makes a wonderful stew with cumin and other spices, chili
peppers, garlic and collard greens,” Lamas says. It’s served
with rice, beans and salsa.
Lamas also does a taco of the day, often made from head
parts braised with herbs and spices, and a gaucho plate that
includes various pâtés or sausages. He sometimes freezes the
sausages for later use.
Customers who haven’t previously tried such dishes often
are hesitant at first, Lamas says, but in general, he finds they
are becoming more adventurous as they gain more interest in
the origins of their food.
Finding diners to be “pretty adventurous here in San
Francisco,” chef David Bazirgan of Fifth Floor gives pig’s head
an Italian flair in his suckling pig’s head cappellaci with Douglas
fir consommé, lobster mushrooms and Parmigiano-Reggiano on
an occasional tasting menu, usually the third of seven courses.
It’s a three-day process to prepare the head, which Bazirgan
first soaks in cold water overnight, then brines the next night,
and finally braises with white wine and aromatics. He adds
Parmesan and herbs to the broth, which he clarifies. He then
infuses it with small branches of Douglas fir pine, garnishes
it with mushrooms and pours the broth tableside over the hat-shaped, pork-stuffed pasta.
Chef Jorel Pierce at Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen in Denver
substitutes julienned pig’s ears for noodles in his pad thai
pig’s ears dish. “Fried pig’s ears have a similar texture to
twice-cooked rice noodles,” he says.
TOP LEFT: Jorel Pierce substitutes julienned pig’s ears for noodles in his pad
thai pig’s ears dish, a staple on the menu at Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen.
TOP RIGHT: Pot au feu en gelee with horseradish mousseline is one way that
Justin Aprahamian uses head cheese at Sanford restaurant.
The dish contains the usual ingredients of tamarind paste,
Thai chilies, garlic, white wine vinegar, dried shrimp, sugar,
vegetable stock, housemade hot sauce, scallion, ground peanuts, egg, lime juice and fish sauce. He tosses the mixture
and garnishes it with mung bean sprouts, mint and cilantro.
“Guests really like the pad thai dish, and it has become a staple
on the menu,” Pierce notes.
Many restaurants have occasionally done special whole
roast suckling pig dinners, usually roasting the whole animal
on a spit or in a smoker, then serving it sliced with barbecue
sauce. Today, some chefs, such as Tim McKee at Parasole’s
Salut Bar Americain in St. Paul, Minn., are taking the whole
pig apart to better showcase all of the animal.
At its recent Tour De Cochon dinner, Salut sous chef Stephen
Jones raised and provided a heritage breed Mangalitsa pig,
known for its exceptional flavor and fat content. Instead of
leaving the pig whole, the chefs made some two dozen
individual dishes from it.
Dishes incorporating some of the lesser-used parts included
a crispy pig’s ear salad à la lyonnaise with endives, lardon and
a poached egg; pig’s foot torchon with walnut oil, caramelized
onion and mâche; and grattons, or skin, with fennel pollen. A
housemade sausage with mostly head and shoulder meat was
braised with apple brandy, poached apple and truffle.
“This local farm-to-table movement originally focused
more on vegetables, notes Parasole spokesman Kip Clayton.
“Now it incorporates more meats. It’s exciting for us to see
this happening, and is a great extension of that trend.”
PHOTO CREDIT: Top left, Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen; top right, Sarah Mudrock
CAROLYN WALKUP IS A CHICAGO-BASED FREELANCE WRITER WHO HAS LONG SPECIALIZED
IN FOOD AND FOODSERVICE.