Walking around Logan Square, I spend a lot of time ducking into and out of little mercados. I see things for which I do not have much context, but some reason stick in my mind, even when I may not initially realize it. It was the odd phenomenon of trying to describe something I had seen, what ended up being “cecina”, to my wife without having the words that planted the seed for this project in my mind. There were thin sliced lean cuts of beef marinating in red liquid in the meat case, but I could not remember the name – finally it came to me in the middle of a work meeting. 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 »
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.
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 »
Confession time. While I am not a believer that the detriments of eating in an unhealthful way can be erased by exercise, I tend to do most of more “adventurous” eating on the days when I do my long run – non-sensical, I know, but the lapsed Catholic guilt falls, with gallons of sweat, with each step. This past weekend, in a panic to get a time good enough to qualify for a priority corral for the upcoming marathon, I ran in the North Shore Half Marathon. Not only was it exceedingly long, but it was exceedingly hot, so after finishing with a 14 minute personal best, my food governor was off. Continue reading »
In the past. when looking at recipes that included smoked pork neck bones, I always asked myself if bacon could be substituted bacon for the neck bones. Smoked pork neck bones are not easy to find – they are a humble ingredient and most groceries do not get whole animals, so no neck bones. After a meal cooked over the past weekend, I now know that the answer is no, you can’t substitute them, and yes, you need to seek them out.
Bacon and pork neck bones are not even close. Both pork and both smoked, but then they diverge. The reason is texture and is hard to pinpoint at first. Then you wake up to pack the leftovers for work and a deli container of the okra soup falls from your hand and you find that the liquid has solidified from the rich gelatin in the neck bones. That texture softens when heated, but that added richness never goes away. Once you have the dish with it, the same dish without would never do. Continue reading »
With March in it final days, winter is ending and with it go some winter favorites. Braising turns to grilling. Roasting goes to grilling. Hell, it all goes to grilling. Cooking foods over fire is one of life’s great pleasures, but, despite two weeks of record high temperatures in Chicago, I had been putting off cooking rabbit and could not let the winter go by without making this winter-y dish. 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 »
There are those barriers that you do not know are there, but they inspire silly excuses so you never need to confront them. For me, I liked blood sausage, but never loved it*. As a result, I never ventured into making my own. However, it was not until I picked up a copy of the Le Charcutier Anglais and looked through it for the quintessential English charcuterie to make that I realized that it was not a lack of taste for blood sausage that kept me from making blood sausage, but rather that working with blood would be a difficult task for me. Continue reading »