On Saturday I picked up a hog from the North Union Farmers Market, about 330 pounds with the head and some other requested parts. “They’re big, long and slippery,” James had told us.  Just getting each half into the back of our jeep was an effort.  The first step was to break the pig down for salumi into its three main sections just so we could store the creature in a friend’s walk-in: shoulder, middle and ham.  Then back to work all day Sunday to break it all down into salumi cuts and sausage.  It took about six of us five hours to bone out the whole hog, isolate the muscles for curing, get everything on the salt and get the first of the salamis stuffed and hanging, about 20 pounds of it. And still Read On »

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Foie gras has a reputation for being fancy.  Many don’t understand what it is.  When I served my dad a seared slice of foie gras, the liver of a fattened duck, he looked at it surprised. “I thought foie gras was pâté,” he said. Often foie gras is made into a pâté, but not always. Foie gras can be sliced and seared in a very hot pan, no oil, crisp on the outside, molten within. It can be roasted whole. Or it can be made into a torchon as Bob del Grosso described on Monday, with a product he and Chef Pardus developed for Hudson Valley foie gras, and served cold. Either way it doesn’t taste like liver, at all.  It’s sweet and fatty, more like butter than liver. To make a “torchon” (French for Read On »

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One of my favorite things on earth to eat is a well made foie gras torchon. It’s a special preparation of foie gras, fat duck liver, that I first experienced at The French Laundry (the recipe is in The French Laundry Cookbook if you have it).  It’s a three day procedure and brings out the very best in the foie gras when done right.  The duck liver is deveined, typically soaked in milk and salt to remove residual blood, then seasoned and, traditionally, rolled up in a kitchen towel (a torchon, in French), poached, rerolled to compact it and chilled. It’s then eaten cold, a big fat slice of it, with some form of bread and a sweet-sour accompaniment.  The biggest producer of foie gras in the country, Hudson Valley Foie Gras, was making and Read On »

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©photos by Donna Turner Ruhlman—see more at: Ruhlmanphotography.com When Donna found herself in NYC at the Ace Hotel last fall, she spent a couple nights in the Breslin kitchen watching executive chef April Bloomfield, Breslin chef de cuisine Peter Cho, and crew rock (that’s Peter and April top right). The trotter caught her eye.  It’s the perfect example of why this post could be called Why April Is Not the Cruelest Month But Rather the Best Porker, or simply Why We Love April.  The British chef takes a great Italian classic, a zampone, as she notes, breads it, fries it in olive oil and butter, and serves it as their “Pig’s Foot for 2.”  It’s the boned out trotter, stuffed with cotechino, a pork and pig skin farce.  Peter says it’s currently served with braised Read On »

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Cochon 555, a pig celebration & cooking competition held across the USA to raise awareness of sustainable farming & heritage breed pigs, via Cochon 555.

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