Archive for the KNOW YOUR PIG Category

EuroChomp SausageFest 2009: Schweinshaxe

Posted in Eisbein, EUROCHOMP, KNOW YOUR PIG on June 22, 2009 by chomposaurus

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At the Hofbräuhaus – the American Embassy in Munich – my companion and I both purchased a hearty plate of Schweinshaxe, roast pork knuckle. It’s basically the rotisserie chicken of pigs. Think of the juicy, delicate meat in a rotisserie chicken, then add the salty goodness of pork, and you can see why we ate these down to the bone. We even neglected our massive steins of dunkel for a few minutes to do so. In Bavaria, the pork knuckle is always cooked “knusprig” – crispy. And indeed the skin was flaky and crisp, a thin barricade between me and the tender pork awaiting within.

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Other parts of germany call this cut of meat Eisbein, but that usually refers to a more boring, traditional roast that resembles a deformed pork loin. Go Schweinshaxe or go home, is what I say.

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You Cannot Get Swine Flu from Pork, Bacon or Delicious Ham

Posted in KNOW YOUR PIG, MEAT POLITICS, Pork, STUFF ABOUT MEAT, World of Meat with tags , , , on April 28, 2009 by chomposaurus

swine2What’s in a name? When it comes to today’s trendy new illness (move over, tapeworms!), Swine Flu, there simply is not much to fear in its etymology. True, the virus contains pig DNA; it also contains genetic material from humans and birds. It’s really, really difficult to spread a virus from pigs to humans. It happens about once a year. The bad stuff (i.e. Albert Camus’s The Plague) happens when the human who gets it does an above-average job of spreading it to other members of his species. Then the virate mutates, gets a passport, goes abroad, etc.

What I’m trying to say is: Bacon is still ok! Eat all the pork sausage you want. Don’t go all Indonesia on me and start dumping your Honey Baked Hams down the toilet. In the rare case of swine->man transmission, the swine would need to be alive, and you’d probably need to be bathing in its blood, Carrie-style. But even then, the chances of Carrie getting the flu are very low; she’d have to be bathing in the blood every day, or be a child with bad immune defenses who spent a creepy amount of time in the pig booth at the county fair. Don’t listen to me, listen to the CDC! In fact, doctors have yet to disprove that the flu can’t be cured with some good old-fashioned Swinetussin.

Ok, so let’s review:

Highly Likely to Infect You

Highly Likely to Infect You

Highly Likely to be Delicious

Highly Likely to be Delicious

Scrapple(con)quest: Victory at Brunch; or, How I Ate Some Scrapple

Posted in KNOW YOUR PIG, KNOW YOUR SAUSAGE, Pork, STRANGE MEAT, STUFF ABOUT MEAT with tags , , on March 9, 2009 by chomposaurus

Offal comes when you least expect it. There I was, sitting down to brunch at Egg, one of Brooklyn’s trenderias, when I noticed it under the meats section of the menu: “Scrapple, fresh from our farm, $3.” Would sweet success only cost me $3? Yes, especially if I convinced my dining companion to order the other thing I wanted to try, the candied bacon (coated in hard syrup candy, just as good as it sounds).

This grainy image is the only footage we have of scrapple in the wild.

This grainy image is the only footage we have of scrapple in the wild.

But after my long months of waiting, would scrapple live up to its expectations? After all, scrapple is hog offal (heart, liver, head etc.) combined with cornmeal and mush, typically eaten in parts of Pennsylvania, so it may be a regionally acquired taste. Let me assure you, though, that it is much better than it sounds. It was fried into moist little patties, which had the consistency of hashbrowns. The taste was similar to corned beef hash, but with a fattier tang, like lamb. I’m not sure if supermarket scrapple would be this good, but with such strong flavors it would be hard to go wrong.

So having conquered scrapple in its natural environment, I’ll be tackling it next on my home turf: cooking scrapple in my kitchen. Stay tuned to this space to see if I survive.

