Tuesday, June 23, 2009
I have a head for fashion....
I'm glad that certain things go full cycle under the dark and mysterious cloak of fashion. Flares came back. Or at least they did in Manchester, England, circa 1992. I like a nice flare, me. Pearls, not seen since 1950, are back in vogue too. No NYC ladies are without them. In my twisted and offset opinion, pearls (fake or real) give a woman an aloof whiff of class. Whether the lady in question has actually availed herself of a decent upbringing and education, or she's the kind of woman that says "Like," and "You know," while searching her pitiful vocabulary for something altogether more descriptive is beside the point. Pearls say something about a woman.
In the food arena, fads come and go too. We've seen monkfish liver come and go. Sweetbreads came and stayed, but will no doubt fall out of fashion soon enough. The new trend in NYC is pork. Not discount Valu-Pak plastic wrapped ten-a-penny pork, but well-bred pork. Pork from breeds nobody has heard of. And not just your average Jo Bloggs pork chop, bland loin, picnic ham or Boston butt. Now we hear about trotters, tails and ears from well-bred pigs. Cooks are starting to look beyond the boring fillet, the steak. The possibilities are endless when you engage the whole animal. I'm glad fashion has finally caught up with me. Inspired in part by Samuel Pegge's famous 1390 tome The Forme of Cury, and a handful of pork disciples in London and New York who are rolling their sleeves up and getting to grips with some very unusual cuts, I wanted to reinvigorate an old English favourite, the Bath Chap. This boned and stuffed pig's head was the height of fashion in 1890. I can't believe something so delicious fell from favour in the first place, but I'm so happy it finally came back into fashion over 100 years later.
Daunting as it is, dealing with a whole head, the recipe is simplicity itself. Like taking candy from babies....
First procure a decent looking piggy head, one with a long jowl, from a decent breed, and most certainly one that has a life of mischief and varied diets.
Bone out piggy head with sharp knife. This isn't as easy as it sounds. I found a great video on YouTube featuring a bloke with a big knife cutting into Porky. He's obviously a skilled and practiced hand. It took literally seconds, and he was no doubt distracted by BBC Radio blaring in the background, but he does make it look easy. The trick is to get as much meat off the bone and attached to the skin as possible, paying particular attention the the cheeks. That's the best shit, that is. My boning technique differed from Matey because I boned it out resulting in one piece of skin and not two, as he does in the video. Two pieces are traditional. Those who know me will testify that I like to fuck with tradition a bit.
Take out the tongue, and wash it thoroughly. There is no easy way to remove it, just cut where you think you should and remove it in one piece.
Now the tricky bit: Roll. Place the tongue in between the two cheek meaty bits, lying it on the underside of what would have been Porky's hooter. Roll as best you can, making sure you have string at the ready to tie. I like a nice snouty look to my Bath Chaps. Wrap in cheesecloth, and brine for 5 days.
Take Chap out and give him a good rinse. Still wrapped, poach in a mixture of pork stock (from the skull) white wine, the usual aromatics and some bay leaf and peppercorns fro about 1.5 hours. Remove, cool, and unwrap. Re-wrap in cling film tightly as you can, and press under weight in the fridge. leave overnight.
Cut inch-thick slices from the Chap, dip in seasoned flour each side, and fry in butter to a crisp and golden finish.
You will marvel at the crisp bacony exterior, and your knees will buckle when you savour the fat, moist and porky cheek and tongue meat at the Chap's core. I served my guests their Chaps with Colman's mustard (of course) and some caramelised apples.
Posted by teddy at 10:46 PM