Cochon; or how to make the most of a pig’s bounty

How can you not love a restaurant named after the pig? This is Cochon, which I talked about before in a piece on women in butchery, only 5 minutes walk from where we used to work, located in the Warehouse District in NOLA, on Tchoupitoulas (shortened to the easier “Chop”) Street.

This is chef Stephen Stryjewski (co-owner, along with Donald Link of Herbsaint fame amongst others) looking idyllically happy amongst his meat stash.

PHOTO BY CHRIS GRANGER/Chefs For Farmers

A past winner of the 2011 James Beard Foundation “Best Chef South,” he’s also the owner of Cochon Butcher, Pêche Seafood Grill, and Calcasieu. Winner of the “Best New Chef” award by New Orleans Magazine and called the “Chef to Watch” by The Times-Picayune. He loves his pigs — so you won’t be at all surprised to know that he’s the prime Crescent City devotee of the nose to tail movement.

We ate there more than once; I could have stayed just for this place. That and Root, located close by, around the corner. And about a hundred others by now I’m sure. So, without further ado, on to a great recipe he donated to the “Tremé: Stories and Recipes from the Heart of New Orleans” book.

BRAISED PIG WITH STEWED TURNIPS AND CABBAGE

Ingredients:

One 8- to 10-pound bone-in, skin-on pork butt
12 cloves garlic
4 fresh thyme sprigs
4 fresh sage sprigs
4 fresh rosemary sprigs
8 bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Red pepper flakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup canola oil
8 ounces bacon lardons
4 turnips, peeled and cut into small triangles
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small head green cabbage (3 to 4 pounds), cored and diced
2 cups chicken stock
Splash of apple cider vinegar
Dash of hot sauce
Pinch or 2 of sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Preparation:

Put the pork butt in a roasting pan and add the garlic, herb sprigs, and bay leaves, distributing them evenly around the pan. Season with salt and black pepper. Add water to cover the meat and place in the oven. Braise until the meat is falling-off-the-bone tender between 8 and 12 hours. Remove meat from the pan, saving the braising liquid.

Place the roasting pan over medium-high heat on the stovetop and reduce the braising liquid until there are small bubbles on the surface and the liquid becomes lightly syrupy. As the liquid reduces, pull the meat and fat off the bone. Discard the skin and bone.

Mix reduced braising liquid with pulled pork to keep it moist. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.

Once the meat has cooled, form the pork into thick patties (each about 5.5 ounces). Lightly dust them with flour. Place a skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of oil and when hot, sear 2 to 3 patties at a time until lightly crisp on both sides. Repeat until all the patties have been seared.

Render the bacon lardons over medium heat. Add the turnips and continue cooking for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until soft. Add the cabbage. Then add chicken stock to cover the vegetables about halfway, add a splash of apple cider vinegar, a dash of hot sauce, the sugar, and season with salt and pepper.

Simmer the stew until the cabbage is soft, then taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

To serve, spoon about one cup of hot cabbage stew per person into bowls and top each with a pork patty.

© Tabélog

 

Kagoshima nibbles

Those of you who’ve been paying attention (“sit up at the back there, stop slouching and put both hands on the desk”), will know that (a) we’re off to Japan in 2018 and (b) that the famous Kurobuta pig is a particular favourite of mine.

Thus, the local traditional shabu-shabu and tonkotsu are both high on my list to seek out and enjoy.

© Wongnai 2017

I accept that ‘nibbles’ may be slightly understating it…

Shabu-shabu is a “hot pot” (not as we know it, read on) based around a hot pork-based broth and usually made with two kinds of pork (belly and loin) on offer, alongside an assortment of vegetables (hakusai radish, spinach, mizuna sprouts and mushrooms). The fun part is that you — wrestling manfully with your chopsticks (if like me, you’re still totally crap at using them effectively i.e. I’d starve if forced to eat only with them) — get to cook the vegetables and pork to your liking in your very own personal “hot pot”. Green onions and sesame are served on the side as seasoning as well as a ponzu sauce * for an extra flavour kick. Ramen noodle are served at the end to allow you to mop up the last broth remnants.

* [ponzu sauce is soy based and traditionally is made with a citrus fruit & is believed to have been inspired by visitors from Holland during the 17th century]

© Tasty Island 2017

Tonkatsu, which I talked about before, is a breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet made using either fillet and loin pork cuts which originated in Japan during the 19th century and is often served with shredded cabbage. It’s a hugely popular way of eating pork, even appearing as sandwich fillings and in curries. The pork is salted & peppered, lightly dredged through flour, dipped into beaten egg and then coated with panko — bread crumbs — before being deep fried.

