Posts Tagged 'pork'

BLT 2009: Double the bacon, double the fun

That was 2008.

This was 2009:

Continue reading ‘BLT 2009: Double the bacon, double the fun’

Santa Fe

So I’ve been in Santa Fe for a couple weeks. According to the American Lung Association, this area has some of the cleanest air in the country. It’s right up there with Duluth, and the difference in palpable. First, smells seem to carry much further around here. I smell piñon and ponderosa pines, I smell desert sage and honeysuckle and russian olives. And this time of year, there’s the smell of roasting Hatch green chiles all around town.
in the supermarket
Continue reading ‘Santa Fe’

Culinary conquests, part ii: chicken that tastes like bacon

For the second installment of the supper club, besides lemon meringue pie, I thought it’d also be a good opportunity to try my hand at fried chicken. Who wants to make the house smell like fried for just four people? Who cares that I’ve never fried anything before? Well, that’s not exactly true, but it is mostly.

It was suggested that I do a trial run first, but Carla, who has made the recipe for me before (not to mention, in her little kitchen in Italy) assured me that it was straightforward and didn’t even require a thermometer.

The recipe, of course, is the Edna Lewis/Scott Peacock fried chicken from The Gift of Southern Cooking — perhaps the most stained book in my cookbook library. It’s not a very demanding recipe laborwise, but you do need lots of time: 12 hours for brining, 12 hours to soak the chicken pieces in buttermilk (Carla, where did you manage to get buttermilk in Bra?). And then they just get a roll in seasoned flour, with a little cornstarch for crunch. All the steps thusfar ensure that the chicken is impregnated with flavor and retains succulence through cooking, but it’s the frying fat that probably makes this

THE BEST FRIED CHICKEN EVER.

A pound of lard and a stick of butter make the chicken crispy, but it’s the piece of country ham that sits in the pan all through frying that gooses the chicken with a little porky goodness (yeah, that’s right: I used three animals in one clause). Someone even asked if there were bacon in the chicken.

Also, fried chicken is easy. The frying part takes only about 10 minutes per piece (which meant that, with the 10″ Lodge skillet and 32 pieces of chicken, I fried for about an hour and a half), and you can tell by looking when the fat is at the right temperature or needs more or less flame. Even cleanup wasn’t so bad. I waited for all the fat to solidify and then just scraped it into the trash.

Also, fried chicken is good. It is, in fact, one of the world’s perfect foods. Good thing it’s so easy to make.

Patterson House

The Crew at the bar

I have been unapologetically hermitic and haven’t left the house here in Nashville after 6pm in weeks. But last night I got to try a new speakeasy called The Patterson House.

The vibe: roaring 20s in the south. Walnut bar, bartenders in vests and ties, pressed copper ceiling, and dark built-in bookshelves everywhere giving a parlor feel. Beautiful cylindrical glass chandeliers cast a warm glow. And the music is just as I like it in bars: felt but not heard.

The cocktails are the best I’ve had in recent memory: perfectly balanced and cleverly crafted without being over-the-top. Classic with a thoughtful contemporary twist. I had The Maisie Day, made with Luzianne infused gin, lemon, egg white, and lemon bitters and it had a lovely lemon creamcicle flavor up front and the Luzianne tea added a nice, subtly tannic finish. The ice is formed into a single perfect sphere (to fit Old Fashioned glasses) or elongated rectangle (for Collins glasses). Patterson makes their own syrups and bitters from fresh fruit and herbs, and they’ve designed 50 cocktails including a Bacon Old Fashioned with Benton bacon macerated 4 Roses bourbon, maple syrup, and coffee pecan bitters—which I didn’t get to try. Another reason to return. Not that I need it.

The small plates: Delicious. The chef is a veteran of The Fat Duck, Craft, and Alinea. The only other thing I have to say about the food is “BBQ pork sliders.” Hell yes!

(Photo by Chris Wage)

What Jamaican for dinner?

Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

I was in Negril over the weekend, and I had high hopes (which weren’t disappointed) for the beaches and the breakfasts, but I hadn’t found too many promising leads for other meals. As expected, most of the joints were the soulless, tourist-trap type, which we were mostly successful in steering clear of, thankfully.

And then we found

The Jerk Joint, a little shack facing the ocean with just a handful of tables. At first glance it doesn’t seem like much. And in fact, on our first visit, a cranky old lady manned the counter, and it took the intercession of a local to convince her to hand over some coco bread with our Red Stripes. The coco bread was only okay.

