Lamb Tongue and Leg Rillettes

There are lamb lovers, lamb haterz, and the lamb agnostic, but even those who find themselves in the lamb lover category probably don’t have much good to say about cold lamb fat. The texture of pork fat at pretty much every temperature is becoming. Hot lamb fat is pretty great, but as soon as it starts to cool, there is this magical terribleness that takes over. It firms up and coats pretty much everything it touches. Continue reading


My favorite foods are often ones which dot the front of your shirt in ruddy brown or red and when cooled in a deli container become a block of gelatinized broth. Think pozole, pho, tonkotsu, backbone stew and menudo.  One of the bonuses of living near a vibrant Mexican community is weekend menudo. A soup requiring too much effort to make on weekdays is a treat best saved for Saturday and Sunday, sometimes solely Sunday. Continue reading

Pickle Brined Chicken

Pickles go fast in our house – like “a jar in a weekend” quick. The brine usually goes into BBQ sauce or a vinaigrette, but in an deliberate effort to try new things, I brined chicken parts in pickle brine. This isn’t some audacious new idea. Google has a pickle brine chicken hit from nearly every major food publication. A well-talked about short-lived menu item at a not-so-talked about Chicago tavern  (The Monarch) was Dill Pickle wings. Continue reading

City Hamb

A few years ago, I made a dry-cured, long aged lamb ham. Results were mixed. It was delicious, but a little dry. My opinion is lamb ham, which has gotten a big press push this Easter season, suffers from a lack of rind. It dries a little more quickly than I’d like and works better aging in humid atmosphere. Once I took down the smokehouse for the Spring/Summer season, my hot smoker was back up and running, and waiting to be used. Thinking about what to make for the first hot-smoke of the season, I thought a city ham would be simple choice, but with the pure mass on a pork leg created a reluctance which pushed me to a city lamb ham, city hamb.

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Veal Fingers

The phenomenon of being bombarded with packaged, mass-produced junk food likely is not limited to those of us parenting, but it sure seems like I am fighting to push back chicken nuggets, fish sticks, yogurt in capri-sun type packaging and capri sun a lot more now than five years ago. You can program yourself to believe these things are bad, it is likely better for you if you do and it is most definitely bad for you. However, if you watch a kid devour chicken nuggets with comparatively ten times the vigor that they do roasted chicken legs, it is hard to deny their appeal. Continue reading

Smoked Bone Marrow Caramel Candy

Some times you find a gray hair or a wrinkle and you realize you are old. Some times you hear a song from your childhood and realize it is 30 years old. And then there are times, you accidentally make Wether’s Originals from bone marrow fudge and your own aging slaps you in your droopy jowls.

And no this is not an April Fool’s joke. Continue reading

Preserved Yuzu

During our trip to Japan last year, we saw a lot of yuzu juice, dried yuzu peels and plenty of yuzu kosho. We saw absolutely zero whole yuzu fruit. It was a surprise to see a basket of yuzu in our suburban grocery and, when I did, I grabbed all of them. With most of the yuzu, I peeled them and made a huge batch of yuzu kosho. Sitting with a bunch of peeled yuzu and a few remaining fruit, I juiced the peeled fruits, reserved the seeds and stared at the remaining fruit. Continue reading

Corned Beef Bacon

Everyone is on year three of bacon fatigue. I mean, if someone is wrapping pepperoni pizza in bacon, and not pepperoni or better yet, nothing, we are not in good times. With that in mind, when you read “Corned Beef Bacon” in your mind, or if you read aloud to yourself, please read it is as “CORNED BEEF bacon” and not “corned beef BACON”.

No matter how you say it, while evaluating St. Patrick’s Day dinner at our house, I lamented having to cook, and eat, boiled meat. Realizing corned beef IS boiled meat, I frankly wanted corned beef and cabbage to happen without boiling. Continue reading

Pig Tails Al Pastor

Around 8 PM on New Year’s Eve, we were in the midst of the second course of our annual lower-case-b bacchanalia at The Butcher and Larder. A cast iron skillet was piled high with pig’s tails and another with Beef Tendon ‘Duk Bokki’ – a take on the Korean rice/fish cake dish, but in this case topped with beef tendon. With hours to spare in the year, I was eating something which could qualify as the best thing I ate in Chicagoland in 2014. Continue reading

Smoked Marrow Hot Dogs

With the February temperatures dropping below zero, I changed the cold smoking set-up to be a Lil’ Smokey Joe grill in the cinder block smokehouse with a shelving unit beside it. After trying to simply pipe smoke into a frigid smokehouse,  I was getting nowhere. Even with a grill in the smokehouse, the temperatures reached 80 degrees only once over a two week smoking period. Even with putting the heat in smokehouse, the temperatures were a little low for smoking a country ham, but perfect for smoking food which would liquify at warmer temps.

I had spent a late evening paging through the most recent Noma cookbook (the journal was a fascinating addition to the cookbook, seriously) when I read a recipe for smoked marrow fudge. With temps where they have been, smoked marrow was an achievable project. Continue reading