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    Finger Lakes region of NY much of the year, and SW France the rest
  1. Oh — a Green Egg; I hadn't read your original posting closely enough. You should be fine with "low and slow." Not so different from an oven roast, if you leave it closed up, I wouldn't think, but I've never used an Egg. Are you going to roast piggie's head with the skin on? I wonder if you're going to get a lot of fat drips and flare-ups if you are. As I said, I've only poached pig's heads, but there's been plenty of fat on them. The beef head had been skinned, and pretty well trimmed of fat, and it cooked in a roasting pan. I also wonder if you're going to split the head and take the brain out first. I don't imagine that you're going to have very good control of the brain temperature if the head is whole — your cooking time is going to be controlled by the doneness of the meat. (Pork brain is pretty tasty. When I've done pig heads, I've split them with a hand meat saw, and eaten the brains as a separate dish. It would be a shame to lose it.) Last question (for the moment): are you going to cure the head before you cook it? I'm quite curious as to how your experiment is going to work out: there are some good bits on the pork head, like ears, snouts, and skin, which I've always assumed would only be good cooked moist.
  2. I've done hog's heads sawed up and poached (to make tête de fromage) a few times, and have never taken the eyes out. In fact, the recipes I've used talk about trimming away the corneas from the cooked eyes, and throwing the trimmed eyes in with the other bits which will comprise the finished dish; I've always done that without thinking about it too much. It gives a little bit of the same sort of crunch that the ears lend to the final dish. With regard to roasting, I roasted a whole bull's head last month, and left the eyes in. There was no pop-out, nor any sort of mess. (They didn't get eaten, mostly because everyone seemed to want to fill their plate with the muscle meats which we got from the head. Probably also because all the diners actually knew Blue, and didn't like it that he kept looking at us while we were eating his head.) That was roasted in a slow oven for about 4 1/2 hours, the first 3 hours closed in metal foil. By the way, in my personal opinion, you'd have to cook a head on a very low open fire for a lot of time if you want the results to be good. Most of the meat is from the masseter (jaw) muscle, and the ends of the various neck and trunk muscles which remain attached to the skull; they are all hard-working, coarse, stringy muscles, and although tasty meat, do better cooked moist than in a roast. (The muscle from over the temples is more tender.) My bull's head was only moderately successful, I think – the meat remaining after the first dinner (at least 2/3 of it) got trimmed off and re-cooked as a daub, and was much better after the second cooking. I had eaten cow, lamb, and goat heads several times in Morocco cooked over open coals, but the fire was very low, and it had cooked and had been turned for many, many hours before it got to my plate. If your BBQ can manage that level of low heat for a long period of time, it's an exceptional one, I'd think. Is yours a "kettle" style, which you're planning on closing up, to roast the head, effectively? Good luck, and post a followup to the thread when you've done the deed. Paul
  3. Hello, all. The all-metal Chef'sChoice/Edgecraft grinder head, made to fit the PTO of the KitchenAid stand mixer series, is very nice. It's a German-designed, Hungarian-manufactured piece with very good levels of finish on the casting and the machining, and with grinding plates which are almost twice the thickness of the plates used in KitchenAid's own grinder head. Edgecraft bundles 2 grinder plates with the unit: medium-ish and fine-ish. Does anyone know of any 3rd-party plates which fit this unit? I've got 8 different plates for various-sized cuts for my big #32 grinder, but this little one (I think it's a #5) is very convenient – the KA is always out and ready to use on my counter, and the grinder head is mounted by default, but can be pulled off in only a few seconds if I don't want to use it. The plates are not the same size as those used by the KA grinder – they're thicker, as I mentioned (5 mm instead of the KA's 3 mm), and have a 52 mm (2 1/16") overall diameter instead of the KA's 49 mm, and have a single "female" fixing notch, rather than the KA's 2 big square "male" lugs. (I'd guess the KA's fixing system is so beefy because it's trying to stay put in the plastic body of the grinder attachment, rather than into a machined metal casting.) The center holes are the same: 8.5 mm (5/16"). Some websites list the plate diameter of a "standard" #5 grinder plate as 2 1/8", so I'm a little nervous about the sizing. If anyone has preceeded me on this search, I'd love to know of any successes. I'd be equally interested in any attempts which didn't pan out, so I can avoid wasting time looking at them. If you already have a grinder which you know to be a "standard" #5, and would be so good as to measure the plates, that would help a lot. Thanks, all, in advance. Paul