Know Your Pig: The All-Pork BBQ Burrito of Destiny

Posted in KNOW YOUR PIG, Pork, STUFF ABOUT MEAT with tags , on January 26, 2009 by chomposaurus

BBQ Addicts brings you the Bacon Explosion, a creation that makes Chipotle look like a haven for vegans and children. Behold:

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2 pounds thick cut bacon
2 pounds Italian sausage
1 jar of your favorite barbeque sauce
1 jar of your favorite barbeque rub

Know Your Pig: Tokyo X & Super Golden

Posted in KNOW YOUR PIG, Pork, STUFF ABOUT MEAT, Tokyo X & Super Golden with tags on December 10, 2008 by chomposaurus

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Recently, on iron chef (and by that I mean 10 years ago, but I still get excited watching reruns on cable), the tournament of iron chefs featured a battle between Iron Chef Chen (Chinese) and Iron Chef Kobe (Italian). The featured ingredient was Tokyo X, a kind of Japanese super-pork that is to pigs what Kobe beef is to cows, replacing Kurobuta pork at the top of the luxury food chain.

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Further research indicates that Tokyo X has a competitor: Super Golden. Searching for Tokyo X is pretty difficult, given the amount of hentai that shows up. But I was able to find some pretty good information. Tokyo X Pigs were bred in the 90’s from three different breeds: Beijing Black, English Berkshire and Duroc. The million-dollar project was carried out by what is now the employer of my dreams, the Tokyo Metropolitan Livestock Experiment Station. Similarly, breeders developed Super Golden over the past half-century from lines of Large White, Landrace and Duroc pigs. The product: highly-marbled meat resulting in extreme tenderness. Taste and juiciness improved as well, but tenderness was what was truly prized.

Unfortunately, the english language WWW doesn’t contain many good descriptions of Tokyo X; the LA Times has a writeup here and there is a semi-official site with a good bit of engrish as well. If you know a good place to buy or try Tokyo-X, please leave a comment.

Chen won the battle, by the way. His Mapo Doufu (Spicy Tofu & Pork) looked delicious.

Know Your Pig: Pancetta

Posted in KNOW YOUR PIG, Pancetta with tags on September 30, 2008 by chomposaurus


Cured meats have not been featured enough on Chomposaurus; but like the best of their kind, this blog has now been salted and aged for long enough to know when it’s missing something. Thus, we bring you a bit of vital info about the bacon of Italy, pancetta.

To make pancetta, pork belly is salted and spiced, then dried for an average of three months. It is not smoked, unlike your typical American bacon. No two batches of pancetta taste alike – temperature, humidity and mold in the room where it’s cured greatly affect the taste (and yes, some mold is good.) For more on making your own pancetta, articles are here and here.

Rolled pancetta is rolled into a log, tied securely during aging, then sliced width-wise, so the white fat makes it look like a swirly lollipop of mouth-watering meat.

Straight pancetta (or “a slab”) has the fat on one side. In this way you can pretend you are eating some sort of healthy food by looking at the lean side. Hey, it works with that weird purple dye they put in blueberry donuts.

When serverd, pancetta looks like uncooked bacon, but believe me, you’ll be glad it’s slightly chewy. That lets you savor the rich olive-oil flavor as it mixes with the frothing ham juices. When not served alone or atop pizza or pasta, it’s frequently used to make flavorful stews or to add meaty zest to stuffing. You can even wrap figs in it to continue that “healthy” illusion.

The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear of Sausages Themselves

Posted in KNOW YOUR PIG, KNOW YOUR SAUSAGE with tags , , on August 12, 2008 by chomposaurus

“Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made”

A much disputed quote, often attributed to Otto von Bismarck or Winston Churchill. Research indicates that the lawyer-poet John Godfrey Saxe may have uttered it first. No matter who said it; we shall prove it untrue. Behold! A fascinating look at making sausage in Romania, complete with graphic pictures. At left you see a sausage mistress blowing through the intestines to check for leaks.

Don’t be afraid of what you eat. You should know what’s going into your body.