I suppose this is only not safe for work if you work for a Jewish institution or have an aversion to knowing where your meat comes from (yes Krista, I am talking about you). In my grand tradition of trayfing it up after the long stretch of the High Holidays, I decided to go whole hog… literally. I couple of Tuesdays ago I got a facebook message from Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats, that he had gotten his hands on a pig and would be teaching his highly sought out Whole Hog Butcher class that Friday. Ever since Gordon and I took his lamb butcher class I had been wanting to get into the hog class but he hadn’t held one in months so I jumped at the chance and hit redial until I was enrolled.
Category Archives: Snout to Tail
So I’m still slightly obsessed with figs and was attempting to come up with some creative uses for them. As you may have noticed in previous posts that Gordon and I really like chicken liver. (The rest of the Heathens seem to have escaped this particular affliction) While chopped chicken liver is the more traditional Ashkenazi dish, I felt that the Jerusalem mixed grill gave me a bit of leeway on creating an appetizer that might just be the perfect bit to stave off the hunger pangs of Yom Kippur fasting while awaiting the main break-fast meal. Additionally, this could be a great way to get yourself out in your Sukkah and on the grill while the weather is still nice. I also got a really awesome new infrared gas grill this summer, that I look for any excuse to use. BTW – If anyone has an idea how to put a Jewish twist on pizza, let me know, because this grill converts to an amazing pizza oven.
I started very simply with green California figs as I felt they provided a nice contrast to the dark color of the liver. And while this is a very Mediterranean thing to do I made a simple balsamic vinegar reduction to accompany the figs and liver. I prefer just straight balsamic vinegar but some people like to add a sprig of rosemary or other seasoning. Additionally I used bamboo skewers for the grill but if you are feeling particularly fancy, twigs from a rosemary bush can add a nice bit of flavor. All told this is a sweet, creamy, umami-licous appetizer.
recipe after the jump
“It tastes like chicken”- how any times have you heard that? The implication of course is that chicken is so tasteless that any bland tasting meat (rabbit, squab, etc) could be easily substituted for it. Just take a look at the chicken sausages that populate the supermarket with their array of strong seasonings (basil garlic, Gouda apple, teriyaki). This runs counter to the principle of a good chicken soup. A good soup tastes definitively like chicken. My question was could I create a sausage that tasted that much like chicken that there would be no mistake about what it was made from.
Korech, Hillel’s sandwich at the Temple. It is said that when the Temple still stood in Jerusalem Hillel would combine matza, maror and the Pesach lamb into one in order to observe the mitzva of eating the sacrifice on matza and maror (Numbers 9:11). It might also be the case that he was hungry and dinner was still being organized in the kitchen.
Now, what if we still had a temple? What if we still made the sacrifice? What would a modern chef do with such a sandwich? I think the answer would be the kosher for passover BLT. I put this to the test by taking some of the lamb saddle from our butchering class and curing it with pink salt. Cured and smoked I then sliced it up and placed it on some homemade matza, with fresh parsley, horseradish mayo and of course fresh tomatoes.
Hillel would have asked for seconds.
A few weeks ago Amiee and I went to learn how to butcher a lamb. It was fun and we learned a great deal about breaking down whole quadrupeds. But on a more immediate level we got to try some of Ryan Farr’s chicharrones. Now there is a Jewish version of this, gribenes. I have made them before, usually a result of using chicken thighs for something where the skins weren’t needed and I would slowly render them down and feed them to the kids (my son calls them “chicken chips”). But recently I was breaking down a whole chicken for sausages (post on the way) and I thought that I would try to remove the skin in one go and then render that down. The results were astounding, so I am sharing the results here. By the way, its kosher for passover and you get about a half a cup of nice clean fat (schmatlz) to boot.
Can we get a syndication deal now?
As a slight change of pace and in preparation for Passover, Gordon and I signed up for a lamb butchering class taught by the amazing Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats. In true heathen style I came across Ryan in a New York Times article on fried pig skin. In addition to the delicious sausages he sells at the Ferry Building Farmers Market, Ryan is known for his amazing chicharrones, that he thoughtfully shared with us at the end of class (along with some grilled kidneys and other treats). The class was held in San Francisco non-profit, incubator kitchens of La Cocina.
My dear friend, Krista, recently shared with me that she is battling brain cancer. After going through a wave of emotions and expressing appropriate concern, my first instinct was to make her matzo ball ball soup. While what she is dealing with is way beyond the rumored healing powers of Jewish Penicillin, and since I have no training in oncology, it seemed an appropriate way to to provide a small amount of caring and comfort while she recovers from her surgery. Also the incessant rain called for something warming and cozy. She also requested my matzo candy, and a brain tumor seemed like a pretty good reason to make an exception to my rule of only making it during Passover, but she is the only one getting it. The rest of you will have to wait until the end of March. I’ll also wait until then and let Gordon give you the history of matzo (the bread of affliction), and share my theory that the only reason we don’t eat grain during Passover is because our ancestors ran out of it by that time of year, so today I’ll focus on the soup itself.
