Lamb Terrine

Lamb Terrine

Sliced Lamb Terrine

Anyone that knows me, knows that I  favor the  classics in food , fashion, and life. Pates and Terrines have always fascinated me as they are classic, complex, yet easy dishes that conjure up grandeur, elegance  and rusticity at the same time. A terrine is a time honored way to utilize offal and ground meats, usually pork based  and bake into a rich flavored loaf. You can get fancy and layered with them or just really basic. I love them for Holidays, entertaining, and picnics. I had the heart and liver of the lamb we purchased and in true nose to tail fashion, wanted to use them, as opposed to discarding them. I knew they would go into a lovely simplistic terrine. Continue reading “Lamb Terrine”

Coda Alla Vaccinara with spincah gnocchi

Tasting Rome’s Coda alla Vaccinara ( Braised Oxtail)

Coda Alla Vaccinara with spincah gnocchi

I’m going to be brutally honest. A lot of cookbooks are not impressing me these days. They are tritely styled , photographed  and promoted. I like a cookbook with real chops, with substance. I want to be inspired and learn a new twist or turn. I want a cookbook that tells a story and really has a soul. Tasting Rome came along and warmed up some inspiration inside. OK, so I’m Facebook friends with Kristina Gil, and wanted to support her work, but it’s something more. When CS and I went to Rome a few years back, this was the food I was looking for. I was told  by my  friend, that in Italy, Florence and Tuscany beat out Rome culinary wise , but I knew there was layer of old Rome that had amazing food. I had brief glimpses of it here and there, like  that famous food from the old Jewish ghetto quarter that I enjoyed in a New York City restaurant around Broadway.

Tasting RomeAs I flipped through the book I fell upon two recipes I knew I had to try. Both were a longer process, which I love, and involved oxtail. I drove to my favorite Korean store here in Chicago because they really have the best quality and price of oxtails from what I’ve seen. Ones with lots of meat. Oxtail has to be my favorite offal  and the dish I’m sharing with you is what you call  a Quinto Quarto dish, the “fifth quarter” of the animal, the offal. The first quarter of the animal was sold to the Nobility, the second to Clergy, the third to the Bourgeoisie, and the fourth to the military’s soldiers. The fifth quarter was all that remained for those less fortunate, the others.

It was suggested one eat these oxtails with your hands, like the modern day Italian American style gravy made with neck bones or short ribs. I knew CS would want some hearty pasta with it, so I made some spinach gnocchi with leftover roasted potatoes .

Spincach gnocchi prep

I loved the addition of a curious mix of pine nuts and raisins added at the end. I wondered if that was the Jewish influence on some Roman cuisine? The Coda alla Vaccinara  was outstanding and tastes even better the next day.

Braised oxtail in pot

A few things. The  recipe calls for salting the meat with kosher salt a day before. I confess I overlooked that and skipped it. It still turned out great. I also toasted my pine nuts in a dry skillet , as I would advise to always do, because it brings out the flavors and oils on product that may have been sitting on shelves. I freeze my pine nuts to preserve the quality and prevent them from going off.  I also did not use celery as CS hates the vegetable.  It’s something I have to sneak in when he’s not looking . I did ramp up the garlic factor more than what the recipe called for , because that’s my style. That’s the beauty of the dish. You can really add your own spin to this.

The  use of cocoa powder in the end transforms the tomato beefy sauce to the extraordinary. I’ve used cocoa before in savory cooking and it’s always a great little surprise ingredient.

I hope you enjoy this. This recipe just keeps giving and giving. I used some of the sauce , which turns into a rich gelatinous tomato beef stock to make a risotto type dish with barley and lentils . Nothing will go to waste to here. The braised oxtail also freezes very well.

This recipe is reprinted from Tasting Rome  Fresh Flavors & Forgotten Recipes From an Ancient City, by Katie Parla and Kristina Gill. Clarkson  Potter Publishers New York

Tasting Rome's Coda alla Vaccinara ( Braised Oxtail)
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Roman
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
This recipe is reprinted from Tasting Rome Fresh Flavors & Forgotten Recipes From an Ancient City by Katie Parla and Kristina Gill. Clarkson Potter Publishers New York
  • 2½ oz lardo (cured fatback) or 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3½ lbs oxtail, cut into 3 inch segments
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 5-6 whole cloves
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 6 cups beef broth
  • 2 celery stalks cut into 3 inch pieces
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon Cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder
  1. Render the lardo in a large pot over medium -high heat , or heat olive oil until its shimmering.
  2. Add the oxtail segments and cook until browned all over, then remove from the pot and set aside.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the onion, garlic, and cloves.
  4. Cook until the onion is translucent and the garlic has just turned golden, about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the tomato paste and cook until it turned a deep brick red, about 5 minutes.
  6. Add the wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and cook until the alcohol aroma dissipates, about a minute, then add the tomatoes.
  7. Return the meat to the pot and cover three-quarters of the way with the beef broth.
  8. Cover and cook until the meat is just falling off the bone, 5-6 hours, adding more broth if the sauce reduced too much.
  9. Toward the end of cooking, add the celery, raisins, pine nuts, and cacao, mixing well. Simmer for 20-30 minutes more.
  10. Turn off the heat and allow the oxtail to rest for at least 30 minutes., ideally overnight, in the refrigerator. Serve on its own. Use any leftover sauce to dress Gnocchi di Patate.








