28 August, 2007

Cochinita Pibil con Aloha: The Accidental Foodie in Kauai

The third in a series of occasional articles about cooking in Kauai.

I don't go to gourmet stores. OK, I do and I love the the artisanal meats, the European cheeses, the beautifully package pastas. But, when I am in these stores, such as Dean & Delucca or Fox & Obel or Katzinger's, I am a tourist, and I hate feeling like a tourist. Over the past couple of years my cooking has been evolving to working with ingredients that I can get nearby. Now I can't say this is about "eating local," but I got tired of travelling fourteen miles to the nearest Trader Joe's, or thirty miles to the nearest Whole Foods to stock my kitchen on a weekly basis (I still go to Joe's about one a month). So my cooking and has changed to take advantage of the best of what I can get from Walt's (only a five minute walk). Now that Farmer's markets are in full swing, we are getting wonderful produce from Michigan and great poultry from downstate. It's all a matter of getting to know your surroundings; we have been living in the Southland for almost four years, and I am still finding new and interesting places to get food. In fact I am starting a new web page devoted to "Small market" shopping in the Southland. We'll see how it goes.

Finding ingredients close at hand was a little different in Kauai. An initial impression of the Hawaiian Islands may be that you get only pineapple and sugar locally and everything else is shipped in from the mainland. Adding to that impression is the fact that Hawaii still holds the top slot as the state that consumes the most Spam(who doesn't love potted meat?). However, as reported in a previous post, there is a lot of great local produce available at the Farmer's Markets (Called the Sunshine Markets). But what about the meat?

In Kauai I saw only one butcher cold case in the big supermarkets and when I saw it, it was not in use. Usually I found meat packaged in Styrofoam trays, I suspect it comes that way from the mainland. I suppose I could have asked around to find out when the would have the case open (If ever) but I was already cutting into beach time. I had discovered on the Internet that there is a hog farm on Kauai, I just couldn't find it in the market.

Then my mom found a newspaper ad touting island raised pork should on sale at the Big Save. I immediately rolled up to Hanalei to pick my pork, but they were out (**no rain checks, supply may vary by store**). Phooey. I looked in Kapaa, Lihue, and then we went to the Southside.

photo credit: Ekarhu

In Waimea, we hit the shave ice shack then onto the Big Save where I found my quarry.

At this point, gentle readers, I should be sharing with you some hooped up Hawaiian recipe for a pork filled luau, and at the time, I thought about doing that, but I didn't want to dig a hole in our gracious hosts' yard. But the yard does play an important role in what we made.

A Mexican Luau.

One of my favorite party dishes is slow roasted pork tacos. It started last year after I went on a tirade about an article by Mark Bittman where he said it was impossible to find a good taco outside of the Southwest. I had adapted a Rick Bayless recipe for pit roasted pork wrapped in banana leaves. since then I made it several times using a whole roast and omitting the banana leaves. It's not that it is hard to get banana leaves in Chicago, they can be found frozen in Asian or Latin groceries, but I didn't want to make a special trip, and I was using the smoker. In Kauai things were switched around: I didn't have the smoker, but I did have a stand of banana leaves.

So I selected a leaf and gave it a good washing. The night before I marinated the pork in citrus juice, garlic and spices.

The next day I arranged the leaves on a roasting pan placed the steaks, and poured the marinade over top.

Then on a gas grill preheated, set on low, for three hours, until the internal temp it at least 180F up to 200F if you really want the meat to shred.

While the pork was cooking I made a habanero salsa: I roasted in a dry skillet six peppers, 3 cloves of garlic then threw them in a blender with 20 grams of seeded guava and some coconut milk.

Time to eat.

The banana leaves gave the pork an anise flavoring that blended perfectly with the marinade. Serve with red onions pickled overnight in citrus juice and you have the perfect Yucatán treat in Kauai.


22 August, 2007

Pound for pound

Liver Sausage, the third time's the charm. August in Columbus.

"I've never been more ready in my entire life
To do this right now
It's all been leading up to this moment
All right now right here
My whole life..
Right here"

Two Friday's ago me and the boys were rolling Northbound on Governor's Highway. At the time I was very down on the Southland, because I had been driving to all corner's of this huge sud-surbopolis looking for something I couldn't find. In the strip mall at the corner of Vollmer I was surprised to see what looked like a mini-circus set up in the lot. It was the Farmer's market in Olympia Fields. I promised the boys they could pat the pony at the petting zoo as I wheeled around to the lot. Amongst the cheese stand, the Labriola bread table and many vegetable vendors, I found the Dickman's. They raise pasture fed poultry, Bonne Femme, found them last year for our Thanksgiving turkey, but I didn't know they worked the market circuit. From their stand the Dickmans sell Chickens, eggs, and other assorted products. Mr Dickman told me they take birds to the processor about every three weeks, and that following Monday was processing day. They would have fresh Chicken all that week. At the time, I was excited, but I was heading out of town and I would not be able to go to Olympia Fields the following Friday. I went home and made mayonnaise with the eggs I bought. Then over the weekend, it hit me, so on Monday I called, and on the phone Mrs. Dickman answered: "Yeah I have chicken livers, we are just heading back from the processor now, how much are you looking for?"

