In full freezer cleaning mode in advance of an upcoming move, I grabbed the most delicious thing in my freezer door. A cryovac’ed bag of cured bone marrow from Matt Troost at Three Aces (you may remember this ingredient from Valentine’s Day anticuchos). I looked around at what I had and realized that I had some levain left over from making sourdough. At first, I simply thought of making marrow burgers for Sunday Dinner. Continue reading »
St. Patrick’s Day is a pretty serious holiday for my family and not in the “green beer and pass out before it is dark” kind of serious either. Every year, I tell myself that we will just grab some corned beef from the store and do it cliche and every year, I decide not to go that route. Continue reading »
In November, I was sitting in a waiting room killing time when I picked up Time Out Chicago. I typically would rather read the ingredients in commercial ice cream (yes, Polysorbate 80 is the most delicious polysorbate) than Time Out, but when I opened to an article written by someone I have admired from afar, Martha Bayne, I was compelled to read it. Continue reading »
Going out to dinner on Valentine’s Day is not how we do things. Going to the mattresses at home is one of those things that I get to do pretty infrequently – mostly for larger family gatherings and dinner parties. Making dinner, I do every night, but not like this. Every night is usually a little protein, colorful veg, and green leafy things, but Valentine’s Day is a fun day to go all out.
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 »
Last week was hot as hell, but, like Memorial and Labor Days, the Fourth of July is a BBQ holiday. There is no wiggle room in my rule book when it comes to BBQ holidays, even for 100 degree temperatures. With that in mind, since we were in the Northwoods for the week, I was planning on pit smoking a suckling pig. When looking at yield and cost, I opted for something that I thought would have less flair, but ended up being the opposite. Continue reading »
You hear it all of the time in interviews with cooks, “My dishes are inspired by walking through the market and seeing what looks good.” In a recent (and great) essay, St. Fergus asks “what were they cooking before? Food not in season and from very far away? Maybe if this had been pointed out it would have opened our eyes. Do you really have to say this every time you cook?” and then he goes on the answer his own question by saying “Sadly you do, as the people who provide most of our food are the mighty supermarkets who feel it is their job to sell us strawberries in winter and organic avocados from Peru, all in the name of the illusion of abundance. When it’s a commodity in their eyes, not a good lunch, they lose all sense of where the pleasure in food comes from. My local supermarket sells what I think of as behind-the-counter food: much like the contents of the tawdrier shelves at the newsagent, it shouldn’t be on display. They stock nothing that hasn’t been tampered with: butter that spreads straight from the fridge, bacon that goes crisp almost automatically, and everything – everything – has 99 per cent less fat.”
St. Fergus goes on to discuss common sense cooking and his realization of how common sense does not equate to boring. As one of my favorite local cooks said recently, “Simple isn’t easy” and how one of his best lessons was to start taking things away from a dish to make it better. I have been trying more and more lately to keep things simple, not always being able to hold back, but to do my best to follow that guideline. Continue reading »
My Artisan Meat Share — Clockwise from top left: Finocchiona, pepperone, lamb salami, milano, snack sticks, Cypressata, lamb mortadella, bresaola, and nduja
A few weeks after leaving for Charleston, I still miss it. From the 80 degree weather to the Southern charm to the high concentration of amazing places to eat. I have a feeling that I would miss the coffee, ethnic foods, and proximity to family that I have in Chicago, but there is a lot to love about Charleston and the surrounding low country. Through the wonder of twitter, I was lucky enough to stumble into bringing back to Chicago a bit of Charleston in the Artisan Meat Share from Cypress Restaurant. Continue reading »
Over the past five or so years, pho has gone from an often mispronounced soup only found in cities with a high concentration of Vietnamese citizens to a culinary obsession. I credit the Food Networkification of the Travel Channel and Middle America’s discovery of Anthony Bourdain, one of the most forceful benefactors and advocates for the heavily spiced beef noodle soup. Pho is amazingly delicious and while hailing from a region with incredible heat, it is really the perfect winter meal. A favorite sight of mine is driving down Broadway and seeing Pho Xe Tang’s windows completely fogged up. That is living right there folks. Steam and slurping everywhere.
I am not claiming to be early to the party when it comes to pho, nearly the opposite. Pho took hold of me less than a decade ago when I lived not far from Argyle Street in Uptown, but the love is undeniable, especially after making my own. The process is so easy in fact that I usually keep quarts of pho stock in my freezer and use them to braise beef shanks or chuck if I am looking for something more substantial than soup. The last few times I used it as a braising medium, I had to resist turning the leftovers into rillettes. After making another batch of pho stock and having turn out extra gelatinous, I broke down and combined Pho and charcuterie. Continue reading »
It is with a heavy heart that I write this post. The project had started as experimental meat preparation with a cut of beef that rarely makes it past the grinder, the chuck flap. Between acquisition of this really nice cut of beef, preparation of the beef, and writing of the post, the owner of the ranch at which the grass fed cow was raised, Frank Morgan of Q7 Ranch in Marengo, IL, passed away suddenly. I did not know Frank, but I had grown to love his work from navels to shanks to neck and now to the chuck flap and all things in between. My family’s sympathies and condolences go to Frank’s family and loved ones.
As happens when you have a butcher that you know and trust, when I walked into Butcher and Larder last week, Rob approached me with a cut of meat that I had not seen before. As last year with the belly chop, lamb neck, beef neck bones, and most recently, the mutton neck, there are things that Rob has suggested that are not commonly used parts of the animal that would not fall into meat curing or offal related dishes, but rather butcher’s cuts. At first I was hesitant to blog about these because I was worried about losing the blog’s focus, but the more that I thought about it, the more I wanted to feature these types of projects. After all, the real focus on the blog has evolved from bacon making and tasting to meat curing and ice cream making to DIY production and consumption of local food that flies under the radar. We will give it a shot and see how it goes. Please give feedback as you see fit. Continue reading »