Usually eaten with a type of thick Worcestershire sauce called tonkatsu or simply sōsu (sauce), karashi (mustard) and possibly a slice of lemon, it’s also plated along with plain rice, some delicious miso soup and tsukemono (pickled vegetables) and it’s apparently also great when served with ponzu and grated daikon (radish) instead of the tonkatsu sauce.

Drooling already? If you can’t wait to eat this in a restaurant either here or in Japan, then try this foolproof recipe by Mr Turner (he of “Hog” and “Prime” fame)

 

International Womens Day

A number of suitable shout outs on this day… Not least of course to my truly talented and all-round wonderful partner, artist Val Littlewood and to my beautiful daughter (and new-ish mother), teacher Beth Bruce.

Turner & George’s Jess Wragg and Sophie Cumber

H G Walter Celebrating #internationalwomensday with our two top female butchers @aembarton and @butcher_onions #ladybutchers

Best. Bar. Ever. Go women.

Amen to that

Mikaela of Cannon & Cannon

“Bloody foreigners” eh?

Coming over here, breeding like, well, in this case, like pigs...

I wonder if — the frankly stone-crazy — Ben Carson would group the original pigs that “colonised” American under that same ‘involuntary immigrants’ category? After all, if he can double-down after calling slaves ‘immigrants‘ then I’m sure his craziness knows no bounds. Released originally by Cristobal Colon who left 8 pigs — documented in the manifest for his 2nd voyage — after making landfall in Cuba, their onward journey was further helped by De Soto, who after picking up 13 of their descendants, then in turn made landfall in Florida in 1539. And from this little band all the rest are descended.

Peter Kaminksy, “Pig Perfect”

Then there’s the ‘involuntary immigrants” from France to England; the Charolais cattle, who i̶n̶v̶a̶d̶e̶d̶ migrated to us in the late 1960s and early 1960s; we didn’t seem to put up much of an effective fight there. But whereas there were no native American pig (Suidae) breeds to be ‘contaminated’ by the Spanish porcine invaders, here we have had centuries of — at times chaotic & unstructured, I admit — breeding of native species.  The Charolais were introduced because their growth rate is faster than these traditional breeds and they produce more edible i.e. profitable meat (a higher ‘killing out percentage’). But that means there’s less fat. Thus less taste, less depth of flavour. More just plain hunks of bland. I’ve written about this problem before.

The recent Observer Food Magazine 50 Awards talked hugely approvingly of an old English heritage breed, the White Park. One that during WWII, was held to be so important to the UK’s heritage that two in-calf cows and a bull were sent for safe-keeping to New York.

Slower growing, fat marbling for huge flavour. A A Gill (sadly departed) said of it in a Sunday Times piece

“The white park, a breed I’ve never eaten before and had always assumed was purely ornamental, was really excellent: softly chewy, with that strong, distinctive, almost corrupt flavour of proper beef … it was the best steak I’ve had this year”

So what am I arguing for here? Less immigration? Fatter immigrants? More immigrants? In the case of our fellow human beings, more immigrants of course. England (and indeed every country that’s welcomed immigrants of whatever shape, hue, colour, persuasion) have benefited enormously from them. It’s a symbiotic relationship, not a parasitic one, despite what the Carsons, the Farages, the Mays and the Le Pens of the facist world would have you believe. The collective gene pool (not just the physical one but the cultural and societal ones) gets a huge, welcome, influx of stimulating new ‘blood’. The community becomes stronger, more diverse and, ultimately, more accepting of “different”.

In the case of the foreign animals? Big, juicy, old, fat ones. Of course. Just don’t let their use be to the detriment of the native breeds; like the humans, they can (and should) live in a harmonious, diverse, healthy, whole. A complex ecosystem is a healthy & self-sustaining one. More diversity please. Fuck Brexit. Fuck The Orange Stain. Fuck intolerant bigoted Nazis.

Remember:

“Strange to see how a good dinner and feasting reconciles everyone.”

Samuel Pepys Diaries, 9th November 1665

And finally? Finally, one of the earliest recipes that mentions pork and sausages via The British Library.

The Forme of Cury – Pygges in sawse sawge

Take Piggs yskaldid and quarter hem and seeþ hem in water and salt, take hem and lat hem kele. take persel sawge. and grynde it with brede and zolkes of ayrenn harde ysode. temper it up with vyneger sum what thyk. and, lay the Pygges in a vessell. and the sewe onoward and serue it forth.

Translation

 Take pigs scalded and quarter them and seethe (boil) them in water and salt, take them and let them cool. Take parsley, sage, and grind it with bread and yolks of eggs hard boiled. Temper it up with vinegar somewhat thick, and lay the pigs in a vessel, cover it with the sauce and serve it forth.