Friday, September 25, 2009

Mortadella di Anatra

Salumiere Kris just added another jewel to the meat case: Mortadella di Anatra, a variation of a classic Italian cold cut, usually made from pork only. But not this one: Anatra is Italian for duck and yes, this baby is made with duck as well as pork.
The method: The meat is finely ground + then mashed into a paste. In the old days, this was done with mortar + pestle; it's possible that this salami got its name from the Italian word for 'mortar'. Before getting stuffed into a case, the pork-duck paste is seasoned with black pepper + orange zest. Following the traditional way, it's also studded with pork fat + flavored with whole pistachios. It's what gives the Mortadella it's unique green + white freckled look when cut. Once cased, the sausage gets slowly cooked for a couple of hours. When it's cooled, it's ready to go.
Mortadella - the classic as well as the 'Anatra' one - needs to be kept in the fridge, but stays for a couple of months. Traditionally it is served thinly sliced as part of a charcuterie plate. It makes fabulous sandwiches as well. But you can also cut it in chunks + serve it as an appetizer along with some parmesan cubes, some cured, green olives + of course, a refreshing glass of Arneis, a Chianti or a nice, cool Pinot noir.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Of lard + lardo

Sister Cochon Restaurant just came out with their new T-Shirt line. And there it is, a picture of a big ol' pig + the following: IN LARD WE TRUST. Just like that. Love it!
But as you might imagine, it's not just a sassy slogan, neither for Cochon Restaurant nor for the Butcher. We DO trust in lard. Which is rendered pig fat, that has been used for cooking + baking for centuries. These days, it's kind of out of fashion as it is perceived as more unhealthy than butter or shortening. However, at the Butcher, we make lard + also lardo (the cured pork fat back), we use it, we sell it.
Lard makes rocking pie crust + super flaky biscuits. You can go 'old fashion' + use it wherever you'd use butter or other cooking fat: for sauteing veggies for example, or frying up some eggs. If you choose to use the fatty pork goodness more like a treat, head for lardo: warm up a fresh foccacia, while you cut it into super thin slices - you want to keep it cool while you handle lard + lardo, as it starts to melt at about 79 degrees. Lay the lardo slices on the warm bread, it will melt right away + taste like a "butter bread supreme'!
If you're ready to turn it up a notch, Butcher's Kris suggests a sinfully tasty alternative: 'Gras Pista'. Here is his take on this traditional Italian mix of pork fat + seasonings: Get a good chunk of lardo + grind it up with the smallest grinder your kitchen machine offers, keeping the surrounding as cool as possible. Flavor the ground pork fat with chile flakes, pulverized bay leaf, salt + black pepper. Now whip it! Using the paddle of your kitchen machine, whip the seasoned lardo for a couple of minutes. Last step: Add just 2 or 3 drops of truffle oil. 'The earthyness of the truffle works really well with the pork flavor", says Kris. Done.
Use 'Gras Pista' in your 'risotto con funghi'. Stir it into plain, cooked spaghetti + top it with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Flavor your polenta or grits with it. Spread it on warm bread. Play with the seasoning, leaving out the truffle oil, adding basil + parsley for a pesto-like 'Gras Pista' (FYI: the herbs will turn it green). Your taste is the limit.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Butcher goes fancy

The man who's in charge of the salami making at Butcher, now + then whips up some unexpectedly delicate, decadent goodies: This time around, Salumiere Kris fancies us with a Pâté moulée . It's basically a meat filled puff pastry. But this certainly doesn't do justice to the french delicacy: Grilled + ground pork gets seasoned with mace, black pepper, salt + thyme. Then hand made puff pastry gets neatly wrapped around the stuffing, leaving a small vent for the steam to escape. Then the Pate is backed off.
While the meat is baking in its wrap, it shrinks a bit. As it's volume decreases, it's leaving an empty space between meat + pastry dough. To fill the gap, you pour aspic (= basically pork jello, says Kris) through the vent in the pastry. Then you let it sit in the fridge over night.
The next day, you cut into this loaf of goodness. Open up a fancy bottle of wine, down load a couple of French songs from itune or let do 'le mix', get the cornichons out, slice up the Pâté moulée + go at it!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

"Brilliant for grilling!"

We're working on the grilling goods, the fixings + condiments for Labor Day. The meat case gets filled with the usual suspects: Steaks, house made all beef hot dogs, burgers, all kinds of sausages. Baked beans, slaw, potato salad, BBQ sauces + such will be ready to go for the 'Good Bye Summer' weekend as well.
And there's a really exciting newbie in the case as well: It's a Natural Piedmontese Beef Rib Eye. This type of cattle has been bred in the northern Italian region of Piedmont for centuries. It's unique beef is a traditional favorite in authentic Italian kitchens + is now also raised in the US. According to Butcher's Chef Warren, it's truly a fine meat: "The Piedmontese Rib Eye has a bigger beef flavor than your regular steak + is appropriately marbled, but less fatty. It is just brilliant for grilling!"
And grill we will, this coming weekend. What a blessing that we will get to spend it at home in New Orleans, this year; in our back yards, with friends + family. Not on hurrrication, like last year.