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A simple thing I’ve learned to to with salmon filets, is to cook them ‘unilateral’ – a very simple method that call for skin-on filets cooked skin side down in a pan to which no fat has been added (no olive oil, butter etc). Just the salmon in the pan. You cook only on the skin side, never turning. The salmon slowly cooks through, leaving the top pleasingly opaque and slightly rare. As the fish cooks you’ll notice the skin giving off a lot of delicious salmon flavored fat. Think of bacon rendering but instead of bacon you’re using salmon. Once done you can finish the dish with a little brown butter, beurre blanc, or whatever. Even your best olive oil would be quite good.

I’ve found when I buy a whole salmon filet at the market to take home and portion into perfect serving size filets, I am often confronted with question of what to do with the ‘flap’ of super fatty salmon belly which is often attached to the rest of the filet. Often this is trimmed away and discarded which is a shame – it is arguably the most flavorful part of the salmon. I do trim it off the filet, skin intact but don’t through it out. Instead I dreamed up this lovely little idea for an ‘amuse bouche’ or little mouthful you often see at restaurants.

First, I carefully remove the skin. This I put in a small non stick pan and crisp it up – again no oil or butter is used. The fat in the skin is ample. Once done I drain on paper towels and season lightly with salt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The belly I chop raw and place in a bowl. To this I add a minced scallion, capers, and black sesame seeds. I like to use my best olive oil or walnut oil to finish the tartare. I refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, up to an hour before serving. To create the amuse bouche, I carefully cut my crisped salmon skin into squares, the size of a wheat thin cracker. I season the chilled tartare with a good salt (use fleur de sel or a good kosher salt here), and a few scant drops of lemon juice (please be sparing with the lemon juice – too much and you’ll cook the tartare with the lemon’s acid). A spoonful of tartare goes on the salmon skin cracker and voila! A perfect, super delicious amuse bouche.

You could gussie it up even more by topping with some salmon roe, which gives the diner a very intense three layer effect of flavor and texture: the salty crispy crunch of the salmon skin cracker, the creamy coolness of the tartare, and the intense oiliness of the roe. Want to add another dimension of flavor? Make the tartare first, after its done chilling, then you start the salmon skin crackers. You want them hot, so when you assemble you get the three layer effect plus hot and cold in the same bite too!

Sunday Dinner

A visit to a local artisan butcher in San Francisco (www.oliviersbutchery.com) gave inspiration to a lovely little dinner on a recent Sunday for a friend and me. Well that and Patricia Wells updated version of her essential ‘Food Lovers Guide to Paris’, reincarnated as an app for IPhone and IPad. I’ve always loved her reviews, and her descriptions of the many restaurants, bistros, fromageries, chartcuteries, boucheries, patisseries, and boulangeries in Paris are often the inspiration for dishes like this one: a quickly seared piece of ‘onglet’ or hanger steak served on a bed of butter-melted leeks, and topped with a crown of slow cooked crimini mushrooms.

The ‘recipe’ is simple a mostly intuitive. I started with about 2lbs of leeks, slicing them into 1/2 inch coins. I took extra care to wash them as dirt often lurks deep within the first few layers. In a medium sized pot over a low flame in go the leeks with 3/4 of stick of butter. I cover the pot and let the leeks slowly ‘melt’ over the course of the next hour or so. It’s important to keep the pot covered so the leeks steam in the frothy butter. The criminis I slice thinly (you can leave ’em whole too!), and saute over medium heat in my le creuset cocotte with a little olive oil. I lightly salt them to get them to give up there juices. I want them crispy though, but for now I let the juices slowly evaporate to concentrate flavor. Once the crimini juices have evaporated I finish will a little olive oil and some finely minced garlic. Some parsley comes next. Mushrooms done, I turn of the heat.

The onglet is about one pound, and the perfect ratio of fat to lean, well marbled, and perfect. I season with some fleur de sel and freshly cracked black, white, green, and pink peppercorns from the grinder. I sear the onglet in a very hot pan with just a bit of vegetable oil, about 4 minutes per side. Once done, it rests on a plate for about 10 minutes – I’m in no mood to lose any of those flavor juices.

