Thursday, December 31, 2009

little little Pretties

A friend was in for dinner the other night and we were discussing interesting delicacies found throughout the world..she mentioned a tiny French bird.
The Ortolan.

These are little bunting song birds kept alive in a dark box. The lack of light confuses their eating habits and causes them to gorge themselves, usually with oats and millet.

It's not unheard of for there to be force fed delicacies found in France.. but here is where it gets interesting.

To eat these little birds (only 6 inches long), you drown them in Cognac!
And as Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote, you would only eat these roasted cognac drunk birds, inards, bones and all, with a beautiful embroidered napkin draped over your head.

The napkin is said to keep in the delicious and delicate aroma. But really I think you covered yourself from looking like a complete savage, gnawing on little sharp bones which were notorious for cutting the gums of its consumer.. the mixing of the bloods was said to heighten the experience even more.

Wow! dear dear Gourmands.. it is now illegal to sell them in France, however not to eat them.

Watch Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear indulge in a little pretty!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Win This!

I would buy lots of these raffle tickets!

thanks for the photo Mr. Brisky

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


I hope I see this in Vietnam!

photo courtesy of Albino

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More Horsing Around

This is a follow up to a post I made a few months ago regarding horse meat, and who eats it.

Today I read about the latest "Le Fooding" event held in Paris.

I went to "Le Fooding" held at PS1 back in September.
It featured chefs, DJs and artists from Paris and New York.

The latest event they threw was in an abandoned swimming pool in Paris and featured HORSE!

Check it out!
Eating Horse Meat in a Paris Pool

Monday, December 14, 2009

Hunting Knowledge

Hunters like a big meal!

You HAVE to wear orange (otherwise you might get shot!)

Make sure you strap yourself into the tree stand..
(yes people fall out after slowly dozing off)

Have some sort of Deer Wall Art

Make sure you use the meat after its hunted!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Cows, and Cows, and Cows.

There are all these fancy new kinds of beef you pay top dollar for in restaurants.
What are they!

Piedmontese Beef
These cows were brought over from Piemonte (a region in Northwest Italy), by an Italian family in the early 80's. There are about 12,000 animals now registered in the US.

Their meat is very tender while also being very lean.
Availability can vary since there aren't many herds in America.
But if you can find it, buy it!

On to the Japan.
Wagyu and Kobe. So much confusion.

Wagyu refers to a few kinds of cattle bred in Japan, prized for its tenderness and marbled texture.

Kobe comes from the the black Tajima-ushi breed of Wagyu cattle.

More than likely you're not getting real Kobe beef unless you travel to Japan!

There's an organization in Japan that watches over the distribution of Kobe beef, they have standards the cattle must meet in order to be true Kobe Beef.

1. Has to be a Tajima cattle born in Hyōgo Prefecture
2. Fed by farm in the Hyōgo Prefecture
3. Bullock or Virgin cow, meant to purify the beef
4. Has to be processed at slaughterhouse in Kobe, Nishinomiya, Sanda, Kakogawa and Himeji in Hyōgo Prefecture.
5. Marbling ratio called is a level 6 and above.
6. Meat Quality Score is A or B
7. Gross weight of the beef is 470 kg or below.

Yes.. they each get a beer a day, usually in the summer to stimulate their appetite. And they get brushed with Sake, some farmers believe a softer coat makes for better meat.

What you can buy here is more than likely a Wagyu/Angus cross breed, marketed as American Kobe or just as Wagyu. There have been a few different Wagyu breeds introduced here since the 70s. In any case American Wagyu is a great product!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

the day we Eat!

Here are my quick turkey cooking tips.

