Archive for the ‘Gathering Ingredients’ Category

Emu Egg Frittata in Bacon Cups

January 8, 2013 1 comment

Emu egg frittata in a bacon cup

Dear Chef Bourdain;

My first conscious act after a holiday party in 2013 was to blow the guts out of an emu egg, and turn it into frittatta in bacon cups. I think that’s a pretty good start, and probably as close to becoming Danaerys Targaryan as I’ll ever get. Mother To Dragons? I’ll have to settle for “Frother Of Dinosaurs.”
Emu Egg Blow

But wait, Davy, you must be asking yourself? (If you were reading this, so if you’re actually asking yourself that, something weird has happened. Perhaps something weird and magical, but anyway… let me not digress to much. Or give away the secrets of”Phase 2″…) Where did I get an emu egg? My friend and accomplished writer, Jesse Heinig delivered it as a treat from the North, from an ostrich farm near Solvang. My research revealed that emu eggs are about the equivalent of 10-12 chicken eggs, have a very similar flavor, and will keep for a week or two in the fridge. It’s a beautiful, vibrant and multi-hued teal color, so we wanted to be sure to preserve the shell for …some decorative purpose. (Or maybe part of phase 2? Wait and see!)

Getting into the shell was itself quite an endeavor. My wife and her father took turns delicately whirring away at it with a power drill, and switched out bits at least three times before they managed to get through the shell. In the hand it feels weighty and solid, and in fact it’s even thicker and stronger than it would seem. And it seems doughty indeed. Having created a small hole at one end and a slightly larger blowing-hole at the other, it then became a test of lung power to get the contents out and into a mixing bowl. This calls for a professional blowhard. Fortunately, no shortage of those in this family!
Emu Egg Meez

Next up was not fucking up my meez. The egg-violating took quite a while, so I had plenty of time to finely slice a couple shallots, dice up half a red onion, and dice four cloves of garlic. I also kept close to hand some salt, seasoned pepper, savory, and white truffle oil.
Emu Egg Mix
Once the egg was in the bowl, its secret places invaded by blown breath; I used an immersion blender to make it nice and frothy. I found I had to use a sort of jerking-off motion to get the blades up in the air for a fraction of a second to incorporate the air and substantially increase its volume. I also folded in the salt, seasoned pepper and about 2 tsp of truffle oil. When it was about half-again in volume, I folded in the garlic and shallots.
Emu egg mix

First thing in the morning I had already created bacon cups with a half-pound of bacon. That’s dead easy – just wrap the bottoms of a cupcake tin with foil. Cut a rasher in half, lay it crosswise over the top, and then wrap another piece around it. I let it cook slow in the oven with another tray underneath (and the tin foil curved up at the edge) to catch drippings. When the fat had rendered out, it made nice crispy bacon cups. I don’t have any pictures because…well, it was first thing in the morning after a holiday party. You can guess my condition. I wasn’t focused on photography. Fuck you if you don’t empathize. But to quote the immortal George Patton, “I’ve read your book, you son of a bitch!” So I know you feel me.

After that it’s easy. I’d pre-heated the same cupcake pan (with bacon cups removed and rinsed off) in a 400F oven. Put that on the range over heat to keep it hot, and poured the frittata over a little heated olive oil in each cup. Topped it with a sprinkle of shredded cheese and red onion. Into the oven it goes, and about ten minutes later, or at any rate when you jiggle it and the center is just set, you take it out of the oven. Sit for a minute or two, and pull the frittatas out of the cups, put them in the bacon cups, and serve to your hung over, curious and hungry friends and family.
Emu egg frittata

The flavor was nice; emu eggs really are like chicken eggs in flavor, but have a more dense, creamy texture. I think frittata was a good choice, though the solid ingredients sunk right to the bottom. A more experienced cook would have known that and stirred while pouring, but as it stands we got all the chunky and delicious bits in some of the frittata and less in the others. But it all tasted grand, as delicious as any dinosaur egg could reasonably be!