We started with a salad of arugula, roasted beets, and sprinkles of goat cheese, all bound in a lemony vinaigrette. Then I make the ‘plats’: I put down a bed of melted leaks, kept warm on the stove on plates. Then a few slices of the onglet on top of the leeks; seared on the outside, juicy and lavender/pink on the inside, medium rare, emphasis on the rare. Lastly I crown the steaks with a generous tumble of criminis. Voila! Time to eat!! It was a really delicious, simple little sunday supper, one I’d recommend. Onglet is like a secret about to be exposed. It is not too expensive, and as delicious as rib-eye, strip, or chuck. I rarely eat filet mignon because its a) expensive and b) has inferior flavor and texture (in my humble opinion).

There are few things more satisfying to foodie and non-foodie alike than going to a farmer’s market. I love going just to see whats in season, and letting whats in season guide your purchases. My favorite times of year to forage at a farmer’s market are spring and high summer: spring for the first-of-season radishes, carrots, artichokes, and strawberries; summer for stone fruits of all kinds, squash blossoms for deep frying, corn, greens, squash, melons, and much much more. A recent trip to the Castro Farmer’s market located on Noe Street yielded beautiful ‘pullet’ eggs from Five Dot Ranch, handcrafted Sauerkraut from xxx, lovely lettuces from xxx as well as some plump, fat, pork kielbasa sausages from Prather Ranch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is always a ton or fresh produce at these markets. When I spied these little bag-fulls of fresh greens springled generously with colorful edible flowers, I knew we’d have one of the best salads in the making!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At home I make a lovely little salad with the fresh greens and edible flowers topped with a soft boiled ‘pullet’ egg from Five Dot Ranch. My go-to vinaigrette is one adapted from David Tanis, just a minced shallot, salt to taste, and enough walnut oil to emulsify.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was amazed by the little eggs from Five Dot Ranch farm. I had never heard of Pullet eggs before and the farmer was happy to explain them to me. They’re somewhere in between a quail egg and medium sized chicken egg in size. The flavor is quite delicious too!

Kraut is one of those things I associate with cool fall days, cider, pork, and well, more pork. Charcroute Garnie is an Alsatian dish from northeastern France that combines sauerkraut with pork sausages, smoked hock, loin, and maybe a little blood sausage thrown in for you good measure. The whole thing gets baked slowly with wine and maybe some good carrots and potatoes. After walking by the Farmhouse Culture stand I told myself, nope, you can’t do kraut in spring. Wrong season. I stopped anyway, sampling the various flavors: carroway, jalepeno, even horserashish-leek. I was blown away! Soon my entire focus was putting together a dinner around this awesome kraut. I chose the classic caraway, which is crisp, properly pickle-y, with the perfect balance of acidity and brine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next stop, Prather Ranch for their version of Polish Kielbasa. Got a little pork loin too. When I got home, I salted the little piece of loin for a few hours in advance of cooking to do a little quick home-cure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assembling the kraut for dinner was easy. A spoon full of duck fat in the cocotte, brown the loin and sausages, remove from pan and deglaze with half bottle of white wine, in goes the kraut and browned meats, then in the oven at 350F for 90 minutes. You want it to be moist, but not too dry or too ‘soupy’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sausages were really really good. Again it pays to seek out the very best products, often for the same amount of money or perhaps just a bit more from what you’d pay for a supermarket product.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dinner was really delicious, and satisfying. A good salad, kraut with pork loin and sausages, a nice glass of crisp sauvignon blanc, and the inspiration to keep foraging! Next up in the farmer’s market serious on Devour: Noe Valley

