Chefs Christine Cikowski and Joshua Kulp, among the growing legions who are making our food better and helping us to appreciate it more, call their moveable feast Sunday Dinner Club because it evoked a time when their families shared a long meal together.  Sharing meals with the people you love is far more important than I’d ever realized, a fact that deepens the more I cook, read, and listen to other cooks, both home cooks and professionals.  I love that spirit. Sunday Dinner Club is an unusual Chicago-based business created in 2004.  What the chefs do is host dinner parties in their home and invite people on their mailing list to attend. The mailing list has been cultivated over the last six years by referral only which means that everyone that comes to the dinner club Read On »

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Many have asked when our book, Salumi, a follow up or really continuation of our Charcuterie, will be out.  I finished the rewrite earlier this summer, and Brian, chef-owner of Forest Grill, my co-author whom I first wrote about in Soul of a Chef, finished up recipe testing, so the book is now slated for a summer 2012 publication. The book is devoted solely to the Italian craft of dry-curing meat.  Salumi is the general term for these meats.  Above were some trials I dried in the wine cellar of my dear friend, JD SULLIVAN!!!  It proved to be ideal, and a nice patina of beneficial mold grew naturally on the salame above. In the foreground is guanciale, dry-cured jowl.  I’m slicing some coppa; also on the board, tied, is lonza (dry-cured loin) and a small Read On »

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I was cleaning out my iMovies and came across this quick clip my son James filmed a while ago. I’d just been to Bar Symon to break down a hog American style. Matt Harlan was the chef there (he’s now back at Lolita, front of the house) and the kitchen was huge; he had a hog ready and a big table to break it down on. I’d done it and written about it but needed to be able to teach someone else to do it.  And I needed to be sure my verbal descriptions were accurate. After we’d finished both sides, and Donna and I were packing to go, Matt, aka Chatty Matty, gave me a piece of their prepared pork skins.  His boss, Michael Symon, had picked up the technique from Paul Kahan, who Read On »

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It is time again to bring out The Chicken-Fried Pork Belly Salad, which I created in August 2007 in the midst of my fury at the chief icon of American restaurant food: The Chicken Caesar.  Today’s post was sparked by Sam Sifton’s NYTimes magazine column on the Caesar salad, which addresses the fact that few dishes are truly authentic, and he uses the Caesar salad as an example. For me putting a chicken breast on a perfectly good Caesar is an emblem of American mediocrity, a lack of imagination, and our fear of food (The Shame of the Chicken Caesar Salad). But Sifton, while he makes the unconscionable error of failing to include my Chicken Fried Pork Belly Casear in his list of famous variations, does us a service by telling us a freeing truth: Read On »

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During a recent phone call with the excellent Elise of simplyrecipes, Elise wished aloud that I would address the nitrite issue directly.  “Trader Joe’s carries it!  Go look.  Is there one near you?” Indeed there is, and indeed they sell at least two products pitching themselves as a “healthier” bacon because they don’t add sodium nitrite. This is as odious as those sugar laden granola bars trumpeting “No Fat!” on their label—food marketers preying on a confused consumer who has been taught to fear food because of harmful additives (such as the recent, apparently genuine, Red Dye 40 warnings). Full disclosure if you don’t already know: I am a vocal bacon advocate, and one of my books, Charcuterie, relies on sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate for many of its recipes to cure foods such as Read On »

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