Le Pied de Porc Farci: Édition Spéciale Grande Bottes. Tuesday, Aug 28 2012 

Stuffed Pig Trotter: Special Knee-High Boots Edition.

Stuffed, with the right stuff.

With an amplitude of skin and hooves obtained from butchering minimally processed, whole pork shoulders with the hoof, stuffed trotters are the reasonable fabrication to avoid waste, even if the hoof itself is more aesthetic than practical.  In cooler months the hooves and skin are used to fortify and thicken bean cookery water (cooking beans in stock is an absolute waste of stock and highlights an ignorance of the collagen properties of skin and hooves) and the shanks will often find themselves brined (skin-on), simmered, picked and pressed into porksicle molds like candied apples except that they are comprised of boneless cured pork, brushed with lard and rolled in bread crumbs.  Jellied pigs feet is not really a flavor that you, I or Flavor Flav crave, though there are fashionable exceptions.

Up yours, Manolo.

Stuffed trotters however, showcase some extreme sewing skillz and allow for a slice of the forcemeat to be caramelized in a pan, bound in tender skin, whose collagen will thicken the basting juices like gluey pudding.  Mmmm, gluey pudding.  In this fabrication, the skin up to picnic ham was removed and freed of all extraneous fat.  The shank was set aside for another spectacular use which does not concern you at this moment. Lean and fatty meat from the shoulder was ground with some liver in proprietary proportions along with cream, an egg, brandy, Randy tubemeat, Pez candy, apricots, pistachios and other spectacular filler that does not concern you at this moment.

Aromatic footrest.

All the ingredients were secretly mixed (more finely ground than the pâté de champagne forcemeat) and stuffed into the trotter that had been sewn up prior in a neighboring sweatshop while I was fighting crime in this nefarious, 2nd tier food city.  The stuffing was loose enough to allow for a shrinking of the skin and avoid blowouts.   The foodboot was slow roasted covered, then uncovered and glazed until the skin was tender when poked with a food poker thingy.  Admittedly, the hoof does nothing more than reassure the provenance and nature of the appendage, but it looks sharp, makes a formidable conversation centerpiece and beats the out-of-sight-out-of-mind freezer storage.

Morue à la Catalane. Monday, Aug 13 2012 

Catalan Saltcod.

Honk if dried, salted fish makes you horny.

Saltcod. Noblest of fish in the history of western civilization whose nutritional and physical properties coronated the once revered bottom feeder as the versatile backstroking emperor to the now obsessed-upon pig papacy. Cod’s fabled abundance and remarkably slim fat content allowed it to air-dry, providing perennial sustenance for seaborne contingents on the high seas and snowbound penitents during Lenten months. Bones, skin, collar, roe, milk, liver, oil, tongue, cheeks, feet and feathers; all of the slippery beast was, in some shape or form, edible. And yet cod tattoos are not likely to be impulsively exploited by insecure chefs as much as the cute piggy ones, or other tattoos that reaffirm ones accomplishment in the craft (if only frying ears or using bacon –gasp! in an unorthodox, downright wacky composition), like inefficient utility vehicles on unnecessarily knobby tires eliminate the anxieties of their genitally deficient drivers by suppressing whatever sexual suspicions  an economy car casts on gossipy passersby.

After being delicately poached in a lemon and garlic scented court bouillon the miracle fish was introduced to a summer stew of Carmen peppers  (peeled, naturally), plum tomatoes, dried chorizo, red onions and capers. All parties involved got along swimmingly, perfume of lightly roasted peppers and the thickening properties of their juices given some help to the otherwise boring tomato juices. Salty capers and saltcod were the torch bearers at opposite ends with sweet onion and peppers in the middle ground, some chorizo coins for spicy heat and sherry vinegar for the essential acidity. If ever there were a successful dish that had used regional salted mainstays and ingredients to accentuate and extol the produce of summer, while encouraging, even, inducing fertility, this was it.

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