On our trip to Italy, Brian Polcyn and I saw a lot of new cuts we weren’t familiar with, so as soon as we returned, we made plans to break down a couple of pigs Italian style, bringing in chef Jay Denham, who was recently back from five months staging in Italy.  We wanted to see how he broke a half animal into primals and we also wanted to learn the culatello cut.  Jay had spent many weeks staging at Massimo Spigaroli’s operation, learning this technique for producing what some consider to be the finest version of prosciutto di Parma there is. Jay and Brian arrived Tuesday evening and we started with a salumi tasting from American producers.  We tasted salamis from Knight Salumi in San Diego, I had some Mangalista belly and lardo from Read On »

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Earlier this spring, my high school pal, JD, called and asked if I wanted to make sausage on Saturday. It’s much easier with a few folks to spread out the work, but I wasn’t prepared for something like 50 pounds of sausage. Nor did I expect JD to film the event.  But, ever the overachiever, he did. Our other pal, Mac, the bearded one, joined us. So please forgive the Saturday shadow and numerous chins and the unscripted nature of the video and my limited editing skills, but do follow the basic steps to awesome sausage.  There are five, follow them all, keep your meat really cold, and you’ll have great links (or skip step 5 and make patties or use it loose).  It’s summer grilling season and there’s nothing better to sizzle on a Read On »

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[Please note additional thoughts following comments here and on Twitter] Elise emailed a couple weeks ago to ask if I’d posted on Hollandaise.  She’d posted the blender version, first popularized by Craig Claiborne in the 1970s in The New York Times, and wanted to link for contrast to an old-school version.  The blender version is unquestionably a no-brainer and results in a delicious Hollandaise-style sauce, a lemony yolky butter, thin enough to pour. A classical French Hollandaise sauce is an emulsified butter sauce that is almost like a mayonnaise, nearly that thick, and, as I was taught it, includes an additional flavoring step, a vinegar reduction.  It’s considered difficult and temperamental but it’s neither, as long as you pay attention and don’t let it know that you’re afraid of it.  Emulsified butter sauces can sense Read On »

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Finally!  The Elements of Cooking, my guide to the language of the kitchen, has been published in the form it was meant to be in—paperback, an edition affordable for students (just $10 from Amazon), light and bendable for stuffing into backpacks or knife kits.  Eric Ripert, chef-owner of the 4-star restaurant, Le Bernardin, calls it “simply the best reference book and educational tool available for anyone interested in the basics of the culinary arts.” I’ve always felt this was a required resource for all young cooks or new cooks, except for its hardcover price tag. Wonderful Scribner and the visionary editor Beth Wareham, have now changed that. Sam Sifton, NYTimes restaurant critic, said this about the book in the The NYTimes Book Review: A deeply opinionated rundown of the essential knowledge all cooks and food Read On »

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Our last night in Florida, my mom, having no real plans for dinner, thawed a pork tenderloin she’d been wanting but was in a quandary how to cook it. I find pork tenderloin a little on the ho-hum side, but a marinade 0f some kind would help it considerably. Marinades can be a contentious subject, especially when you include something acidic, vinegar or citrus juice.  Marinades do not tenderize meat.  I almost never include acid in a marinade because it “cooks” the exterior of the meat (in a good way if you’re making the ceviche below).  If I want something acidic with the meat, I add it just before or during the cooking.  Nor do marinades penetrate the meat, not to any real effect.  If I want flavors to penetrate meat I use salt or Read On »

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