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‘Tail’ Category

  1. Look Ma, All Hands: Nam Prik Ong

    June 20, 2011 by David Bridges

    You can read all the issues of Saveur that you like. But a third hand experience is like eating with a knife and fork or making love through an interpreter. All five senses must be engaged to capture the essence of any escapade, or at least your original outlook of that escapade. I have no troubles or prejudices in eschewing the utensils in any restaurant. My fingers reach down and retrieve the food sensually or even barbarically. In the frenzy of the moment the two are often confused.
    On a few occasions I have mentioned how significant travel is to the development of your taste. I will save the details of that essay for the pages of a book. This bit of summertime inspiration came from a trip to a Las Vegas strip mall. The Lotus of Siam is considered to be the best Thai restaurant in all of the United States. After a glass of proper Alsatian, all five of my senses leaped to attention and my salivary glands started to gush upon reading the inscribed Northern Thai appetizer, “Nam Prik Ong (Red Chile Pork Dip)”. This dish has all the pleasure of one of the lesser sins. Its spicy, sweet, tart, it has pork times 2 and you unapologetically use your hands. Of course my version gets a shot of southern refinement with shrimp and okra. As beautiful as the Las Vegas “Strip” may be, I never wander too far from home.

    Nam Prik Ong: Red Chile Pork, Shrimp and Okra Dip
    Serves 8 as a snack that preludes a few hours of wagering

    3 shallots peeled
    1/3c garlic cloves
    10 Thai bird chilies
    2c grape or cherry tomatoes
    8oz fresh shrimp diced small
    8oz ground pork
    2c fresh okra cut into 2inch rounds
    1/4c fish sauce
    3T tamarind paste
    1/3c water
    1/2T sugar
    1 lime
    local vegetables such as cucumber, endive, cauliflower, carrots all cut to be able to scoop some dip.
    crispy pork skins

    Start off by placing a skillet over medium high heat. Dry roast and brown the shallots and garlic in the vessel. Remove to your motor and pestle. Do the same with the chilies, and then the tomatoes. Make a paste with the firmness of your pestle and forearm. Add the shrimp and pork into your roasting skillet that is set on medium high flame and cook for a few minutes. Then accommodate your sense of smell by adding your aromatic chili paste, okra, fish sauce, tamarind, water, sugar and the zest of your lime. Let the mixture cook until it becomes a thick sauce and when your wooden spoon parts the sea of flavor the walls stand and hold true. Add a pinch or 2 of salt if needed and stir in the juice of the lime. Present the warm dip to your friends by draping some cilantro over its crown. Slice some vegetables and pile on the pork cracklins to tip the scale back in the favor of justice.

  2. Within Your Reach: Posole Soup

    June 4, 2011 by David Bridges

    Look beyond what I hold in front of you. If you begin to read between the lines, the true soul of TheRooterToTheTooter will be presented to you. Whether or not you can find a Turkey Tail will have no impact on your honest or even dishonest goals for the evening. These ramblings have little to actually do with recipes. It has everything to do with accessing life’s pleasures that seem to be out of reach for so many people. In my lifetime, cooking has been the easiest tool used to achieve or obtain anything I ever wanted. Both the tangible and the intangible pleasures are always within the grasp of anyone that uses the one common denominator that we all cannot live without—cuisine. I decided to put forth that exact ideal in this posting.
    Many of you caught on right away with brilliant displays of intelligence and open mindedness. Rosemary at CookingInSens tackled the Crawfish and Sweetbread terrine recipe by using her local French prawns and lamb sweetbreads. Sacrebleu!! Her guests insisted the recipe was from a Frenchman. While Lolita at attained exceptional amounts of gratification in the fatty, crunchy, hot, salty, sweet and juicy chicken thighs that she substituted for the Turkey Tail recipe. Through cooking, these women’s goals and intentions were honest and pure. I do find that with some men, that may not be the case. If any man truly held your personal happiness above his own, He wouldn’t have cooked for you. He would have just sent some champagne, truffles and a Bradley Cooper movie over to your house.

    Posole Soup with Green Tomato and Brussels Sprout Salsa
    Serves 10 people not afraid of your artistic interpretations of recipes

    1# smoked pig tails
    2 pig feet
    3# pork butt cut into 2 inch cubes
    ½ large yellow onion diced small
    1/4c garlic very roughly chopped
    2 passila chiles stemmed seeded and torn
    1 ancho chile stemmed seeded and torn
    1T Kosher salt
    1T dried oregano
    1T dried chile powder
    2 limes
    2 15oz cans of posole/hominy rinsed and drained
    ½# pork skin
    1c radishes diced small
    1c Brussels sprouts sliced thinly
    ½ jalapeno seeded and minced
    2T chopped fresh oregeno
    1 green tomato diced small