Leberknödel (Liver Dumplings) with Chicken and Forest Mushroom Soup

In Chicago right now, you can feel the crispness in the air as fall arrives. It teases with some sharp rays of sun, but it’s undeniable Autumn is here.With the turn of season, energy may lag, and colds are common. Soups are craved more to cure what ails us. One of favorite soups in the world is a Leberknödel (liver dumpling )soup. I first had Leberknödel soup in Vienna, Austria and always order it at any German type of restaurant we go to. I love the comfort of a rich dumpling swimming in a crystal clear  flavorful soup. There really is nothing more perfect. While many people don’t like liver, I have never met anyone who doesn’t love Leberknödel , when given a try. To make the flavor milder, soak the liver in milk before prep, and it may be more agreeable to you. Regardless liver ( chicken , pork, or beef) is chock full or nutrition and iron, not to mention inexpensive. Because the liver is ground, is the reason I think many people love this soup as opposed to a big chunk of liver . Texture, as well as presentation is paramount in food.

Dumplings can be tricky, so patience is required. There are many techniques for them and the German people ,especially the Bavarians, have quite a repertoire of them. Traditionally Leberknödelsuppe is served in a clear beef consomme. Or the dumpling can be served on the side with sauerkraut. Certain Someone likes to take leftover potato dumplings, slice  and fry them, which would be amazing with these Leberknödel  as well. I researched several variations for  Leberknödel , and added my own twist. The mixture is very loose, and rather than fortify them with more bread crumbs , I used the more durable semolina to add texture along with the egg, ground liver,fried onions,  and soaked bread rolls. I keep a bag of chicken carcass and odd and ends in the freezer which I decided to use for my soup base along with root vegetables. A rich broth was formed. I added my favorite dried Polish Mushrooms to the soup with the  soaking water. All to simmer some more, strain, degrease, and then clarify with a raft of egg whites and shells ( another method is to use the egg whites shells, lean ground meat , mirepoix, and tomatoes) to remove any impurities and render a beautiful  crystal clear broth. The color is deepened because of the woodsy forest mushrooms.

Leberknödel (Liver Dumplings) with Chicken and Forest Mushroom Soup
Recipe type: soup
Liver dumpling soup
  • Assorted chicken pieces of your choice ( or leftover carcass, and other parts of chicken )
  • 1 red onion
  • a few stalks of celery
  • 4 carrots chopped
  • Approx 12 cups of water
  • 3-4 egg whites and shell
  • salt and pepper
  • Dumplings
  • 1 2oz pack of dried Polish Forest mushrooms
  • 4-5 stale kaiser rolls or other type of old bread
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 red onion minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons parsley chopped
  • 1 egg beaten
  • grate of fresh nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 piece of raw liver (3/4 to ½ lb)( and milk for soaking optional)
  • 1 cup or more of semolina as needed depending on moisture of dumpling mixture.
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. To make the soup /consomme...
  2. Roast the chicken and root vegetables at 375 F until golden.Use a pan that can transfer to the range for additional cooking.
  3. Soak the dried mushrooms in hot water and let sit covered while chicken is roasting.
  4. Add water , salt and pepper,mushrooms and soaking liquid,and continue to simmer for approximate 2 hours. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
  5. Strain off solids and reserve to cool. You may pour in the refrigerator to allow the grease to congeal and later skim off.
  6. Add the strained broth to a stock pan.
  7. Mix in egg whites and shells. Bring to a boil and reduce to a low simmer. The egg whites and shells form a raft that will form at the top and capture all the impurities and solids that were not strained out .Do not disturb or stir the raft , but continue to simmer for about 30 minutes more.
  8. Carefully strain the soup, raft and shells into a fine sieve lined double with cheesecloth. You should have a very clear broth. Set aside.
  9. To make the dumplings...
  10. Soak liver in milk if desired for at least 30 minutes if desired to make taste milder.
  11. Soak the torn apart bread rolls in the milk.
  12. In a separate bowl grind the raw beef liver in grinder, food processor, or with an immersion blender. Remove any connective tissue.
  13. Wring out any excess milk from the soaked bread .
  14. Add the ground liver, beaten egg, baking powder, grate of nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
  15. At this point determine of the mixture needs more bulk and gradually add semolina to form a consistency that can loosely hold its shape in a ball once formed with with or oiled hands. You don't want the mixture too dry, but wet enough to hold its shape.
  16. Carefully shape dumpling , no larger than a walnut as they will expand in the water.
  17. Drop the dumpling carefully into salted boiling water. You may want to test one to see if they hold its shape while cooking.
  18. Add to clear hot soup and serve.
Makes approximately 25-28 dumplings. Soup quantity varies according to how much broth you yield from ingredients used.