I’ll include the recipe after this, for completeness sake. Something tells me you won’t be making it though, chef.


Emu Egg Frittata in Bacon Cups


  • 1 pound of bacon
  • 1 emu egg
  • 2 shallot, finely sliced
  • 2 tsp of truffle oil
  • 1/2 red onion finely diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely diced
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 1 tbsp of savory
  • salt, seasoned pepper to taste


  1. pre-heat oven to 275F, invert cupcake pan and carefully wrap in foil.
  2. Cut a piece of bacon for each cup in half, and make criss-cross over top. With another piece, wrap each cup. Put it in the oven until the bacon fat renders out; about 20-30 minutes, maybe more. Can do ahead by a few hours. (Put a drip pan under to catch the fat!) Set bacon cups aside.
  3. Increase oven heat to 400F
  4. Make a large hole in one end of the emu egg with a power drill. Use a fine bit to punch through and a larger bit to widen the hole. Put a small hole in the other end, blow egg out into a mixing bowl.
  5. Put a cupcake pan (clean the first one if you re-use it) in the oven to pre-heat the pan.
  6. Add the salt, seasoned pepper, savory and truffle oil. With an immersion blender, use a jerking off motion to froth the egg until it’s substantially increased in volume, and nice and frothy.
  7. Fold in the shallot and garlic.
  8. Put the cupcake pan over high heat on the range. Pour a tsp or so of olive oil, enough to coat the bottom. Heat until it just shimmers.
  9. Pour half a cup full of egg mix in to each cupcake cup. Top with red onion and cheese.
  10. Put in oven. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the center is just set when you jiggle it.
  11. Remove, let sit for two minutes.
  12. Slide frittatas out of pan with a spoon or very small spatula. Place in bacon up – serve.

This recipe created by David Krieger. Enjoy, but credit!

Failure: My cri de coeur de porc

January 24, 2012 Leave a comment
Cri de coeur (de porc ala Armagnac)

Cri de coeur (de porc ala Armagnac)

Dear Chef Bourdain;

Well, first, let’s be clear, I fucking failed. You specifically admonished me, that drunken night in Santa Barbara, to “really fucking do it” and I sure didn’t. I set out in Nov. of 2010 to cook every recipe in your book within one year. By Nov 1st 2011, I had done about 60-some out of your 118 recipes. So more than half, just barely – but by no means done. So listen Chef, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa – I didn’t do it. I’m not going to lie about it, as you demanded that Julie/Julia chick must have. And seriously – given how much time I spent on this over 2011, I can’t imagine how someone working a full time job could make over three hundred recipes. No way.

But I am going to finish. So I’ve kept cooking, and after a few people bitched at me for not writing about it, I’m going to write about it. My triumphant (dismal failure) return, as it were! I have quite a backlog of dishes to write about, so I’d better get started. Today? Coeur de porc ala armagnac. The long story short: kinda nasty. Is anyone surprised?Also, I think I failed at other stuff too, on this one.

But here remains one fundamental lesson I’ve learned from you, Chef. Don’t fuck up the meez. Heck, just last night I made some chicken parm, and because I had my mise en place all sorted out and unfucked, it came out as well as I’ve ever made anything, better than the many times I’ve made it before. And really, it’s a lesson for life, too – think through what you’ve got to do, get what you need to do it ready and available, and you’re a long way towards succeeding. Heck, if I’d not fucked up my meta-meez for this project – which is to say sourced the harder to find ingredients ahead of time – I’d probably have succeeded.

One meez, un-fucked, as per your advice

Really, the hardest part here was getting the ingredients. But my good friend (and groomsman) Sous Chef Big Daddy Poteete had stumbled upon pig’s hearts somewhere in the wretched hive of scum and villainy of the North Valley. I’ve tried Mexican butchers for pig’s hearts before – “Por favor, corazon de puerco?” And gotten only wall-eyed stares. Like I’d just asked for a pinata full of infants or something. The butcher look at me, shook his head like maybe I was some kind of pasty illusion, and said, “Que?” “Corazon de puerco? Err, cochon?” I patted my chest in a heart-beat pattern. He looks at me deeply skeptically and says, “Pig heart? No.”

