Seventh Week: Porky Pig Doesn't Live Here Anymore and Here We Come A-Streuseling
October 21, 2002

Basics: Porky Pig Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Because he's in my stomach.

Yul Brenner got infected with trichinosis after eating underdone pork tenderloin at a famous New York restaurant. That's my earliest association with the little cyst and worm parasite that can infect pork products. Naturally, I learned a whole lot more in my five weeks of sanitation seminars and when we made pork this week. It's not that big of a deal since the worm dies at 137 degrees, and you get a more evenness to the pork if you cook it to 155-160. Still, I love it in spite of the parasitic little sucker that nests in its tissues.

One of our favorite dishes at Dali is the tortilla, the Spanish frittata. Some call it a Spanish omelet, but it is really more frittata-y. Man, Buffy's really getting to me when I start adding "y"s onto food words. Dali's version of the tortilla has cubed potatoes, peas, and onions, but the one I made in class was enhanced by the spicy presence of Chorizo. I julienned the potatoes -- well, more or less, I know there were definitely some pieces in there that were 1/8 x 1/8 x 2 1/2 and a whole lot that came close -- and diced the onions and set them aside. The slices of Chorizo were sautéed in butter and olive oil and removed from the fat with a slotted spoon to rest on a heated platter. I dumped the potatoes and onions into the same skillet the Chorizo had rendered it's juices in and gently softened the vegetables. They took on a nice golden color because of the pork fat in the pan. Once they were cooked enough, I poured in the twelve beaten eggs and let everything set up for a bit. Then I pushed in the slices of Chorizo here and there and pulled the edges of the tortilla away from the sides of the skillet to let the uncooked egg run down and under the tortilla.

The whole thing was finished with a quick turn under the broiler and served. Since most of the pork dishes that day -- a crown roast with Swiss chard and spinach stuffing, pork scallopine, and a roast loin with almonds -- were going to take a long, slow time, people were excited to eat my first course. Everyone loved it. Chef thought it was well seasoned but that I used to large of a skillet. The recipe calls for a ten-inch and I got my hands on a twelve-inch. Although, I did show it to Chef before using it and she said it was fine. In the end, the tortilla came out slightly thinner than it should have been, and bumpier on top with the pieces of onion and potatoes poking up. If the skillet had been smaller, the egg would have covered more of the area of the tortilla with a thicker layer. I could have remedied that by adding five or six more beaten eggs. Next time I'll know.

The other dishes were okay. The crown roast and its stuffing was the clear winner -- it was tender, juicy, perfectly done. Ringer's loin of pork was too dry and the scallopine was only so-so. Ringer's rice pilaf was served as a side and I wasn't that impressed by it. It was cold by the time it was served, and had a bit too much saffron in it, which gave it a soapy taste. Since I had little else to do, I whipped up the Romaine and avocado salad with walnuts and red onion. It was colorful and tasty with a red wine vinaigrette.

October 23, 2002

Baking: Here We Come A-Streuseling

We got our hands dirty today. Really dirty. I mean, we stuck our hands in that rich, yeasty dough and squeezed it, slapped it, and kneaded it. It was a nice way to work out aggressions. I made a very large -- almost slug-like -- streusel stuffed with rummed-up apples. It was quite tasty.

During lecture, Chef Passion told us all about rye and the Salem witches. Wait, I'm actually going somewhere with this. Rye is a weed that spreads its contamination from within wheat fields -- from beneath you, it devours -- and it can grow very happily in poor soil and bad conditions. It's sort of the ghetto breed of all the grains. Anyway, it has the ability to poison everything around it with something called "ergot fungus." Ergot is not killed by freezing or cooking and is referred to as "St. Anthony's Fire" because of its hallucinogenic properties. Back in the 1600s, people didn't know too much about rye so they ate or drank the grain and were seriously affected by it. They saw things and acted crazy. A few decades back, some scientists tested the remains of various Salemites who had been executed as witches, they found traces of ergot. Today, we know how to grow and cultivate rye without that pesky poison that could get us all put on dunking stools by small-minded town fathers.

How's that for a Halloween factoid?

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