Cured-bacon-3

  It’s bacon time again! I don’t know why but I’ve been getting a lot of bacon questions in my email recently, so thought I’d address a few issues I haven’t before. Of course, I’ve long commented on the fact that curing your own bacon is no more difficult than marinating a steak. Mix all the ingredients together and put them in a plastic bag with the meat. Use the recipe below. The aromatics, the bay leaves and everything else below can be considered optional. But there are other strategies. You could make a brine if you feel more comfortable with that. For those of you concerned about reaching the right salt and pink salt levels, you could use a technique called equilibrium brining, which I first read about in Nathan Myhrvold’s Modernist Cuisine. To Read On »

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Corned beef and cabbage, Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

  Never pass up an excuse to corn beef. Start now for St. Patrick’s day dinner. Or for whenever. The cure takes five days, so plan ahead. I recently got a question about curing it at room temperature. The brine is a nearly 10 percent salt solution, so I imagine it would be fine for five days. Also remember that after it’s cured you can keep it refrigerated for about a week before cooking. And you could keep it indefinitely in the fridge in the brine, but you’d have to be sure to cook the salt out of it after. Any cut of beef can be “corned.” (See my pastrami short ribs.) But the best cuts are the tougher, less-expensive cuts such as brisket. The only uncommon ingredient is the sodium nitrite, pink salt, available here and Read On »

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nyc23

  On Sunday I went to a party, El Dio de Les Puercos! at Dickson’s Farmstand Meats in the Chelsea market, hosted by Jake Dickson. The room was packed with butchers from all over New York. Evan Brady (above, left), who gave me some of the best speck I’ve had, came from Wappinger Falls (he runs an online butcher’s supply store, Butcher’s Pantry). Jeremy Stanton, who runs The Meat Market in Great Barrington, sliced some fabulous Ossabaw prosciutto. I met a sprite of a girl named Flannery (after the writer) who is a cutter at The Meat Hook in Brooklyn. One of the founders of the Meat Hook (a store I love!), Brent Young, told me he was a grad student years ago studying education when, unhappy, he wrote me an email. I told him to get off his ass Read On »

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I’m spending time in my studio apartment in NYC now and so have been cooking for one and thinking about the unusual nature of the task: single portions using as few pans as possible. I’ve posted recently on the importance of duck confit, and how it represents for me our ingenuity in terms of preserving food. But sometimes duck confit is just duck confit: a satisfying and delicious meal. And perfect for one in a tiny kitchen. Especially given that prepared duck confit is right around the corner at the most excellent Dickson’s Farmstand Meats in the Chelsea Market (I wrote about them last year). Happily, the wonderful company D’Artagnan makes duck confit and sells to many grocers and they also can ship directly to you. D’Artagnan is celebrating its 30th anniversary on Monday—congrats, Ariane! For this Read On »

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Duck Confit with Pepper/Coriander Cure

As fall nears, my thoughts turn to duck confit. I hope you’ll put this excellent and simple technique into your repertoire this fall. It’s a great way to have a delicious meal moments away all fall and into the winter if you make one big batch. It keeps for many months in the fridge. Here’s my method using olive oil, which works great. I love it so much that when Thomas Keller asked me to submit a piece for Finesse, his elegant magazine, on the theme of preservation, my mind went straight to duck confit. I’m reprinting it here in anticipation of fall cooking. It’s about a lot more than deliciousness. (And for the literary folks, I’ll be in Raleigh tomorrow—9/18/15—for the Southern Indie Booksellers Association event, promoting my new fiction, In Short Measures. On Sunday Read On »

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