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A New Obsession (warning contains explicit material for vegetarians)

It’s summertime on the farm!

Which means I’m diving into the freezer, head first, and grasping for the last bits of our meat supply. What’s left (until the Fall butchering) are the humble pieces I’ve ignored. Like landmarks invisible to us on our daily commutes, I never saw that tongue until last week. There are beef hearts and trotters (pigs feet), bones and livers. What am I going to do with all this tough shank? This box of pork blades?

I’ve discovered a clever solution to utilizing this jetsom that has now become the available, end of season flotsam in the freezer. This would be via the work of  my new kitchen obsession— a nifty meat grinder attachment that my sweetheart bought me on a whim. (The beauty of having a gift-giving hubby who can see straight through you to your inner metronome.)

I’ve never been a fan of pork, and this has been disconcerting to me because chef’s and gourmands are infatuated  with pork, using the entire animal in the way they obsess over rare delicacies. Like gooey duck and bone marrow. (Think “The Whole Beast” approach of  cooking pork from Ohio Iron Chef, Michael Symon.)  The same can rarely be said for beef save for the burger and sometimes aged steak.  (The Publican in Chicago cook their pork with hay!  Now, that’s some crazy pork obsessed nutjobs I thought when i first heard this!)  What am I not getting about porkamani?

Cut to:  Marital intervention of the meat grinder. Because of this humble gift, I have  since found a flavor in pork that I’ve never experienced by taking the unwanted and the whatnots and trimming the fat, then grinding my own meat with pitch-perfect spice blends. Fennel seed, garlic, and smoked Paprika (alot) are the trinity I start with. Next I add about 6 more different flavors in the form of spices, fresh herbs and acidity.

(Pork shoulder and pork chops post-trimming, pre-grinding)

So titillated are my tastebuds these days, and my creative juices that the culinary possibilities have unleashed a new-flowered love.  At last! I am slowly attuning to the intensity of feelings generated by this porkly beast.  Now I understand why we had to weave our way thru the maze of cured pork legs hanging from every restaurant in Europe: I’ve never tasted anything but blase’ American pork products. Whether flotsom, jetsom, lagan or derelict these unassuming (and unappetizing) cuts have become beautiful darlings of  my carnivorous treasure trove in the shape of a freezer. And I’m thinking, couldn’t we make our own sausage this year? Like the kind they make in Portugal and Spain…. like linguica  and chorizo?

“Perhaps that’s overestimating us a bit, ” hubby intoned. “You’re always saying the layman should embrace their laymanship and leave true craft to the masters.”

“The layman and the masters started as equals. The difference is the layman didn’t over-embellish their talents from the beginning.”

“Or maybe they just had a couple hundred year’s worth of family sausage making. We didn’t smell sausage from the womb. We smelled  8 tracks and Miracle Whip. We saw the world in Harvest Gold.”

What we foodies search for in the flavors of food is not in the end so far from what we search for in love. Be creative with a meat grinder. Even if it means experimenting with cheese whiz and tater tot casserole in your sausage. 🙂

(Normally, I grind the meat for burgers or meatballs or sausage-like frittatas but I roasted the meat with veg and then put all of this thru the meat grinder for ravioli stuffing. See Below)

(“Pull up a stool and make dinner together!”)

(They went gaga over the corn husks.)

(Final dishes. Pasta in homemade chicken stock with scallions, basil, and dried tomatoes, a splash of soy sauce. And stuffed ravioli with yellow squash, zucchini, parmesan cheese.)

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