A wahn..anna..two..anna..three…

I used to think my parents were crazy, but what teenager doesn’t?  One reason I thought this was because, as a regular practice on Sunday nights Mom and Dad would fix up a batch of chicken livers, hearts and gizzards for dinner.  It was the only time we were allowed to eat in front of the TV, because thats when Lawrence Welk was on.  Though I did not partake, the smell of the bacon wrapped inner parts was pretty good.  I just could not bring myself to eat it. Why in the world did they like that stuff? Gross!
How things change.
On … more »

A wahn..anna..two..anna..three…

I used to think my parents were crazy, but what teenager doesn’t? One reason I thought this was because, as a regular practice on Sunday nights Mom and Dad would fix up a batch of chicken livers, hearts and gizzards for dinner. It was the only time we were allowed to eat in front of the TV, because thats when Lawrence Welk was on.

Though I did not partake, the smell of the bacon wrapped inner parts was pretty good. I just could not bring myself to eat it. Why in the world did they like that stuff? Gross!

How … more »

Now whoever thought of doing that?

My learning curve as a chef is never ending. That’s one of the things I enjoy about the craft of cooking. There are always new techniques or methods to discover, many of which are not really new, but actually quite old. Gels, foams, and liquid nitrogen have their place, I’m sure, but not before I have a better foundation concerning the enduring methods cooks have used over the years.

Take the pigs head, for example. Humans have utilized the hog for centuries, and when faced with the question of how to tackle the head, I would have liked to hear … more »

Now whoever thought of doing that?

My learning curve as a chef is never ending.  That’s one of the things I enjoy about the craft of cooking.  There are always new techniques or methods to discover, many of which are not really new, but actually quite old.  Gels, foams, and liquid nitrogen have their place, I’m sure, but not before I have a better foundation concerning the enduring methods cooks have used over the years.
Take the pigs head, for example. Humans have utilized the hog for centuries, and when faced with the question of how to tackle the head, I would have liked to hear … more »

Mortadella

Bologna gets a bad rap, as do cold cuts, hot dogs and other such tube steaks. Some of it is rightly earned. There were reasons the butcher figured out how to make these forms of meat, frugality being high on the list. But when frugality turns into cheap, that’s where you get into problems. Adding fillers and other non meat products reduces the process from craft to crap.

We are currently making all of our sausage and cured meats and it proves that the end product is no better than the beginning ingredients. There is no alchemy in starting with … more »

Mortadella

Bologna gets a bad rap, as do cold cuts, hot dogs and other such tube steaks. Some of it is rightly earned. There were reasons the butcher figured out how to make these forms of meat, frugality being high on the list. But when frugality turns into cheap, that’s where you get into problems. Adding fillers and other non meat products reduces the process from craft to crap.

We are currently making all of our sausage and cured meats and it proves that the end product is no better than the beginning ingredients. There is no alchemy in starting with … more »

Charcutepalooza – Stuffing Sausage

Now that my kids are in their teen years and the empty nest is in sight, I get a little nostalgic for the days when they were young and the times seemed more simple and their needs seemed less daunting. I think back over the years when they were little and to the toys that seemed most memorable to them, and to me, and it reminds me that regardless of how fast the world around us moves, some things remain the same and will always do so. I remember the Christmas I got my son and his cousins a tool … more »

Go ahead and say it

I tell my wife that male humor never progresses or matures past the junior high level. The easiest way to prove this is to make a batch of sausage.

I make sausage from scratch every week, sometimes twice, and without fail, every time, some guy on my staff makes some kind of phallic comment. Since it’s impossible to escape, and yes, I can admit that the hog casing does resemble a 25 foot condom, go ahead and say and get it out of your system.

Last night we made pork kielbasa with winter onion that I retrieved from the Farmers more »

Understanding what it is you do

Sitting outside this week, enjoying the seasonally early warm evening temperatures, I had a moment of reflection in the same spot I used to sit early in the mornings before I went off to work at my kitchen job that I had while I was waiting on the construction of my restaurant. I remember those days vividly, watching the dawn unfold into daylight, drinking coffee and saying to myself, “Am I going to succeed in getting this restaurant off the ground?” They were exciting, but fear-filled days. I had never done this before, and I was leading my family down

more »

The Craft of Brining

It is very important to me to understand my motives for the choices I make in life. I don’t want to simply know how to do something; I want to know why I want to do it.

Why did I take such a huge risk to quit my career and launch a restaurant in my mid 40’s?

Why was I able to do this? Why did I even want to do this?

Why did I want to become a chef at such a late age?

Why did I have such a compulsion to do this?

Why lay so much on … more »