    An exercise in simplicity of preparation is needed in order to preserve the classic style of this dish. Take all of the pig parts you intend to use, the ones listed were the ones I had around the house, place them into a large pot with the onion, garlic, chiles, salt, dried oregano, chile powder and the zest of the 2 limes. Fill the pot with water until it reaches 4 inches above the meat and place over high heat on your stove. As the broth begins to bubble, take a trusty spoon and remove any of the foam and fat that rise to the surface. Cover the pot and let it slowly simmer for 1 hours and 45 minutes. Add the posole/hominy to the pot to cook for another 30 minutes. Season with additional salt to taste if you sense that it needs it. Remove the feet and pick out the bones. Coarsely chop the meat of the feet and add back to the pot. You can either choose to do the same with the tails or not.
    While the broth is seducing the pork, bake the pork skins in the same manner as described in the “chilaquiles” recipe on a previous post. Its on this website, just look for it. Set them aside for later to be used as a garnish.
    To make the salsa: Toss the radish, Brussels sprouts, jalapeno, fresh oregano, green tomato, the juice of the 2 limes and a pinch of salt together. Let the “salsa” wait for the cue at room temperature.
    Ladle the P0sole soup into bowls for your guests and garnish with a heaping spoon of salsa and some strips of crispy pork skin. Then bathe in the success of your honest or dishonest intentions for the evening.


    I would like to introduce our new mascots straight from the local Humane Society. They have been a tremendous help these past few days. Rooter and Tooter. They are both mutt brothers that are half pathetic and half ridiculous!

  3. Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid: Oxtail Grilled Cheese with Cognac Raisin Jam

    May 12, 2011 by David Bridges


    Do you ever wonder about the words you say to some people? Do they absorb it or does it actually make a difference in their lives? Will they remember what you say? Do they even give a shit? I can’t say why I remember Thomas Keller telling me, “There is no such thing as creation anymore, only inspiration”. Conversely, I can’t say why my memory limits my recall of my mother’s birthday (it is in some month that starts with a “J”—but not January, I remember that much). Maybe it is a simple matter of unconscious importance. If I dole the blame onto the unconscious, that frees me from liability.
    I am taking inspiration from my friend Bryan Jandres at Bouchon in Yountville, “Sometimes it fun to explain, analyze and talk about wine. Sometimes its fun to just put a good bottle on the table and let it all work out”. There is no pre-amble to accessorize this Oxtail Grilled Cheese with Cognac Raisin Jam. I’m just putting it out on the table and letting the silence wax the poetry.

    Oxtail Grilled Cheese with Cognac Raisin Jam
    Serves 6 people looking for comfort among friends

    3# oxtails
    flour for dusting
    olive oil for searing
    1 yellow onion rough chopped
    3 carrots peeled and rough chopped
    2 stalks of celery rough chopped
    1/4c garlic cloves
    2 sprigs of rosemary
    1, 6oz can of tomato paste
    1c water
    2c red wine
    2t ground black pepper
    For the Jam
    1/2c water
    1/2c Cognac
    1/3c sugar
    1 orange juiced
    1c golden raisins
    1, 1/4oz pack of unflavored gelatin
    2t fresh rosemary minced
    1 loaf of crusty multi-grain nut bread
    8oz of creamy French cows milk cheese
    arugula and Creole mustard vinaigrette(from the Boudin de Tete recipe)

    Start off by pre-heating the oven to 325 degrees. Season the oxtails with a nice amount of salt and pepper. Powder the oxtails with the flour and a few slaps of the wrist to remove the excess. Put that enamel-braising pan you saved for months to get on the stove over high heat. Drizzle in a little olive oil and brown the oxtails on all sides. Take your time and do it in as many batches as needed to not treat the oxtails like the general admission section of a U2 concert. Remove the oxtails and hold aside. Let the pot continue on its angry tear as you add the onion and carrots. Cook the vegetables until brown, stirring as infrequently as possible. Add the celery, garlic and tomato paste and continue to let the pot punish the vegetables for another couple of minutes. Pour in the water and wine along with the rosemary and black pepper and take a minute to free any of the crunchy bits being held prisoner on the floor of the pot with the scraping of a wooden spoon. Place the oxtails into the pot and bring the pot to a simmer. Cover the pot if you haven’t yet lost the lid and place in the oven. Let the oxtails braise for 2 hours covered then remove the lid and continue to cook for another hour. Take the pot out of the oven and let cool in the broth.
    For the Jam: Bring the water, Cognac, orange juice, sugar and raisins to a simmer. Cook for 1 minute. Dissolve the gelatin in 2T of water, then add to the pot and stir until it is dissolved. Stir in the rosemary and process the mixture in a food processer. Set aside to cool.
    To Assemble: Pick the meat from the bones of the oxtail and strain the braising liquid. Don’t be ashamed if your laissez faire attitude permits a few cloves of garlic to miss the trap of the strainer and find it’s way into the bowl with the oxtail. Lightly moisten the shredded oxtail with a little of the stained liquid and season with salt and pepper to your taste. Freeze the remainder of the liquid and be confident in knowing that you are better than most people because you have that in your back pocket for another day. There are many ways to finish this dish. Spread some of the jam onto a slice of bread and top with a layer of oxtail and cheese. Unless you’re an idiot, you’ll know to place another piece of bread on top. Then toast it in the oven or put it in a Panini press or slowly brown in a skillet on top of the stove—the choice is yours. Toss the arugula with the vinaigrette from the Boudin de Tete recipe found on this website and serve.

