Friday, June 19, 2009

My Butcher Can Beat Up your Butcher

I have not posted too much about my pork projects here yet. I have been very busy since I launched this site, and my curing chamber (a.k.a. "the wine fridge") has been full. I am making Guanciale for the first time. For the uninitiated, guanciale is a Roman-style bacon made from hog jowls. The first big obstacle to overcome is to find hog jowls. They are nowhere to be found in today's modern grocery store. If you do find them, they have been cured and smoked. I have had more so-called "butchers" at grocery stores look at me like I am nuts when I ask for specialty cuts; such as jowls, fat back, or bones.

Recently, Chef and Restauranteur, Donald Link opened Cochon Butcher here in New Orleans. These guys run an impressive operation. I was most impressed when I ordered jowls and they came in a 4 1/2 lbs. Most of the recipes I have seen call for 1-2 LB jowls.

I bought one and salt cured it. It has been curing in my wine fridge for a month now and I am dying to try it. It should be ready after a month, but stands to improve with age (up to 6 months). Patience is a virtue, so they say. I'll wait a few more weeks.

Stay tuned...


No Rain

Those of you who know me are well aware of all (or most) of my pork-related projects. I readily admit that I am *a little* overboard when it comes to pork. Some of you may remember the 1993 Blind Melon video (Shannon Hoon, R.I.P.) with the Bumble Bee girl searching for a friend and ultimately finding a field full of like-minded bees.

Well, every now and again, I find my own field of bees. Today I found a blog post entitled: Bacon: The Other White Heat. When I see the phrases "bacon-plasma torch" and "seven beef sticks and a cucumber" within a paragraph of each other, I know I stumbled on a field of bees. This is even out there for me. This guy set out to use bacon to cut steel and succeeded. Impressive. You really should watch the video, because he makes a vegetarian version as well, albeit with less success. The main point is that bacon (prosciutto, actually) is packed full of energy, whether you use it to fuel your body or a plasma torch.


It'll cure what ails you...

So now it's official - Bacon Cures Hangovers! reports the Telegraph UK. Actually, a bacon sandwich appears to the the winning combination:
"Bread is high in carbohydrates and bacon is full of protein, which breaks down into amino acids. Your body needs these amino acids, so eating them will make you feel good."

Ms Roberts told The Mirror: "Bingeing on alcohol depletes neurotransmitters too, but bacon contains a high level of aminos which tops these up, giving you a clearer head."

Suddenly all of those late night college excursions to Louie's and Waffle House are justified. I feel better just thinking about it.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Swapping Cracklin' for Crack

Lot's of pig news today:

"Police in Syracuse, New York... arrested a 45-year-old man who offered a slaughtered pig as partial payment for a bag of crack cocaine."

I'd much rather have half a pig than crack too. 


Harry Trotter

Welcome to the wild world of Pig Racing! Apparently the idea was born in the U.S., but the sport is picking up in England and New Zealand. Originally, the race was held on a 100m flat track, but now they have added jumps for additional excitement. 

I love the names. Harry Trotter and Pigtoria Beckham are my faves. 


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Finally! Lard is cool...

The Lipid Hypothesis was developed in the late 1800's and gained wide popularity starting around the 1950's. It has led Americans to fear dietary fats. In the 1990's, the notion of so-called "good fats" took hold and increased the popularity of olive and canola oils.

I have Jennifer McLagan's new book Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient in my reading stack. I am very much looking forward to reading it. I was pleased to see that it was mentioned in this article proclaiming that lard is finally cool again. It appears that lard fits into the current interests in minimally processed foods and environmental consciousness. Those of us who really cook know that some fat in your diet is good and have never been scared of lard. Whatever floats your boat, I just know its good stuff.


Pork Fat Pies!

I stumbled across this article about New York's emerging "Golden Age of Pizza". It describes several new pizzerias that are producing tradiational Neapolitan pizzas. Among them, is a lardo version. I'd love to try this next time I make it to NYC. I just won't mention it to my yet-to-be-named cardiologist.