Lamb Tongue Terrine in Aspic

First off, don’t worry, there are no shocking  gruesome pictures of whole raw lamb tongues on this post…

OK, if you are new to this blog , then you are finding out I’m adventurous and pretty fearless in the kitchen. Here is a little back-story on how I came to the post. A few months ago Certain Someone and I were at  Russian Banquet and we were served the most exquisite thinly sliced pieces of beef tongue.  I asked what it was, and the waiter announced tongue with a smirk that assumed the non Russians would be disgusted . Au Contraire.While I haven’t had tongue in ages I do remember my mother going through a phase and feeding me it as a kid. I loved it! Then suddenly it stopped (I have no idea why). Perhaps I finally realized what I was eating? Who knows. She used to serve me chitterlings too, until I formed my own mind and remember declaring I wouldn’t eat those any more. Certain Someone blanched a bit at the thought he just ate tongue but admitted it was good,but the thought of what it was disturbed him. Anyway flash forward to this past week. I don’t know how, but my Iraqi co-worker and I on the discussion of Halal meat and that segued into lamb tongues. I was curious. I loved lamb , so why not revisit the tongue? Adventurous culinary types are dining on it in some very popular eateries. So I hightailed it to the Indo Pak corridor of Devon  where Halal butchers are everywhere you look. For $3.99 a lb I racked up about 6-7  lamb tongues. I do admit the site of them raw made a bit queasy. But I persevered on my mission. I decided to go French style with a aspic based a terrine, I’m fascinated by pates and terrines and have always had the perfect aspic on my culinary to do list.

So how was it you ask ? The tongue was very good, tender and flavored as I braised it for hours in a stock consisting of beer, carrots, herbs , and beef marrow bones. What I loved most was the flavor of my stock which later turned into a prefect aspic. So what was I disappointed with? I wasn’t happy with the final presentation on my terrine. The aspic seeped through the cling wrap layers and I didn’t get the smooth surfaces I envisioned. But that’s easily remedied. What I’m most proud of is my crystal clear aspic. I used one of my favorite bargain basement cookbooks as a guide for the aspic Brockhampton Terrines and Pates . My next terrine will have more meat . I really do feel aspic is underrated these days and can envision a lot of great uses for it . Plus it makes a gorgeous presentation.

Lamb Tongue Terrine in Aspic
Recipe type: entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
beer braised lamb tongues in aspic
  • 2 lbs lamb tongue
  • 3 beef marrow bones
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 bottle of beer
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon allspice berries
  • 2 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 2 carrots , chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1½ oz powdered gelatin
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 washed shells of eggs
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  1. In a large stock pot add the lamb tongues and cover with water only.
  2. Bring to a boil until a foam appears, and drain and change water.Adding another 8 cups cold water.
  3. Add beef marrow bones, water, beer, bay leafs, carrots, celery seeds,garlic, salt and peppercorns to the pot with the lamb tongues.
  4. Bring to a boil again.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours.
  6. Remove the lamb tongues and bones.
  7. Discard the bones and let the tongues cool down. Store in fridge for overnight or several hours.
  8. With the stock strain off the vegetables and stock with a wire sieve. Refrigerate the stock as well overnight. You want the stock to chill and the fats to rise to the top and congeal.
  9. Remove the fat from the stock and gently reheat if needed ( if not congealed) and strain the stock through a fine doubled cheese cloth to catch any particles. etc
  10. Set aside.
  11. Peel the thick outer layer of skin off the cold tongues with a paring knives. You should have a fine tender meat. Slice into pieces and set aside.
  12. For the aspic...
  13. In a large stock pan, boil and scald cheese cloth, whisk, and metal sieve.
  14. Drain hot water and keep equipment ready.
  15. Soften gelatin for several minutes.
  16. Using a double boiler add the softened gelatin and gently dissolve some more liquified but not boiling. Remove from heat.
  17. Place the cold stock in the stock pan .
  18. Add the egg whites, shells, vinegar and gelatin ( the clarification ingredients).
  19. Whisk together and bring to a boil.
  20. The egg whites will rise to the top of the stock as the ingredients boil forming a raft. Stop whisking and let continue to boil for a minute.
  21. Remove from heat and let the raft and stock sit undisturbed.
  22. Bring to a boil again, remove from heat and let settle for a few minutes again.
  23. All the impurities will cling to the raft and a crystal clear stock will be formed.
  24. Gently strain the stock with the raft in a double cheesecloth lined sieve without disturbing the raft much.
  25. Line a terrine loaf pan with plastic wrap.
  26. Layer the cooked lambs tongue.
  27. Gently pour the aspic into the terrine.
  28. Cover and let set for several hours.
  29. Remove and unwrap from terrine.
  30. Slice with a serrated knife and serve cold.
You will need fine cheese cloth, a metal sieve, loaf pan, or terrine pan.



