Guest Post – Korean-inspired crepinettes by Iliana Filby

Welcome to the Sixteenth guest post! I’m letting anyone who wants to write about an offal dish submit a post with pictures. Want to show everyone that confit pork tongue is pretty tasty? Are you a caul fat crusader? Let me know and we’ll post your hard work here. This post was originally published over at one of my favorite food blogs, The Butcher’s Apprentice which is written by the amazing Iliana Filby, who incidentally has guest posted here before. This time though, I went asking for the privilege to share these adorable little creations with you. Iliana was also one of the 10 semi-finalists for Charcutepalooza and with gorgeous work like this it’s easy to see why.

Korean-inspired crepinettes, japchae, and sticky rice

Each December my family celebrates my birthday by getting our Jule-cozy on with a Sunday visit to the Solstice & Christmas revels in Hanover, and then we head over to enjoy dinner at my favorite local restaurant, West Lebanon’s Yama.

Huang and Insook, the owners, along with the lovely staff, are warm and welcoming all the year long, but for my birthday dinner they pull out all the stops and shower our table with the special treats that they know I enjoy most.

Huang always finds something in the kitchen to offer as a gift, which he presents with a giant grin and hug. This year it was two big packages of sweet-potato starch noodles, which he knows I love to make japchae with, a mound of lovely jiggling glistening noodles liberally shot through with bright veggies and drizzled with a sweet & soy-saucy dressing.

Slicing veggies and aromatics for japchae noodles

So when I was encouraged to submit a charcuterie recipe for the Charcutepalooza Final festivities over at Food52, I had Korean cuisine on the brain, and it didn’t take long to come up with these Korean-inspired crepinettes. Basically a meatball, and often made from various bits of good pork offal, crepinettes are made a little more festive by being wrapped in a delicate négligée of caul fat, also called lace lard.

If you are new to making charcuterie, crepinettes are a nice introduction to using your meat grinder, to creating a forcemeat mixture, and to dealing with caul fat, which is featured in many traditional French pâtés.

This version includes a mixture of beef chuck and lean pork belly for the forcemeat, and is brightened by typically Korean flavors: soy pickled shiso, gochujang, soy sauce, garlic, and scallions. Luckily for me (as this was to be my birthday lunch) this fusion of Korean and French turned out delicious.

If you’re not familiar with some of the ingredients in this recipe, take a look at the bottom of this post for information about the more noteworthy ingredients.

Bright Korean-Inspired Crepinettes

Ingredients

5 ounces lean pork belly
13 ounces beef chuck
1 cracker
3 garlic cloves
1 scallion
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 heaping tablespoon gochujang paste
1/2 pound caul fat
1/2 teaspoon peanut oil
6-7 soy-pickled or fresh shiso leaves

Mince garlic and scallion fine, and fry gently until just softened. Set aside to cool.

Minced garlic and scallion gently frying

Chop all meat into approximately 1-inch pieces and toss with the pepper, salt, gochujang sauce, and cooled fried garlic and scallion. Process first through the large plate of your meat grinder and then once more through the fine plate. Lastly, break up your cracker and process it through your grinder; it helps to get the last bits of meat through the plate and adds a bit of binding to your forcemeat as well.

A mix of ground beef & pork with sweated alliums & seasonings ready to stir

It’s helpful to fry a little bit of your meat to taste at which point you can adjust the seasoning to your preference.

Carefully spread your lacy piece of caul fat onto your clean workspace. I find it easiest to work with the delicate caul fat on a food-safe plastic cutting board just wiped with a cold wet cloth. Depending on the stretchiness and composition of your piece of caul, you may have leftovers. Caul fat freezes beautifully!

Place one shiso leaf in the center of a section of the caul fat closest to an edge.

A soy-pickled shiso leaf positioned on caul fat

Take an egg-sized portion of your forcemeat and shape into a slightly flattened oval patty, and place it centered over the shiso leaf. Use a sharp knife to trim away a piece of the caul just large enough to wrap your meat in, and gently wrap the edges of your little caul fat wrapper up and over your meat patty.