Cheese

My love affair with cheese began as a child – memories of my mother offering what my 6 year old sister and I called ‘tinsels’ of cheese while she was grating a nice big yellowy cheddar (Tillamook?) on a box grater are still pretty clear to me. The tinsels were tiny little gratings and were a nice snack for little kids such as us. For many years cheese to me meant ‘cheddar’, ‘jack’ and ‘american’. I hated american cheese ’cause it tasted fake, gluey, and artificial. Mozzarella was something that went on a pizza and I never gave it much though. Friends houses sometimes had ‘muenster’ cheese (you get get that at Safeway, Bi-Mart, or Fred Meyer) but we never bought it. To me it was just like jack though slightly exotic. It wasn’t until years later that I tasted the real french version. Little by little other varieties came into focus: Havarti, Fontina (again not the real version), Colby, etc. All suitable for the american palate and supermarket friendly. It took my first trip to France in the 90’s to make me realize that american cheese was nearly non-existant and we the populace blissfully happy our ignorance and depravation. In France cheese is worthy of gargantuan displays at street markets, hundreds if not thousands of fromageries, or cheese shops, worthy of its own course during a meal, stinky, mild, goaty, fresh, aged, soft, and hard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During that trip I found myself one evening seated at a bouchon old part of Lyon. After a meal of saucisson with lentils, curly endive salad with egg and giant cubes of bacon, tripe, and boudin noir, my traveling companion and I stared in horror as our waitress marched to our table with a platter weighed down with 5 cheeses: Camembert, St marcelin, Rocamadour, a local goat marinated in olive oil and herbs,  as well as an intense cheese spread called Fromage Fort. Marching off again we find she couldn’t bring it all in one trip for now she carried a bowl of  cervelle de canut – fromage blanc (like ricotta?) flavored with vinigar, herbs and garlic. There we were, stomachs bursting at their seems from our massive meal only to try to at least sample some of the wonderful cheese course presented. I think that it was then that I feel in love with St Marcellin – it is Lyon’s best loved cheese and is so runny that it often comes in a pretty little terra cotta crock – one eats it with a spoon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fromage Fort is one of those things that americans would be well expected to not like due to it’s sheer power and intensity. Its left over bits of cheese (usually the stinky varieties) combined with eau de vie (a sort of brandy), herbs, wine, spices, then left for months to ferment. you eat with cotes du rhone or morgon (a beaujolais) and bread. Well what the hell? I ate trip and blood sausage for the first time – why not a fermented cheese spread? The smell was over powering but the bite itself is rugged, complex, stinky, and delicious.

I’ve fallen in love with shopping at the many outdoor markets in France. During a recent trip to Paris, CAV wanted to show me the market at place maubert a few moments walk from his apartment from when he lived there. Again I was amazed at the bounty of beutiful produce, fruits, meats and cheeses. The cheese stand was copious and brimming with varieties known and unknown to me. A real treat. Oh to live there!

 

 

 

 


Along with brie de meaux, camembert, comte, and roquefort, lesser known varieties seldom seen outside of France are also present.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leaving Paris, we head south one afternoon to spend a few days in the vineyards of Burgundy. I search out Beaune’s best fromagerie  Alain Hess as I want to smuggle a few things home in my bags.



The display case at Alain Hess is gorgeous. The cheeses are laid out with plenty of spacing, brightly lit, tidy, and appealing.

 

 

 

On my visit I bought Maroilles, Aisy Cendre, a few local goat cheeses, and a fun little corkscrew. Everything I’ve purchased is rarely or never seen in America. My dilemma on how to pack this all up and get past customs is solved instantly when I learn that I’m just the latest in a long line of American travelers wanting to bring good stuff home with them: out of view is a heavy duty vacuum packing device. All I have to do is take my vacuum packed cheeses and store them in the mini bar until my flight a few days later. 24 hours door to door; often bags are in a very cold part of the plane. At least I comfort myself with this assumption.



The previous day one of our traveling companions says he wants to rent bikes and visit the grand cru’s that exist along side a bike path that winds its way through tiny sleepy little towns that all seem to have the names of famous french wines. We ride through Beaune and quckly find ourselves surrounded by Pinot Noir vines.


