Yes, New Year has come and gone and, like nearly every New Year since I met my bride, we made Hoppin’ John and Collards. There would be no lily-guilding in the meat or meat-based stock department. It was not vegan by any means (greens had an amazing hock of Kite’s country ham and the beans had a pig’s ear and slice of smoked pig’s head), but I wanted to focus on the actual beans and actual rice. Nobody pays any damned attention to the beans or the rice in Hoppin’ John and that is all that it is. Continue reading »
The title of this post reads as convoluted, but the assembly of the dish is so simple that it hardly merits being called a recipe. It is more like something to eat while you create bacon and, more importantly, a way to optimize smoker space and wood smoke. I am a big fan of optimization. I plan my days to minimize wasted motion and waste in general, so when I light the cold smoker, my mind goes into overdrive with the question that would be asked if IFC created an offshoot to Portlandia called Austindia, “Can You Smoke It?” The smoke is there until it is gone and if you don’t use as much grill space as you can, you are wasting the smoke. 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 »
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 »
Recently a staple of traditional Chicago cuisine was featured in the New York Times. Giardiniera, featured here in 2010, started as an Italian Beef, Italian Sausage, and Combo sandwich condiment, but bled into pizza – it is my favorite topping at Pequod’s, even more recently drifted into the white tablecloth dining scene, and finally New York recognized it (only a step away from coopting it). There were many reactions to seeing the feature from Chicago food folk, one of which was that it was curious timing given none of the vegetables featured in the pickled condiment are in season anywhere near New York or Chicago. The comment made be think about what was available recently which led me where things are still growing, it led me South. Continue reading »
In a combination of crazy wanderlust through Southern foodways and an almost Portlandia-worthy desire to lacto-ferment every vegetable that I buy, I put together this kimchi of collards. It really was not that wild of a thought as collards are the same species as cabbage, the more traditionally used brassica in kimchi, but I thought it creative especially when used as a seasoning to an impromptu encased meat that we have been affectionately referring to as the Big Jong Il. Continue reading »
Before meeting my lovely bride, I had no tradition on New Year’s Day. We watched football, but nearly every New Year’s Day was spent the same way as my Christmas Day – in a car. Granted, my interest in food as a cultural touchpoint had not been piqued, but I was unaware of the traditions of cotechino & lentils or greens and black-eyed peas. The first New Year’s Day that she and I spent together, her mother was visiting and prepared a New Year’s meal of cheese grits, collard greens and black-eyed peas. I did not understand the significance until she explained after the meal, but I would never spend another New Year’s day without eating collard greens and black-eyed peas.
One of my resolutions for 2012 is to learn more about classic Southern cooking and food traditions. Through some cursory research and discussions, I found that there are folks who are very particular about mixing different types of greens and how there are particular ways of cooking different types of greens. These details are what I am interested in learning more about. Continue reading »
Low country cuisine is on the rise. For the majority of the country, no one really knows about “Low Country”. For those from there or married to those who are, we have been hearing about its high points for years. For those people paying close attention to recent food writing, the Low Country culture and cuisine seems likely to be the hot 2012 cuisine. Quintessentially American and featuring some of the finest ingredients native to the United States, there are clear reasons that follows the farm-to-table trend into the limelight. There are few areas from which I would choose a farm’s bounty over coastal South Carolina given the climate and rich soil.
The ham hock. Upon first blush, the yield is too small to get the meat notoriety with the aristocrats, but the simple ankle joint of a hog that has been brined and smoked made mostly from sinew, skin, and bone is one of the most used cuts of meat in global soul food. Not just American soul food, which features the hocks in greens, peas, soups, and stews, but in German, Italian, Swedish, Spanish, and even French, yes the F word, country food as well. When people say “Everything is better with bacon.”, they really mean that everything is better with ham hocks because the salty and smoky qualities of bacon are still there, but the stickiness from the skin, gelatin, and bones are just the added bonus. Despite creating and writing for a blog featuring bacon, ham is my secret crush. Continue reading »
Earlier this year, my rooftop garden was absolutely ravaged by one of the worst hail storms in recent memory. I had chilis and tomatoes planted and for the most part, they were done. As the plants worked back, the chilis never got back to growing, but the tomatoes started flowering in late July and started to fruit in August – about a month after typical. With the late start, the tomato harvest was very limited and the plants were full of fruit with little to no chance of ripening with low September temperatures. Continue reading »