So it was a happy day when Big Daddy Poteete found the pig’s hearts. We arranged to meet for dinner that night, and I picked up a bottle of armagnac from the local BevMo. That shit’s expensive, man. Big Daddy Poteete and I felt obliged to do some quality control on this expensive concoction, so I poured a healthy slug in some pretentious tiny glass cups I have, and threw it down my neck. It tastes like…vanilla kerosene. Which sounds worse than it is, eventually I decided I like it. Can you imagine some IRA players tossing molotov cocktails full of vanilla kerosene? It would be the classiest act of terrorism ever. And so delicious!

The only segue from a terrorism joke is a picture.

I had some really delicious pork jelly left from making one of Dave Chang’s Momofoku pork bellies. The rendered fat is as smooth as vaseline, and at LEAST twice as delicious. So I  used that to fry up the onions and herbs to stuff the hearts with. Having done so, I stuffed those hearts right up. Then I got the pan good and hot, and was really looking forward to exploding the crap out of some armagnac. Another failure – captured forever in this priceless video.

So that didn’t work. I cooked the hearts per your instructions, chef, but they didn’t look done by half. In fact, I was pretty surprised we’d be pan-frying the hearts – with a muscley, tough piece of meat like a heart, I figured we’d cook it low and slow to make it tender. Even after I threw it back in the pan for a few minutes, it was still a touch pink in the middle.

Anyway, it had a not-unpleasant mineral flavor like a lot of organ meats do. But the texture had a sort of snap to it, like a Pink’s Hot Dog that wasn’t completely fantastic. And now that I think about it, I suspect I know the secret to Pink’s success…

Basically I’m glad I made it, but I’m not too anxious to make it again. Hit or miss? I call it a hit, but only because I like the ‘de armagnac’ part and will probably make another dish using the same method, preferably with more flammable results. Because really, anything that’s fun is more fun when it’s flaming!

Flame on, Chef;


P.S. I’m really sorry I failed, Chef. Of course, I don’t think you’ve actually read this, and maybe only a half-dozen people know or care…so it’s not that big a deal. But still, I’d hoped to capture a readership, do something noteworthy, and learn to cook. I did manage that last one, at least!

Not-So-Whole-Fish Basquaise

July 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Whole Fish Basquaise (but not so whole fish)

Dear Chef Bourdain;

My lovely wife headed out to the hallowed halls of Super King, way up in Pasadena-ish territory. They are a purveyor of many fine and strange meats at very reasonable prices, so it was worth the trip to lay in the supplies for the Carmageddon Bourdain-A-Thon. This was the same place I got the offal for Tripes Les Halles on Guts Night. She had a big list, because it’s a pretty big menu, and I didn’t do the greatest job of being especially specific. So when I said “red snapper” in my head was this big ol’ gorgeous fish. But she got fillets instead, because she is not telepathic, no matter how often I expect her to be.

But ya know, fish is only going to keep so long, so I figured I’d just do it anyway – I know that your exhortations about fish being better on the bone are sincere. In fact I’ve cooked whole red snapper before anyway – just not in the Basquaise style. So I’mna say this counts, anyway, even though it’s not a real whole fish. If you disagree, let me know and I’ll do it over again. After telling you to go fuck yourself, ‘cuz what were you thinking with so many goddamn veal recipes?

Step one - don't fuck up the meez.