    “The professional kitchen is like jail, EVERYONE but yet NO ONE should ever have to experience it.”       Me

  4. The Hand that Rocked the Table: Honey Glazed Turkey Tails and Biscuits

    April 30, 2011 by David Bridges


    In the Sweetbread and Crawfish Terrine recipe, I explained the significance our hands play in thoughtful cooking. To quote myself again, “Like cuisine, Hands are neither inherently good nor inherently bad. It is what we do with them that make them that way”. My hands make biscuits. I will be remembered by the generations that both precede and proceed me for the crisp flaky exterior ultra-tender buttery interior of the biscuit that has become the reflection of my soul. Glazed with black-pepper honey butter in the style of a fine sticky bun. These biscuits are the best you ever had!  They have assumed their rightful sovereignty among the baked goods being forever indebted to my hands for that accomplishment. It is because of these biscuits that my family, both young and old, will always remember the warmth and care of my hands.
    Some people believe “Less is More”. Well it’s not, “More is More”. Just for that stance alone I felt the need to guild the lily with some deep fried turkey tails. The Turkey Tails are completely luxurious with the ratio of fat to cartilage to meat. Take one assertive bite and as the juice dribbles to the tip of your chin, you will be wondering why in the hell did you have to travel to the other side of the tracks to find them. Make no mistake, the laborers of the street are no fools. They are keeping this treasure for themselves.

    Turkey Tails and Biscuits
    Serves 4 during an unsuccessful afternoon of cane pole fishing

    8 turkey tails cut into quarters—use a good knife and show no hesitation
    2c buttermilk
    15 dashes Tabasco
    2c flour
    1T granulated garlic
    1t cayenne
    2T Kosher salt
    Peanut oil to deep fry
    For the Honey Butter:
    1c local honey
    2T un-salted butter
    2t ground black pepper
    3 sprigs of fresh sage
    For the Biscuits:
    2c flour, plus a little extra for dusting
    2T baking powder
    2T sugar
    2t Kosher salt
    1/2lb un-salted butter
    1 1/2c milk
    1 egg

    Combine the turkey tails with the buttermilk and Tabasco in whichever bowl you may have clean. Place the marinating bird into the fridge for 8 hours or overnight.

    To make the Honey Butter: Combine the honey, butter, black pepper and sage into a small pot and bring the mixture to a simmer over a medium flame. Cook for 2 minutes and set aside to cool.

    For the Biscuits: Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine 2 cups of the flour with the baking powder, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl and mix it up with your hands. Cube the chilled butter and sprinkle it into the flour mixture. Break the cubes up with your hands until the butter resembles that of the size of a pea that you have flattened. Form a well into the center of the flour-butter mixture and pour 1 cup of the milk into the well. Mix with you fingers until the flour has absorbed the milk. Add any extra flour as needed to bring the mixture together until it resembles a dough that is submissive and will listen to the instructions that your hands give it. Sprinkle some flour out onto your counter with a few snapping flicks of your wrist and place the dough onto the floured surface. Press the dough down with your hands until a uniform thickness is achieved of about 2 inches. Cut the dough into 12 uniform biscuits. Shape them however you see fit. Place the biscuits with their sides touching one another on a parchment paper or foil lined baking tray. In a small bowl whisk together the egg with the 1/2 cup of milk and brush the egg wash over the top of the biscuits. Place the biscuits into the oven on the center rack and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and prepare for immortality.

    For the whole dish: Pre-heat you fryer or a cast iron skillet filled with peanut oil to 335 degrees. Remove the turkey tails from the cooler. In another bowl combine the flour, garlic, cayenne and salt. Mix together until harmonious. Take the turkey tails and coat them in the flour and gently lay into the hot oil to fry. Fry each batch for 6-8 minutes. The turkey should be golden and easily bobbing up to the surface from the bottom of the basket. Line a platter with the biscuits and place the tails on top. Liberally drizzle the whole platter with enough honey butter to satisfy any longings and prepare to suck on your fingers.






    “Some people say less is more, It is not, More is More”

  5. Don’t Bite The Hand That Feeds You: Sweetbread and Crawfish Terrine

    April 24, 2011 by David Bridges

    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
    1c chardonnay
    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
    1/2t cayenne
    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.