A finished crepinette awaiting roasting

Roast leaf-side up in a 375°F oven on a rack over a silver-foil lined roasting pan for 20-25 minutes or until the crepinette feels firm to the touch and is nicely browned.

A baker’s half-dozen Korean-inspired crepinettes ready to roast

Serve warm with rice and japchae. I’m very fond of Maangchi’s version of japchae, though when I make it as a side I will simplify it, for instance by not adding meat or mushroooms, and with respect to the contents of my larder.

Thanks to all of you who made my birthday splendid this year!

Special Ingredient Notes:

Caul Fat: Also known as “lace lard,” this is a sweet and incredibly useful pork product for wrapping crepinettes, faggots, frikadeller, and pâtés. Ask your butcher or look online to order.

Gochujang Paste: A savory and pungent fermented Korean condiment made from red chili, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans and salt. Delicious, complex, and warmly spicy.

Soy Pickled Shiso Leaves: Also known as “perilla” and “beefsteak plant,” shiso has been described as an Asian version of basil, but it has its own unique and delicious flavor. I grow it and pickle it in soy in the fall. Try find it in a large Korean or Japanese market, or substitute fresh shiso leaves, which are easy to find at Asian markets.

Thank you Iliana so much! -Ryan

Guest Post – Kopchik s apelsinami, or a tale of an Ox by Katrina Kollegaeva

Welcome to the Fifteenth guest post! I’m letting anyone who wants to write about an offal dish submit a post with pictures. Want to show everyone that kidneys are kick-ass? Are you an offal advocate? Let me know and we’ll post your hard work here. This guest post was originally posted at the newly started Gastronomical Me which is written by Katrina Kollegaeva, who incidentally has guest posted here before.

In my house, bums/arses/backsides/rears are valued high. So it should not have come as a surprise when having cooked a cow’s bum – the tail, to be precise – we found the taste and texture very much to our liking.

There was something primal, almost cannibalistic about eating meat of a creature’s tailbone.

Ox tail is in fact a cow’s coccyx–in case you weren’t sure about its exact body part location. The tail is long, both muscly and bony (imagine a spine, how it is sectioned off into discs). You eat the top bit, where the tail is connected to the cow’s..mmm…bum, hence my naming of it as a kopchik, Russian for a coccyx. The tail is always sold already cut into sections, disc by disc, I suppose so that not to terrify punters by its real tail-like appearance.

The tail in the pictures has recently been ordered from Rother Valley Organics in Sussex (previously mentioned) and so it had enjoyed a lot of exercise in shish-ing flies attracted by green grass and open pastures full of dung. This is a tail of an ox who’s had a long tale (Saturday morning puns, sorry!)

There is something both comforting and hair-raising in flaking off strands of meat from cavities of each bone, and then sucking out the left-over bone-marrow from inside each disc. You feel like a caveman who’s just hunted his prey and now greedily eating up every bit of it. Admittedly, this particular tail has been cooked for good four hours, but I believe the tail, with its curvaceous contours and hidden juices, can not compete with the boringly expensive fillet-slicing or common roast. Even though oxtail is often sold as offal, the flavour is not at all gamey and a lot more traditional, if you like. Because of all the bone marrow inside (which is the most delicate type of fat in a cow), when the whole thing is cooked long and slow, the result in tender and almost sweet.

Arse is definitely best.

I used the recipe from my favourite ‘Fat’ by Jennifer McLagan, slightly adjusted of course (where would we be without a healthy dose of individualism?)

Kopchik s apelsinami, or a braised oxtail:

Note: this recipe takes 2 days to make, but only about 15 mins of attention on the actual preparation.

serves 3-4

1.3 kg oxtail, cut into pieces

2-3 tbs of beef dripping (or oil or butter, but dripping is so much better)

2 onions, chopped

2 carrots, sliced

1/2 orange, zest an juice

200 ml red wine

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

squirt of tomato paste

2 bay leaves

1 tsp of toasted cumin

1 clove

1/2 star anise

1. pre-heat the oven to 150 C. Season each oxtail piece with salt and pepper, brown off in beef dripping on a medium heat, in batches. Transfer onto another plate.