So there you have it. The purpose of this posting was to get the conversation started on the subject of cheese. I’ll be submitting posts in this category as often as I can. I am also happy to say that American cheese has come a long way since the 90s. We now have hundreds and hundreds of varieties to choose from, washed rind, goat, ewe, firm, semi soft, fresh. More come to market every day. I think we’re in for an exciting time as far as American cheeses go. Please watch this space as I introduce some of my favorites in future posts!

Aioli

Making things at home (pasta, stock, etc) rather than resorting to the store bought version gives an added umpf to all the things I make. Chicken stock is amazing when homemade, and makes risottos, soups and stews taste great compared to the store-bought option. I swear when I make my own pasta, sauce clings to it much better and it cooks up al dente perfectly every time.

Sadly I don’t have the time to always do this: so apart from salad dressing (which I always make), sometimes in a pinch I’ll grab the best quality mayo, stock (usually made by a good butcher), or fresh pasta I can lay my hands on. But then there are those times when I want something to be really really special. Whipping up a quick Aioli seems a snap and not too much to ask.

You’ll find the following content repeated in the body of another post on here. I’ve decided to re-post it as its own entry as it is well deserved.


My aioli is made as follows:

  • 2 Egg Yolks (try to get local, free range, cage free, eggs if you can. The whites will be much firmer and the yolks a more brilliant orange than ones mass produced in an egg factory)
  • (About) 2 Cups Olive Oil (Don’t use your best, extra virgin oil here. Go for the light olive oil instead. Otherwise your aioli will be overpowering and heavy. I think it doesn’t emulsify as well either)
  • 1 large Clove Garlic, minced very fine
  • Juice of One Lemon
  • Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
  • Salt & White Pepper (Black Pepper is OK too if you don’t mind black specs in your beautiful lemony colored aioli)

Method:

  1. Bring the eggs to room temperature then separate the yolks from the whites. Save the whites for another use. In a medium sized bowl wisk the garlic into the yolks until smooth and creamy.
  2. In the thinnest thread-like stream slowly add the olive oil to the yolks and garlic mixture while constantly whisking. This will take about 10 minutes of constant whisking. If your arm gets tired take a 3 second break then continue on.
  3. Eventually as the aioli emulsifies, it will get thicker and thicker. When you reach the right consistency quickly whisk in the lemon juice, cayenne, salt and white pepper.
  4. Aioli will keep up to a week in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator.

Food Safety Note: As you are working with raw egg yolks, and unlike store-bought product this is not pasteurized, keep food safety in mind: refrigerate the aioli as soon as its made, use fresh ingredients, cook in a spotlessly clean kitchen. Inform your diners and let them opt out if they prefer (though most won’t!)

Things I use this for include:

  • The best BLT in the world
  • With Fritto Misto
  • Salads
  • A swirl in a bowl of Bouillabasse
  • Grand Aioli (French dish from Provence including poached salt cod, boiled potatoes, vegetable, snails, and maybe some Octopus)
Enjoy!

The display case at the Fatted Calf is attractive partly due to its tidiness


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you walk into this spotless, tidy shop in the Hayes Valley neighborhood of San Francisco, the first thing you notice is the daily roti de porc maison perched high upon the gleaming meat counter. Today for my visit it was described as a roast saddle of pork shoulder – hued a dark winey mahogany, it’s tender meat protected by an inch layer of flavorful oven-crisped fatback. Perfect for purchasing by the slice or pound then feasting later at home with your own vegetables, sauteed with perhaps a bit of your best olive oil and serving with a simple salad.

 

 

 

Excellent charcuterie, pork, and duck on display at the Fatted Calf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fatted Calf is one of several ‘charcuteries’ that have slowly cropped up around the bay area in recent years, though I suspect a frenchman would describe it more as a boucherie, or butchers shop. Because despite  the wonderful pates, sausages, and confits would would find in a Parisian charcuterie, most of the case features, beautiful lamb (chops, shanks, legs), pork (belly, roasts, and ready-prepared porchetta, ham, bacon, and crepinettes), duck, and chicken. Behind you top quality dry goods are offered, like pastas, heirloom variety legumes and grains; rare spices and the odd specialty ingredient or two, such as dried porcini mushrooms, vinegars, and oils.

