M's Cooking Diary

Musing about food, wine and cooking.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Using it all

One of the things I like to do when I buy fish, meat or poultry is to use everything. What I don’t use, I freeze. Even bone? In fact especially bones for the stocks.

Waste not. Want not.

For example, for most Portuguese preparation for bacalhau (salted cod), you need to soak the fish to remove the salt and then cook it water before you remove the skin and the bones. I usually, put the skin and bone back in the water and reduce this stock to a concentrated consommé.

Cod skin is very rich in gelatin (maybe this is not the right term) and after reducing you will get a nice jellified stock that you can use in court-bouillon, sauce or soup.

By the way, have a magic recipe for cod: “Bacalao al pil pil”. I’ll make it soon and write about it.

For example, here in North America, we raise million of pig but we, clearly, eat as meat, a very small fraction of whole hog. I don’t know what the rest goes but for all the pollution that industrial pork production (we can only call it production) cause we should really get more out of it than this tasteless meat and this water soaked ham!!!

While in Portugal, Spain, France and Italy, when a pig is butchered, nothing is left apart from a few bones.

When I was 4 or 5 year old we went my family and I to the small farm of a friend of my father who is Serbian. It was around Orthodox Easter. I remember that it was during that weekend I learned to play chess and I also saw a pig being killed. I remember the knife but not the actual killing; probably my mother took me out of the barn. Next I remember the pig on the dinning room table being scraped of hair and our friend daughter, who was maybe 13 at the time, examining the eyes of the dead hog.

Ode to the Pig and to the Good Butcher Posted by Hello

I think I was sent to bed after that but they must have worked all night helped by generous shot of slivovic because the day after, there it was in the kitchen, the inflated bladder of last night star. We painted it in festive color and hanged it in the living room. That was all that was left. The rest was made into sausage, thick ragú, nice ribs and tender filet etc…

So, I’m happy when I can use everything on the same plate. Like the quails I made for the Christmas dinner. I salted and slowly cooked the quails’ thigh in duck fat. I used the breast meat to stuff ravioli the bones to make a fond that I used to sauce them.

I plated everything together. It was fun to make and it tasted very good.


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