Bearing in the mind the greatest lesson I’ve learned so far – don’t fuck  up the meez – I proceeded to not fuck up the meez. An onion, a red pepper, a green pepper, four garlic cloves and thyme leaves, all set to go. I heated up roasting pan and olive oil, and browned the onions and pepper. This fills the house with an amazing smell, and so I bet the Basque people are both colorful and perpetually hungry. Judging by the recipes named after them. By that same logic, though, I am covered with cilantro and have avocado on my head.

After the veg was browned, I added the garlic and thyme. When that got hot, I poured in the white wine and scraped up the good stuff. I added some home-made stock (it really does make a difference) and brought it to a boil. On goes the fish fillets, and into the 400F oven. Your recipe is for a whole fish, which obviously would take longer to cook than just some fillets, so I kept a close eye on it. I also omitted the potatoes since we’re doing the low-carb thing most of the week. I managed to pull the fish out at just the right moment, so it was delicate, flavorful and very tender. Assistant Chef Bourdain also went nuts for it, and circled the table like a well-chummed shark.

Assistant Chef Bourdain Approves

I missed out on crisping the skin and the added flavor of the more delicate bits, but it was still really delicious. It’s also easy, and as you say, simple to improvise on, too.  I’m crossing this one off the list. I’m way behind, and the fundamental technique was still the same – and, I might add, something I’ll be using  a lot in the future.

Next time, the whole fish!


Carmageddon Bourdain-a-thon

July 8, 2011 3 comments

Los Angeles Carmageddon, July 16-17

Hey Chef Bourdain;

I don’t know if you spend much time in Los Angeles, but we’ve got this little thing going on the locals are calling ‘carmageddon’. It might be a little dramatic, but only by a skosh.  they’re shutting down the 405 on the weekend of July 16th, which basically means that all of Los Angeles is going to descend into a sort of cross between the Old Testament and Mad Max.  You know, where wandering tribes of scavengers evade the wrath of angry God? It’s like that, plus with smog.

So my plan is to stay the fuck off the roads. Since I’m pretty far behind on my schedule to finish every recipe in your book inside a year, I’m going to take this opportunity to make ALL  THE THINGS.



Well, all the things I can find ingredients for, anyway. So my plan is this – I’ll work from home on Friday and start cooking.  There might be some drinking, too.  We’re going to watch as many old episodes of No Reserevations as I can stream. Which is nearly all of them. For the entire weekend, I’m going to cook, cook, cook. I don’t know if I can catch up or not, but I’m going to give it the old college try. No, fuck that, Chef – my college tries were pretty half-assed. Well, except after the Army. But anyway – I’mna cook the shit out of ALL THE THINGS.

Anyone who is stranded by Carmageddon and doesn’t want to take their chances evading the wrath of an angry god and wasteland scavengers is welcome to come over for all or some of it – There will definitely be something to eat. Whatever we don’t eat, we’ll freeze or give away. This is probably a  make-it-or-break-it proposition, if I don’t get caught up, or at least mostly caught up, it’s going to be progressively harder to do so  before the deadline. (November 1st, 2011, for the record.)

So Chef – or any other neighborinos, stop on by for the Carmageddon Bourdain-A-Thon. Though, if for some strange reason you actually show up, we’ll just play loud punk music instead of making you watch your own show, ok?


I’ve been working on my mussels.

May 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Moules Marinieres.

Dear Chef;

Look at those gorgeous bastards. That’s some food porn, right there. Like a lot of fond summer memories, they’re beautiful, easy and smell vaguely of the sea. I think it was you that said if someone threatens to come over and take pictures of one of your fancy dinners, mussels is the way to go.

You famously advised people not to order the mussels at any restaurant in Kitchen Confidential. That, and my mother’s deathly allergy to them has always made me leery, but now I’m converted.  I know I can take care to make sure that the mussels are nice and clean, and my local Costco has them fresh out of the ocean. We can’t eat the local mussels in the Summer due to red tide – which I was crushed to find out is not really a throw-back Soviet plot. I would have been more than happy to shake an AK-47 at the sky and holler “Wolverines!” if that would make mussels safe for all Americans.

