Do you ever have out-of-body experiences during an amazing meal?
Tonight, this is one of them.
Fergus Henderon's nose-to-tail barbecue at the Sydney International Food Festival was the catalyst. Nose-to-tail eating is about eating the entire animal and not wasting anything. That means eating heads and hearts and offal and tripe.
To me, this philosophy is about making sure we maximise every part of an animal's carcass so we don't trifle the loss of life. It means recognising that extra care is required to slow cook these parts to perfection. It's about appreciation, for what we have, and what we take.
Inspired, Pig Flyin was keen to host his own nose-to-tail dinner party for the little group we call Stomach's Eleven.
Pan-fried lamb sweetbread
We started with pan-fried lamb sweetbread, the thymus gland that is soft and velvety.
Beetroot, orange and labneh salad
A salad of roasted fresh beetroot with segments of orange and dollops of homemade labneh was refreshing and awakened the palate. I loved the crunch of celery heart and fennel with sprigs of fresh parsley. The salad was dressed simply with balsamic and olive oil. And I definitely intend on making my own labneh soon.
Tripe with pigs trotters and single malt whiskey
Honeycomb tripe is one of my favourites. I love the texture on my tongue, the way its frills are so tender, and how it soaks up flavours like a sponge. This stew was pure comfort food - a glorious mix of boned out trotters, honeycomb tripe, minced shallot, carrot and onion cooked slowly in beef stock for 2-3 hours, based on a Damien Pignolet recipe from his cook book "French".
"I deboned an oxtail," Pig Flyin says in a matter-of-fact voice. It's about this time I start to pinch myself, wondering if this is all a dream.
It's not. The dream smells too good.
Oxtail stuffed with homemade duck liver pate
The glistening log of oxtail is carved to reveal a stuffing of duck liver pate inside. Homemade by Pig Flyin. Mixed with Jamieson whiskey and duxelles and parsley and thyme, Pig Flyin recites.
The meat is soft and pliable and rich and sticky. It's swaddled in a rich beef stock red wine reduction made from dried chanterelles and porcini, and boosted by the flavour from the oxtail bones.
It's served on a bed of button mushrooms and bright green broad beans.
Do you nose what this is?
"And this?" I ask Pig Flyin.
"I deboned a pig's head," he replies simply.
I can't feel my toes.
Deboned rolled pig's head
The rolled pig's head, Pig Flyin explains, was deboned then rolled back up again and marinated overnight in salt, lemon rind, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper overnight. The next day it was cooked sous-vide for four hours, then chilled in the fridge to set.
Rolled pig's head slices
"And look, these wavy white bits are its ears, and in the middle is the tongue."
Cold rolled pig's head slices served with rocket, radish and capers
The rolled pig's head slices are cool and terrine-like. There's the crunch of the pig's ear, the softness of tongue, and the fatty richness of the cheek all offset by the slight bitterness of wilted
rocket, the salty tang of capers and crisp shavings of raw radish.
I end up with an end slice that contains part of the snout. The snout has an odd chewiness to it, not tough, but dense.
But wait. There's more.
Roast pig's head
So everyone remembers Chris Badenoch roasting a pig's head in Masterchef Australia. I find myself unable to stop examining the roast pig's head up-close. It's both mortifying and mesmerising.
Roast pig's head
The roast pig's head is cooked slowly in chicken stock, white wine and cider (he substituted grape juice), then roasted on high in the oven.
Carving the cheek
There's a satisfying "crack" sound as Pig Flyin plunges the knife into the crackling on the cheek. Beneath the burnished skin is a pillow of softness, the meat falling apart with the slightest prod of a fork.
I'm even amazed by the pig's teeth.
Gigantic asparagus spears
Plate-sized asparagus spears are crisp and jaunty. There isn't much room for dessert but we find a little space to fit it in.
Key lime pie
The key lime pie is a perfect citrus conclusion. Light and tangy, it cleanses the palate.
What I did find staggering was that a pig's head costs $10. The dinnner above used one-and-a-half pig's heads in total plus a handful of tripe, sweetbreads and a couple of pigs trotters.
An amazing meal. From the head to the tail.
Oxtail, tripe and pig's head
Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Stomachs Eleven: Christmas 2010 (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Teochew feast (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Mole poblano and pulled pork tacos (Me)
Stomachs Eleven: Pizza and friends (Miss Rice)
Stomachs Eleven: Ten kilograms of mussels (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Shanghainese banquet (M&L)
Stomachs Eleven: Wagyu shabu shabu and dessert sushi (Silverlily)
Stomachs Eleven: Stuffed deboned pig's head + nose-to-tail eating (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: French feast (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Whole suckling pig and Chinese banquet (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Hotpot night (M&L)
Stomachs Eleven: Crackling roast pork and black sesame cupcakes (me)
Stomachs Eleven: No ordinary steak dinner (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Polish feast (Miss Rice)
Stomachs Eleven: Christmas 2009 (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Char siu and Hainan chicken (me)
Stomachs Eleven: Amazing impromptu dinner party (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Dumplings and Shanghai soy duck (M&L)
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11/05/2009 03:24:00 a.m.