Hello! Here's the (cured) MEAT + 3 for this week. Hope you enjoy!
The (cured) MEAT: Sobrasada
I'm highlighting Sobrasada this week, not necessarily because of how delicious and versatile it is (although that too), but the character of this cured meat is one that's been on my mind quite a bit lately. It's the longest cured item we make right at the moment, at 4 months. And, it's a beautiful expression of how ingredients that folks are perhaps not chomping at the bit to use in abundance (think fat and trimmings), are transformed into something long lasting, that can be used a little at a time, creating substantial value in the process. Then, this product of transformation, pays it forward, lending serious transformation potential in and of itself, to the dishes and palates that it graces. Sobrasada is a potent metaphor for this moment, a tool that has undergone major transformation to get to where it is, one that that is extraordinarily long lasting, and one that holds major transformation potential for the things and people it comes into contact with. Sobrasada is, essentially, an exercise in the power of paying positive transformation, forward.
1) Sobrasada Recipe - Wood Fired Blue Potatoes with Sobrasada
I haven't been so excited about a new product in a very long time. The sheer versatility of this salami inspires me every day. And, the fact that I have a refrigerator full of samples, and a hungry family, gives me a reason to keep having fun cooking with it. A few days ago, I cut up some blue potatoes, sliced up an onion, mixed in some herbs, and dolloped some Sobrasada over the top. Then, onto the fire. If you don't have a place to cook outside, this can easily be done in an oven, or on the stove. Then, about 20 or 30 minutes later, I had what were truly some of the most mind blowing roasted potatoes I can remember. With crispy bottom potatoes from the rendered fat, charred onion, and a succulent meaty/umami/pimentón essence, it was heaven. If you decide to make this yourself, I'd love to see some pictures!
2) Sobrasada pairing: "WORD IS BORN" from Zafa Winesin Burlington, VT.
The head of Zafa, Krista Scruggs, is an extremely badass "fermented juice" maker. Simply put. Her motto says it all, and is the kind of motto to be aspired to:
"NO FINING, FILTERING, ADDITIVES, OR FUNNY BUSINESS IN THE WINERY.
NO HERBICIDES OR SYNTHETIC PESTICIDES IN THE VINEYARD..JUST FUCKING FERMENTED JUICE FROM RESPONSIBLY FARMED LIVING FRUIT."
Indeed. "Word Is Born" is 50% Frontenac Blanc and 50% cider. Whether you're slathering Sobrasada on a piece of warm bread, or letting it do it's work in another dish, "Word Is Born has a perfectly acidic yin to Sobrasada's rich, unctuous yang. If you're lucky enough to score a bottle or 2, congratulations!!
3) Book: The Cooking Gene
"I dare to believe that all southerners are family. We are not merely Native, European, and African. We are Middle Eastern and South Asian and East Asian and Latin American, now...We are unwitting inheritors of a story with many sins that bears the fruit of the possibility of ten times the redemption. Our way is through reconnection with the culinary culture of the enslaved, our common ancestors..."
- Michael W. Twitty from The Cooking Gene
I've been learning quite a bit about Michael W. Twitty over the last week. He is a self-described "Black, Gay, Jewish food writer, independent scholar, culinary historian, and historical interpreter personally charged with preparing, preserving and promoting African American foodways and its parent traditions in Africa and her Diaspora and its legacy in the food culture of the American South." His book, The Cooking Gene, is a James Beard Award winner and, in my opinion, should be required reading in America. His work is a powerful document in helping to make sense of what "American Food" is. He also writes a blog called Afroculinaria, which I highly recommend for its food scholarship, it's social commentary, and its overall awesome articulation of so many things culinary history and present powerful moment. Grab a copy of The Cooking Gene today from The Lit Bar in The Bronx, NY.
Also, listen to this interview with Michael if you can on The Nod Podcast
Thanks for taking the time to read and have a great week!