But hey, a little care and cleaning and these ones from Northern California are fresh, safe and delicious. I let them sit in fresh water for a few hours before I even start to think about cooking them. Periodically I change out the water, so even though they’re pissing on each other’s heads, it gets flushed. If I’m ever captured for the purpose of eating, I hope my captors extend me the same courtesy.

"Privacy, please? We're peeing."

An hour before dinner or so, I put them in a plugged-up sink, run water and scrub and beard them as I toss them back into the (re-scrubbed) pot. This is basically the most tedious part. Those little suckers do not want to give up their last little snack of seaweed.

The rest is dead simple – throw some butter, shallots and white wine in the pot. Let them get nice and moogly (that’s totally a word) and then toss in the mussels. Once the mussels are all open, put on the lid and shake.

Action shot!

I put them all in a nice color bowl, poured the liquid over top, and served with a loaf of rustic bread and soft butter. They were simple, fresh and delicious. I sort of outsmarted myself though – I was serving other stuff for dinner, so while my fiancee and friends sat down to eat some mussels and chat, I was still cooking.

I will definitely make this again, so it’s totally a hit, Chef. Moules marinieres was much easier than the moules normandie, and I think even better, to tell the truth. If I have one lesson learned, it’s that I should plan to serve them with plenty of time to go before dinner – what a fine bowl of deliciousness to share on the deck with some crisp white wine and  friends on a warm Southern California day.

Next time you come over, I’ll make some for you, Chef. The wine is definitely a key part of the experience, but I don’t think I have to explain that to you!


You’re invited to an upcoming feast!

April 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Dear Chef Bourdain;

This is totally just to make people hungry.

I’ll be seeing you next weekend. I’m pretty excited – my fiancee’s cousin and her chef boyfriend got tickets to see you and Chef Ripert next weekend, May 1st, in Santa Barbara. They’re bringing Pascale and I as their wedding gift to us. So hey, I’ll bring you a printout of the infamous guts-night to sign, and maybe one to keep for you, too! I know you’re excited to meet me at last, Chef. So the night before I’m going to make a dinner from your book. You’re totally invited – drop  me a line, ok?

For my other friends and readers, you’re invited too! But here’s the deal – I’m getting married in a few weeks. (Seriously. A few weeks. Ok ok, deep breaths…) and I need to save up for the wedding and honeymoon, especially since things have gone more than a bit sideways at work recently, and I’m not guaranteed to have the time off and pay I was expecting. So if you’d like to come, will you help me cover the cost of ingredients? That’s all I’m asking – and in return, you’ll get a really excellent meal. Here’s the menu:

Starter:  Moules a la marinieres (mussels in tomato broth)

Veg: Leeks vinaigratte

Mains: Filet of beef, sauce porto with roasted shallots

Side: pommes sautee au lard. (Potatoes sauteed in duck fat.)

Dessert: Charlottes de marrons. (A bit like tiramisu, it’s that beautiful bastard I enticed you in with up top.)

I figure I don’t really want to cook for more than six with this many courses, so that’s four open spots at the table. I have the luxury of not cooking for more than six, because this is a hobby, not a job, thank the gods. I figure most of that stuff isn’t terribly expensive, except for the filet, so about $20 a head will cover it. Now come on, that’s a five course meal for the price of what the sides would cost in a good restaurant! So please let me know if you’re into it, and how many. First come, first serve – it’s all going down Saturday evening, April 30th, probably around 6pm.

And Chef Bourdain, if you show up, I promise there will be plenty of good wine and a solid Venice freakshow on top of it all!

I’m hungry just thinking about it. The food that is, not the freakshow. Though that’s awesome too.


Steak Warhammer – Steak Au Poivre

February 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Dear Chef Bourdain;

I have a tiny mortar and pestle. That’s not a euphemism. I mean the kitchen implement, and the one I have is a great size for say, crushing herbs or making almond dust. (Internet commenters, I have provided you with some excellent straight-lines here, I expect top-notch work!) But it’s too small to crack enough peppercorns for steak au poivre for six people. Sterner measures were called for.

