Ewww and Icky Have No Place In Adults Food Vocabulary

During a recent trip to Austin last month, I was able to indulge in one of the greatest of porcine delights. Thanks to the artisans at Salt and Time I was able to enjoy some very tasty pig head torchon. Of all the foods that can be breaded and deep fried, pig head torchon may sit alone at the top of the heap. To most folks when they see pig head in a name, the “Eww” and “Icky” part of the brain kicks in. They’ll likely never know the delights of such things. This all brings me to my post today.

Before I go any further, I have to burst bubbles. This, unfortunately, isn’t a post on making said pig head torchon. Maybe one day I’ll tackle such things. For now there will be no creepy photos of pig heads. No shots of my kitchen being turned into a creepy Dexter style killing room….I swear officer this is pigs blood….Sadly, no disturbing shots of me looking deranged and maniacal while hacking through a pig’s head with a rusty hacksaw. If you feel inclined to tackle such things, there are other websites for that. One of my favorite people in the food/blogging world, Carol Blymire, has a hilarious and wonderfully successful post on creating said torchon – “Head to Toe” Part Two(Pigs Head).

This post is however about embracing the unfamiliar. To many, the sheer thought of eating anything that came from a pigs head is a foreign and off putting idea. Once they get past that and embrace such things, they find a wonderful taste experience that isn’t that foreign. There are plenty of cuts that sound more foreign than they actually taste. With that in mind I offer a couple of recipes embracing those “other” cuts.

Smothered Pork Necks

Ahh pork necks. I know you’ve all seen them. You’re not quite sure exactly what a pork neck is. Is it even pork…Wow, they sure seem to pack a lot of em in there….Man all that and its only $3.50?!?

Pork necks are dirt cheap. That has made them somewhat mainstays in southern/soul food. Sometimes you’ll find them smoked, but usually not. Pork necks can be quite versatile. You can often find them being used as a ham hock substitute. They pack a porcine quality that is not much different. I prefer to put them closer to center stage. It’s with that in mind I offer a spicy Cajun inspired pork neck recipe.

Smothered Pork Necks

Canola oil
3.5#-4# meaty pork necks
Salt and Pepper
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 TBS Tomato paste
2 TBS Cajun seasoning
1 TSP Cayenne powder
12oz dark malty beer, such as Celebrator Double Bock
4-5 sprigs of thyme

Coat the bottom of a dutch oven, or other large pot, with canola oil and bring to a medium heat. Season the pork necks with salt and pepper. Toss them in flour, shaking off the excess. In batches, brown the pork necks. Once browned, set them aside. Add the onion, bell pepper, and celery to the pan. Sweat the vegetables until soft and just starting to caramelize. Add the garlic and tomato paste. Cook until the paste takes on a rust color, about a minute. Add the pork necks back along with the herbs and spices. Add the beer, and just enough water to cover everything. Cover the pot, and simmer the pork necks for 2 hours. Remove the lid and check the seasoning. Adjust as needed. Cook an additional hour uncovered. Once the pork is tender and the liquid has thickened up, remove the pan from the heat. Serve the pork necks atop a bed of white rice.

*Word of caution – pork necks have a lot of small bones and cartilage. Eat them judiciously and carefully to avoid the bones.

Barbacoa De Lengua

2-2.5# Beef Tongue or calves tongues
1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 bay leaf
1 bottle of Negra Modelo, or your favorite Munich dunkel lager

Using a scrub brush, clean your beef tongue in cold water. Let it soak for a couple of hours in cold water, changing the water regularly. In a large pot add your beer, onion, garlic cloves, and beef tongue. Add enough cold water to cover the tongue. Add salt to taste. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cooked covered for approximately 2.5 hours( roughly an hour per pound). You can also do this in a crockpot. Add everything to your crockpot and cook the tongue for roughly 8 hours. When cooked it should no longer be pink, and a knife should easily pierce the meat. Remove the tongue and set aside. Let the tongue cool down a bit. It should still be hot, but not so hot you can’t handle it. While warm/hot, peel the skin off of the tongue…bye bye taste buds….Trim off any fatty portions near the end. At this point you can either slice or shred your tongue.

Tacos de Barbacoa de Lengua

1 recipe Barbacoa de Lengua
Canola oil
Warm corn tortillas
Diced white onions
Fresh diced tomatoes
Sliced Avocado
Sliced jalapenos
Chopped fresh cilantro
Limes, quartered
Favorite Red salsa
Favorite Green Salsa

Heat up a comal or other frying pan/griddle. Add your canola oil. Working in batches, crisp up your barbacoa on the comal. Set aside and keep warm. Best served assembly line fashion. Take your warm tortillas, and add some of the barbacoa. Dress that with the condiments of your choosing.

One final note to my family members, friends, and others who have or may have a chance to eat my food: One day I will show up with some awesome brisket tacos. You’ll rant and rave that these are some the best tacos you’ve ever had. You’ll praise my efforts….Starting to sound like a cocky asshole right about now, no?…..Heap enough praise on my cooking over a lifetime and I do become that annoying cocky asshole….its your own damn fault folks…but lets get back on track….After the plates are licked clean you’ll learn that maybe…just maybe…that might not have been brisket….Was it pot roast perhaps? No? What exactly was that we just ate? In that moment you’ll learn you just ate some very tasty Barbacoa de Lengua. You’ll quickly realize just how mundane(I mean this as a positive) and not weird or off putting beef tongue really is. Hopefully it will inspire you to explore other, seemingly strange, cuts of meat you have avoided all these years. Perhaps, maybe one day, you’ll be sending me deranged and creepy photos of you making homemade head cheese or pig head torchon.

Todays mildly creepy post was brought to you by the letters F and U. Those letters are directed at those who will forever view this stuff as “Weird” or “Icky”. It’s ok for kids to go through a picky eating phase. Adults shouldn’t have that same right.

Finally, because why the hell not, some more music to cook by:

Lindsey Stirling: She is a virtuoso violin player with a strong love for electronic/dance music.Never would’ve thought classical violin music and dubstep could successfully be fused together. Her music just seems to click nicely

Boards Of Canada: I’m on an electronic/dance kick today. The reigning kings of IDM(Intelligent Dance Music) have returned….10 long #$E%^@$#@%$%^%ing years since their last album….not bitter….I promise….Their latest effort “Tomorrow’s Harvest” , while not reaching the same heights as their magnum opus “Music Has a Right To Children”, is still one of the best albums released this year.


~ by thebrewgeek on Sunday, June 16, 2013.

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