2. In the same casserole pan, saute your onions and carrots for about 5 mins.

3. Pour the wine into the pan where the veg were sweating and bring to the boil. Deglaze (make sure all the brown bits stuck to the pan come off). Stir in garlic, tomato paste, zest, bay leaves, cumin, clove, star anise. Add about 500 ml of water or beef stock.

4. Return the oxtail pieces into the pan with all the juices that have accumulated in the plate by then. Cover the pan with a close-fitting lid and braise in the oven for about 2.5-3 hours.

5. Take out of the oven. Pour all the liquid into a separate jug, and when cooled, put the liquid and the meat into fridge overnight.

6. The following day, pre-heat the oven to 150C. Take off the fat layer from the top of the jellied gravy (there’ll be good cm or so), plus any visible fat from the meat pieces (you can use this fat later to fry potatoes or other such!).

7. Pour the jellied liquid into the pan where you cooked the tail originally. Bring to the boil and continue to boil until it’s reduced by about half (about 10 mins). Add the juice from the squeezed orange, put the oxtail pieces back in.

8. Braise in the oven for another hour until completely coming off the bone.

9. Important – serve with buckwheat and slightly crunchy stewed red cabbage.

Thanks Katrina!

Guest Post – Pressed Pig’s Ear Terrine by Iliana Filby

Welcome to the Fourteenth guest post! I’m letting anyone who wants to write about an offal dish submit a post with pictures. Want to show everyone that ears can taste electric? Are you bullish on brawn? Let me know and we’ll post your hard work here. This guest post was originally posted at the newly started The Butcher’s Apprentice which is written by Iliana Filby. Go take a look!

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A second recipe from Fergus Henderson’s Beyond Nose to Tail has been wooing me with its siren call (the first was trotter gear, which I’ll post about another time), and I had finally gathered enough pig’s ears together to give it a try. The dish is a pressed pig’s ear terrine, and Fergus describes it thus: “What you should have now is joyous piggy jelly, within which there is a beautiful weave of ear.” He promises that “when you bite into it, you should have that splendid textural moment of the give of the jelly and the slightest crunch of the ear cartilage.” That sweet description is spot on, and since many culinary cultures eschew both jiggly mouth-bouncy foods as well as the crunch of cartilage, be aware that the jiggly and crunchy bits are the whole delicious point of this dish.

I started by cleaning the ears thoroughly. To this task I brought a Bic razor and a thin-edged small spoon (think of the spoons meant to eat soft-boiled eggs with, a bit smaller than a teaspoon) to bear. It was a good deal of work, but finally the ears were all respectably clean and into a ziplock bag with four liters of good brine consisting of water, salt, sugar, juniper berries, peppercorns, bay leaves, and whole cloves. My fridge is full of pickles, preserves, and condiments, and it’s a small fridge, so I decided to keep my bag of brining ears in the cab of my truck. Luckily the weather has cooperated by remaining between 30F/1C and 45F/7C degrees.

When the ears had been brined for four days, I took them inside to the kitchen, rinsed them off, and soaked them in a large bowl of cold water for around 6 hours, changing the water whenever I went to make tea, maybe three times in all. I made one last inspection of the ears, shaved off a few stray bristles that I’d missed the first time around, and then I used a very sharp knife to score each of the ears a few times on the inner surface. I did this because some of the ears were more curled up or funnel-like, and I found that 3 or 4 vertical (with the tip of the ear being up and where it was attached to the head being down) scores just barely into the cartilage was enough to persuade the ear to flatten out a bit.

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Then into my 13.25 quart enameled cast-iron pot they went, along with the following aromatics: celery, carrot, onion, leeks, bay leaves, rosemary, French savory, and a bundle of parsley stems. Fergus’ recipe calls for thyme rather than savory, but I had no thyme “at the time”. Ahem.

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Then I added enough light chicken stock to cover the ears and a dozen or so peppercorns.