Pretty much any Jewish cook worth her salt should be able to make matzo ball soup. It is a staple at any Jewish deli, the Passover meal, many a Shabbat dinner and basically anytime a Jewish kid shows any sign of the sniffles. The soup should be a chicken broth, possibly with some veggies like carrots or celery, and the matzo ball are made with a combination of matzo meal, oil or schmaltz and eggs. Beyond that there are a plethora of variations for what is ultimately a very simple dish. There have been long running battles over the preferredness of “sinkers vs. floater” which is usually an indication of the density of the dough, and “big vs. small”. Krista claimed to like them all, but I fall into the big, floater camp and have concluded that the key to floaters is baking powder. Others will claim using seltzer water, but I fail to see how the carbonation will continue to provide levity after 20 minutes of boiling, but many people swear by it.
Hidden among her otherwise rational and delightful qualities, Krista has a phobia of eating chicken with the bone still in, or pretty much any meat that reminds her it was once an animal. She will seriously only eat boneless breasts or cut up pieces of chicken and I have managed to scare her out of a kitchen with the sight of raw chicken thighs. I had a fleeting thought that this might have been a symptom of the brain tumor but alas… even with the cancer removed she is still clinging to this habit. So as not to risk her being unable to enjoy her soup, I am going to refrain from posting photos of making the stock and my flying chicken routine and refer you back to Gordon’s schmaltz and stock recipe. Here’s hoping she is on her way to a full recovery and “a gezunt ahf dein kop” (a Yiddish health blessing that literally translates to “good health on your head”)
Liverwurst, or liver sausage is a Midwestern staple. When I was a kid we would go one town over to Cedarburg (not that i lived in a town per se, Mequon in those days had 62 square miles, 15,000 people and 4 stop lights) to buy meat. Paules’ Market (long gone sadly) was the place to get local meat. I can still recall the liverwurst, made from pork liver wrapped in a opaque casing that had to be peeled away. A quick lunch on the farm could be made from a few slices, sharp mustard and two slices of wheat bread.
The flavor of liverwurst is very distinctive, as opposed to liver pate or chopped chicken livers. It was this distinctive flavor that lead me to think that I could recreate it with beef or calves’ liver (which would make it kosher, if you use kosher meat). So a little internet research combined with consultation with Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing and I was ready to give it a try.
Some notes on materials and process. This takes a while to make. Leave yourself plenty of time and keep everything well chilled. If you break the emulsion (meaning the fat and meat separate) what you end up with is very tasty dog food. Also there are several options for casings. I used muslin cloth. You could also use a beef middle or hog bung.
Recipe after the break
Liver. In popular American culture this word is usually accompanied by a child making a face of disgust and followed by a sneer of “yuck”. Being the unusual child that I was I have always loved liver although I didn’t always know I was eating it. My mother used to make me liverwurst sandwiches. When I was about 4 I asked her if there was liver in them and when she said no, I asked why it was called liverwurst. She replied that the city of Livermore (the next town over) wasn’t made of liver and I accepted this explanation as totally rational. I never bought the whole tooth fairy thing, but this I believed for a shockingly long time. It wasn’t until I entered 1st grade and started eating lunch at school that I discovered that most children find liver disgusting, but by then I developed a taste for it. As an adult I find myself periodically craving liver (this is probably due to my near constant state of iron-deficiency). I love it when there is one left inside of a whole chicken that I can fry up for a little snack and one of the greatest lunches I have ever had was a fried chicken liver po’ boy at Mahoney’s in New Orleans that Gordon and I split along with a cochon de’lait po’ boy (the ultimate in trayfe). It was a heart attack on a plate, with onion rings and an Abita beer on the side, but it was worth every moment of my lifespan I gave up. Marc and all his food intolerance chickened out and ended up eating a salad somewhere down the street. He may live longer as a result but I still dream of that sandwich.
Chopped chicken liver has been a staple of Jewish delis since they were invented (if you have ever seen the chopped chicken liver sandwich at Katz’s you’ve seen the holy grail of chopped chicken liver) I remember my mother making it once with an old hand-crank meat grinder. At some point everyone realized how bad it is for you and stopped making it, but once or twice a year we would go to Max’s and we would order it. Now that we have discovered that all things that taste really good are bad for you and some of the things we thought were better for you were actually making us obese (hello margarine) I decided that chopped chicken liver was coming out of my kitchen once again. Luckily I had two loaves of rye bread just dying for an accompaniment and two Rocky Jr. Liver Cups in the fridge. The cup is one pound of livers from organic sustainably farmed chickens. It also just sound like the prize to a NASCAR race and I am always trying to think of an event where it can be the trophy.
recipe after the jump