Some of you will say, OH, that looks so ugly. Yes it does. Some will say, oh quite gloppy, dark and terrifying. Well sure it is. But if you have your own 12 hour stock on hand, are you just going to add butter and drizzle it on a piece of bland naked meat? I say no. I say brown some oxtails and let it braise as low as long as you can with aromatic vegetables. The effect is not unlike osso bucco, but the depth of flavor is so intense and pure, that it shoots straight into you brain. There MUST be a very strong jammy zin to go with this. And if you have dogs, give them the bones. I have never seen anything better defining contentment as this.
The word itself has little to recommend it. Ass Pick. Asp Ick. A-Spic. And the thing itself, in all honesty, has even less appeal. But I had to do it. This was after a 12 hour stock making session, reduction late into the night, and a bourbon-fueled facebook conversation with the most lovely people. It kept me stoked. Pigs feet and every imaginable body part emptied from the freezer. Enough skin to solidify liquid nitrogen. And then there it is. I should have clarified it more. The top is less translucent than it ought to be. The meaty bits a little less generous than they could have been. And it's actually quite mellow. None of the acidic bite of good head cheese. Just a mellow meat jello. I had a few slices so far. NOW what the hell do I do with it??
Pickle Crocks have suddenly made an appearance in your average kitchenwares shop. I really like the ones with two separate lids, one to keep the contents under the brine, the other to create a water seal. It was actually fairly easy to make. But it then occured to me, why don't they sell just the weights? For use with an ordinary quart-sized glass Ball jar? So I threw about a dozen of these. If anyone would like to try one out, the small weight with the holes in it shown here, let me know and I'll send you one. I'd love to hear what people think of them. Ken
For many years I have wondered how medieval recipes could call for verjuice as a year-round pantry staple. The season for immature grapes from which you can get any amount of juice is maybe 3 weeks or so, right about now. Moreover, and far more importantly, once you squeeze them, they begin to oxidize and if you try to keep it any length of time, they inevitably grow mold. This happens in the fridge too. So last week I was at Acquiesce winery in Lodi, and they were thinning the vines and I asked if I could take some cut clusters. Two big shopping bags, nearly enough to fill my huge stockpot. Crushed by hand and left - here's the key - to FERMENT. There's enough sugar in them to maybe get 5-10 percent alcohol. It smells magnificent. And is wonderfully sour. So I am expecting, as often happens with historical cooking experiments, that if you really do exactly what would have been done in the past, it should work. In this case the alcohol should make it shelf stable. In the meantime there are some recipes in the Livre fort excellent de cuysine I simply must try. I should be done with my half of the translation by the end of the week. To be published by Prospect Books.
Food Historian at the University of the Pacific.
Author of Eating Right in the Renaissance, Food in Early Modern Europe, Cooking in Europe 1250-1650, The Banquet, Beans (2008 IACP Jane Grigson Award) and Pancake. A cookbook with Rosanna Nafziger THE LOST ART OF REAL COOKING.
Coeditor of The Lord's Supper with Trudy Eden and Editor of A Cultural History of Food: The Renaissance.
Food Cultures of the World Encyclopedia (4 vols.) Three World Cuisines: Italian, Mexican and Chinese won the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards Best Foreign Cuisine book in the World. The Routledge International Handbook to Food Studies.
A sequel THE LOST ARTS OF HEARTH AND HOME.
Grow Food, Cook Food, Share Food from Oregon State U Press, a little book on Nuts from Reaktion and The Food History Reader from Bloomsbury. The Most Excellent Book of Cookery (translation of a 16th c. French Cookbook with Tim Tomasik) from Prospect Books. The Food Issues Encyclopedia for Sage. At the Table. Most recently: Noodle Soup: Recipes, Techniques, Obsession!