So there were my peppercorns, crushed with the best tool I had for the job – a warhammer. Hey, it’s not just my weapon-of-choice for the zombie apocalypse, it’s also a handy tenderizer and whatnot!

I’m pretty handy with a steak, if truth be told. Knowing how to nicely pan-roast a good cut of meat was one of the skills I came into this project having if not mastered, at least journeymaned. But I was looking forward to this dinner – I found some really beautiful filets mignon at the local Costco. They were really thick, and a deep, dark red color. Like theater curtains. Of meat. Like you, I don’t think filet deserves the reputation it gets, it’s kind of bland. But it certainly has a buttery, toothsome texture, so kicking up its flavor with some pepper for spice, butter, cognac and to add some fat and flavor? Yeah, I’m in. And the prospect that the pan would flame up made it even more enticing!

I had two pans large enough to use, and six steaks to do. Because everyone was sitting down together, I couldn’t do them in batches,  per se, they all had to finish resting at the same time. So I got both pans ripping hot. Not as hot as I normally would, because your instructions call for a a little less heat, presumably because of the butter rather than oil – lower smoke point and all. I seared ’em up nice and brown, then transferred all six into the cast-iron pan in the pre-heated oven.

It was then that it was time to make the flame happen!

Action Shot! Only...without the action!

No flame.  I was excited about this, too – giant gouts of flame are ALWAYS fun, and when they’re combined with delicious meat and booze? That’s a fiesta, Chef.  A goddamn fiesta! But there was no flame here, just the steam and smoke. I realized why, after the fact – because this pan hadn’t roasted in the oven (the other one was doing that) it wasn’t as hot as it otherwise might have been.

So, the cognac didn’t flare up, but the resulting sauce was still pretty amazing. Hard to go wrong with butter, fat, cognac and seasoning though, right? I de-glazed the second pan with the sauce when it came out of the oven too, not wanting to waste any of that delicious frond.

I served up the resulting symphony of beast, flame, booze and warhammer-crushings with truffled pommes frites, sauteed asparagus, and love. That’s the secret ingredient.

The Secret Ingredient is...

HAHA. No, just kidding, the secret ingredient is definitely the booze.

Have some booze for me, Chef.


P.S. The leftovers the next day might have actually been even better, chef!

Anthony Bourdain’s Salad Danglers

February 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Dear Chef Bourdain;

Salade d’onglet was a brilliant recipe; but it totally sounds like salad danglers. I think that’s a euphemism for something sweaty Greek men do in steam-baths.  First, it gave me a good excuse to eat steak. If you’ve ever spent time around women – and rumor has it you have – you know that they tend to prefer organically raised cracked Bulgarian spelt salads made out of lettuce that was harvested on the night when its sun-sign was bio-rhythmic with other leafy greens and sprouts-of-other-things-you-don’t-want-to-eat-when-fully-grown. So combining that with a nicely marinated steak is kind of genius. I mean, it’s healthy, right?

Look at all the organic leafy greens! (Never mind the steak..)

I actually waited too long to make this, I blanked on the fact that the steak has to marinate for at least three hours, but preferably over night. So I really only had half an hour to marinate it. Even so, it came out very flavorful. One winning takeaway from this dish – a fantastic marinate that packs a ton of flavor. The ginger, the soy sauce and the vinegar all combine to something that’s greater than the sum of its parts. I will keep this in my back pocket for all my meat-marinating needs. And chef – I have needs. Meat needs. Thank you for helping me with my meat needs.

