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 »
Consider this a practice, and I should know not to be afraid to make any cured meat, because the thought of making mortadella at home is frightening. Stuffing a beef bung full of emulsified meat and fat and then boiling the whole thing is intimidating to me, but I will get there. I just needed a little push and a little practice. Continue reading »
Chef Mark Mendez runs the kitchen at his West Loop restaurant Vera. It is no secret that Vera is one of my favorite restaurants in town. Food is simple without being simple. Complex flavors and textures are everywhere, but nothing seems fussed over and no extra ingredients are strewn across the plate. His philosophy of keeping things simple and making sure everything included is high quality and necessary inspired most of my decisions in my kitchen design project and one of the first things cooked in the kitchen, these beef tongue and caper sausages, were inspired by a signature Mendez dish – the Beef Tongue Pincho. Continue reading »
Charcuterie can be many things. To some it is only the meat you can never pronounce – likely something Italian or French, but keep in mind the last decade of emerging trendiness in charcuterie obscures the reality of charcuterie existing in everyday life for centuries in plain sight. Hot dogs, ham, and bacon are all good examples. Guanciale is fancy. Jowl Bacon is not. Jamon Iberico is fancy. Country ham is not. Salchichón is fancy. Summer sausage is not. Continue reading »
Sometimes it is about the big picture, but I have been taking more notice of the elements lately. Recently I noticed, while ordering banh mi, how I have ordered the same sandwich so many times yet have no idea what the “pork roll” is that sits on the sandwich. When I took a look at the sandwich after getting curious, I realized I needed to crack a book and figure it out. 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.
On the grill. Everything is on the grill.
We are without an oven for an extended period, so we have adapted. It is summer, after all, so timing could be worse to be forced to cook over fire regularly, but it has taken me some time to adapt. Gone are the days of baking bread for my ladies or cooking overnight in a low oven. It is probably for the best anyway since we do not currently have counter or cabinet space to spare. Continue reading »
One bowl from my first two gallons of homemade ramen and I was hooked. It was not the best, but it was mine and it put the bug into me. Tinkering on the recipe to improve it, or in some cases make it worse, was a new “hobby”. From the order of operations to the ratio of bones to water to the time boiled, the process is set up to make it your own, but the part of the process that pleases me the most is the fabrication of the seasoning, the tare. Continue reading »
This is an all too common tale of things that taste good together outside of sausage casing are great when encased together. One of my absolute favorite combinations is chorizo and banana/plantain. The sweet flavors from the fruit goes so well with the deep and piquant flavors of chorizo, a vastly underrated sausage that it is terribly easy to make at home. I happened to have a few plantains on hand and, with the smoker already running, I thought to take it one step further and smoke the plantains.