Today I’m in the shop because CAV is out of town on business, which gives me some extra bandwidth to do some cooking, writing and posting. I’m looking to do not one dish but several, all featuring the gleaming, gem like meats from this fabulous shop. After some browsing and mental planning I settle on a big piece of pork belly, a few duck legs, some saucisson sec, here house-made french style dry sausage, and an ingredient that is hard to find, but one that I’ve wanted to cook with for years: pork cheeks. CAV will be gone for another week, and I’ve got the perfect amount of meat to last me the week.

I’ll make several dishes over the next few days including home cured pork belly with asian spices, served with a version of potato salad in which I replace the potatoes with apples, garnish with a wee bit of crisped bacon, and top the entire dish with a tangle of pea shoots tossed in vinegar and walnut oil. Also a straight forward homemade confit of duck, maybe some lentils on the side, preceded by a butter lettuce salad. First though the pork cheeks. They’re an initially tough, rarely used part of the animal, best seared quickly, then braised for a few hours in wine, a mirepoix, and a little stock. The braising coaxes the chewiness into a melting tenderness, and I think this would be great with a little cous cous.

First up though, is the pork belly.  Unfortunately I neglected to take a photo of what the cut looks like – but as some of you may not know, pork belly is the same cut bacon comes from. Here is a picture I found on google just so you can have an idea. You will recognize the lean streaks running horizontally throughout and the thick cap of fatback on top.

 

 

 

Fresh, uncured, unsmoked, fresh, fresh, fresh pork belly!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This dish has several components to it: a riff off of the potato salad I created which replaces the potatoes with cubes of granny smith apple, the mayonnaise with home-made aioli, and adds crispy salt pork cubbettes and parsley:

 

 

 

Aioli is a french style mayonnaise made with eggs yolks, light olive oil, and a touch of lemon


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My aioli is made as follows:

  • 2 Egg Yolks (try to get local, free range, cage free, eggs if you can. The whites will be much firmer and the yolks a more brilliant orange than ones mass produced in an egg factory)
  • (About) 2 Cups Olive Oil (Don’t use your best, extra virgin oil here. Go for the light olive oil instead. Otherwise your aioli will be overpowering and heavy. I think it doesn’t emulsify as well either)
  • 1 large Clove Garlic, minced very fine
  • Juice of One Lemon
  • Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
  • Salt & White Pepper (Black Pepper is OK too if you don’t mind black specs in your beautiful lemony colored aioli)

Method:

  1. Bring the eggs to room temperature then separate the yolks from the whites. Save the whites for another use. In a medium sized bowl wisk the garlic into the yolks until smooth and creamy.
  2. In the thinnest thread-like stream slowly add the olive oil to the yolks and garlic mixture while constantly whisking. This will take about 10 minutes of constant whisking. If you arm get tired take a 3 second break then continue on.
  3. Eventually as the aioli emulsifies, it will get thicker and thicker. When you reach the right consistency quickly whisk in the lemon juice, cayenne, salt and white pepper.
  4. Aioli will keep up to a week in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator.

Food Safety Note: As you are working with raw egg yolks, and unlike store-bought product this is not pasteurized, keep food safety in mind: refrigerate the aioli as soon as its made, use fresh ingredients, cook in a spotlessly clean kitchen. Inform your diners and let them opt out if they prefer (though most won’t!)

Once the aioli is made, I slice some salt pork into small cubes, dice my apples, mince my parsley, and gather my mis-en-place for the apple salad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I should describe how I did the pork, though due to my own silliness  I don’t have pictures to show you. the day before cooking I took the pork belly, cut a criss cross hatch pattern in the rind (so the fat renders while offer, rubbed it down generously with sea salt and a pinch of turbinado sugar; then sprinkled ground and whole-seed cumin throughout. A little garlic in there too. Maybe some fresh herbs (thyme, parsley). Let this cure overnight. The next day, 8 hours before serving, preheat oven to about 200F. Roast the pork belly slowly slowly like this until the fat breaks down to a mellow yummy softness. The rind on top will become hard and crispy.