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..and then into a 275F/135C oven. Notice how the oven rack sags? I need to find sturdier racks for this tiny & ridiculous efficiency-sized oven. Any ideas where I can find such a thing?

should note here that I diverged inadvertently from Fergus’ recipe: I was meant to include three trotters in the pot, but I forgot! I didn’t discover this until three hours later, and I panicked for a moment, but then I remembered that I had lots of lovely trotter gear in the freezer, and if I needed more gelling action, I could add some of that to the pot liquor. In fact, I ended up having a lot of pot liquor, and it was more than adequately full of gelatin, and rather than needing to add trotter gear, I’ve ended up with enough fantastic pot liquor with which to make a nice soup, which I intend to do as it is really cold outside, and I’m feeling a bit of a sore throat sneaking up on me.

Onward: I fished the tender and floppy ears out of the pot and layered them as neatly and evenly as I could in my new enameled cast-iron terrine mold (which I’m completely smitten with). Fergus’ recipe calls for 14 ears, and I’d only had a dozen, but in fact I could only comfortably fit eleven into my terrine mold. Being both hungry and curious, I just ate the twelfth ear as it was, soft and sticky and warm, with the crunchy thin cartilage in the middle; it was delicious and promised a successful and yummy terrine once it was all pressed and cold.

I followed Fergus’ recommendation to cut out a rectangle of cardboard, wrapped it in two layers of cling-film, and pressed it atop the ears. It looked to me as if the terrine was already pretty juicy, so I decided to place the weights (tinned tomatoes and a medium-sized cast-iron pot) on top of the cardboard for an hour or so while the terrine cooled and then add more pot liquor if necessary. In fact I did add around 3/4′s of a cup more, though some of that spilled over the edge of the terrine once I reapplied the weights, but only a few tablespoons worth.

An hour or two later, the terrine was cooled to room temperature, so I removed the weights but left the cardboard cut-out in place, put the lid on the terrine, and into the fridge overnight.

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This morning at 7:00 I lifted the pressed pig’s ear terrine out of the mold and just marveled at it. It was wonderfully solid and dense, and with a sharp knife I cut a thin slice off the end and popped it into my mouth. Delicious!

Another half-dozen slices on a plate with a few cornichons, and I was curled up on the sofa with breakfast.

I wonder if to a connoisseur my jelly might be a tad too firm or rubbery, but to me it tastes and feels wonderfully giving and bouncy. The delicate cartilage is really quite surprisingly crunchy, and agreeably so. I wondered if I’d salted the dish enough, and I think because I had to add so little reduced (and salted) pot liquor at the end that it didn’t get quite as much salt as I would like next time around. But all of these are very minor quibbles; I love this dish and will make it again next time I’m rolling in pig’s ears.

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A few observations: these ears came from six Hampshire pigs, and some of these pigs were black and white, and therefore some of the ears were black (well, more of a dark grey). I scrubbed both versions very well, but some of the grey-black pigment remains and makes for a slightly darker cooked ear. One interesting consequence of this is that where the pig’s skin is white or pink, the bristles are white-blond, and where the skin is grey-black, the bristles are black. Though I did a very thorough job of shaving all the bristles off, each bristle has a follicle which penetrates into the flesh, and while this sub-skin bristle is entirely invisible in the pink ears, you can, when you slice into the terrine, see a few bits of black bristle between skin and cartilage. While this may be visually off putting to some (it didn’t bother me in the least), you can’t actually feel them either with a fingertip nor in your mouth. But if you wanted to make this dish for friends who are doubtful, I’d stick with pink pig’s ears.

Thanks Iliana!

Guest Post – Fried Pig Tails by Elie Nassar

Welcome to the thirteenth guest post!  I’m letting anyone who wants to write about an offal dish submit a post with pictures.  Want to show everyone that pig tails are tantalizing?  Are you ludicrous with lard?  Let me know and we’ll post your hard work here.  This guest post was originally posted at Oven-Dried Tomatoes which is written by the very talented Elie Nassar.

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Making something delicious out of “scraps” is one of the pleasures of cooking. It’s simple to make a piece of steak or a chop appetizing, but transforming an admittedly ugly-looking piece of pig – a tail in this case- into a dish worthy of a classy fine dining restaurant needs technique and some creativity. So, when a friend of mine gave me a couple of tails from two fat farm raised pigs, I turned to Thomas Keller for guidance. The tails can be just boiled and fried and they will be good, but I knew no one else in my household would eat them. I needed to transform those tails to a very appetizing and fun dish. Keller’s recipe in Under Pressure does exactly that.

