Chomage Monday, Nov 28 2011 

Employment sought

Will work to pay rent.

Cancerous greed has deflated the country’s economy and America’s philistine pizza-burger mascot has left me hopelessly unemployed for 6 weeks with the last of savings about to run out. Despite the epicurean content here and qualifications, I can not find a restaurant job in 3rd rate recession-proof Washington, DC that doesn’t neuter me of any integrity.  Assistance finding a prep, butcher, working chef job or any means through which I can support myself through the bullshit holidays would be very much appreciated.

Resumé, repertoire, references and such on request.

Discutons Dindons №2; Édition Spéciale Les Convives d’or. Friday, Nov 18 2011 

Lets Talk Turkey №2; Special Guilded Guests Edition.

Heard about the bird?

TG 2011 tentative top shelf guest list.

Jeff Bridges

My sister

Rick Harrison

Lisa Ling

Louis CK

Trine Lai

The Most Interesting Man in the World

Miss Piggy

Bonjwing Lee

Jimmy Wales

Tina Turner

Dave Eggers

Still need one more female.  Sarah Silverman has been considered, but may be too annoying. Will only invite Paula Poundstone  if she has a designated driver.  Suggestions, recommendations and precautions (in accordance with the guest consideration requirements ) welcome.

Poulet rôti et choufleur à la Polonaise: Edition Spéciale Bonne Mère et Bon Œuf. Thursday, Nov 10 2011 

Roasted chicken & cauliflower à la Polonaise:

Special Good Mother and Good Egg Edition.

Fresh from the oven. 11/5/11 -5lbs, 2oz.

Nearly a fortnight ago as the infallible doctor-mandated temporal due date expired,  an expecting mother’s expectations had withered from frustration to desperation only to be reignited with traditional internet folklore.  According to Cobb County, Georgia legend, the revered eggplant parmigiana at Scalini’s old-fashioned Italian restaurant had, for better or much worse,  particularly labor inducing properties.  The ingredients themselves seem benign and the adulteration of nutritionally worthless eggplant.

Fertile soil

Eggplants are naturally high in nicotine and perhaps abundant levels of affection for kitschy guido bric-a-brac may help to explain why pregnant women’s bodies dislodged an abundant amount of cute-deficient babies after gorging themselves on really crappy Americanized Italian foodstuff.   (insert shudder emoticon).

Whether or not the expedient natural birth was a symptom or relief from the dutiful father-to-be’s rendition of eggplant placatingiana, not more than 3 hours later the couple welcomed the adorable tiny fruit of their mutual affection and steadfast commitment.

Drawn butter helps delivery up north.

A cook’s cook once said that anything worth doing was worth doing right and that the final product is a measure of effort, passion and dedication.  If the newborn is any indication, her folks must have done it right, intensely, and probably twice just to make sure.  In recognition of their compassionate endeavor, a soulful dinner to feed the soul was offered up. Roasted chicken -a centerpiece mainstay of homely nutrition, and as an allegory to the seasonal household addition  –cauliflower à la Polonaise.  As an extension of the fall harvest, a garnish of potatoes from the mother’s garden, glazed turnips and red pearl onions.

All natural, cage-free birthing bearth.

The bird was prepared and cooked in an orthodox manner (wishbone removed; drumsticks Frenched; stuffed with sliced lemon, garlic, thyme, dried chili and the last of summer’s savory; trussed) and left to roast on a bedding of standard vegetables and slices of another lemon.  The resulting creature attained a golden lacquer which retained an abundant reservoir of succulent juices with prevailing poultry, fragrant traces of herbs and echoes of citrus.  Paper booties were applied in lieu of a proper bowtie which was impossible to wear without a neck.  Meat was moist and clean, though if given the opportunity to serve in two acts, the legs would have returned backstage and simmered in the juices until entirely free from the bone.

Yellow Hot Cauliflower Crispies.

The pennant of Polonaise preparation involves garnishing with clarified butter, hard cooked eggs, bread crumbs and parlsey. Yellow cauliflower and romanesco were purchased for a song at the morning’s market.  No parsley.  No problem. Once manicured and whittled to florettes, the stalks were cooked down in stored poultry fat and made into a noble béchamel with the addition of flour, milk, nutmeg and piment d’espelette.  Meanwhile, as eggs were brought up to barely a boil, bread crumbs toasted in a pan with mashed garlic and the zest of a lime. The earthy béchamel lined the bottom of a dish and blanched cauliflower was spread on top, interspersed with halved eggs.  After a hot flash in the oven, rosemary scented poultry fat was drizzled for rizzle all over that shit (until chickens give milk, schmaltz will replace clarified butter) and a dusting of those bread crumbs provided that essential crun(k)ch.  All involved parties seemed satisfied, particularly the baby who, despite a strict regimen of mother’s milk,  apparently found no reason to protest.

Andouilles et Andouillettes chez Gilles Verot: Édition Spéciale « ouf, ça fouette! » Tuesday, Nov 1 2011 

Andouilles and Andouillettes at Gilles Verot: 

Special “wow, that stinks” edition.

Very special hotdogs.

 The confluence of stubborn tradition, soulful ambition, and epicurean pride centers on inimitable Paris, France,   and hard sought apprenticeships for further exposure to the uncompromising practice and theory of traditional European meat trades at decorated master charcutier  Gilles Verot and celebrated artisan butcher  Hugo Desnoyer.

A city which transcends all others.

