Posts Tagged 'pork'

30 Pounds of Brats? No Problem

How Do You Turn This…

All you need on a desert island

All you need on a desert island

Into This…

Sweet Love

Sweet Love

Simple.  It’s all explained in this great video:

Vodpod videos no longer available.Bratwurst with Theo Peck | Working Class Foodies

It’s October, the leaves are starting to change, the temperature is getting cooler, and you are starting to think about two things: beer & bratwurst. At least that’s what I am thinking about. So I figured that it was no coincidence that in the past month I was asked twice to make brats. What exactly are brats? Let’s consult the experts on everything- Wikipedia. Actually, I just read the definition on Wikipedia and it made no sense.  I hope a true bratwurst historian has some time to clean that up. Anyway, my definition is much more concise. A bratwurst is a sausage that usually has not only pork and fat back, but also veal. In addition, it is emulsified with more fat (cream and eggs) and heavily seasoned with ginger, nutmeg, and white pepper.

We, the American people, believe that no Oktoberfest would be complete without the Bratwurst so why should you?  I am here to tell you is that making sausage is easy. It might take a little more time, but I believe it is worth it. Why? Well, have you ever noticed that almost every sausage you get at the store tastes the same. That is because they are all the same. The difference with my Brats is grinding the nutmeg and dried ginger with a microplane just before using them. It enhances the spices, creating a well seasoned piece of cheap meat.

My first brat experience this month occurred when the good people over at Working Class Foodies, Rebecca and Max (who are award winning contestants at my Food Experiments) asked me to help out on their web tv show. They wanted to do an episode on making bratwurst.  Little did they know I was a professional. It was a great experience that I do not need to write about because the video does such a good job. Check out some of their other videos at hungrynation.tv.

My second brat-portunity came when the Bell House asked me to cater their awesome Octoburlesk party. What better to add to semi naked ladies and a polka band then a grill filled with homemade brats?  I will be up front with you. I did not realize how difficult it would be to make 30 pounds of brats in my tiny kitchen. It was a long and arduous. Two full days went into the prep. My hand went numb after trimming 30 pounds of pork butt and 10 pounds of fat back. I had Nick Suarez come over and help.  Sadly, all he got to do was grind a shit load of spices.

So here’s how to get from a whole lotta meat to a whole lotta brats:

1. Cut the meat

Pork Butt Whole

Pork Butt Whole

2. Do not forget to find the glands and cut them out.

Garbage

Garbage

3. Dice and Grind

Dice, Spice, & Grind

Dice, Spice, & Grind

4. Emulsify with Cream and Eggs

Beat the Meat

Beat the Meat

5. Stuff, Stuff, and Stuff…This is 30 pounds people, this takes a while

Keep on Stuffin'

Keep on Stuffin'

Now we tie them, poach them in beer, and get them to the damn Bell House. Oops, I almost forgot. I must make a ton of curry aioli. I was thinking of the curry wurst idea, but I hate ketchup on my sausages, and so should you. So, instead I made the aioli, and it was frickin’ delicious. I made it spicy with roasted curry powder, turmeric, cumin, and a ton of raw and poached garlic. I wish I had pictures of it’s neon yellow deliciousness…

I had no idea what to expect at Octobulesk. Anywhere between 100 and 200 people were expected. That is a large gap. Plus, did people really want to eat my brats? Who was I? I was very worried on my way to the event trying to decide where I was going to keep all the extra brats. I kept imagining my vegetarian girlfriend looking in the freezer and seeing all her green peas and veggie burgers displaced, made refugees by my 30 pound tribe of brats.

I get to the Bell House and I see Nick’s friendly face. He didn’t seemed worried. Why should he? There was no spice grinder in sight. Super friendly GM William was nowhere to be seen. I was confused until I realized that he was putting on the super good looking lederhosen.  Yet, somehow, when you combine October, Beer, and Brats, shorts with suspender don’t look so bad.  Will wasn’t the only one…there was a polka band:

Fashion?

Fashion?

I started to relax once the sweet girlfriend arrived sporting the cute German girl braids.  I find those braids so cute, why? I do not really like Germans, being jewish and all….

Nick and I calmly set up shop expecting a long night of slow grilling. We got our tongs and game faces together.