  6. To Sin is Human, To Dine is Divine

    April 10, 2011 by David Bridges

    Gumbo Z’Herbs with Smoked Pig Tail

    “Everything I’ve ever done, Everything I’ll ever do, Every place I’ve ever been, Every where I’m going to, Is A Sin”—-Pet Shop Boys.

    I have many a friend where these words could not ring more true. I feel it is my obligation to sway their moral compasses at least one day a year. The Friday that precedes Easter Sunday, Good Friday, is a day of fasting as it pertains to the hoof and the fin. On the Thursday before Easter, Holy Thursday, the Creole homes are filled with the smells of the garden’s greens as they succumb to the heat and the temptation that can only be whispered by smoked pork. Gumbo Z’herbs is the traditional dish responsible for the pious aroma that blankets the city of New Orleans on Holy Thursday. It is comprised of as many different greens that can possibly be foraged and simmered together with a bit of moral leniency in the form of pork.

    The Creoles consider the dish “vegetarian” and within the Church’s eye of good faith because the pork is used only as seasoning and then is taken out. But I consider dispensing a perfectly good piece of pork a much greater blasphemy. For I am as pure as Gin with a slice of cucumber on a Sunday afternoon, so this recipe is my attempt to straighten the lives of all you other sinners out there. At least for just one day of the year.

    Gumbo Z’Herbs Serves 10 people desperately seeking salvation

    4 Tablespoons unsalted Butter

    1 yellow onion diced medium

    2 stalks of celery diced medium

    1 green bell pepper diced medium

    5 cloves of garlic sliced thinly

    2 bay leaves

    10 sprigs of fresh thyme tied in a bundle

    1 teaspoon of dried oregano

    1 teaspoon of ground black pepper

    1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes

    1/4c flour

    2 quarts of water

    2lbs of smoked pork tails

    1 bunch of collard greens washed, stemmed and chopped

    1 bunch of turnip greens washed, stemmed and chopped

    1 bunch of mustard greens washed, stemmed and chopped

    1 bunch green kale washed, stemmed and chopped

    1 bunch of spinach washed and chopped

    1 bunch of Italian parsley stemmed and chopped

    1 bunch of radish tops washed and chopped

    1 head of green cabbage chopped

    1 bunch of scallions chopped

    2 ounces of red wine vinegar

    1 bottle pepper vinegar

    For the Peanut “Gremoulada”:

    1c salted toasted peanuts

    1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

    1 teaspoon file powder

    2 Tablespoons dried onion flakes

    2 Tablespoons dried garlic flakes

    1 cup diced radishes left over from using the tops from above

    Take a very large pot and procure a place for it on your stovetop. Place the pot over a medium flame and melt the butter in it. Add the onion, celery and green bell pepper to the pot. Season the vegetables with a sprinkling of kosher salt as any confident cook would. Stir and cook the vegetables until the onion has become slightly transparent. This should happen much quicker than your last relationship. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Place the bay leaves, thyme, oregano, black pepper, red pepper and flour into your large vessel. Stir to be sure the flour has soaked up all fat. Turn up the heat to your stove’s strongest will and pour in the water. Mix the liquid with your grandmother’s wooden spoon. This is a dish of high reverence and our passage to heaven can use all the help it can get. Lay the smoked tails into the water along with all the rest of the ingredients except the vinegar. Bring the mixture to a low simmer before reducing the stovetop to a medium low flame and covering your pot. Coax the good desire out of your greens and pork for 90 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the  red wine vinegar. Taste the Gumbo and season with more salt if your good sense tells you to. If you have no good sense, than don’t ask your mate because they probably don’t have any either. Too many cooks spoil the pot.

    To make the Gremoulada, mix all 6 ingredients together and set aside. Yes, sometimes life presented to you is actually that easy.

    To serve the Gumbo, ladle an appropriate amount into a bowl and sprinkle a bit of the gremoulada over the top and a solid dousing of pepper vinegar. Feel free to blatantly place a pig tail in your bowl. If you can’t hide anything from God than who in the hell cares if your friends see?



  7. Feeding the Artists Appetite

    April 8, 2011 by David Bridges


    Whether you find yourself on the side of the craftsmen or the side of the artists, a little prose will undoubtably make you a better cook. Everything in life is inspiration that readily translates itself into your cooking.

    Ode To The Pig: The Tail

    My tail is not impressive

    But it’s elegant and neat.

    In length it’s not excessive —

    I can’t curl it round my feet —

    But it’s awfully expressive,

    And its weight is not excessive,

    And I don’t think it’s conceit,

    Or foolishly possessive

    If I state with some agressiveness

    that it’s the final master touch

    That makes a pig complete.


    Walter R. Brooks