  4. Sounds great, Nick. I don't imagine that this sort of group will be "regulars," primarily. I think people will show up or not based on whether they're interested in the particular recipes. I'd appreciate it if you'd sign up on the Offal Majesty site - a group of two is much more impressive than a group of 1 ;-) Do you slaughter pigs year round? Paul
  5. Hello all - for the 99.99% of you who do not live in the NY Finger Lakes region, this may be a bore. However, this posting is directed toward that handful who are "local," and the somewhat larger handful of eG people who don't live near here, but who have kitchen friends who do. I've just started a new Meetup.com group, named "Offal Majesty." I hope it to become a cooks' group specializing in producing dishes based on the so-called "variety meats," and in the cooperative production of charcuterie - muscle meat based, or offal based. Sometimes our meetings will finish with a participants' dinner; other times we'll just split up what we've made and take the product home for curing, or for sharing with family and friends. To find out more, please check out the group's website on Meetup.com. If you think you might know potential members ("Cooks with guts"), please forward the group's URL to them. Tanx, Paul Host Note: Please click here for the terms under which this announcement has been posted.
  6. Hello, all. After my mom died, I inherited some of her batterie de cuisine, including some German-made Coles knives. They are etched with the words "Coles N.Y. Germany Stainless," and have traditional 3-rivet handles, with solid wood scales. (The wood is not laminated nor resin-soaked; I'd guess they're black-dyed beech, but I don't really know.) I remember them from when I still lived at home, which dates them to the late 1950s or the first half of the 60s. I've got a terrific French-styled (not German-styled) 10" chef's, a salmon slicer, a straight boning knife, and a slicing knife. (I also have a 6" hunting knife, made by the same company, with a handle of stacked leather washers, which I got at a garage sale in the early 70s. Strangely enough, the hunter has a carbon-steel blade, rather than stainless. It's much cruder than the kitchen knives, but the maker's mark is the same.) I've done a bit of searching to see if I could learn something about the company, without success. Does anyone know any of the company's history, or might have a URL which I could look at? Thanks in advance, Paul
  7. I've had frozen mousse of foie gras at two different restaurants in France, and both times I'd call them successful. Neither was sweetened (as well as I can remember), and I remember both of them as smooth and unctuous, with no crystalline aspect. I think one was served as an amuse, and the other came in the middle of the meal somewhere.
  8. I had them for breakfast today, in a bowl of pozole; I never met a pig foot I didn't like. My favorite recipe, however, is one from the Périgord, which bones them out, stuffs them with a forcemeat of pork and foie gras, and roasts them. I've tried it, without a recipe, and without much success; mine come out too gluey, even though they're being roasted dry, rather than braised or poached. (Boning them out is also a miserable job; there have to be some tricks which I'm not finding.) The best version I've ever had is served at Au Pied de Cochon (duhhhhh), on Rue Coquillière in Paris, right near the Bourse de Commerce, and down the street from the famous E. Dehillerin, purveyors of "matériel de cuisine." Last time I had them there, the waiter told me how many portions of pig foot were served each week - I'd be lying if I gave you a number, but it was jaw-droppingly huge. There's another version of the recipe which poaches the foot first (I think), then bones it out and stuffs it, and then finally it's breaded and fried, which is also delicious. If anyone has any pointers on this dish, or any similar recipe of a boned out, stuffed, and roasted foot, I'd love to get them. I'd love to figure out how to bone out the foot with less destruction of the skin, and how to get my texture better.
