ReLocavore: Redefining "local"

A locavore moves from Wisconsin to New Hampshire and rediscovers what "local" means.

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Enough with the “bone broth”

Sorry folks, but I’m feeling overcaffinated and ranty today.

Enough with the “bone broth,” okay? It’s stock. Seriously. Bone Stock. Stock cooked to death with a little acid. Nutritionally there is almost no difference. Food people At BonAppetit and  At Epicurious, and The LA Times agree.


You make stock and bone broth the exact same way. Jacques Pepin, who I will offer as an authority on making stock, since he is a classically trained French chef and has received many awards for his cooking. He combines 3 lbs of chicken bones to 6 quarts water (aka 12 lbs of water, because pint’s a pound the world around), for a ratio of 1 to 4 bones to water. Add spices. Cook. Skim, etc…

To make bone broth is the exact same thing. Plus a tablespoon of vinegar.

Why does “bone broth” cost $1.00 more at the store? It’s the SAME THING. In fact, it’s less of a thing, because the manufacturer doesn’t need to add any salt to it. It should be less expensive, not more.




Pig Tails, Part 7: Pulled Pork in the Slow Cooker

What else are you going to do with a 5 lb pork shoulder? Pulled pork, of course. Earlier, I used the other half of the shoulder to make carnitas. Today, I put the second pork shoulder into the slow cooker, added some onions, garlic, spices, stock and ignored it for 7 hours. Voila! Pulled Pork.

Today, we added barbecue sauce and had pulled pork sandwiches. Tomorrow, I will use more of the slow-cooked pork and the cooking liquid and beans to make a hearty pork and beans soup. I’ll probably make cornbread too. I deserve good cornbread.


Pig Tails, Part 8: Tonkatsu

Jan 13, 2018 Correction. I incorrectly translated tonkatsu as pork fried. According to Kenji Lopez-Alt, Katsu is a phonetic translation of the English word cutlet.

“The word “katsu” is gairaigo, the Japanese term for words borrowed from other languages. The simplest phonetic translation of “cutlet” to Japanese vocalizations is katsuretsu, which in turn is shortened to katsu. Add ton—the Sino-Japanese word for “pork”—to the front of that and you’ve got tonkatsu, or breaded fried pork cutlets… Got it? Good. Let’s move on to more fun stuff.” (HT)

For Christmas Day dinner, I defrosted the smaller of the loin roasts (3.6 lbs), deboned it, cut it into thin loin slices and deep fried up some tonkatsu. Tonkatsu is Japanese pork cutlet: Ton = Pork, Katsu = cutletfried. It’s Japanese because it is breaded with panko bread crumbs and traditionally served with special Tonkatsu sauce. Clearly though, this is a modern Japanese dish.

Tonkatsu has been a special dish in my family because it is a giant pain to deep fry food, so we only made it on special occasions like Christmas or birthdays. I remember mom and dad filling the wok with hot oil and setting this special grate on the side of the wok to let the pork cutlets drip oil back into the wok, like pictured below. When I make tonkatsu, I use a deep cast iron pot because I don’t own a wok. The cast iron pot weighs a ton, which means it has a lot of thermal mass, so keeps the oil at a more stable temperature when frying. I do a lot less fussing with the temperature. Set the heat, wait, and done.

If you want to make Tonkatsu, don’t. It’s a gigantic pain in the ass and you end up with fried pork cutlets. There are faster and easier ways to make good pork. But this is nostalgia. That is powerful.

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Pig Tails, Part 6: Carnitas

If I eat at an America-Mexican restaurant, I don’t order fajitas, I order carnitas. Carnitas is braised then charred pork. Recipes add flavorings like cumin or citrus to the mix. I couldn’t imagine a better way to cook a pork shoulder.

The pork shoulder is a well-marbled piece of meat with an awkward bone going through the whole piece. Pork shoulders make for a good roast because you can’t slice it up pretty. Pork shoulder has lots of connective tissues that break down into mouth-coating gelatin after low, slow cooking. All of this combines to make beautiful carnitas.


We ate the carnitas with these lovely corn and wheat tortillas from the COOP, avocados and salsa. Wonderful!


Pig Tails Part 5: Arista

Arista is a Tuscan style pork roast with pepper, rosemary, garlic and olive oil. My father taught me how to cook this roast.


I started cooking the pig with the bone-in loin roast. This is a tender and well-marbled cut with plenty of connective tissue and tasty bones for gnawing (See pictures below). Typically this roast is cut into pork chops, but a better way of cooking it is to roast it.

I make a paste of rosemary, black pepper, garlic, salt and olive oil, then slice into the meat diagonally across the grain at 1/2″ cuts. I stuff the cuts with the paste and tie it all up. 400F until 150F. Rest for 30 minutes. Slice. Gnaw bones.

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Pig Tails, Part 4: The Roasts

I have 7 beautiful pork roasts, all 3 to 6 pounds, offers up a world of opportunities. However, I know myself, and I have to be smart today because I will inevitably be stupid later. I want to plan out the best way to cook each cut, and map that onto my most favorite recipes, to come up with a roadmap for how to eat this beautiful pig and give myself something to look forward to in the wintery months ahead.

The Cooks Illustrated Meat Book provided ample information on what to do with the roast, once I had mapped the Butcher’s labels onto pig anatomy. From this, I know that the loin is the tenderest meat that can be cooked rapidly on high heat, grilled, etc, but the shoulder will need more time and slower, lower cooking temperatures.

I also have a long, well-honed list of pork recipes that I love to cook and eat.

  • Char Siu is a Chinese-style pork roast with warm spices (star anise, cinnamon, clove) and soy. If I do it right, I can get that lovely red line around the outer edge of the meat. I love to make it, slice it very thin and freeze for recipes later. I can use slices of char siu in ramen noodles, made into a pâté with hoisin sauce to stuff pork buns, and add a little bit of meatyness to a stir fry.
  • Tonkatsu, or Japanese-style breaded pork cutlets. A Faerber family tradition, for some reason. The cutlets get deep fried, so Tonkatsu makes a giant mess of things in the kitchen and so only gets made on holidays. And, Panko are far superior bread crumbs. I’ll leave that one out there to debate with Nick Scheeler.
  • Arista – Tuscan style pork roast with ample black pepper, rosemary, garlic and olive oil rubbed into deep slashes in the meat.
  • Pulled pork, braised American style for BBQ sandwiches, or braised and grilled Mexican style for Carnitas. This is ideal with the pork butt roasts from the upper part of the pork shoulder.

Now to map on tasty dishes to roasts.

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Pig Tales, Part 2: Cutting up a pig

Once picked up my pig, I had to figure out what I got in my delivery, and what to do cook with it. For pork and other types of meats, there seems to be no consistency in what different cuts are called. I tracked down a basic map from the Cooks Illustrated Meat Book and tried to annotate, as best as I could, the locations of my roasts. This map can help me determine the best way to prepare the roasts.

The shoulder is the area with lots of connective tissue and should be slow cooked, braised, barbecued or stewed.

The loin is the tastiest bits of pork and can be roasted, but also sliced thin or made into chops.

The belly is bacon, plain and simple. Don’t mess around with perfection.

And the leg gets smoked and becomes a ham. Or maybe prosciutto. Next time.