Homemade Pork Scratchings aka Pork Rinds

In the carnivore realm there are two groups. Those that eat pork and those that don’t. In our household we love the Swine. Sausages, bacon , chops, loins, roasts,etc.Need I say more? Pork really is a tastier and a more versatile meat.Religious reasons I get and respect.Even those restrictions were an early form of food safety. But,I hear a lot of people for various reasons profess why they don’t eat pork, is that it’s dirty. That excuse  is dated, period. Nowadays eating poultry, fish, and eggs can out you at more risk than eating pork. There are fewer cases of Trichinosis out there and reported than Salmonella or E Coli. I’m not here to convert but I’m just saying….

Not believing in waste, I had a whole large piece of pork skin left over from the belly used to makeChorizo. The perfect crispy skin has always eluded me. Close but not perfection. Then I came across some references to the famous English Chef Fergus Henderson, who is known for his nose to tail style of cooking. Nothing is wasted and respect is shown to animal  without waste. It seems his pork scratchings( pork rinds) are a huge deal and a superior recipe. A total of a five to six day process, the skin is lovingly salted for five days to confit and swathed in duck fat andconfited .Once tender and jelly like after the confit, the skin is then racked in the oven and puffs and bubbles to a beautiful golden brow, It really is the perfect recipe. Your next cocktail party, football game, or holiday gathering , offer up these nibbles and your swine eating guests will bow at your feet. You can purchase pork skin in most Latin markets, or save it from when you buy whole roasts.

I did make a little error with these nibbles. I didn’t soak the skin after salting. Fortunately I didn’t use loads of salt, so a nice cold beer washed it away. That’s my second salt accident this month.When doing the final baking , rather than keep the skin intact, cut it up into smaller pieces to aid crispiness, I find the smaller pieces puff more. Then you break it up even more when complete.

You know this isn’t  health food and should only be made on special occasions. But it is way better than deep frying the rinds in my opinion like the Mexican Chicarron,but its wickedly good. Enjoy!

I did feel like Hannibal Lecter while making this. Carefully tending to large swathes of skin. My refrigerator looked like a lab.So this recipe isn’t for the squeamish, if things like that bother you. You know, the type that likes their meat all neat and packaged in Styrofoam and wrapped in plastic. Kidding!

Be sure check out the Duo Dishes , who posted their own version of pork rinds this week too.


Pork Scratchings

adapted by Fergus Henderson from Beyond Nose to Tail



  • Pig’s skin  with a little fat on the underside
  • Kosher Salt or Sea Salt
  • Duck fat (about 1 cup or more to cover the skin)
  1. Spread a layer of sea salt on a glass , plastic or non reactive tray.
  2. Apply sea salt on top of the pork skin liberally( approx about 1-2 tbsp. Depending on size of skins.
  3. Cover salted skin and leave in  the refrigerator for five days.
  4. Remove skin and soak in cold water overnight for several hours or overnight.
  5. Dry skin and place on a lipped baking sheet.
  6. Rub duck fat on both sides of skin .
  7. Cover with foil.
  8. Bake  in a medium oven( about 220-225 F) for 2½ hrs.
  9. Take out to cool.
  10. At this point you can make sure fat solidifies over skin and keep covered with fat until ready to use at alater date in the fridge.
  11. Or…Place a rack on a lipped baking sheet, then lay your skin on top.
  12. Turn oven to approx 350-375 F and roast. Skin should  slightly puff up  and turn golden and crispy.
  13. Do not overly brown or burn
  14. Remove from the oven  and cool.
  15. Place the crispy skin on a board and  break it up with with a heavy knife.
  16. Serve

* skin can be chewy and tough in some parts so be careful with sensitive teeth or dental issues.