Now I finish the apple salad. To the diced apples I add the salt pork, parsley, and a spoonful of the aioli. I take a tangle of pea shoots and toss them with a little walnut oil in a bowl. I salt and pepper them too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I place a bed of the apple salad on the plate , place a piece of pork belly and some pea shoots on top.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was a delicious dish. Perfect for fall and winter when apples are in season and craving for heavier fare abound. The pork is crispy, meltingly tender, and full of flavor. This approaches the richness of confit as it is the same cut as bacon. Because of this I like to serve it in small portions and couple it with something fresh and crispy to provide a contrast in textures, rich vs. clean, salty vs fresh.

Sunday Supper

‘a much larger and hungrier clientele  was made up of the blue-collar workers, les canuts, who earned bread in the textile industry and as packers in the warehouses.  They found meres of their own, who cooked for them with the same dedication, but with less costly ingredients, and for less money. They used the meat the fine folk disdained, such as the entrails and the tougher undercuts of beef and veal. But above all, they used a lot of pork, as well was fish such as carp, and eels, which they combined with onions, butter, cream, and generous amounts of wine. This was the beginning of the cuisine of the bistros, bouchons et porte-pots, which became typical of Lyon’ -Culinary France, Andre Domine, Editor

Spring just sprung a few days ago (officially, that is). But here in San Francisco winter was more springlike, and the past few weeks have been more rainy, windy, stormy, coldy, and wintry than ever. Reading one of my many cookbooks as I am wont to do one dark, wet, Sunday, I came across the above passage in my hard-bound copy of Culinaria France that describes the bouchon culture of Lyons. Coffee table books like Provence, The Beautiful Cookbook rarely do anything for me. I consider myself a serious cook, and big, oversized food books that sit on a coffee table always seemed to be a bit too generic for me – heavy on the full page photos, light on substance or point of view. The Culinaria series is different to me. Essential really. A great deal of detail about the regions, traditional dishes, wine, and culture accompany well conceived recipes despite its large hard-bound coffee table format. There are several editions, Spain, Italy, Germany, Greece, even the good ole US of A. A bouchon, I should mention is the Lyonaisse version of a bistro, and a bistro for those who may not know is a type of simple restaurant which serves hearty, straightforward food, generally in large quantities, and often at all hours of the day or night. In Paris, a bistro might serve steak frites, duck confit, lamb with white beans, sweetbreads in chablis, and knuckle of veal. French charcuterie is always available and pate, terrine, saucisson or delicious little crock of goose rillettes are easily found. The bouchons of Lyons differ from their Parisian cousins in that their menus are even more simple, and often based around offal, or the off-cuts of veal, pork, lamb, and beef.

I myself travelled to Lyon on one of my trips to Europe, and there I and my travelling companion found ourselves seated at a bouchon called Cafe des Federations, no better example of the cuisine of the city could be found. Tripe (stewed in onions and white wine), blood sausage (grilled to a crisp and served with duck-fat-sauteed apples), andouillette sausages (never ever seen in the U.S., andouillettes are sausages made from the intestines of pork and/or veal, grilled and served with a mustard cream sauce, their aroma is INTENSE), casseroles of both veal and lamb’s trotters, sabodet (a hearty sausage made from the head, skin, tongue of a pig), not to mention veal in many guises (as sweetbreads, tete de veau, tendron and blanquette). A bouchon virgin, I shied away from everything offered until I realized that here I must let my stateside inhibitions go and just trust that whatever was coming would be done well. And so, after starter platters of saucisson rosette de Lyon, a bistro salad with big chunks of salty bacon and poached eggs, I found myself confronted by a pretty little cocotte filled to the brim with white wine stewed tripe. Mildly beefy but also with an intensity of flavor only offal can muster, the texture was not slimy and insipid as I had assumed, but tender and firm to the tooth not unlike well cooked calamari. Thus my fascination with offal began.

