 »
Football fan or not, it is likely that if you turned a TV on during the Thanksgiving holiday in the last two decades, you have heard about Turducken. John Madden took a cult culinary dish and turned it in the American folklore. The turducken is a major league ballotine of a stuffed, boned chicken stuffed inside of a boned duck which, in turn, is stuck inside of a boned turkey. Calvin Trillin discusses the historical trevails of the turducken tracing mainstream turducken production to 1985 at Herbert’s Specialty Meats in Maurice, Louisiana from whom you can order a turducken to be shipped. As you can imagine, these beasts are far too big to have as part of a family meal with fewer than a dozen adults unless you are into days and days of leftovers. Continue reading »
There are multiple levels of offal eating with which people are comfortable. Personally, I had not had a pig’s ear that appealed and I am adventurous, but I knew that how I had eaten them, boiled and cold, produced the most challenging texture. As a nose-to-tail devotee, I was bound and determined to figure if I could prepare the ear in a way that I liked.
I had a few requirements for doing this. First, the ears had to be crispy. The texture of ears is already very difficult, accentuating that gelatinous, chewy texture is a dangerous move. Second, the ears would need to be balanced with something spicy and acidic. With the amount of richness, it may be too much without balance. Third, the ears would need to come from a pig that was raised well. The periphery on factory hogs is typically questionable and if I am going through the process, I want them to be very good. Continue reading »