First I dealt with the tails. These were not just the tails, but also some meat and fat attached to them from the top of the pig’s back. So I knew I can have more than just two servings from the two tails by using some of that meat. Raw, the tails and their attached meat/skin/fat looked like small sting rays. The tails were bagged in FoodSaver bags with a mixture of chicken stock, herbs, white wine, onions and carrots. I cooked them at 85C (185 F) for about 10 hours. At the end of the cooking time, the tails were very tender (both meat and skin). The tails can be cooked in a pot with a larger amount of liquid of course. However, cooking the tails sous vide at a perfectly controlled temperature guarantees that while the meat and skin gets thoroughly cooked, the skin does not rip or crack. This is very important for the next step. Additionally you do  not get too much flavor loss to the surrounding liquid because in the bags the tails are surrounded by a relatively small amount of liquid and lots of aromatics.

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While the pig tails are still very warm, they need to be deboned. It is much easier than it sounds and so worth it because, picking at tiny tail bones in a plated dish like this is not a fun experience. Besides, my little touch to the Keller dish, this way we can stuff the tails! I used a very sharp paring knife and slit the tails lengthwise. I then opened them like a book and removed the bones in one piece. It was very easy and the skin remained intact. The idea is to then season and reform the tails, now boneless, into neat rolls. The concentrated cooking liquid from the bags can be used to moisten them and, due to its high collagen content, set them into perfect cylinders. Before doing all that, I shredded the meat from the extra tail “attachments” and chopped some of the skin very finely. That meat is juicy and collagen rich already, but I also moistened it with a little cooking liquid from the bags. I used some of that mixture to stuff into the boneless tails before tightly wrapping them with plastic wrap into rolls. With the rest of the meat mixture I made faux-tails. I just formed three rough cylinders and then used plastic wrap to make a tight neat roll with each of them giving me a total of five “tails” for dinner. After thoroughly chilling those rolls they were completely solidified and ready to fry up. Frying the tails is pretty straight forward. They get the classic flour, egg wash, fine panko crumbs treatment. Twice. Then they are fried till golden and crispy.

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The rest of the dish is simple. For the eggs I boiled the quail eggs and mixed the yolks with creme fraiche, paprika and salt. The filling was then supposed to be piped back into the whites using a small bag with a start tip. unfortunately, the star tip that I have is too big for the little quail eggs. So I sacrificed a bit of the aesthetic and used a small plastic ziplock bag with no decorating tip. The eggs were delicious and I had to save 4 of them for the plating before my 4-year old stole and ate them all. At one bite each, he could’ve finished off a whole dozen. Keller specifies the flat Romano beans for this dish. I can never find those. So I used regular green beans. I blanched them and sliced them very thinly on a bias. The beans get tossed with a shallot vinaigrette. I also needed a little frisee for plating but did not find any at my local store and did not have the time to go shopping for it. I used some spring greens instead. These were tossed with a simple vinaigrette as well.

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Last but not least, I made a ravigote sauce. It’s made with Dijon mustard, olive oil, white wine vinegar, shallots, salt and pepper. Everyone loved this dish. Granted, the kids ate mostly the “faux tails” but my 7-year old, seemed to get a kick out of knowing that he was eating pig tails. It sure made me proud. It really worked out very well and looked great. The  delicious rich, unctuous and very porky meat went perfectly with the tart flavors of the sauce. The skin was very tender and contrasted great with the meat inside and the crispy panko crumb shell encasing it. The beans added more sharp tastes and a great vegetable crunch. The eggs acted more of a tasty garnish and I ate mine before the rest fo the components.

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Thanks Elie!

Guest Post – Having a Ball by J. Ryan Horan

Welcome to the twelfth guest post!  I’m letting anyone who wants to write about an offal dish submit a post with pictures.  Want to show everyone that fries are fantastic?  Are you tremendous with tendon?  Let me know and we’ll post your hard work here.  This guest post comes from J. Ryan Horan.