Other than that, I know how to make a steak and toss a salad, it’s pretty straightforward. When I go to the market and ask for “onglet” I get a wall-eyed look. (From a man wearing chainmail and carrying a scimitar, so you know, I’m inclined to keep it not-too-surprising with these guys.) But flank steak is very popular around these parts, and I had no problem scoring a pallet-sized side of it at Costco. I used half for this recipe, and the other half is vaccuum-packed and waiting for me now in the freezer, like something wonderful that lurks in a deep, frozen slumber. Like Walt Disney’s head!

Walt Disney’s head, on the other hand, wouldn’t be nearly as good with some greens and a nice red wine vinaigrette. And that’s the other takeaway from this recipe – a really nice, simple dressing that packs a lot of flavor into a small volume. Like Kristin Chenoweth. If she were salad dressing, this would be her – sassy, bold and highly concentrated. You can tell her I said that, Chef. You know, if it ever comes up.

So thanks for another hit, Chef – this one was easy, was really excellent, and has lots of great ways to be re-purposed for other dishes.

Plus, it’s a great excuse to eat MEAT! totally healthy green leafy vegetables!


No Guts, No Glory- Tripes Les Halles

January 26, 2011 13 comments

Tripes Les Halles

Dear Chef Bourdain;

Just look at that. Look at those guts, in all their pornographic glory. Such a fascinating conglomeration of glistening, bulging, tumescent sausages over a swirling swill of stewed stomach! Just gorgeous, right?

But man oh man, was the view worth the climb? It took three days to prepare and the first two were pretty stomach-churning. (See what I did there? HA! I slay me! This must be what it feels like to be Fozzie Bear.)

I put out the call for brave gastronomic adventurers to come eat Tripes Les Halles. There were a predictable amount of polite demurral, a fair number of flat-out no answers, and a small corps of intrepid eaters.  So with no small amount of excitement, I schlorped the conglomeration of guts that had been congealing in the fridge into a tray. I didn’t have the requisite earthenware casserole that would be big enough for the vast volume of offal, so I had to use one of those disposable party platters – a wise choice, it turned out. I layered on the boudin noir and chorizo, the latter of which is happily easy to find in L.A., the former not so much. And set ‘er in to stew.

When it was ready – as well as the back up pasta dish for those who arrived hungry and didn’t care to eat their fill of tripes – we got everyone together. I felt full of the “moral certainty that I was the baddest ass King Hell fearless fucking gourmand in the area”, just like you promised me. And so we took this picture, with ears in there, which I will send to you care of your publisher, in exchange for a letter of commendation and devotion. I’ve written enough of those to you at this point, hey, Tony, it’s about time you reciprocate, right?

Fearless Fucking Gourmands

I’m particularly proud of my cousin Drew, who was not so long ago, a very picky eater. But these days he’s up to try anything, even if he doesn’t necessarily finish it up. He made a point of fishing around in the platter to get a little taste of everything – both kinds of tripe, ear, pork belly,  hoof, chorizo and boudin noir.  I did the same, and here’s my plate:

A little bit of everything. And I do mean *everything*.

How to describe the taste? It’s organ meat, you know? It doesn’t taste much like liver (except the boudin noir) but doesn’t taste much like pork. It wasn’t dissimilar to the haggis I insisted friends and family eat on my birthday (sorry!) but really is its own special thing. Of course I enjoyed the chorizo, I have it with eggs fairly often on weekends. The pork belly was delicious, and the tripes (honeycomb and feathered) strangely tolerable. The black sausages reminded me an awful lot of the time my dog, Assistant  Chef Bourdain (AKA  Blink) got into a bag of blood meal garden fertilizer. In fact, it basically IS blood meal garden fertilizer, wrapped in intestines.

But you know, Chef, as off-putting as the smell was while it was cooking, at the end of the day it was pretty good. I wouldn’t make it again on purpose because of the difficulty (but not expense!) of gathering ingredients and the chore of three days of cooking. But if someone else made it, I would eat it “without reservations”. (HA! There I go again, wokka wokka wokka!)

There was definitely a secret to enjoying the evening though. I don’t want to spell it out, it’s best if other fearless fucking gourdmands discover the secret to King Hell bad-assery themselves. But I’ll give you a hint.

