The dishes attempted for the purposes of this blog are from, or inspired by, the cook book "The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating," and its creator, Fergus Henderson.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

And it begins...

Tonight is the beginning of the end of what I recognize as food. Tonight, B, the self proclaimed chef of the house, is making pig's tails for dinner. We're talking about a food he had to shave first, do you understand? Not to mention, they look like a part of the male anatomy no one should be cooking for any reason. Shaving, sure, but not cooking.

If it hasn't presented itself by now, this cooking blog has an unusual twist. That is to say, it is from the perspective of the eater, rather than the preparer. Keep in mind as we proceed, I am not a pork eater. So please forgive me for any ill-conceived notions I may have of the beast (from here on in, the term 'beast' will refer to whatever mammal is on the stove), but meat, pork in particular, is not my specialty. Of course I like pepperoni pizza, or a juicy burger, who doesn't? But I won't even eat a pork chop, much less all the nasty bits. I believe 'nasty bits' is an official term encompassing any part of the animal which should have been thrown away, and shall be used thusly henceforth.

Of course, in the true up-side-down way we have of doing things around here, our meal this evening starts with foie gras. For nasty bits novices in the audience tonight, foie gras is extra fatty duck liver. It comes from the livers of essentially force-fed (don't worry, I looked into it, it is not animal cruelty*) ducks.

At any rate, it would not have been on my grocery list, especially at $84.99 per pound. American USD. True story. You simply take said liver, slice it like a small loaf of bread, and fry it in a pan. $84.99/lb. Apparently, the best way to eat this extraordinary dish, is straight up.

Out of the frying pan, onto the pallet. Eighty-four dollars, and ninety-nine cents per pound. Fried and served. B added a red wine reduction sauce. We agreed, on the side (versus poured over the plate) would have been better. Some say it is a gift from the gods. I say, it's good, but not $119.28 (B's portion was just over a pound) good.

Now, back to the pig's tails. They require some investment of time. To simply make them into a usable food item, one must first (after shaving them, of course) braise them in the oven for three hours at 350 degrees, with garlic, stock, wine, and veggies. Next, they cool for a "bit." When they are cold and firm, you run them through flour, followed by a mustard/egg mixture, then coated in bread crumbs, and into your oven-safe frying pan with a "knob" of melted butter. Now, into the oven at 425 degrees, ten minutes on each side.

I have a frozen pizza on stand by.

As Fergus Henderson states, "Serve hot with watercress or red mustard salad (smallish salad leaves with reddish veins, a fiery kick, and a slightly hairy nature). Some may like a spot of malt or red wine vinegar on their tails." The next part is B's favorite, and I have to agree, "Encourage the use of fingers and much gnawing of the bone."

B served ours with turnip greens, salted; and malt vinegar.

I'm impressed. I find the meal quite edible. Make no mistake here, I am not reducing hours of cooking down to the word 'edible'. When I find a nasty bits "quite edible," I mean it to be a good thing. Actually, a very good thing. It is not an easy thing for me to admit, but I did like the flavor combination of the salted greens, and malt vinegar drizzled pig's tails.

Had I been the chef, this meal would not be worth it to me. When I assess 'worth,' I am looking at value, effort, fun, and, it goes without saying, tasting enjoyment. But did B manage to transform the thoughts of a non-pork-lover? For now, yes. Was I gnawing the bone? No, but I ate most of it, and that says a lot.

B. Says:

ok, ok. It took a while to make. Much of the day as a matter of fact. Was it worth it? In a word: Hell Yeah. They were tasty after all....they 'only' took about 5 or 6 hours to reach their final form. Yummy. Here's the thing, I have been known to take over an hour to make mac n cheese. I like to cook. I like to take my time. So, this type of meal fits my bill perfectly. Much better than pigs feet (which I also like).

The texture (collagen anyone??) was awesome, with a rich meaty flavor.

What more do you need? Will it be made again?


Maybe tomorrow? Oh, wait: Chittlins await!

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