It is in good manners and faith, that on Monday’s, all the kitchens of New Orleans are filled with the simmering pots of red kidney beans, sausage, rice and laundry. The tale states that the Creole slaves would cook red beans and rice on Mondays due to the ease of letting the cauldron toil while the week’s dirty laundry was attended to.
Nothing exemplifies the spirit of a peasant turned king like a pot of perfectly cooked beans. My heart holds such an endearing place for the dish, that I take my home tradition one step further by cooking any kind of bean on Monday. But I digress when it comes to the laundry and wisely leave it to the professionals.
Smoked Pork Neck with White Beans Serves 4 people with an appetite for the good things
or 6 people that are not really your friends
1lb heirloom Cannellini beans such as Rancho Gordo
2 tablespoons of Olive Oil
1 yellow Onion minced
2 stalks of Celery minced
1 medium Carrot peeled and minced
5 cloves of Garlic minced
2 Bay leaves
1 1/2 lbs of smoked Pork Neck
Pork or Chicken stock or even water if you are desperate
coarse kosher or sea Salt
1 bunch of Kale stemmed and cut into strips
10 Sage leaves shredded
real green extra virgin Olive Oil
Crusty Artisan Bread
Take a large container from your pantry and let the beans fall into the bowl like the rain on a tin roof. Fill your bean container with water until it doubles the volume of the beans. Let the beans soak in the water overnight. Place the olive oil into an appropriate size pot, in which you have a lid, and place your good judgement over a stove that you have adjusted the burner to a medium-low heat. Once the pot is hot and the oil is dancing, add the onion and cover the pot with a tight fitting lid. Cook the onion for 5 minutes all the while giving it a good stir every minute or so. After cooking the onion clear for 5 minutes, add the celery and carrot to the pot and recover your vessel. Cook and stir for an additional 5 minutes before adding the garlic and bay leaves to the pot. Once again, cook for an additional minute. Lay your pork neck pieces into the pot and strain the beans from the soaking water. Add the beans to the pot along with enough stock to cover the “Pork and Beans” by 3 inches. Raise the volume of your flame to high and bring the pot to a simmer. Once the pot is simmering, replace the lid and turn your flame’s volume back down to low. Let your Pork and Beans frolic in the pot for 3 hours and 10 minutes. I like the density of the bean to appear slightly more yielding than I imagine my desires to be. The beans will firm up slightly upon serving just like your morals.
Take the lid off of the pot liberating the aroma into your presence. Taste the pot’s liquor and add the suitable amount of salt. Shuffle the Kale into the pot and cover again for 10 more minutes. Turn off the volume of the flame and place the sage into the pot. Cover the pot and let your ingredients get acquainted for 10 minutes. Since life is too short to eat with people you don’t care for, lay out 4 large warm bowls. Place a husky toasted slice of bread into the bowl and ladle your pork and beans over the bread. Upon acceptance of your friends, drizzle that great olive oil you’ve been saving over the top of the Pork and Beans. Use your vegetable peeler and ribbon a little of the cheese over that lily too.
Charcuterie encourages a direct access to everything we always dreamed our life would become. It is a technique that is only suddenly being rediscovered in today’s world of “here, fast, now”. It is the ancient skill of craftsmen all the world over to take the ordinary orphaned ingredients and make them the kings of the table. To not appreciate the art of charcuterie is to not appreciate the intimacy of the hands. Like cuisine, a hand is neither inherently good nor inherently bad. It is what we do with it that makes it that way. You can be assured that if a fine craftsman of cookery took time to present your table with charcuterie, it is only to strengthen the bonds of brotherhood with the best tool available—his hands. Be forewarned, one must develop their own deftness with the cutting board and what surrounds it. Or you may find yourself on the wrong end of an inherently immoral hand and the bewitching of your mate.
Sweetbread and Crawfish Terrine Serves 12 after an 8 year vertical wine tasting
2 lobes of veal sweetbreads
2 qts water
½ yellow onion cut in quarters
1 stalk of celery cut into quarters
1 carrot peeled and cut into quarters
4 cloves of garlic
2t ground white pepper
1/4bu flat leaf parsley
4 sprigs of tarragon
1 bay leaf
1T Kosher salt
1lb of crawfish tail meat * (save the shells)
11 ounces lean veal ground
8 ounces of skinless salt pork fatback ground
1/4t ground white pepper
8 dashes of Tabasco
2T fresh tarragon chopped
1/4c flat leaf parsley chopped
1lb skinless salted pork fatback sliced paper thin
Bread, Creole mustard, okra pickles, boiled peanuts
Gather the sweetbreads, water, onion, celery, carrot, garlic, wine, white pepper, parsley, tarragon, bay leaf and salt into your favorite pot and place on the stove over medium high heat. When the liquid starts to laugh at your jokes when no one else will, you know the pot is smitten with you and is doing exactly as you wish. Lower the heat with a knock knock joke and cover your admirer. Let the sweetbreads poach in the pot for 25 minutes. Turn off the heat and uncover the pot soothing your kitchen with the aromatherapy of succulent veal and tarragon. Remove the sweetbreads from the poaching liquid and place in an ice water bath. Strain the poaching liquid into another pot. Take the shells from your crawfish and place them into the poaching liquid. Bring the liquid to a solid simmer and reduce the liquid to ½ cups. Strain and cool the reduced poaching liquid in the cooler.
When the veal is well chilled remove from the ice bath and separate the pieces of the lobe. Discard any membrane and veins from the poached veal’s throat. Place the sweetbreads, crawfish tail meat, ground veal, ground pork, white pepper, cayenne, Tabasco and herbs into a mixing bowl and use it just for that. Set the mixture aside, perhaps into your cooler since you are probably moving a little slower than I.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line your terrine mold with the paper thin slices of fatback. Let the fatback climb up the sides of the mold and overhang by a few good inches. Encase the fatback with the sweetbread-crawfish filling and drape the over hanging fatback over the top of the raw charcuterie. Cover the commodity of your inherently good hands with foil and place in a hot water bath. Place the terrine in the bath into the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes OR until the internal temperature of the terrine is 165 degrees. Remove the terrine from the bath and uncover it. Let the terrine sit out and cool 10 90 degrees on your counter. Free the terrine from any excess liquid and place the foil back on top of the terrine. Put another tray on top of the terrine and weigh it down with some cans of vegetables that your mother-in-law left in the pantry since their not good for much else. Place the terrine with its burden of weight into the cooler to chill for at least 4 hours. Remove it from the cooler and free it from the mold. Serve it on a platter with all the proper accouterments. Let the attraction of the charcuterie lure back your good sense as you shun away any immoral advances.
*I must apologize. The use of Chinese crawfish in this recipe is forbidden. I understand that Chinese crawfish may be the only option in Portland, Thomas. But I really don’t care. Send me a check and I’ll send you some Louisiana crawfish. Those who are caught using such an inferior ingredient shall have their tongues vexed by voodoo, never to taste the spice of love again.