Flash forward to this rainy stormy Sunday, I am snuggled in with my partner for the rest of the day, and I have tripe on my mind for a nice warming supper. My menu was as follows:

  • Tempura of Oysters, Red Bell Peppers & Japanese Eggplant with Ailoi
  • Simple Salad with a puckery vinaigrette and pancetta
  • Stewed Tripe with White Wine

This tripe dish is a version of Marcella Hazan’s Honycomb Tripe with Parmesan Cheese that appears in her highly recommended Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. My gathered

ingredients include for a mir poix (diced carrots, onions, and celery), herbes de provence, chili pepper flakes, salt, olive oil, and white wine.

First I sweat the onions over low heat in the olive oil.  I don’t want any caramelization here. Just a nice slow, low heat, sweat. Caramelized onions will make the end result way to dark and dusky.

After the onions have softened, in go the diced carrots and celery. In all, the onions sweat for about 10 minutes on low heat, then the carrots and celery are added for another 10.

Time for the herbs de provence, a little garlic, and freshly chopped parsley to join the fun.

In goes the tripe. I probably should have discussed the tripe in more detail before reaching this point in the process, so let me elaborate. First, I got the tripe from my trusty Asian meat market

on Mission street. Unlike the past, tripe these days comes already washed and ready to cook. I always blanch mine in boiling water to rid it of impurities, doing so makes a cleaner, less murky stew.

Add your fresh, blanched tripe that has been cut up in to thin strips to your aromatics, add wine, stock and tomatoes and simmer for several hours until most of the liquid has dissipated.

I seem to not have any fresh tripes to show you, so say hi to a whale I met on vacation recently instead!

Actually a family of whales…

The finished trip can be served in a platter and showered with the best parmesan you can lay your hands on prior to serving.

Greenleaf lettuce, a quickly whisked vinaigrette, and some pancetta are assembled into a salad. Fancier salads with watercress, oakleaf, butter, and escarole leaves, and luscious vinaigrettes composed of snappy vinigars (like champange or sherry),

flavorful oils (like walnut, hazelnut or premium first-press extra virgin olive oils), and irresistible garnishes (premium cheese, home-cured salt pork) will be the subject of a forthcoming post here on devour. For now this is a simple sunday supper salad

I had some red bell peppers, japanese eggplant and some jarred oysters in the fridge. These will make a nice little fry as a first coarse. I make my own batter by putting a cup of flour in a bowl, a teaspoon of salt, and enough sparkling mineral water to get the consistency I want. Purists would say you need to shuck the freshest oysters you got from a very good source, and I agree. But again, we’ll get all fancy another time!

I fry in a heavy bottomed pot filled with canola oil to the depth of about an inch. Oil expands a lot once its hot so that plenty. I use a thermometer to heat my oil to around 360 degrees. Anything above 400 degrees F is a fire hazzard and I never go that high.

Sorry to say, my batter was crispy and light, oh so light you can barely see it here in the photo. Trust me, its there. We started with our little oyster, pepper and eggplant fry dipped in a little mayo like aioli.

Next came the salad: shallot vinaigrette, and a few slices of pancetta on top. Lots of freshly cracked pepper too.

A nice little serving of tripe came next. The tripe was tender, perfectly done, and delicious. This is a rich dish, but in true bouchon fashion not at all expensive to make. Every the self critique, I enjoyed eating this, for I was in the mood.

But I have to say, I won’t always be up for it like I am other proteins like say chicken or fish. Still I’m glad I made it. And I definately will make it again. Its richness and unapologietic attititude on the palate tells diners to put up or shut up, but still I urge

my readers to try this, at least once. Another thought is that this would be perfect as a first course, perhaps a third the size of this full portion, before moving on to milder fare.

Enjoy!