I haven’t used the wok for a while, so the other night I was thinking about some sort of Sichuan stir-fried situation for dinner using the napa cabbage and fennel I had in the fridge. There was also a package of goat stew meat, which enjoys those highly aromatic spices, so perfect, right? But because these goat chunks had some fat and connective tissue on them, they weren’t great candidates for quick cooking; those things tend to be pretty chewy or worse unless they’re cooked long and low and I didn’t feel like trimming them all and ending up with a pile of stringy scraps fit only for stock. So I came up with a sort of hybrid, using slow-roasted goat in an otherwise speedy stir-fry.
Originally—back when I gathered these chestnuts in October—this was going to be the sort of spot-on, autumnal af post that you’ve come to expect from this establishment. But the thing about fermentation is that it proceeds at its own pace. We can goose it by raising the ambient temperature (within reason) but any food that relies on the metabolic processes of a complex microbial ecosystem AND concurrent enzymatic chemical reactions is going to need some time to achieve the magical flavors we expect it to deliver. This is more true of miso than just about anything else.
Quite a long time ago, I read a post by Aki and Alex about making gochujang with their sourdough starter. Since at the time I didn’t have any experience with koji, it seemed like a great way to get some of the umami-dense, viscous, funky heat that gochujang is justly renowned for. But I forgot about it, because I am old and forget things, until I remembered it last year.
After a hiatus this summer, the new issue of Fish & Game Quarterly is out today, and it’s a good one. Spend a little time with the talented people we gathered in our little corner of the Web; it’s about as far from clickbait as you can get in the food world, and we’re proud of that. Dig in.
When I lived in Chicago, during my brief stint as an art handler one of my colleagues hipped me to Bari Italian Subs west of downtown. It’s an unassuming deli, with the usual assortment of Italian groceries and a deli in back. The thing that makes it so special, and the reason we would often drive many miles out of our way (on the clock, of course) was their hot giardiniera.
Late tomato season ranks among the most intense and fulfilling stretches of the gardening year, especially since those glorious fruits are accompanied in force by their nightshade cousins: peppers, eggplants, tomatillos, and husk cherries. I can never grow enough tomatoes to get us through a whole year—I’d have to dedicate half the garden to them—so I always order a bunch from my man Jay, the tomato whisperer, who first turned me on to blue beech tomatoes back in the day. They’re prolific, dense, meaty, and above all their seeds aren’t bitter. This last attribute may seem insignificant, but it’s a big part of why I love them so.
I took the kid to Italy for his thirteenth birthday; we just got back a few days ago. I realized when we arrived in Rome that it had been fifteen years since I was last there, an inconceivably long time given the crucial part Italy played in forming who I became artistically and culinarily. The visual influences became apparent immediately in my paintings, and that continued until I left figuration behind entirely a few years later. The culinary influence proved to be even more durable, and increased in importance as I began growing and cooking food all the time when we left Brooklyn for the country. Now that I write about food for a living, the Italian approach to ingredients—the simplicity, the honesty, the glorification of peasant frugality—remains one of my touchstones.
Okay, I need to vent for a minute here about the ubiquitous use lately of the word “humbled” in posts all over the place about various awards/honors/interviews/press/accolades/handjobs that people have received and want to promote and/or link to. Shorter: you’re not. I don’t think that word means what you think it means. Have you been humiliated, chagrined, or brought low before your peers? No? Then shut the fuck up with your humblebragging. See below for a list of words you should use in its stead:
We had some friends over last night, and I made a pork shoulder according to my standard method when there’s not enough time to slow-smoke it to a giving succulence: a couple hours in the smoker and then a couple more braising in various liquids until it attains a passable tenderness. While the spice rub (coriander, fennel, cumin, garlic, black pepper, fermented chili powder, salt) contributed significant flavor to the meat, it’s the components of the sauce—those various things that made up the braising liquid—that I want to write about.