Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for December, 2010

Christmas Dinner Part 2

We’re back. It’s two days later (though I’m posting a day after that).  Today I need to get the Pig’s Feet going for the sausages, make the soup, as well as pick up the fresh ham leg and brine it. There is this place in San Francisco’s mission district that is more or less a meat market, but different than what you can expect in the ‘western’ or ‘american’ sense. This is an ethnic meat and seafood market (called the Fresh Meat Market) where one can find things you would never see at Safeway or Whole Foods: whole sides of fatback, pork belly, offal of every kind including tripe, tongue, liver, feet, heart, kidney, and even blood. The proprietor and staff are usually chinese or maybe latin american, supplying ‘those-in-the-know’ as well as those craving dishes from other cultures items not found elsewhere. You often spy folks like me in there too, local chefs, and the adventurous. If you have ever read a cookbook where the author advises you to seek out an ‘ethnic market’ to obtain hard to find ingredients, this is what they are talking about.

After getting home from Fresh Meat, I get to work: the feet are rinsed then blanched quickly in boiling salted water before being rinsed again in cold water. This removes a lot of impurities before the feet go back in the pot for their four-hour braise. Into the same pot also go stock, water, dry vermouth, and a bouquet garni. This is allowed to come to a bare simmer and stay there until the meat is done and falling off the bones. After the feet are done they are carefully boned. You might be asking, ‘what the hell?’, I don’t wanna eat no stupid pig’s feet! But if you were european, latin, or asian, in fact from anywhere but the U.S., you would know that pig’s feet yield intensely flavorful meat, a pleasing texture, and is often thought of as a luxury. I was once in a restaurant in Paris, called Chez Denise, near the old Les Halles market neighborhood, where I spied a french couple, he in a tux and she dressed to the nines in a gown and very high heels. I looked over when their entrees came and was intrigued to see that while he had some sort of steak, she was served a whole grilled giant pig’s foot with all the trimmings. Now THATS something that made me take notice! My preparation will combine the shredded meat from the feet with ground pork belly and then be made into sausage links. They are going to be great!

There’s not much to be said about the soup: just some stock, aromatics, diced squash and voila! It gets blendered with my immersion blender first, then forced through a food mill, which is a technique that restaurants use to make soups that are velvety smooth, with no hint of fiber whatsoever. The fresh ham gets scored then put into my biggest pot for a four day brining.

In Part Three we’ll continue with this, but for now I’m done. See you in a day or two!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Read Full Post »

Christmas Dinner Part 1

Hey All,

It’s been rainy rainy rainy rainy here in San Francisco this week, dark by 5PM, sleepy brief little days, a lot of holiday cheer at night too. I’m wistfully but proudly watching as my days as a student rapidly recede into the background, and the future comes into better focus. First off, the holidays – this week we’ll enjoy a few dinners out, a few formal christmas gatherings (my friend Steve cooks a Scandinavian feast the 23rd for a holiday called Lille Julaften, or Little Christmas Eve on the 23rd, then 7 fishes at another friend on the 24th). I, of course, wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t planning a dinner of my own too.

This year it’ll be on Christmas Day itself, the 25th, and we will be expecting a party of around 8. So this post is about that, and because its still only the 20th, I’ll write this over several days. The truth is, I am still deciding on the menu. The only thing I know for sure is the identity of the beast this year: Pork. Specifically leg of pork – the exact same cut as a lovely bone-in ham, except ham that way is way to lunch-meaty tasting to me, NOT good enough. Somewhere, I can’t remember where now to my frustration, I came across an article on leg of pork served with its crackling (that half inch thick layer of fat all over the meat) in tact. It was a Danish recipe, and the fat had been criss-crossed with a knife to make a pretty waffle-iron pattern in the meat. Diners are meant to eat the crispy fat as well as the lean meat at time of service.

We considered Goose (which I love), Prime Rib, Turkey, and some sort of game bird (pheasant, grouse, wood pigeon, etc), but because we’re budget conscious, and also because I want to food featured here to be about economy as well as yumconomy, I settled on pork. I paid $2.99/LB for American Homestead natural pork at Whole Foods, which is a STEAL. Once I pick up the ham tomorrow at WF I’ll concoct a home-made, made-up brine of dried blood orange peel, whole black peppercorns, sugar, salt, bay leaves and clove a let the fresh ham ‘brine’ in the fridge for the next four days.

With the pork here’s what I’m thinking: I’ll go to the chinese meat market at 23rd & Mission and pick up some pig’s feet and Lucca at 22nd and Valencia for some blood sausages. Wednesday I’ll simmer the feat in a court-bouillon for like, all day, bone and pick over the feet, and mix the picked over  meat with some ground pork belly, cognac, spices and maybe some truffle oil. All of that I’ll put into some sausage casings I got in the freezer from an aborted sausage project that didn’t happen earlier this year. The roast will be served then with crackling, blood sausages and pig’s feet sausages. I think I’ll do a soup to begin with, a salad course, and I’m toying with a small fresh seafood platter to start. I think the menu will look like this, but please check back here for parts 2, 3 & 4 to see what actually happens. Right now, here what the menu sort of will look like:

  • Fresh Seafood Platter: raw oysters, clams, and mussels; chilled poached shrimp, cracked dungeness crab
  • Cream of Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Truffle Oil and Parmesan Crisps
  • Watercress salad with Sardine Vinaigrette
  • Roasted home-citrus-brined Leg of Pork, served with crackling, and garnished with pig’s feet sausages, blood sausages; served with Red Cabbage Braise
  • Pumpkin Spice Cake & Candy Cane Ice Cream.

