The plans for goat bacon didn’t quite work out the way I had hoped.
I picked up the goat belly from the vendor and even before I got home I knew it wasn’t going to be what I expected. I could feel rib bones and very little meat. When I took it out of the shrink wrap, my suspicions were confirmed. I had some lovely fatty rib meat but not much else. I was a little disappointed and sad. I was really hoping to do something unique like goat bacon, but that was not to be.
Instead I took the breasts (because essentially, that’s what I had) and browned them in some bacon fat before putting them in a crock with some white wine and chicken stock. I let them braise for about 3 hours before I had to shut the whole thing down because I was going to be away from the house for a while. Everything got put in the fridge to sit.
Tonight I pulled it all out and used some of the braising liquid to make rice and then made a veloute with the rest. Then I set about pulling the meat off the bones.
Again, disappointed. Even after that time in the braise, the meat was full of cartilage and fat and hard to get off the bones. It really needed more time. So I took what I could for one meal and threw the rest back in the crock. This time I added a carrot and some beer and that will sit over night and over the day tomorrow. That should create the final product I’d like. The rice and veloute mix was more of a porridge with some meat but still delicious with the addition of some feta.
So I didn’t get the bacon I wanted. It’s place on my pop up menu will have to be reconsidered.
I freely admit that when I got the call I was on line at a steam table Chinese food joint in the financial district getting my fix of shameful and questionable food. The guy in front of me on line gave me an apologetic look as he took the last of the orange chicken before he scurried down the line to the grease bomb egg rolls. In my defense, I had just spent the last four days doing my part to execute the Folsom Street Fair. Four days of junk food, coffee and red bulls. The steam table Chinese was an actual step up from the chicken fingers and fries I had shoved in my mouth as fast as possible on Sunday when I had 10 minutes in between bursts of lifting tables, chairs and supply lugs.
When my phone rang, I looked at the number and didn’t recognize it and assumed it was someone with some issue pertaining to the fair. I considered answering it and being a good board volunteer even though the fair was over. Instead, I ignored it and dropped my phone back in my pocket while I eye balled the crab Rangoon.
As I walked back to my office I began to feel the pangs of guilt as I began to run the list of things that could have possibly spawned the call. Had the trucks been returned with damage? Had the storage facility needed me to unlock the units? Were the Folsom Street Events offices on fire because I had left the candy bucket too close to the heater last week? So with some trepidation I balanced my fried rice noodles and sesame pepper beef in one hand while I checked voice mail.
“Hi, this is Paul from Golden Gate Meat. I wanted to let you know that the goat we talked about a couple of weeks ago is going to be slaughtered this week and I wanted to give you a head up and see if you still want the belly.”
My brain gave a little BZZZT noise as I stood on the corner. Part of me wanted to ignore the call. I was just too damn tired to deal with it. The other part of me immediately screamed “You dimwit! Call him back! We’ve got a pop up to produce in 24 days!”
So I called him back. Nice guy. Funny too. He’s bleeding the goat out on Wednesday and dividing it up on Thursday. I said I’ll take whatever belly he can give me on Friday. We estimate I’ll get about 3 to 5 pounds worth but most likely around 4.
What does one do with goat belly? My instinct is to make goat bacon. But then I thought about what I’m trying to accomplish with the pop up and wondered if I needed to push myself a little here. What could I make that highlighted the goat meat and required a little effort from me? Maybe some braised goat belly in a demi? Maybe some goat lardons tossed over the salad course? Or perhaps a stew? Or maybe I just need to do what I often do with meat I’ve never cooked with before… put it on the counter, touch it, feel it, chill it and then dig into the internet and see what’s out there and let my mind take over. Let the meat speak as loud as possible and create something that would never be seen on a steam table lunch line and something that can be enjoyed guilt free.
So I was all fired up to start working more on the blog and then…
The laptop died. As in it wouldn’t start. At all. Ever. With no warning. With no consideration of my feelings and plans and goals! How rude I said. How inconvenient. I shook my fist at the sky and swore vengeance.
(OK I may have accidentally spilled a vodka and lemonade on it.)
The nice man at the the Apple Genius bar basically told me it would cost more to repair than the machine was worth. I sighed and thought back to how much that machine and I had been through. How many catering jobs, how many “boyfriends” and how many photo shoots. But lately it had been limping along do the basic jobs I needed and wheezed and coughed and sputtered the whole time. I knew this was coming.