On Tuesday, I went to the farmer's market in Richton Park and picked up about two pounds of fresh, grass fed, chicken livers.

Next stop le potager de saucisson.


Fresh bay leaf



I didn't use a book on this one, so feel free to adjust for taste.

MAC's Herbed Liver Sausage

921 g (about 2 lbs.) Fresh pasture fed chicken livers

580 g Pork shoulder, diced

160 g Pork fat (from shoulder), diced

32 g Salt

9 g Quatre-épices (white pepper, nutmeg, ginger, clove)

4 g White peppercorns

3 g (1 large clove) garlic, minced

1 g Fresh thyme, chopped

4 Fresh bay leaves, veins removed, minced

the leaves from 1 stem of Hyssop, chopped

2 large cold eggs

25 ml Fino (dry white wine sherry)

Hog Casings

I started out rinsing the livers, the setting them in a colander, over a bowl to drain in the fridge for an hour. I ground the peppercorns fine and combined them with the other spices (not herbs)and salt and mixed them with the cubed pork and pork fat.

Since the day was hot and I needed to keep my ingredients cold, I chilled the grinder attachment and the bowl in the freezer then set the bowl in ice while grinding. I ground the pork mixture first then the livers. I used the small grinding plate.

Using the paddle attachment, I added the herbs, the eggs, and the fino, and mixed until it all came together about two minutes. The consistency is a little runny, but it will be okay.

I stuffed them into hog casings. I suppose you could pack the mixture into a terrine (pronounced loaf pan), but I like the look and the portability of the casing.

I decided to poach the sausage in the oven. I used these really cool roasting pans I got from IKEA . I preheated the oven to 325F., then filled the pan to just under the rack with boiling water. I inserted a temp probe and inverted another pan on top and into the oven.

After about forty minutes the internal temperature read 165F., time for the ice bath.

After about 20 minutes on ice I put the sausage (Still in the rack pan) in the fridge to rest, uncovered, overnight.

The next day I put the Sausage into a Ziploc, because it was time to go to Columbus. As I have mentioned in previous posts, August is our favorite time to go to Columbus. Mom and Dad (and Buzz) have been working on the South side of the house and It has gone from spooky-no-doorbell haunted house to respectable country estate (in the middle of Clintonville).

The kids and Grandpa Bob stayed in the pool the whole time.

Mom made chicken tikka marsala from this month's Cook's Illustrated, and nan.

Once again I had to use a knife to open the sparkling wine (I would be happy to do this at your next party).

For serving the liver sausage, grab some bread, cut desired amount of pâté, squeeze from casing, spread on bread. Isle of Mull Cheddar from Katzinger's makes a nice accompaniment.


15 August, 2007

City to City

Italian Sausage with Parsley and Cheese.

Another weekend another trip. Sunday we found ourselves in the gentle environs of Naperville. I know, not exactly the wild, but any town where you can crack cans of Modelo at the community pool cannot not be all bad. After an afternoon of showing the kids the proper turns of the can-opener, the sleeper and the suicide, we repaired to the soon to be retired back deck of our longtime friends, Josh and Jen. J&J run a blog called The Wine Commoners, and to accompany the spread J pulled out a bottle Gourt de Mauntens, a Châteauneuf-du-Pape and more cans of Modelo.

An informal spread could include: Pesto, tampanade, baba ganoush and some funky cheeses from Whole Foods.

What about the sausage?

No Sleep till..

This weeks experiment picks up where I left off a few weeks ago when I made Italian sausage from a recipe out of a book. In the comment box of that post I started riffing about sausage from pork shops in Brooklyn, specifically the Parsley and Cheese sausage. Now I haven't been to every sausage joint in the Chicagoland area, but I have never come across P&C sausage. I guess I better make something up:

Italian Sausage with Parsley and Cheese

1275 g Pork shoulder, cubed
18 g salt
7 g white peppercorns
5 g coriander
1 g cayenne pepper
127 g Parmesan cheese cubed and chilled almost frozen
18 g fresh flat parsley chopped
50 ml red wine vinegar, chilled
75 ml cold water

I put the peppercorns (you can use black if you don't have white) and coriander in the grinder for a fine powder. Along with the salt and cayenne I mixed the powder into the cubed pork, then stirred in the very cold cheese and ran the mixture through the small plate of a grinder.