Ready

Ready, set, grill

This is the last time we were still for the next hour and half. The crowd that lingered before we were ready turned into a deluge… I was beside myself with joy, everything was moving so fast. All I had time to do was look down and make brats “all the way” which means with curry aioli, sweet onion, and kraut. Thank god the reliable Nate came by to say hi. You might remember him from the Underground Restaurant.  Well, Nate just put on a pair of rubber gloves and jumped right in, no questions asked. So Nick maned the grill, I took orders and transferred from grill to bun, Nate dressed them up, and girlfriend took the money (her specialty). She did not let one person pass unpaid for, she is tough for a veggie.

just getting started

just getting started

and going, and going, and going

and going

lining up for brats

We started with 125 brats, and 156 buns. I brought a spare pork belly, originally to share with the GM. I had invited him to the house last week and we had to cancel at the last minute. I felt terrible so I brought the belly for him to eat. It was a great idea, but for a different reason.  We ended up selling all the pork belly as well.  Sorry Will.

I was super excited that we sold out within an hour and fifteen minutes, but I felt like shit because there were people still on line. I never expected this outcome. The nicest thing I saw was the customers upfront ordering less so the ones left on line could still have some.  There’s nothing more heartwarming than a crowd of sympathetic sausage lovers.

You Can Go Pork Right Off

patesignPat just wipe that smug smile off you face, it’s not like we won. We tied again with Suarez, Nooooooooooooo…That Suarez, I will have to get better, stronger.  It is the only way to defeat him.  Oh sure, it appears like were friends….on the outside.

Frankly, I couldn’t tie for “first loser” with a better guy. Plus, with his scruffy beard, it’s totally nothing like kissing my cousin. Well, at least the ones who don’t live in Long Island.

What troubles me more is my girlfriend’s not so secret crush on Pat.  It did not seem like any effort for her to make the sign this time. She actually wanted to spend a lot of time alone “doing the sign.”  She wakes up every morning to watch him read the newspaper to her.  She searched long and hard for that picture, but I think she just took a copy from her desk. In the picture, he looks prepubescent. I am not even sure if he is old enough to shave. What really shocked me is she is not alone. All the women of New York City seem to be obsessed with Pat K.  The sign got an overwhelming amount of attention from the Ladies – one woman shouted as if she just saw a Beatle. Is he this sexy? I could wear my hair in a side part and my girlfriend would mock me, I am no Pat K.  Pat is the Caliente Canadian.

To be honest, the pork-off did not go as smoothly as I thought. I do not think I am ready to continue competing. I think I am burned out, I might have to go into semi-retirement.  I put more pressure than needed on myself because of the reporter from the New York Times.  Oh, did I forget to mention that there was a reporter from the New York Times watching me.

So, I wanted to take this event easy, not out of disrespect.  I thought if I made a pate, I could serve it cold with some bread and go around and eat everyone else’s pork.  Hey, the Pork-Off was for charity. I actually made my girlfriend promise to stop me from making any accouterments. I said no to aspic, I said no to a sauce, I said no to rehab. Well, I knew I was doomed when the reporter called.  I can’t help it. I wanted to make a good impression. So my entry became Pate with Sauternes Gelee, Cornichons,  Mustard Honey Cider Vinegar Dressing, and Parsley on Amy’s Bread. OY VEY!!!  I blame the Gray Lady.

The day did not start smoothly, that’s for sure.  It was a gray and rainy sky, first strike against me. I had planned to get bread at Amy’s Bread in Chelsea.  I live in the East Village, and that is the closest good bakery to my house. I was running a bit late so we decided to take a cab. Believe me, I do not take cabs. I am cheap my friends, very cheap. This is how much this event meant to me. The driver informed us that Sixth avenue was closed from 54th street to Battery Park. We would not be able to make it across unless we went around the entire island of Manhattan. Now being a born and bred New Yorker, I thought he was mistaken. Actually, I accused him of lying. I was last heard saying, “That’s fucking Bullshit, dude. Are you for fucking real!”  Now I had a real problem, no bread and a shit ton of pate.  The mental meltdown was beginning.  So, I took a second. But like I am told often, there is nothing to worry about.  Are you sitting on the edge of your desk chair thinking that I would serve pate without bread? Really? Look, I went and got some inferior bread.  The pate is the star, the lead.

Lookin good

Lookin good

We get to bar.  First things first, it is Sunday Morning…it is time for a Bloody Mary. I got to say the most disappointing part of my day was the Bloody Mary, it was almost chunky with black pepper bits.  The Bloody Mary did not do the trick, I was sober and picking pepper chunks out of my teeth.  They set us up on a pool table, not good.  Well, not good for my vegetarian girlfriend because it meant she would have to prepare each bite of pate off to the side. I thought I would be set up behind a table. So, my many thanks and many apologies to my girl.  She did a great job, especially as it started getting crowded and I had to tell her, “This isn’t a library baby, now shake it!”  The look she gave me could not be described nicely. Let’s just say that it churned my stomach.  Listen, in the kitchen, all is fair in love and food. I had 200 hungry pork eating freaks barreling down on me.