Who knows what convinced us to go back. Could be that one of the tables was filled with locals when we passed by it later. (Likely friends of Tony, the actual owner and cook, since they disappeared once we decided to sit down for dinner.) When we asked what Tony had to eat, he mentioned some jerk chicken, but then spoke the magic words: “You like pork? I made some real Jamaican pork today too.” Bingo.

Jamaican pork is a lot like my mom’s pork, turns out. Tony roasted some super fatty belly — ribs still attached — and served it with saucy sautéed onions and peppers, (boiled? steamed?) yams, both white and yellow, he explained, and some dense dumplings he proudly told us he made himself from cornmeal and regular flour. It was all delicious. It was honest. You could taste the love. It was exactly what we’d been looking for.

It was so good we vowed to go again the next day. That evening, it threatened to rain, so we decided to get takeout. Tony said something about fish, but then he smiled and told us he was also frying up chicken.

Yes, please.

Yes.

Meat men

The new issue of The Art of Eating is out. And inside is my article on cooked charcuterie in America, for which I have Gabe Ross to thank. Also Paul Bertolli, Leah Mojer over at Formaggio Kitchen, and the Fabrique Délices guys, of course.

But Gabe was really the genesis of the piece, and — along with Mike Betit, of Tamarack Hollow, my pig farmer, who introduced me to him — the source for so many others. Gabe and I started talking about curing meat a year ago, and sometimes it feels like we haven’t really stopped since. Or every time I see him, he seems to be elbow-deep in pork and pink salt.

[An aside: Gabe has a pretty amazing freezer. Not only is it packed to the gills with various meat products or meat destined for curing (the pink cylinders you see just under his forearm, for instance, are pounds and pounds of caul fat), but it’s organized with a maniacal sense of order and efficiency as only a former cook would have.]

Last night, I got to hang out with Gabe and Jake Dickson, of Dickson’s Farmstand, one of my favorite meat purveyors, while they did some sausage recipe testing for Jake’s forthcoming butcher shop.

They make it look easy. And it is, apparently, though it takes a little practice. For their hot Italian sausage experiment, they made a fairly unadorned control, a variation with more herbs and seasoning, and a third that was inoculated and left to ferment for a short while.

The key to achieving a juicy sausage, Gabe told me, is some paddling with the mixer. This creates a network of myosin proteins that traps water and gives the sausage internal structure so it doesn’t become crumbly and dry. Incidentally, Francis had just told me a couple of months ago about using a similar technique for making dumpling filling. (I still prefer a loose filling for my dumplings; the napa cabbage and ginger give those things all the juice they need, in my opinion.)

I can attest to the juiciness of the sausages. These fermented links were from the previous trials they ran, and they tasted as good as they look. I can’t wait for the Dickson butcher shop. But in the meantime, I’m glad that Gabe lives in the neighborhood and Jake does drop-offs.

P.S. You should subscribe to The Art of Eating.

Three pounds of Benton’s slab bacon is

a) a frickin’ lot of bacon.

b) AWESOME.

c) not nearly enough.

d) All of the above.

Gifted

Even better than eating stuff you’ve pickled and preserved yourself is eating stuff that other people have pickled and preserved for you.

Sauerkraut courtesy of Underground Food Collective; pickled watermelon rind from Emily (via Christopher); and some of the best bacon I’ve ever had, made by Anya from a Laughing Stock pig at the latest butchering party at her house in Oakland. Goddamn, that bacon was good.

Ed. note and update: Oops. I mistakenly linked to the wrong Laughing Stock Farm (there are a few of these in the US, apparently). Not the one in Maine, the one in Oregon.

The Pre-Industrial Pig

The Underground Food Collective blew into town from Wisconsin a couple of weeks ago with Pamplemousse Preserves, and they set up shop at my place one Thursday night. And this is how it went down:

The setup:

The menu:

The cooks:

The hungry:

The pig:

Well, some of it.

The farmer:

The grease fire:

The most popular dish:

(Sprouted lentil salad with cracklins.)

I wish I had a photo of or a recipe for the steamed cranberry pudding Lee made. People have been talking about that hard sauce for weeks.

Ian also wrote about the dinner on the Gourmet blog.

Update: Here’s another account on the Bitten blog in the NYTimes.

Coming soon in 3D and Smell-O-Vision


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