The sausages will be made in advance (the pig’s feet sausages I’ll make, NO ONE, not even the French make their own blood sausage – I’ll buy those) on Wednesday. The soup, too, I’ll make Wednesday, storing in an air-tight container until needed. All the seafood, including a sardine or two for the vinaigrette, will be bought the 24th (freshness). I’ll crack the crab and set up the platter right before people arrive. The parmesan crisps are a recipe I got from Thomas Keller’s French Laundry cookbook, those I’ll make Saturday afternoon while the roast is, well, roasting. I’ll make the cabbage Saturday as well, which means that day-of (the 25th) I only need to pop the pork in the oven, set up the seafood, toss the salad, make the crisps, and the cabbage braise. All else will be done in advance.

How ’bout them apples!? So I’m signing off (for now). I’m including a picture of someone elses fresh roasted pork leg, just cause its nice, and so you can see what I’m trying to do. And I’ll see you here Wednesday for Christmas Dinner post number 2 – pig’s feet and soup day…Ta!Here, the cook and roasted a fresh ham, bone in, with crackling and bronzed the entire roast with a pretty glaze

Read Full Post »

Terrine de Foie de Porc

You might think all this blog is going to be about is charcuterie and related products, but the truth is, I’ve just now had the time to really get Devour going, and at the same time I’ve got tons of content just waiting to be published. A moist, rich, meaty pork terrine filled with excellent quality pork belly, shoulder, and liver was the subject of a cooking project I did many months ago. The pictures I took that day were carefully filed away until needed, which is today! This was inspired by a trip to Paris in the late summer of 2009. I eagerly visited as many charcuteries (stores that specialize in pate, sausage, pork based products, etc) as I could find. I’ve included some of the pictures I took in this post so you can see what my source of inspiration was…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Read Full Post »

Chicken Stock

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As I contemplate how I am going to organize this blog it occurrs to me that in addition to all the great dishes I plan on preparing here, a whole slew of ‘basics’ or pantry items need to be included as well. Because stock is so central to so many dishes, I thought I’d start with a super simple basic recipe for stock.

Pouring through my growing library of cookbooks I’ve been hard pressed to find any of the authors who use a canned stock. There are some decent, organic options out there, yet so many authors won’t touch ’em. For years and years every time I needed stock for a risotto, braise, or soup I’d use an organic boxed stock. Took me awhile before I realized ‘what am I doing’? I mean, do I even know how this dish or that dish will taste if I made my own stock?

So…

After careful consideration I’ve chosen to do the chicken stock offered by Judy Rogers in the Zuni Cafe cookbook. Many other versions ask you to roast chicken backs, wings, bones and/or the carcass before simmering in lots of water, herbs, and aromatics. I like Rogers recipe because of its utter simplicity. Just a chicken, a few extra wings, carrots, onion and celery. No bouquet Garni, no pepper, no roasting, no tomato paste.

First I assembled all of my ingredients.

 

Save the chicken breasts for another use by boning them off the bird first

 

My ingredients: Organic Chicken plus additional wings, carrot, onion celery

Read Full Post »

Hello fellow foodies! Fall brings shorter days, and cravings for more substantial, hearty fare. As a long time charcuterie enthusiast, I’ve recently begun to experiment with creating my own terrines. What is a terrine you ask? We’ve all heard of pate’s before – those slices

rich, meaty,livery morsels, served in restaurants with tiny pickled vegetables such as cornichons, baby onions, maybe some vinegary carrots and dollop of grainy mustard. Many cookbooks claim that terrine and pate are interchangeable terms and that they mean the exact same

thing. I don’t agree with that: in Parisian charcuteries you will find terrines which are served out of long narrow baking vessels, topped delicious, nurishing fat, but also the exact same meat mixture, cooked in the same vessel but encased in a buttery pastry, a narrow layer

of gelee (jellied cooking juices, flavorings, and some sort of wine or brandy) on top of the terrine but still enveloped by the pastry. So a terrine cooked in a terrine dish without pastry, and a pate is encased within. As for the type of meat? A good rule of thumb is to expect anywhere

up to 40% pork (including belly, fat back, and shoulder) whomever is the star of the pate, be it game, poultry, pork, or rabbit. Next comes liver, always the liver of the ‘star’, but also pork liver might be there too, especially if pork is the star of the pate (pate de campagne, de maison, pate de foie de porc, or pork liver pate).

A recent vacation weekend in Mendocino, California with family and friends prompted me to make a few dishes to go with the extensive wine we planned to both taste and serve. We made a whole salmon (dressed, filleted, then made into homemmade gravlax, filets, and tartare), excllent veal

chops, and this duck terrine, or, Terrine de Canard de Mendocino,  which I’ve named after the beautiful Mendocino coast. Please don’t be put off by the richness and fat content in this dish: remember you eat this in small thin slices at a celebratory time.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Read Full Post »