For many years the only fresh American pork I ate was the ground pork inside a steamed dumpling, the occasional blended meatball and the rare instance of a pork belly appetizer that found it’s way to me in a restaurant. Pork I ate as a kid – chops, mostly – hasn’t attracted me in decades, …
In the spirit of estival amnesty, we chose not to publish an Easter post about rabbit, but now that our kitchen has been picked clean of of brightly colored eggs, it’s back to the
cutting drawing board. Herewith, Mustard-Braised Rabbit with Leeks, Peas and Radishes. In other words, rabbit for grown-ups.
I met my first leek in high school. I was a senior and the leek was in Julia Child’s Vichyssoise. I wanted to be an instant convert, but it just wasn’t happening for me. Potatoes, these funny sci-fi onions, cream, the cold temperature–it was just too far off the map. Three years later I gave leeks another try. This time I was a student in Switzerland and the leeks were baked in a gratin with cream and Gruyère. Whammo! Direct hit. The Swiss also love potato-leek soup, hot and cold, so I got plenty of opportunity to endear myself to this long allium. As a young householder I braised them with chicken stock and cream, while Jody has always been a bit more restrained, using evoo. As I get older I’ve found myself increasingly drawn to Jody’s side of the fence, ergo this week’s post, Braised Leeks with Meyer Lemon, Pancetta and Parmigiano Reggiano.
In his brilliant maritime novels set during the Napoleonic wars the English writer Patrick O’Brian was ruthlessly accurate about the handling of square-rigged sailing ships and the social relations in the British navy. In order to keep readers from feeling completely adrift O’Brian, whom the NYT Book Review dubbed “Jane Austen at sea,” often had his sea-wise characters explain details of shipboard life to landlubbers who had wandered into the story. Those new to cuisine afloat soon learned, for example, that chowder and the dreaded “portable soup”* were thickened with hardtack lest the liquid slosh out of the bowl and onto the diner. Hardtack, sailors then cheerfully pointed out, was infested with worms, nicknamed “bargemen,” after their resemblance atop the crackers in the soup, to pilots steering captain’s barges from one side of the bowl to the other. In MASTER AND COMMANDER, O’Brian has a character contemplate his soup with its infested crackers and then observe, “Don’t you know that in the Navy one must always choose the lesser of two weevils. Oh ha, ha, ha, ha!”
You’re either on board with this kind of humor or you’re not. If you’re not, you can console yourself with today’s post, Corn and Mussel Chowder. Oh ha, ha, ha, ha!