- Buy a Heritage Breed Bird
- Brine if you can
- Basting and Stuffing are evil!! (I know mom does..but it doesn't make it right)
- Watch a you tube video on trussing and tie that bird up
- Smear butter under the skin of the breasts
- Cook on the bottom rack of your oven
- Start the cooking at 500 degrees for 30 minutes
- Make a breast shield out of aluminum foil (think triangle shape)
- Put this shield on and turn your oven down to 350 degrees
- Plan on cooking 10-12 minutes per pound
- Best way to check doneness is a thermometer
- This thermometer should read 161
- Let it have its time to rest... 20 minutes (it's a big bird)

Here are a few photos from the Turkey 101 class I taught at Whole Foods last week. I hope everyone loves their bird this holiday!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Partridge in a Pear Tree

I just taught a Turkey 101 class and I'm feelin' the holiday spirit..
So for the last of my game bird posts I thought I'd finish with a holiday bird we sing about, but more than likely have never tasted.

What's this business about a bird in a pear tree?
Well.. the partridge in the pear tree refers to the one and only..
Jesus Christ.

Right... well let's talk about eating it.
So as I've said in every game bird post, darker lean meat means roasting with an introduction of some sort of fat.
Bacon is a given but try getting caul fat from your butcher and wrapping it around the bird before you roast it.

Last year I made Partridge Paprikash using the same method as chicken, it was great! In fact this is a good stewing bird.

I'm off to central Wisconsin in the morning to go deer hunting!
First time, little scary.. I'll report back.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Continuing with game birds it's on to Pheasant.

A native to China..they were brought to Europe and prized for their exotic beauty and tasty meat.
The right to shoot them in Britain was reserved to the upper class.
They like eating bugs and seeds.. but foxes and raccoons like to eat them.

The boys are the ones with the beautiful looks!

One of the more mild game birds, there's so much you can do with pheasant..

It can be a little tough depending on its age, and like all game it's going to be lean. SO introducing fat (especially to the breast) is something you should consider.

You can roast them or braise them.. make a soup, salad, or terrine!
Get a pheasant from a hunting friend (just watch out for the bullet.. ouch!) or go to a specialty food store or buy online!

oh- rumor says that Yankee Doodle put a Pheasant feather in his hat and called it Macaroni!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Grouse... gross?

Talking to a friend the other day about Grouse made me think about the unpopularity of game birds in the US.
Since this is prime game bird season I thought I'd write a few posts about them... starting with Grouse.

Granted its been a few years since I've eaten or cooked one.. I remember it having a strong, dark, gamey taste.
I should note the grouse I ate was shot wild!

The rule is, when you eat a wild animal it always tastes way different than the same farm raised animal.
The reasons being that the wild animals are usually migratory, have a very different diet and are much more active.

Most farmed grouse in America are raised in the Dakota's (true of most game birds), and are a breed called Ruffed Grouse.

They weigh right about a in the forest and love to eat pine needles, berries, and buds!
In order to process all the grit they're getting with their food from the forest floor they usually have big gizzards and long intestines.
So its really important to make sure they're washed properly inside and out.

Since these guys are small and have very little fat on them, I would recommend roasting them with bacon covering the breast, making sure not to overcook them.
Or just remove the breast (since there's not much other meat) and sear it medium rare. You can use the remainder of the bird to make a great sauce for the breasts.

thanks for the image!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

RIP Elroy

Today I opened my inbox and received a message from a dear friend writing to tell me that Elroy (mate to Big Pink) had passed.

"I greet you with some sad news. Our benevolent King, the Almighty Elroy, Boar upon High, has passed. He was sick for some time, and has gone to Valhalla, where he now gets to roots in lush pastures and stinky, muddy wallows. In the end, it was his greatest asset that did him in. Some sort of trauma to his testicles led to an infection that was his undoing. He was peaceful in the end, brave and composed and dignified.

It is not the end we would have envisioned for our Farm hero. There were no curing bacchanals or funeral pyres. But I give you this photo, so that you might hold his legacy close to your heart, and possibly your fork."

Elroy and his offspring photo courtesy of Farmer Jake

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Bonjour Charolais

While driving from Paris down to Marseille this summer there were a few interesting things I came across..

One thing was this cooling tower with a child playing on it....

Another were lots and lots of white cows!
Having grown up around Holstein's I didn't realize how accustomed I'd become to driving and seeing their big black spots.
The contrasting white cows in the bright green pastures looked beautiful while coasting through the French country side.

