Over much of the fall and early winter, I’ve been working on building a cold smoker made from a bullet smoker, chimney pipe and cinder blocks. I am 90% there and the smoker is fully functional. The first step was testing the dosage of smoke provided by the new smoker. I started with something I wanted lightly smoked, chicken livers, and something I wanted heavily smoked, some extra sharp cheddar cheese.
It was damned cold outside, I was home alone for a weekend and with giant cans of bodega hominy staring me in the face, I was ready for an afternoon cooking pozole. Looking for something new, I paged through Diana Kennedy’s “The Art of Mexican Cooking’ I found a recipe for Pozole Verde and I glommed onto it. I modified it to my tastes and what I had on time. Even as I modified the recipe by adding some smoked turkey parts, the final results could not have been different from what I expected.
Life has been busier than normal and the time I spend in the kitchen, one of my favorite ways to unwind, has been inconsistent. In an effort to simplify and refocus my kitchen hobby, I went back to an ingredient, ham, and a preparation, terrine, I feel both comfortable with and inspired by. Continue reading
Labor Day has come and gone. Whites are in the closet, but I refuse to put away the smoker. BBQ is a twelve month season, but, as I tend to do, I filled the smoker with ribs and an entire leg of goat to make sure I took advantage of the bag of coal and chunks of wood. This left us with a meal of ribs (and then some) and about seven pounds of smokey, rich goat. As I put all of the goat in the fridge, I was forced to stack some random fridge goods a top a bag of the goat. When I checked in the next day, all of the gelatin and collagen had then the pulled goat leg like a terrine, but in nearly sausage-ish form. Continue reading
With a large and growing cookbook collection, I get asked by friends who may not have the same cookbook issues, “How do you choose which book to cook from – much less what to cook from the book you choose?” This has to be a common question. My answer – I will grab a book based on what I have at home or based on what the season is. Sometimes, I will see something online which will push me to get back into a book. When I do find a book, the driving force behind picking a recipe is almost always a new technique or ingredient I want to try. In this case, there was a technique which included boiling beef tongue after smoking it. I was skeptical. Won’t you boil off any smoke flavors? Wouldn’t the other way be better? I had to try it for myself. Continue reading
A fifteen minute walk through a small-town Wisconsin farmer’s market yielded some of the finest variety meats I have had in some time for prices so low I could not fathom how there was so much to buy. In a state where offal is less flashily portrayed and truly ends up on your grandma’s dinner table rather than on a contrived dish using her as a prop, I was surprised to see offal from seemingly pristinely raised animals being ignored. Even so, there was an old man in traditional Amish garb selling what appeared to be some great lamb. I asked about offal and he brought out what he had. For a couple dollars (literally), I bought every last lamb heart the guy had with him. Then some ground lamb as well to make it worth his while. Continue reading
A friend’s family has what I understand to be a long-standing annual sausage making appointment on their calendar. While our family has its own traditions I love and appreciate, I can barely help but be jealous of the family sausage party. Making sausage is a process which has not changed much over time and continuing to do it the same way year-in and year-out would seemingly be a great way to connect with older relatives. When he smoked some of the excess Mexican chorizo they made, I was curious why Spanish chorizo was traditionally smoked while smoked Mexican chorizo was completely new to me, so I made some for myself (and the family). Continue reading
With Memorial Day giving me an extra day to finish planting our garden and making the last preparations for summer, I also had time to fire up the smoker and try smoking not only a new cut of meat, but also a new beast altogether. On the last Monday in May, we ate a leg of beast – to be more specific, a leg of goat. Well, not all of it. Continue reading
There is flashy food travel – New York, San Francisco, Charleston, but this year I’ve been to some places that do not scream fancy. Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, and Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill. I am not saying the fancy places are undeserving of their praise, but these other towns have shown me great things, food-wise, as well. On our recent trip to North Carolina, we had shrimp and grits at Crook’s Corner, chaat at Lantern, chicken biscuit (this was a revelation) at Time Out and, during a random stop at Rose’s Meats and Sweets in Durham, we bought some pastrami. Continue reading
In round two of turning venison scrap from my father into something more edible, I made a dangerous choice – a sausage of great familiarity. Summer Sausage. It is easy to cook without context when the only question is “Does it taste good?” I guess easy is relative, because it seems easy in comparison to when you are cooking something familiar and add “Does it taste right?” to “Does it taste good?” Venison summer sausage is, when combined with Ritz crackers and cheese, the most popular pre-dinner, post-lunch food in Wisconsin. When given venison scrap, how could i have ignored the opportunity to stock the pre-dinner, post-lunch larder for the year, or more likely, the remainder of April?