Using the paddle attachment, I gently added the parsley, then the vinegar and water and mixture it until it started to come together about one minute.

I stuffed them into hog casings, twisted them into six inch lengths. If you want that East coast authentico look, stuff them into sheep casings make a big ring and skewer it with a couple of bamboo stakes. whatever you do put them in the fridge to rest, uncovered, overnight.

Meanwhile back in Naperville:

Subterranean suburban rec room blues.

First time wii, now we're livin.

Sausage love in the summer time.


08 August, 2007


Summer Sausage

Hot 'nuff? when the going gets hot, the hot get smokin. As ritual for inhabitants of every great metropolis at the heights of summer, it is incumbent upon us to escape the grit for the country airs. What you don't have a summer home? Yeah, me neither. So one must ply great friends with sausage and mustard so that his family can share a woodsy hole for a quiet weekend in the country. Actually there wasn't much plying involved, just planning, and we were off for the wilds of Wisconsin.

The prep started the Monday before for summer sausage. I don't have any in-depth research to present on the origins of this particular sausage (during the summer the library only stocks romance novels and historical fiction, I finally broke down and checked out Heat, it was actually very good) but suffice to say, as any Midwesterner would, being the oft the recipient of the Hickory Hills gift boxes thus being very familiar with the cased meat, summer sausage strives (and succeeds) to be a heavily smoked fermented semi dry salami type sausage. Except instead of drying and curing for three weeks or three months, you can make it (at home!) in three days.

The recipe uses a few exotic ingredients: Fermento, dextrose and pink salt. Fermento is a dairy derived powder that provides a tang that takes fermentation months to achieve. I got mine from Sausage Maker. Dextrose is corn sugar. Pink salt is 6.25 percent sodium nitrite and is an ingredient used to keep botulism at bay when curing meat. I got mine at the Spice House. I adapted the recipe from Charcuterie:

Summer Sausage

631 g Pork shoulder, cubed
204 g Pork Fat (in this case from the shoulder), diced
835 g Chuck, trimmed and cubed.
30 g Salt
22 g dextrose
5 g pink salt
60 g Fermento
12 g whole black mustard seed
3 g coriander
1 g garlic powder

I combined the cubed meats (not the fat) with the salts and ran it through the large plate of the meat grinder.

Next I mixed the Fermento with about 100 ml of cold water making a thin paste. Then I ran the whole spices through the grinder and added them along with the garlic to the Fermento paste. Using the paddle attachment I mixed the paste with the meat mixture and continued to to mix until it started to come together, about one minute. Finally, using a really big spoon I folded in the diced fat. I put the mixture in a Ziploc, squeezed all the air out, then into the fridge for three days.

On Wednesday, I ran the mixture through the small plate of the meat grinder, and stuffed it into hog casings, then then let the links rest overnight on hooks. Sorry I didn't take any photos here, but you can look at last years summer sausage post to see what's going on.

On Thursday, ( wait I thought you said three days? Well yeah, if you are in a hurry, but things taste better when you don't rush) I set up the smoker. I wanted to smoke the sausage for as long as possible so cold smoke was the order. In the Spring when the neighbor and I did Sausage Mania, I bought and some hickory sawdust, a steel bowl and a hot plate, in an attempt to simplify the cold smoking process. I figured I could put the hot plate in the bottom of my bullet smoker and smolder the hickory dust for a fine cold smoke. Except it got too hot. Cold smoking (so I have read) is supposed to be done at temperatures below 100F. This time I wasn't as fussy, I was going to let the smoke take its own course. Besides it was already above 90F outside anyway.

The hood temp settled around 125F. My plan was to smoke them as low as possible for five hours then crank my K-Mart hot plate to white hot and finish the sausages to an internal temperature of 150F.

While that's cooking why not relax and make some sausage?

The boys cranked out four pounds of Bratwurst with marjoram and caraway.

Back to the summer sausage. After seven hours of smoking I couldn't get the internal temp past 135F, so I finished them in the oven(final internal temp 160F), then put them in and ice bath, then let them rest unwrapped in the fridge.

On Friday we drove to Wisconsin.

photo credit harryspiderman

photo credit harryspiderman
When weren't pursuing important activities such as sleeping in a hammock or hiking, we ate our summer sausage with cheese, specifically Pleasant Hill Reserve from the Uplands Cheese Company.

Sausage and Mustard?

Amerikanische Rostbratwurst in natural habitat (Wisconsin).

I hope you are making good food and enjoying beautiful Summer weekends.