Monday, November 12, 2007

"Add Strong Drink To The Autumn Diet..."

Wine Pigs - Ethan Cornell 2007; Garnacha on Butcher Paper

"In October and November, and likewise after the middle of September, according as you shall find the season to alter, you may begin to arme your body with stronger drinks against the cold of the ensuing winter, and to feed more liberally, and on stronger meats."

Thomas Venner in Via Recta: The Right Way Of Living (1650)

Well, okay... You're the doctor, Thomas Venner...

"The Softer Side of Fergus..."

...Henderson, that is.
This week's dinner was a tribute to Fergus Henderson and his great ideas. It was a bit of a pussy tribute in a way, because I didn't do any braised brains, or testicles on a stick, or crispy fried pig's tails or, you know, even hog face.

Because, who doesn't love a nice crunchy piece of hog face?

Occasionally, I come across a Fergus recipe that makes me need to lie down with my feet elevated, until the urge to hurl passes, and still, I can't put his cookbooks down; They read like great prose.

That being said, I would prefer to never, ever see the phrases "pig's head" and "disposable Bic® razor" used together in a recipe again.

So, I didn't cook hog face.

What I did cook was:

• Radishes With Butter and Salt
• Onion Soup With Cider Vinegar, Duck Stock and Toasts
• Butterbean, Cauliflower, Leek & Caper Salad in Garlic Vinaigrette
• Jerusalem Artichokes roasted with red onions and kalamata olives
• Turnips With Their Tops, Brussels Sprouts In An Anchovy Dressing
• Glorious, slooow-roasted Rack of Pork
• Parsley Salad
• Lentils Which Got Completely Overcooked, But Were Then Saved At The Last Second With Balsamic Vinegar, Which Made Them So Delicious That They Were Gone In Six Seconds
• Extraordinary Cortland Apples
Roasted In Calvados With Burnt Caramel Ice Cream and Sauce.

Mmmmmm... Anchovies.

The "lentil gruel" mistake that was saved by balsamic...

...and the aftermath

Onion soup Super-charged with duck fat, veal stock, and duck stock. Oh, and time.

Praise Jeebus. Best Thing Ever.

...Parsley salad

Poooooooooorrrrrk. We drank a glass of wine in honor of the pig.

Green goodness. Well, green and white.

Cavalo Nero (Tuscan Black Kale)..... which I forgot to serve. Whoops.

Turnip tops. They were braised and then covered in anchovy vinaigrette.

Here's The Invite:

The Softer Side of Fergus…
Or, How to cook from “Nose to Tail” without actually cooking any noses or tails.

So Fergus Henderson seems to be everywhere these days. For weeks I have been dreaming of his marrow bones, so desperate that I was ready to cave and go to Prune to get them, when POOF! Just like that, the recipe appears in the Wed Dining Out section of the Times. Then I was reading “Beyond Nose to Tail” graciously given to us by Dapper Dan, and wondering if I might like Campari in the white wine and Campari cocktail that leads off his book. I pondered this for a couple of days and POOF! There in the style section in the Sunday Times…. The recipe. Huh.

You can understand how this led me to “the softer side of Fergus”. I will indeed explore the “gung ho take no prisoners” side of Fergus when Zora is returned from her travels. Somehow, taking apart an animal alone seems like ½ of the fun, so I will wait. So, hungry kiddies, this week we will explore some autumnal weather, and some warm and delicious food from a man whose genius will be appreciated for many years after my stove has disintegrated or gone up in the flames of a duck fat fire, whichever comes first.

We will also be *inside*-- as our outdoor dinners seem to have vanished with the chill.

Onion and Cider soup with Marrow Bone and Toast
Bitter salad
Jerusalem arichokes, red onions and olives, roasted
Brined Pork Loin with Turnips and their tops, garlic and anchovies
Lentils to soak up the fat and juices
Leek and cauliflower salad with vinaigrette
Some sort of calvados and apple dessert creation

Burnt Caramel Goodness...

and again, in its pure, non-ice cream form...

The Butcher's Bill: 22 autumnal souls gathered and ate and drank until it hurt. New friends and old friends.

Just the way we love it here at The Sunday Night Dinner.