  9. No experience with the other brands, but I've been torturing the same VitaMix for over 15 years, and it's done everything I've ever asked it to do. I did go through a "liquid diet" phase where there was a smoothie or two every day, but I mostly use it for sauces, purées, and soups now. One thing which hasn't been mentioned in the discussion so far is the availability of a container and blade setup with the geometry optimized for dry solids, like grains. I bought mine as a refurb package from VitaMix, and the package included both containers. I haven't used the dry container a lot, but I've made dal flour for Indian recipes, and mung bean and rice flour for Vietnamese banh xiou (which I'm sure I'm spelling wrong). I just bought a second VitaMix for my wife's kitchen a few months ago (also as a refurb), and was told that, in the current product line, they've changed the sourcing on the motors, using a Swedish OEM now, in preference to the previous US-made motor, because they think it will hold up better. (They also re-engineered the container's cover latch, which is easier to use than my old machine's.) I also explicitly asked about the relationship between VitaMix and VitaPrep, and was told that there are no engineering differences. The marketing, pricing, and warrantees are different, with the assumption that the VitaPreps are going to get rode hard and put away wet, and that consumers get all whiney and want to have a nice warrantee story told to them, and are willing to pay for that. They don't publicize the direct-sales refurbs, but they're generally available, and priced well. You've got to call them up and see what's available. Oh - motor power: they play the same game as the power tool manufacturers - it's momentary peak, not sustained output. I don't think it really matters; I've never been able to make the thing bog.
  10. I got a cheap (about $35US on a promo) steam cleaner, made by Wagner and marketed for wallpaper removal, removing carpet stains, and grease stains from concrete. It lives under a counter in the kitchen, and I drag it out to clean my outdoor charcoal grill, my Bradley smoker, my deep fryer, and the cast iron burners and grates on my range. It works well, and is reasonably neat to use. If I'm trying to clean my smokehouse, I'll do that outside, so the goo can drip all over the place, but for cleaning the range parts or a metal grill, just sticking them in the kitchen sink and working there is OK. There's really very little liquid water coming out of the nozzle; it's almost entirely steam, which doesn't have a great tendency to splash around. The steam and a brass-bristled brush have gotten some really ugly stuff off.
  11. Off topic here, with regard to making the booze, but perhaps interesting to the readers of this thread. There is, in fact, an infusion of fresh wormwood/absinthe (Artemisia absinthium) which is drunk by the gallon: in the winter months in Morocco, mint is thought to be too wet, and too weak, so very often a bunch of fresh wormwood is added to the tea pot instead of the mint. The drill is to actually bring the tea and the absinthe to a boil, and leave it there for a few minutes (it gets much more bitter than the Chinese gung-fu-cha style I usually drink), then drink it with a lot of sugar. Some people just add a few branchlets directly to the cup they're drinking from, and leave it in there to soak. I spent 7 weeks in Fès in the winter, drank quarts of the stuff, and grew to really love the flavor. The underlying tea is a coarse, strong Chinese green tea targeted directly to the Arab market. The absinthe is both grown commercially, and gathered wild, and is available at every food market, and from street sellers squatting on cloths on the ground, with a few bunches arrayed in front of them. I've forgotten the name for fresh absinthe in derija, and can't find it in my language course notes. It's also absent from both of my colloquial Moroccan dictionaries, even though it's a word that gets used every time someone sits down for a cup of tea at a restaurant or café. Driving me a little nuts; does anyone know the word?