I found out this cow was called a Charolais..
In the 16th and 17th centuries they were the favorite in French markets, especially in Lyon.

Brought to America in the 40's via the South, and raised as a beef breed prized for their red meat, they are also good milkers, and are used for cross breeding.

Apparently no other breed has impacted the North American beef industry as they have.
Farmers like them for their large frames, (heavier than the traditional British breeds), their overall ability to walk, graze, stand up to the cold, and raise heavy calves.

I just like their look..

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Italian Butchers

...thanks Passerotti...

I love old images of butchers, especially pre-refrigeration.
It was eat it now, or salt it and eat it later.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


While down in Georgia I had the opportunity to hang out with some chickens..
I moved them to fresh patches of grass everyday, fed them, ran after them, and probably just pestered them with my overall interest and intrigue.

But most importantly I learned about humane slaughtering of the birds.
Everyone has an image of a crazy cleaver clenching grandma and a headless bird running around!

But that of course isn't the preferred way of taking a chickens life.
Instead when a chicken is held upside down it gets disoriented and after a few seconds starts to relax.
They are slid into traffic cones, where the tips are cut off enough to allow the head of the chicken to come through.
Then the main vein in their neck is slit and they bleed to death.
Apparently the birds just feel a rush of blood and then they pass out.

I was also fortunate enough to have an amazing farm lunch in the back of a big red pick up truck, parked in the middle of a field within sight of the chickens. I wonder if those birds could see us tearing apart one of their kin with our bare hands.
Cold roasted chicken, dijonaise, baguette. And ice cold Rose passed around, perfect lunch for some farm hands.

Here's a quick clip of Jake telling me how they butcher the birds so its most comfortable for them.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


The famous Balkan street food!
A casing-less ground meat sausage.. which should be grilled..

Usually served with bread or grilled pita and accompanied by raw onions and kajmak (an eastern european version of clotted cream).

One of my favorite things to eat at a soccer game...
I thought I'd pass on a recipe for this quintessential Eastern European dish.

Of course the recipe I was given makes 100 pounds.. but I shrunk it down and got this:

1 1/4 pounds ground Beef
3/4 pounds ground Pork (feel free to substitute with lamb or veal)
4 cloves fresh Garlic (minced)
1 teaspoon fresh ground Black Pepper
1 teaspoon fresh ground White Pepper
3 teaspoons Vegeta
1 teaspoon Salt

- Mix all ingredients together.. Don't work meat too much!

2 slices fresh white bread
1/2 (roughly) water
1 teaspoon Baking Powder

- This is where it gets tricky... You want to break up the pieces of bread into little pieces, add the baking powder and water. You can use a potato masher or handheld blender to get a smooth, soup like consistency.
You may need to add a little more water if the mixture is too dry.

- Add this to the meat and mix just until combined, be careful not to mix too much or you'll end up with tough sausages.
-A sausage stuffer or kitchen aid attachment works best, or you can use a funnel. But the idea is to shape the sausages without rolling them.. again to get the most tender meat.

Let them sit overnight and grill them the next day!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday, September 25, 2009


Last week I had a lovely table in the restaurant... they ordered a great meal with all my favorites from the current menu.
They were super pleasant, had a great bottle of wine, informed us that they were visiting from Canada and then....
Asked if we had any recommendations of butchers in the city that sell Horse Meat!!

I was taken totally off guard and felt like I did something wrong just by hearing the question!
We informed the sweet couple that we don't eat our horses in this country...
To which they responded .. "Oh its such a delicious, sweet tasting meat"

The whole experience got me thinking and researching.
I was positive that it was illegal but upon investigation I was wrong!
It's perfectly legal to eat horse meat in America.

In fact people have been eating horses forever! All over Europe, Asia, and South America.
The taboos with horse meat range from it being a poor peoples food to the close connection most humans have with the animals.

