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Fat Guy

Alan Richman's House

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A reasonably competent cook working with the best ingredients doesn't impress me nearly so much as one who can take supermarket ingredients and turn out a meal that impresses two discerning diners.  It's the kind of competence I aspire to.  Thank you both for sharing.

This is exactly what Jacques Pepin (a fairly accomplished cook, I believe) referred to in his autobiography - how his mom used to make the best of whatever was left at the market at the end of the day.

And I don't understand what all the brouhaha is about the pigs in blankets. At catered events, everyone rushes the waitperson passing the pigs in blankets, and lots of people look the other way when the tuna tartare on endive leaves comes around.

As a matter of fact, the catering company I last worked for used to make our pigs in blankets in a similar manner - using purchased puff but not blanching the pigs. These kind of sound like haute cuisine to me.

Last week I took a pork butt that cost me $.99 a pound, braised it for 6 hours in shao xing wine, dark soy, ginger, star anise, cinnamon, garlic, rock sugar and water - trust me, it didn't taste all that different from the $200 ssam at momo. That's good cooking.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Inspired by the Alan Richman experience, I decided to make pigs in blankets last night.

I have a couple of things to bring to the table when it comes to pigs in blankets:

First, I'm a firm believer in dispensing with cocktail-size hot dogs. When you use cocktail franks, you radically limit your choices. If you go to a typical big suburban supermarket you could easily see 30+ varieties of hot dogs (there are 38 at the ShopRite in Connecticut near my mother-in-law's house). Most likely, only 1-2 of those will be cocktail franks. If you buy regular-size hot dogs and cut them up you have more and better options. You can get the higher-quality ones from the deli case, or whatever. Cosmetically, pigs in blankets look just fine to me when made with cut-up hot dogs -- I think the cross-section is actually kind of appetizing. Were I doing them for a party I might trim the ends, but that's about it. Also, cocktail franks cost more per pound than equivalent-quality regular franks (a 12-ounce package of cocktail franks and a 16-ounce package of regular ones tend to cost about the same).

Second, I think the ideal dough (despite my failure to demonstrate it on this attempt) must be one that's not particularly rich. To me the buttery/oily doughs are overkill when you combine them with hot dogs. I think this is why I like bagel dogs and pretzel dogs so much: you get some of the pig-in-blanket aesthetic without the gratuitous greasiness.

For this particular experiment I decided to try a biscuit dough. I rolled it out and cut it in strips, then wrapped the strips around the hot-dog pieces. In so doing, I screwed up a few things: I overworked the dough so it became tougher than I'd have liked; I used too much dough per piece; and I didn't make a good seal on some of the pieces, so a few of them popped open during cooking.

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My pigs in blankets were not as good as the Richman pigs in blankets. My dough just wasn't competitive with Pillsbury's dough. Still, they were quite tasty.

By the way, Richman's innovation of giving the hot dogs a quick poach before use is excellent. It improves the flavor of the finished product, reduces the amount of liquid that the hot dogs give off, and helps them achieve more of a roasted finish.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Steven,

I hope you had company and didn't eat all those yourself.:-)) If so, it adds further credence to your moniker.

Porkpa

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Those are Hebrew National. I was trying to use what Alan Richman used so I could contrast based on the dough. Left to my own devices I'd probably use Sabrett.

I ate most but not all of them. My wife and son assisted.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Come on, people! You're taking this all much too seriously, I feel. Do we expect movie critics to produce cinema masterpieces? For my two cents' worth, it sounded like a tasty, enjoyable meal.... well, maybe except for the brussel sprouts. :raz: But now I need to make pigs in a blanket! I just love those little buggers. Gee.... I wonder how store-bought frozen challah dough would work as a 'blanket' for them.


"Fat is money." (Per a cracklings maker shown on Dirty Jobs.)

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Tonight I took another crack at proving my pig-in-biscuit theory. This time I went with a drop-biscuit dough (I used the standard Bisquick drop-biscuit formula) instead of a rolled-biscuit dough. The results were superb. Using drop-biscuit dough minimized handling and yielded delicious biscuit dogs. Flavor-wise, this approach is a winner. The main drawback is that it doesn't produce particularly attractive specimens. It's not possible to shape drop-biscuit dough in any meaningful way, and you need to make fairly large units in order to surround the hot dog with biscuit dough. These are also not all that workable as finger food -- you really need to eat them off a plate or you'll be standing in a pile of crumbs. Still, amazing flavor. They taste like they look: the goodness of hot dogs and the goodness of crumbly drop biscuits in the same bite.

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Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I demand that you come over immediately and make me a dozen biscuit dogs.


--

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I would have dropped a little biscuit dough on the pan, put the hot dog on, then dropped a bit more dough on top. No need for shaping (though you might need to spread the top dough a little), and you get good coverage of the hot dog that way. They may even keep their shape better that way, since you'll be handling them less.

Hmmm...I'd try it, but I can't get decent hot dogs in Japan. Maybe I could slice some Johnsonville sausages into smaller pieces and pretend they're hot dogs?

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I would have dropped a little biscuit dough on the pan, put the hot dog on, then dropped a bit more dough on top. 

I tried it a few different ways and that approach, which was the first I tried, just wasn't working for me. Drop biscuit dough is pretty unwieldy -- it's hard to get a really small pinch of it to cohere nicely -- so I found that if I tried the bottom-then-top method I wound up with too much dough and actually still needed to do just as much shaping. I found that the most workable system was to put the dough on the baking sheet, plop the hot dog on top, and bring some of the dough up the sides and around the top. Not pretty but it worked.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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