It took me 4 months to save the money but I bought a new iMac. I no longer needed the mobility a Macbook afforded since I have an iPad and iPhone. What I did need was more monitor space for editing photos with more precision. If anything, that is what I’m looking forward to. It will be interesting to see how my work changes.
But all that will have to wait a few days. I’m a little overwhelmed with volunteering for the Folsom Street Fair this week end. As an associate board member I’ve stepped into a new role that has a level of responsibility I’m actually quite enjoying. In a short amount of time I will help present a world famous street fair with 400,000 attendees. There’s 1000+ volunteers and more details than I care to think about at the moment. It will all go over fine but I’m honestly nervous. A big portion of the day is on my shoulders and I just want it to be right. I’ve let go of a lot of expectation surrounding the day, so for now, I’m just trying to make it the best it can be.
There’s a new man in my life who is making me quite happy. More on him later.
With the new machine I’m hoping to post here more often. If you don’t hear from me here, give me a shout. I won’t mind too much.
So life moves on.
I’m employed finally with a stable and profitable company. Its very corporate but it’s paying well and is letting me dig myself out of debt and still allow me a few extravagances. I even had a second part time job for a while. I appreciated having the extra money, but when I was eating oatmeal for dinner because I didn’t have time to cook, I began to question what I was doing. So I quit the part time job and I’m enjoying some more personal time.
Am I cooking? You bet. Last night I went to a friend’s house and we made gnocchi and drank wine and giggled. It was a lovely way to spend a Saturday night.
I’m also planning a pop up restaurant for the end of the month. It will be at TRUCK on June 23rd from 4-7. This time around I’m presenting an all pork menu and will even have a vip dish. Really looking forward to that but also nervous about having time to do it.
Thanks to everyone who has been so supportive over the last few months. I’m looking forward to a summer of fun and friends and pork.
They were part of my house mate’s CSA box. I’m not really a fan of them since in my mind they’re the Kim Kardashian of vegetables…prickly and a lot of work for very little pay off. There’s a reason artichoke dip has a litany of other ingredients to make it palatable.
Yet they look great. That color and texture is hard to resist.
I had pulled them out of the fridge and tossed them on the kitchen table so I could get access to something else. I looked up and saw them sitting there and the photographer in my head starting making obscene comments about my lack of produced work lately. It’s a simple shot but it says what I wanted to.
I love peas and always have. As a kid I’d get a can of British baby peas for my birthday and I thought how special that seemed. With time I’ve grown like the peas right out of the pods and look forward to spring when they become available.
One of the signs that spring has gotten firmly entrenched is the arrival of spring peas at the farmers markets. The piles of bright green pods might still be a few weeks away in other parts of the country but here in San Francisco, we are lucky to have them now. While it’s great to have them, the peas inside may not have had time to fully mature yet. Certainly most pods have large peas inside, but some may need another week or so before they are at their best.
Despite that minor issue, you shouldn’t put off buying them now. The peas right out of the pods are sweet and grassy in flavor and have a pleasant crunch to them. A quick dunk of shelled peas in some salted boiling water and then dressed with butter is how most people serve them. Most people unfortunately just toss the pods in the compost. The pods shouldn’t be wasted because they have an equally pleasant crunch and flavor. This recipe uses both with a spring onion bought form the same vendor at the Galleria farmers market in the Financial District. Instead of cooking them fully, this recipe just barely lets the heat from the other ingredients warm them so they retain their fresh crunch and flavor to contrast with the other flavors.
• Approximately 1 pound snap peas
• 1 small spring onion with half the stalk
• 4 slices or 2 oz bacon
• 1 tsp fennel seeds
• 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
• Olive oil as needed
• Salt and pepper
1. Shell peas from pods. Stack pods and cut into ¼” slices. Set both aside.
2. Cut onion into ¼” dice. Slice stalk as you would a leek.
3. Cut bacon into ½” pieces. Over medium heat, render the fat out of the bacon with a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Take your time here so the bacon doesn’t burn.
4. When the bacon has started to brown, add the onion and stalk and sauté until just translucent.
5. Add vinegar and deglaze the pan with the liquid. Continue to cook until reduced by half.
6. Turn off heat and add pea mixture. Toss quickly and taste and adjust for salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve.
A version of this article also appears at http://www.examiner.com/article/spring-peas-and-pods-with-spring-onions-and-bacon