Let this be known; you are about to read about balls. Not just any balls, but those prepared for a late summer meal. It may be difficult to get through this without fleeting giggles or cringing in a certain discomfort. However, I urge you, as if I were the chairman of the American Organization for Testicles on School Lunch Menus to not only read this through but to consider trying an organ meat that has been too long ignored by the dining community.

A word on some problematic nomenclature; when putting the below piece together, I really struggled with how to refer to the ingredient at hand. The term “Fry,” as in “Lamb Fry” is all wrong and must be discarded. It conveys neither dignity nor respect nor does it pretend to. It is a condescending affection, just as one might call a runty nephew “Champ” or “Sport.” However, to call the organ by name, a technique that is perfectly adequate (if not entirely creative) for most offal, risks the overly clinical handle “Testicle.” We are then left with the slightly sophomoric, “Ball.”

Thinking neither quite perfect, I was pleased when I learned that the French, in their love of all things genital and gustatory have already covered this with the evocative term, “animelles” which is at once dignified and enthralling. The name suggests that by consuming this meat one is getting to the true nature of the beast. That, anyway is the way that I prefer to interpret it. However, though I love France, I am not French and I will use what sticks. Balls it is.

I bought a pair from some very enthusiastic farmers in Cincinnati’s Findlay Market on a whim when I saw them listed at $1.25 a pound.  These guys were actually selling all their offal at that price, lamb hearts and livers, beef tongues, heart and assorted chicken clockwork, a find that stuns me even now. The pair that I got were frozen solid which I don’t think does them a bit of harm, though in fairness I have no clue.

Prep is not for the fainthearted. Even in a family of anatomical meats, few things resemble their namesake quite as literally as balls.  The street name, in other words is not simply metaphor.  Furthermore lamb’s balls are not delicate little organs. These are not peensy kumquats that nestle in wooly little scrotums of boy lambs as they scamper among the daisies. Each one fills the hand and has the heft and resilience of a soft-boiled egg. These, my friends are whopping big balls.

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Complicating things from the standpoint of squeamishness, balls are identical in form and function amongst all members of the mammal class. If you ask a person what he thought his set looks like, he would describe to the vein, that which now rests on my cutting board. The key difference being that what rests on my cutting board is nearly the size of a closed fist.

Enclosing each individual organ is a tough translucent sack that must be removed, as does the ropey, purple duct attached to each. Once peeled (really just a matter of slicing open the sack and popping out the organ), the texture is cheerful, almost jolly. They have a lively bounce and a pearlescent sheen that is just lovely. It does remind me of one of offal’s finest virtues; it is dead simple to know when it is fresh.

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Because I am impatient, I choose to skip the proscribed step of soaking, blanching and marinating the balls and opt instead for a simple dredge in flour and sauté in brown butter, fried sage and a bit of lemon.

It is a bit difficult to divide each organ evenly, as the meat is quite soft. There is a thin membrane enclosing each piece. Wanting neat slices, I discard the ends for three even rounds. Both texturally and visually, they are identical to scallop.

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In the pan, the slices give off the faintest smell of lamb, but only barely. It’s difficult to describe, exactly. I suppose I am struck not by how it does smell but more by how it doesn’t. There is no heady cloud of browning meat or rendering fat, just butter, sage and a faint odor of lamb. The smell is great. The browned pieces go right onto a slice of fried bread topped with the pan juices.

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First bite.

Ok. There are plenty of odd cuts that I really, truly enjoy; pig’s feet, tongue, brains, blood sausage. But balls? Balls are excellent. I don’t mean that they are, “actually pretty tasty,” “surprisingly good” or “better than expected.” I mean that balls are a damn fine thing to eat, full stop. They belong on a list of favorite foods right next to Haribo gummi bears, thick sliced bacon and oyster po-boys. The texture once cooked is again, identical to scallop and they have a flavor that is mild but unlike any meat, organ or otherwise that I have had to date. This is the sort of thing that in a more forgiving world would be wrapped in bacon and grilled for Superbowl Parties or deep fried and eaten on a sandwich (Lamb-ball Parm?) at construction sites. They are that good.

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I just wish there were more than two to a pack.

Thanks Mr. Horan!