Thursday, October 02, 2008

A Head's Tale

My artistic ideas far out pace my artistic abilities. Luckily, like any good Chicagoan, I got my guy. My guy has a camera and editing software and very good abilities using them. And I got another guy. A Chef with a passion for whole beast eating but also the generosity to share his time. And this guy has a gal, his wife, with an equal passion for local food and a willingness to express it all to the Internet. And, before I go on, I got another guy, a local farmer with a huge commitment to real farming. Me and all of those guys plus a few with the onerous task of sampling and expressing their gastronomical opinions; we all made a new Sky Full of Bacon video. We all believe that if you are going to slaughter an animal for food, you should consume the whole animal. This includes the head. As the video demonstrates, with not too much work, you can make the head into something not the least bit gross.

Well, not all of us made the video. That would be Mike Gebert, the man with the camera and the ability to dice several hours of footage into an actual story. Emily and Dennis Wettstein raised the hog on organic pasture and organic feed, and Dennis Wettstein gave a bit of background on organic farming for the folks in TVland. Rob and Allie Levitt of Mado played the role of teachers and advocates, showing their passion for doing things the right way, as well as specifically showing how to turn an ugly part of meat, a pig's head, into something beautiful and tasty. A few folks from LTHForum as well as a special guest blogger turned up to see if it actually tasted as good as it looked. Check out the video to see how they liked it [SPOILER ALERT, IF YOU CLICK ON THE LINK TO HELEN'S BLOG, YOU'LL FIND OUT WHAT SHE THINKS, SO PERHAPS WATCH THE VIDEO FIRST].

There area a lot of "lessons" in this video--and thank the talent of Gebert it does not come across as too preachy--but the lesson I want to most emphasis is how easy it really is to make a dish from the pig's head. As Rob demonstrates, it does not take a lot of special skills, nor does it take an army of sous chefs. There are time elements, a long slow simmer, and then a few days set, but otherwise, the work time is limited. Mike has the recipe on his blog. Consider giving this a try. Before I sign off for now, let me add that it would not be a stretch to make this versions of this dish from other, perhaps more accessible, cuts of meat like beef shanks.

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