Here's a great story I found on how horses are thought of..treated.. and eaten in Kazakhstan.. It talks about ages of slaughter and cuts of meat.

I've never eaten horse meat.. its definitely a foreign idea to me.. But when in a country that eats horse.. eat horse?

Saturday, September 19, 2009


I love Pastrami.. I live 3 blocks from Katz's .. I eat it a lot!

On a recent trip to Turkey I found an old man selling something that looked like Pastrami.. but wasn't what I was used to eating.
After a little research I was excited to learn that pastrami was much more than a NY deli staple.

So back in the day people would brine whatever meat they couldn't eat at the time of slaughter.
Most common ways of preserving meat was through salting, smoking, or brining.

Its said that Pastrami is probably a descendant of Balkan smoked meats, especially Romanian Pastramă. And likely rooted in the Turkish pastırma.

This stuff is totally different than the pastrami we're used to eating. The meat is salted, washed and dried for 10-15 days and all the blood and salt is squeezed out. Its covered with a paste usually consisting of cumin, paprika, fenugreek, and garlic.
To serve its sliced really thin and sometimes fried in olive oil, or served "as is" on mezze plates.

Monday, September 14, 2009


I'm sure this will be one of many posts about Temple Grandin.

She's an amazing woman who happens to be autistic..
and also happens to connect with animals on an emotional level.

She's responsible for designing humane slaughter equipment.
Cattle are her favorite animal..

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Big Pink!

She's the mama of many little pigs at Full Moon farms in Georgia.
Big Pink is a Tamworth pig... they were originally raised in the North of England said to have links to an Irish breed and brought over to America in 1882 by Thomas Bennett of Rossville, Illinois.

The Tamworth breed has a few different characteristics.. physically they have long legs and necks.. are really bristly (sun protection) and are really muscular.
They're usually called the bacon pig because they're able to get really big (males up to 800lbs.) without having too much fat.
The thing that was really amazing to me.. was how their snouts dug, and literally turned up the ground as they foraged for root veggies!

The sad thing is they're on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.. there are only 300 registered females in America.
So if you see some Tamworth pork.. buy it! Its amazing.. lets keep breeding this breed!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

'round and round'

One of my first memories of handling whole animals was sewing pigs to sticks... oh and salting the insides before we sewed them up (of course).
This sort of thing happens every weekend during the short Milwaukee summer... Usually involving pig, chicken, lamb, every once in awhile there will be a duck, or slab of beef, or turkey..
My dad grew up with this stuff, last time I was home he was telling stories of him and his friends hand cranking lambs on the spit for 6 or 7 hours.. their only payment was eating a bit of lamb.

There's a secret seasoning used for the chickens.. I still haven't been able to get it out of my dad or my uncle, hopefully one day I'll become worthy enough to know the special spice blend.
So here's a photo from my last visit home..some meat in the back yard!!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The HomeLand

A trip back to Milwaukee usually involves me using half my suitcase as a meat locker, transporting meat from my butcher in Astoria to my father (he loves their kulen) and in return I transport meat (mostly deer) back to the city.

Every once in awhile I'll get a whole smoked pork belly, or smoked pork loin from my uncle who will insist I take the whole piece, never just a pound or two.
I've pretty much got the system of wrapping the meat down (so my clothes won't smell like a smoke house). Although it involves yards and yards of plastic wrap, parchment paper, and aluminum foil, and in the end my suitcase weighs a ton and I have to pay extra baggage fees (a small cost in the grand scheme of things).

When I get back to the city there are a few lucky friends (mostly those who grew up in the Midwest) that receive homemade sausages and smoked goodies. I barter too (this is the good stuff!).

So this trip home was mostly summer sausage... deer jerky.. deer slimjims.. A quick shot of a few things I pulled from the freezer..

A Butcher's What?!

My father is a butcher from Eastern Europe.
I grew up with a LOT of meat! As well as a respect for the animals we eat.

This blog is all about reconnecting us to our food.
Learning more about our animals from where they live, what they eat, their inevitable death, and all the ways we enjoy them and ultimately respect them…