There was the good and the bad in the competition, but over all the food was great.  The standouts are the familiar names.  Suarez’s dish was great. I was worried when he told me what he was making, I hate collard greens. I lived in the south for four years and I ate everything, there was nothing I didn’t want except collard greens. I dislike the drab, olive green, vinegary mush. Well, Suarez did not use vinegar, instead he made them unctuous with pork and a little bit of fat. If I did not vote for myself, he would have gotten it.  Let me state, I am not giving his dish a thumbs up just because he is my friend.  The gentlemen behind the pork belly skillet, delicious.

As I stated, I won second with Nick. Not bad, I’m cool with it. I had a good time and eventually found some beer to get me over my anger at the Bloody Mary.  As usual, more great coverage and pics at Not Eating in Out in NY.

"kindred spirits"

It’s on….the Pork-Off, will it be an upset?

The answer is NO…Suarez, I am talking to you!

I was more worried about having toilet paper in the house as a reporter was stopping by to watch the cooking magic.   What does that even mean?

Anyway, I was not going to get worked up over the Pork-Off.  I was convinced to join at the last minute.  I thought it would be a relaxing train ride with the benefit of helping out a charity.  As usual, I have spent too much time and thought on my dish.  I should be more worried about the Mets.

At least I can count on a fair vote, tomorrow… no more shenanigans.

I will be using four different piggy parts for your pleasure:

  • belly
  • shoulder
  • tenderloin
  • liver

Bacon Takedown, haven’t the Jews Suffered Enough…

unofficial winner of best sign

The first and most important thing I would like to say is that there was a truly impressive array of bacon dishes.  I have been to five cook offs and the Bacon Takedown feature the best food of them all. The chefs were great.

I have made a profession of burning bridges, I do it well. I am like Sherman strolling through the South. I have a scorched earth personality type. After I burn the bridge, I like to finish the job by salting the earth and dropping the napalm.

I made a mistake on the first post I ever made. I am new to blogging. I posted a recap of the Chili Takedown that was supposed to be private, since I am just trying to write, not be an author.

Well, I made a couple of off the cuff comments about the event and the organizer. Nothing serious, no mama jokes or anything like that…just some gentle ribbing.  Well, somehow the organizer saw it. I had one view in a week and it was him. So, I took it down. I felt terrible, and I apologized
The whole reason I started going and competing in cook-offs was to meet and network with people. I had been unemployed for a long time, and I thought I was going to lose it if I did have a project. It has been very successful, I have met some nice people and I even scored a small cooking  gig.

But, I started to win. As we all know, winning effects you in ways you’ll never know until you are there. I won my first contest to be knighted the Casserole King, and my second(popular vote), my third(popular vote), and my fourth(judges vote).  I started to get pissy because no one was ‘gunning for me’ or ‘worried I might take the crown’. As this past Sunday approached, my only goal became to win, I was getting crazy focused. Like Rocky II, “win, just win…” to which Mick replies, “what are we waiting for!!” cue montage.

Last night, after I got home, I realized that I had lost my mind.  This is not a new or unique feeling for me.  I had a wholesome cartoon moment, “It’s not about winning Charlie Brown, it is about making connections with people who you share a common interest with.” Thank you Lucy, you’re right.

But, I can’t be nice all the time. I can’t be Suarez. He might be the nicest guy I ever met, for the love of god I even like his parents, and I wouldn’t even mind if he won.  Actually, I wouldn’t mind too much.

Alright, I cannot hold off anymore. You actually expect …..settle down Theo…it is only a contest…

deconstructed BLT

deconstructed BLT

But let’s talk about something we can all agree about: Bacon. I was happy with my dish. I cured the bacon with fennel and maple.  Then coated it with buttermilk, panko, and pork rinds; fried it; topped it with sweet dill pickle; finished it with tomato tarragon aioli.  I am going to put together as many of the recipes as I can. I was happy with the dish, and I’ll leave it at that. But I also want to give others credit for making some great dishes.

Bacon Sloppy Joe: well seasoned, great texture.

Bacon Ice Cream: easy to fuck up, you guys did a great job.

Thank you bacon turtle…bacon tamale, etal…

I did not get to taste nearly as many as I wanted, but I have a kitchen, bacon, and plenty of time for experimenting…

For results check Cathy’s wonderful recap at Not Eating Out in New York…

Remember Grasshopper: Take the Path of Least Resistance…


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