Just a quick post to introduce the back fat that's been curing in my fridge for the past few weeks. Once again full credit due to Fergus Henderson, only this recipe is inspired by a recipe from his second book, Beyond Nose to Tail Eating.
Basically the recipe has you cover a nice piece of fresh pork fat with salt and put it in the fridge. I also decided to add few dried spices (whole allspice, juniper and peppercorns).
Uncovered fat with salt and spices.
I've decided to let it sit for a month before uncovering it. Fergus Henderson recommends serving it thinly sliced and wrapped around walnuts. I'm excited to try it broiled on some nice crusty bread.
Covered fat with salt and spices.
Should be done in a few weeks when the weather is starting to transition from pleasantly crisp to dreary and cold. A nice slab of fat is just the thing to keep away the winter hum-dums.
I was in Toronto all last week, but before I left I submerged a nice piece of back fat in some salt and spices. The fat should be cured in about a month. Also I didn't manage to make time to eat some salad turnips in my fridge. Haven't looked yet, but I hope they're still good; the farmer promised me the whole turnip was edible.
Beets are one of those vegetables that has taken me some time to learn to love. They've got a half sweet, half earthy taste that I just could not wrap my mind around.
They are however a great veggie for a person on a budget because you can eat all of it. When buying beets look for the bunch with nice big perky tops.
First separate the bulbs from the leaves. Scrub off the bulbs and wrap them in foil. Then roast them in a 375 degree oven until they're knife tender.
Hot beets, out of the oven.
The tricky thing about beets is peeling them. Which is totally necessary because the skins are tough and don't add anything to the beet experience. BEETS WILL STAIN EVERYTHING THEY TOUCH. Seriously. Don't screw around.
I hold the beets in a paper towel while they're still warm and peel of the exterior skin. It's definitely easier to do this while the beets are still oven-hot.
The great thing about beets is that they're like little bright red sponges that will soak up any flavor you put on them. As luck would have it I had just finished a jar of cornichons, so I used the leftover, already seasoned, pickling liquid from the jar and added s few chili's and submerged my sliced my beets in the concoction.
My favorite thing to do with beets (outside of risotto, which is awesome, but I don't have the time or energy right now) is beet and goat cheese crostini's. Really simple and delicious and the perfect thing to munch on while you figure out what's for dinner.
Beet and goat cheese crostini with dried oregano.
Beet tops are a kinda like a heartier swiss chard, I generally treat them the same way just cook them longer. Word to the wise: wash your beet greens really well, they can be a tad gritty otherwise.
Chop half an onion and as much garlic as you're comfortable with and cook until tender. A trick I like to use is to chop the stalk of the beet green and cook that for a few minutes before adding the leafier bits.
Cook until they're tender and add a quick drop of cider vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Beet greens make a nice side dish when you're in the mood for a meat and two veg kinda evening.
Another great veggie that easily makes two very different dishes. Speaking as a person who learned to love this veg, it's been worth the added effort to overcome my initial beet anxiety.
Full credit for this is due to Fergus Henderson and his book The Whole Beast I had never eaten radishes like this, much less eaten their tops before I read his book. Thanks Mr. Henderson!
First go to your farmers market and buy a bunch of radishes with the tops still attached. Next, clean your bunch of radishes well with cold running water. Then simply separate the radish bulbs from the leafy tops. These are going to make two separate snacks.
The first dish is simple. Radishes with fresh butter. Clean the radishes and dry them well with a towel. Then split them in half (or not) and put a nice dob of room temperature sweet butter on the radish. If you'd like now is the time to sprinkle with your buttered radish with your best coarse sea salt.
I'm such a product of my Omi, I can't resist a nice blob of beautiful butter without a big piece of baguette. This plate led me fairly quickly to sliced radishes on buttered bread with salt. My new favorite snack.
That's snack one, snack two is a radish top salad. Simply replace your regular greens with the radish tops. I like to serve this salad with a cider vinegar and mustard vinaigrette with some bits of diced onion. The radish greens are sharp, and have a unique flavor and texture to boot. My partner Ross now prefers radish tops to other salad greens.
Keeping the radish bulb end of the green together is an aesthetic choice on my part. Ross prefers it when I break them up more, but I like the radishiness of the bulb intact. The choice is up to you.
Of the three vegetables I'm featuring this in the only one you can eat entirely raw. While the summer season is still here go and get a bunch of radishes, especially while they've still got nice leafy tops.
In the spirit of embracing what's left of summer the next few posts will be about vegetables from my local farmers market.
For the last few months I've been concentrating on the meat aspects of eating nose to tail, but the practice of not wasting anything edible can easily and yummily be applied to a wide variety of vegetables as well. I've tried to keep this project about how delicious nose to tail eating can be, but minimizing waste when it comes to the food you consume is a great way eat in a responsible (and still tasty) way.
This week I will be focusing on root vegetables. More specifically beets, radishes and turnips. I will be eating all of the vegetable from root to leaf, and usually get two remarkably different dishes out of each veggie.
Fresh from the market.
I'm looking forward to the next few veggie posts, but for those of you here for the meat things will be heading back in that direction shortly.
My tails have been in the fridge for two nights, and I'm ready for a taste. Because I saved the stock I cooked the tails in I've also decided to make collards, using my pork stock as the cooking liquid. I have a really good feeling about these greens. I've also got some sour cream in my fridge (leftover from making my Omi's cucumber salad earlier this week) so I'm also making a sour cream based corn bread, with kernels of corn I froze earlier this summer from a particularly good batch of sweet corn from the farmers market.
A problem Mum and I have had with her recipe is that it often burns in the high heat needed to crisp the tails. I do not want to sacrifice the crisp, so I've got to keep the heat high, but this time I'm putting the tails on a oiled rack. Hopefully keeping them elevated will stop the burn issue.
Tails on a oiled rack.
I've heated my oven to 400 degree's, which is higher than the temp the original recipe cooks them at. I'm hoping that the rack will stop them from burning. The heat is cranked to achieve the desired crispness.
After about 30 minutes (basting them with reserved marinade/glaze every 10 or so minutes) the less fatty parts of the tail are exactly where I want them to be. However the fatty portions of the tail, mostly the thicker parts, and end pieces still need a few minutes.
Fresh out of the oven.
Those fattier pieces go back in the oven, and although the pieces that are ready are still extremely hot I can't resist a taste. They're excellent, the sauce I made has charred in a few places because of the sugar, but has also made the fatty bits of skin crisp and delightful. The meat easily pulls away from the bone; no wonder after an hour boil and another half hour in a 400 degree oven. The meat, surprisingly, is not dry. The fat has dribbled throughout the meat, maintaining both it's texture and taste.
As for the sauce, it's a pretty decent, but standard BBQ sauce. The smoked paprika has really come through, giving these tails more dynamic than I thought they would have,
What's left of dinner.
The collard greens were as good as I thought they would be, in fact they're probably as good as the pig tails. The pork stock gave them a roundness that can only be found in a homemade stock where gelatin has been extracted out of the bones. Although this is just a quick stock, and did not have the real gelatinous nature of a long simmered stock the collards took on many of the desired qualities. Simmering the collards in the stock for the better part of an hour (adding more stock as they went dry) both reduced the stock and gave its flavors a chance to really permeate the greens. If making pig tail this way I strongly recommend saving the tail stock for collards.
This experiment has given me a great starting point for the next time I make pig tails. The important things to remember are: elevate the tails off the pan while baking, use a good smoked paprika and keep the tail stock for a side of collards.
"using virtually the entirety of any plant or animal"