I had one of the most inspiring days of my life Monday, watching Austrian farmer/butcher Christoph Wiesner kill and dress a hog. See video below of evisceration shot by Austrian journalist Jürgen Schmücking, covering Pigstock TC and Michigan wines and beers. We met on Marc Santucci’s farm, on a warm fall day, surrounded by leaves, apple trees, and tall grass. The pigs were rooting in an open-air pen, where the slaughter took place. Christoph stunned the pig with a bolt. He explained that it was important to do this with the pig in its natural position—less stress on both animal and muscle, which can be harmed by the acidity produced by stress. He was nervous and I could see it, his own heart pounding, taking deep breaths. He petted the pig and made loving noises to Read On »

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  On Saturday night in Cambridge, on a young friend’s recommendation, we dined at The Russell House Tavern, near Harvard Square, where chef Michael Scelfo and his mischievous band of cooks put out excellent high-end tavern fare. I was delighted when my 13-year-old son perused the menu and immediately asked, “Can we get the charcuterie board?” This question has only one correct response. I especially appreciated Scelfo’s pork rillettes, which were topped with a creamy layer of duck fat. Scelfo has a menu that would seem to be designed exactly for me, with items such as “Pig’s Head Cake” and “Crispy Pork Belly Sandwich,” but also deviled eggs and superb fried oysters. But it was the fact that he, like so many other chefs, offered charcuterie. Indeed the charcuterie or salumi board is now ubiquitous in American Read On »

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  I had an unstoppable hunger this past weekend for old-Chicago-style all-beef hotdogs from Vienna Beef, the best hotdog in the country in my opinion. I wanted that charred skin flavor of summer, the grill smoke from fat dripping on coals, the juicy snap when you bite into them. I decided to make buns. Why? Because, we were inviting friends (great food must be shared); I had a cool hot dog pan from American Pan; I had never made them before; and most important, the best hot dogs deserve special treatment. One of the great things about cooking is that you’re subliminally eating the entire time, a kind of calorie-free spiritual nourishment, and I was thinking about the hot dogs the whole time in the kitchen (with good mustard and minced sweet onion). Hot dog buns Read On »

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To celebrate this week’s publication of Salumi, my and Brian Polycn’s deeper quest into the craft of dry-curing meat, I’m giving away three copies signed by both me and Brian to three commenters on this post. For those who aren’t clear on the definition (and Italians don’t make things easy), salumi refers to Italian cured or preserved meats—mostly dry-cured, and mostly made from pig parts—everything from guanciale to mortadella to prosciutto. Salami, with an A rather than a U, are dry-cured sausages and are one of the many preparations that salumi comprises. My aim, as in much of my cookbook work, is to simplify what seems to be complicated. When I walked into my first salumeria, I was astonished by the variety available. Case upon case of salumi, whole sections devoted to different kinds of Read On »

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  Last week, while I stood by my Big Green Egg, smoking a big fat pork belly (for bacon) and two fat beef briskets (for pastrami), I couldn’t help but think how am I going to eat this delicious food? It was a warm, sunny day and I could actually smell the tomato vines behind me, so I thought, bacon and tomato, mmm. Then I remembered the wonderful BLT from Scratch challenge, and the inspirational response to it. Hard to believe it was three years ago. Here it is again, and I assure you, there is no finer sandwich than one that takes months to prepare! Here’s the link to the winners. The above, with that fabulous home-cured slab of bacon, was one of the best of my life. My BLT From Scratch Originally posted on September Read On »

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