  12. All of this makes perfect sense; I think I just allowed myself to get high on marketing smoke. It's pretty obvious, if I stop to think about it; there's no feedback loop, as there is with a sous vide controller, for instance, or even an on-off thermostat. Probably, the reason my experiments go stable at 185ºF to 190ºF is that the room's ambient temperature has been more-or-less the same every time I've measured the pot's temperature. I bet it will go hotter on a mid-summer scorcher. Still and all, it is a very small flame, and is the slowest simmer I've ever had available. I had just visualized some sort of magic which would have put my open flame into Crock-Pot mode. I'll probably spring for a set of self-washing dishes next. Paul
  13. Missed this topic the first time around. (It's interesting how apparently dead topics come to life again.) Anyhow, the original story reminded me about one I'll bring you from the motorcycle world. (That's another passion of mine, and a much older one for me, having bought my first bike back in 1963.) Anyway, the story is from a guy I've bought both a Honda and a BMW from, over the years. 25 years ago or so, he sold Hardly Ablesons. One day, a retired California motorcycle cop came into the shop, and bought an HD for cash. After the bike was prepped, he asked the shop staff to roll it into the parking lot. He then proceeded to straighten the bike up, and to drop it over onto its right side. He asked the shop guys to pick it up for him. He then proceeded to straighten the bike up, fold the sidestand, and drop the bike onto its left side. He asked the shop guys to pick it up for him again, said "Well, now that's over with," got into the saddle, and drove away. Paul
  14. About 35 years ago I tried a recipe which has had me laughing at my own pretensions ever since. (You should know that this took place at a point in my development when I thought it was the manufacturer's job to sharpen a knife.) Ya semi-bone a duck body out, leaving the bones of the legs and wings in place. Ya make two different forcemeats: one a coarsely-ground pork sausage, the second a finely-ground liver sausage. Ya make a stiff purée of chestnuts. Ya wrestle with and curse at the bird, which now has the structure of a jellyfish, and lay down a layer of the first forcemeat, then the second forcemeat lining that one, then the chestnut purée, and continue alternating the three in concentric layers until the whole cavity is filled. Then you roast the thing. The intent is that, after the bird looks brown and crispy from the oven, you cut the limbs off, then cut rounds directly across the boneless bird, said rounds looking like a beautiful target pattern, with a layer of crispy, fatty duck meat around the edge. (Actually, when I recount it now, it seems like several ballotines I've had, and like some treatments of Italian porchetta.) A beautiful plate only in theory, my friends. Two days of work, and it looked a lot like a forensic examination of a very bad car crash. I have no memory of where the recipe came from, nor its name. (For amusement's sake, if any of you know either, please tell me.) More importantly, I'm not sure that the intervening decades of home kitchen experience has taught me anything useful to control the filling of the boned bird any better. I have seen recipes for some ballotines where the fillings are assembled into a package outside the meat which is going to furnish the "wrapper," and then the meat (goose neck, bird skin, whatever) is then sewn around the filling, but they've been recipes where the wrapping has been pretty thin. Maybe even with the meat, legs, and wings attached to the skin, that would have been the better strategy, instead of just trying to "butter" one layer on the previous one inside the Tunnel of Doom, and hoping that the whole thing would miraculously come together at the end. It didn't. Paul
  15. Hi all. I'm addressing this to current Blue Star owners. I've got a 36" range, and love almost everything about it. One reservation I do have, however, is the measured performance of my stove's simmer burner, vis-à-vis its advertised performance. The burner is advertised in Blue Star's marketing materials as able to hold 130ºF. I have mine adjusted to the smallest flame size position, using the adjusting screw in the center of the control knob's stem, and it is a tiny flame. However, if I put a saucepan of water on the burner, with the burner ring/grill turned and in its raised position, and the flame at its smallest simmer size, the temperature of the water will eventually rise to 185ºF to 190ºF. While that's below boiling, it's significantly higher than the advertised 130ºF. The time to get to the steady state will depend on the starting temperature of the water, the volume of water in the experiment, and the size (diameter) of the pot (and probably whether or not Mercury is in Mars), but however long it takes, the final temperature will end up at the same place. Has any other of you Blue Star owners ever actually measured the final steady-state temperature achieved on the simmer burner? Is this a bit of variability from one exemplaire to another, or simply bogus marketing info? Mine had the "White Glove" setup done after purchase. I did also pull the knob off, and checked to make sure that there's no more adjustability in the valve stem adjuster screw. It can't turn down any more; that's all I've got. Tanx for the help, and - if you don't already know the temperature, having done the experiment for your own interest - I'd love to hear your results if you try it out. Paul
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