Fearlessness in a glass...

I can’t speak for all the attendees, but at the end of the night I thoroughly enjoyed the meal, as much for the novelty as anything else. I didn’t have any of the emergency pasta, and was satisfied. Quite satisfied.

That is the look of a satisfied King Hell

So okay chef, this was probably the one meal that it was going to be hardest to get people to come and enjoy – but they did, and we did. I’m sticking to some of the less-esoteric, less guts-based recipes for a little while, but this was certainly an experience.

Offal in all its various forms is the cuisine of people who have to make do with what they can get. It takes time, effort and love to make some of the hardest-to-swallow stuff palatable, but it can be done. We’re inheritors of all that tradition, but the easy access to only the simplest to prepare cuts and “best” quality meats means we’ve lost touch with a lot of that heritage. I’m happy to try anything that someone somewhere cherishes as precious. I’m happy to receive the benefit of all that tradition…even if I’m also happy to resort to a nice bone-in t-bone done medium raw with just a  little bit of salt, too.

Funny how some of the best foods are so simple – beautiful tomatoes tossed in a little olive oil with some salt; fresh steaks seared and finished with just a touch of salt and pepper, asparagus sauteed and seasoned. When the ingredients are lovely like that, all you can do is get in the way of them. But when all you’ve got to work with is a steaming pile of guts, it takes a lot of effort to make it work. It’s easy to think that means it’s just not worth it, but if that’s the attitude we always take, we’ll completely lose touch with our past, with our history. And there’s no surer connection to our ancestors than this, to eat the very same things that they ate, handed down from the past, right onto our plates. There’s no more visceral way to understand that tradition than to actually, literally taste it.

But you know, they had some nice red wine to go with it, too. Just sayin’.

Thanks for the history lesson, Chef!


P.S. As is clear from the following video, Chef – my new camera takes much better pictures, but I still don’t really know how to control it, or edit it. But here’s a video from guts-night. I’m drunk and self-satisfied, so forgive my smugness.

Gutbucket Day Two

January 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Dear Chef Bourdain;

Three days to make tripes les halle? Really? Sweet Bacchus’ Man-Boobs, this was a labor of love. Disgusting love, like those fat-fetish porn movies that hide in the way back of the naughty section. Shameful love, like wiping out a pint of Ben & Jerry’s by yourself while watching Syfy Original movies.

On day two, all I had to do was cook some chopped onions and garlic, then add the tripes, and the pork-bucket with some of the reserved cooking liquid. Then when the mixture was warmed up, add in the rest of the liquid. Only, over night the pot of tripes had congealed into a solid mass. I actually held it upside down and shook, and like a giant gut-cork, it didn’t even budge. I finally had to get MLF to poke it with a wooden spoon handle while I held it up. Even then it was highly resistant to emerging, like a giant disgusting breach baby.

When I finally got it into the pot, it was one solid lump of congealed guts. I turned the heat up to melt the liquids, but even that didn’t really do the trick. After about half an hour with all the cooking liquid mixed in, it got up to a boil and I was able to stir it up and break up most of the chunks. Delightful.

How to ruin a perfectly good pot of sauteed onions: add guts.

The sauteeing onions and garlic smelled delightful, like you might imagine. That lovely aroma didn’t last long though – in no time the smell of simmering offal had once again permeated the house. It wasn’t as bad as the night before, but it was still double-plus ungood. Even Assistant Chef Bourdain, normally ever-vigilant to help out by snapping up anything that hits the floor, turned his back on the hot-gut-pot.

..and this dog eats stuff we find on our walks that would make your stomach turn.

It was a great relief when the combination had simmered long enough to take it off the heat, let it cool, and then put it in the fridge to marry the flavors overnight. A relief, and yet a dreadful step closer to the moment when I’d actually have to eat it.

The things I do for cuisine.


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