For 3 weeks in September, on the cusp of fall in enchanting Paris, I had the exceptional opportunity and pleasure of being taken in by the staff at Gilles Verot’s production shop on rue Lecourbe in the 14th arrondissement.  While the sheer quantities of raw product exceeded my expectations (1800 lbs of hams, jowls, fat, shanks, blood and loins received on a Tuesday), the fabrications remained deceptively simple.  Not easy, but not contrived or needlessly manipulated either.  Streamlined –though laborious- steps that ensured a high rate of production and unwavering consistency with minimal processing of Spartan parts.

Meet the meat.

Not too many mystical fabrications match the genuinely unpleasant appeal (more in terms of robust odor, as with certain cheeses, than flavor) of artisinal products lingering in France’s dusty recesses of charcuterie and its olfactorily offensive offal fraternity:  andouilles, and their sisterly andouillettes -a charred tubesteak eaten 4 years ago- composed of innards which carry body badness outwards offering a texture and whiff of organic balloon ends last inflated by the dying breaths of death deities who subsisted on Maroilles and Vieux-Boulogne cheese hot pockets.  In the annals of comestible western civilization, many coprophagous analogies have been made.  I have come closer to those than most (except puppies and sürstromming consumers). I would gladly regale my own grandchildren with tales of ancestral courage if my proliferation were not sanctioned by the damned prophylactic tongue-wilting barnyard sausage which even copious mouthfuls of strong mustard could not assuage.

Andouilles. Now with 10% more real assholes!

The business end of a 150lb batch of “andouillettes à la ficelle” still evokes the collective backsides of Animal Planet and its musky attributes range from removing pleats and wrinkles out of trousers to perm straightening sex panther cologne.  These andouillettes are in the style of Troyes, but not named as such since the Code of Charcuterie Usage mandates, like other appellations, that the product must conform to geographical provenance and ingredients*.  Ficelle corresponds to the string that is used to pull the filling through the casing.  The French homonym of andouille is “imbecile”,  though the term is said to be derived from the Latin inductile which means “to introduce into or insert”

bucket list #74 Clean buckets of pork middles.

Large intestines from pigs are soaked in warm water to remove their packaging salt, stretched flat, cut lengthwise and left to soak in a white wine vinegar and water mixture to neutralize some of the god-awful smell.  Pork stomachs are poached  -resembling fleshy WWII era aviator caps once cooked, though far more tender- and sliced into strips.  Pork deckles are cut into equally sized strips.  The middles are blanched until they reach a peyote shape and once cooled are mixed with salt, spices and enough Dijon mustard to sooth the sinuses of 4 college football teams their drug dealers and respective marching bands.

Whiskey bottles and pork middles…Ooh-Ooh that smell.

Aside from stifling heavy handed aperitifs the night before, such simple  tubesteaks -though lengthy, arcane and very stinky- are a sobering Fernsehturm palast der republik-ish  monument to austere, resourceful, natural ingredients, which, along with blood sausage (blood, fat, onions, casings and occasionally cereal grains -a delectable Estonian version has barley) are surprisingly refreshing considering the abusive levels at which American foods are so highly processed and filled with a different, lab derived, kind of (s)crap, though distributed to more traditional –even pioneering- palates.

P-pp-pull it. Pull it real good.

A revised verdict includes andouilles de Vire (brined belly, cooked stomach, poached intestines and ground pork stuffed into a beef bung, smoked then poached) and Guémené (butterflied intestines, poached then rolled in concentric rings, often with a cured belly center) to be acceptable, both of which can be chewed on cold or hot, though neither repast merits  walking  any amount of miles in flip-flops to savour. The Troyes variety however  remains confined to a personal bastion where it can do no harm.

At last, a bag for the gastroenterologist who has everything.

The true merit of a charcutier’s skill might be measured by the noble, forgotten dirty work.  Few fabrications involve such minimally processed, austere raw ingredients.  Pork middles, pork stomachs, salt, mustard and spices.  Simmered, cooled, cut, seasoned, stuffed, cooked again and kept in fat or its own gelatin.  And yet, the final product is a hard pill to swallow, though an appreciation for the humdrum otherwise discarded ingredients in endearing, almost bearable with enough mustard and nasal congestion.

Like the rings on a tree, only they measure how many years your hands will smell.

A close relative, Andouille Guemené from Brittany is like scoring an emerald Jujubee in the dark at the movies after a handful of ebony ones.  Not quite a fruit cocktail, but at least a palatable flavor reminiscent of toothpaste.  Guemené is like a belly section of the pig built like a Combos, but not really snack worthy.  A crowd pleasing center of pork belly wrapped in concentric rings of pork middles.  Cooked, wrapped in some sort of wax and can be enjoyed cold, like revenge.  Or, heated up in rows along side coins of blood sausage slivers and braised pork belly on savoury pastry:  a calorie-rich slice of pizza at the rugby equivalent of the SuperBowl.

The definitive American contribution to sausage ingenuity.

At the very least, particularly for the sensorially vacant veterans who indifferently jiggle the goods bareback, fabricating andouilles ensures ample personal space on public transportation and a wide “stinking drunk” buffer zone at the bar. Still, it remains a time honored monument to resourcefulness,  patience, practice, dedication,  discipline and pursuit in making gilded purses from intestinal burlap.

*pig insides have been used exclusively since veal tripe were forbidden in 2000 after the crazy cow case, thereupon halting the production of Andouillette de Cambrai.  Since 2008 however, new regulations lifted the ban.