We host a dinner party periodically which is actually just a book club to which my wife belongs. Typically those types of groups are simply drinking clubs, but this one adds food and actual books. About a week before book club, I realized my original plan of serving cassoulet had been done before. By me. Last winter. It seems as when the weather grows cold, I cook beans – large pots of beans with sausages and off cuts.
Actually I should have never been surprised. Beans and meats are fantastic and this weather has forced my hand. Only, I am not a repeater. Knowing fabada is a not-so-distant cousin to cassoulet, I figured there must be more cousins. I just needed to look. Continue reading
With the weather growing colder in the fall, a feature of our new home finally took shape. I would no longer need a curing fridge. I had a garage that, while slightly colder in the deep winter months, could safely cure and dry meats. On the first weekend where temps dropped into the 50s, I grabbed a freezer bag of venison and a package of bacon and go to it. Continue reading
Growing up, we always had a garden and, alongside the garden, we also had an enormous mass of concord grape vines. When we were there in early October, there were pounds and pounds of concords bending the vine, so how could I resist bringing home a bunch? One of my first thoughts was making raisins with the concords, but the problem I found was the enormous number of seeds. Continue reading
We started construction today. Better said, we started deconstruction today. This means we went from having a dysfunctional kitchen to a completely non-functional kitchen. The difference being a single gas burner which is always hot, even when not in use, is no longer at our disposal. Given the relatively limited use we were accustomed to, most of my cooking has been grilling, but when a door closes, others open. We now have a garage and, from an earlier garage project, I have nearly a gallon of magic ramp kraut juice. Like the yogurt whey used earlier this summer, kraut juice works well as a fermentation starter.
In the second of three installations of ham experiments made by hamming non-pork legs, I present mole cured goat ham. This ham was inspired by Goat Boy himself, Jonathan Zaragoza. Zaragoza helms Masa Azul on Diversey just West of California in Chicago, but has been in the goat business since he was a zygote. He is part of the Zaragoza family who runs my favorite restaurant in Chicago. While Jonathan has expanded his reach past birria, he still brings the goat from time to time and when he does, I make sure I am there. Continue reading
For the past three Novembers, I have been bugging my father to get me a full deer to butcher. Oddly, we used to butcher deer together when I was a kid each year, but then it was him both butchering and “butchering” the deer – no care taken to cut the deer into primals – just similarly sized scraps. With the promise of giving him his choice to meats, I asked just to get a whole animal to butcher. Well, not just the butchering opportunity, I wanted a leg. I wanted to make venison ham. This year, I got a leg and I made a ham. Continue reading
There are a ton of limitations to making charcuterie in a non-commercial kitchen. There are even more when you live in an apartment in an urban area, so when you look at projects that you want to try, but have no space to do so, you have to get a little creative. I have wanted to try making speck for some time but the thought of buying and storing another hog’s leg (who in their right mind, would do that?!?) was something that I was not quite ready to undertake. I did have a jowl. While not lean like a leg, it was just the right size and it was beautiful. Continue reading
After a twitter rhyme regarding ham jam, I knew that I was going to try, but didn’t know when. Just before bringing last week’s country ham home, I realized that I needed to clear fridge and freezer space to make it happen. I had just a bit of some beautifully fatty country ham from Cypress left in my fridge and I had an idea of how to piece a batch of ham jam together Continue reading