Sunday, January 31, 2010

La Quercia Acorn Edition III - Shipment #1

Sometime around the end of 2008, I stumbled across a little Iowa based company called La Quercia. I know I was late to the party, but I was amazed by what they had to offer. An American prosciutto seemed like an oxymoron, but the reviews were just as staggering. Making the New York and LA Times is no small feat. Naturally I decided to dive in head first and started making calls about their Acorn Edition.

For those unaware, the Acorn Edition is essentially a program where you buy a pig and over the course of 2 or so years, La Quercia doles it out to you in pieces. I know that sounds a bit odd, but there is a method to this madness.

So, after calling the good people at La Quercia, I was first in line for the Acorn III edition. However, a lot of time has passed since then. In fact, I paid my deposit back in June of 09. Naturally, I had forgotten all about the Acorn Edition by the middle of January 10. So imagine my surprise when I got an email saying that the first shipment would be on my door January 15th.

When I say my door, I should say my office. Yep, I came back from lunch and there was a huge, heavy box sitting at the door to my office. Well, I couldn’t leave well enough alone, so I had to have a peak.

Remember how I said, I had forgotten about the 1st shipment. That means I had forgotten what I had ordered as well. So, I was racking my brain, did I order extra head, feet, or caul fat? I had no idea.

Thankfully, the shipping labels answered a few of those questions.

Once I got home that evening, I had the time and space to see what all had come in the mail for me.

After opening the well insulated box, this was the first thing I saw.

Yes, that’s four packages of La Quercia’s garlic & fennel sausage. I’ve already tried some of that, and I’ll tell you, it’s as good as they say.

With our next item, we’re getting into the offal range.

Two nice front hooves or trotters. I’m still wondering what I’ll do with these. Maybe a nice Ruhlman recipe is in store for these beauties.

After that was something a little more pedestrian.

Four racks of ribs, back and spare. Again, I’m not sure what I should do with these. I’m stuck between the idea of bbq and something Chinese.

Who sees pate in their future?

With this much liver, I do, and it requires me to buy a meat grinder attachment for my stand mixer. I love an excuse to buy a new gadget.

Now here’s another mystery.

I’ve found a number of recipes for pig tails, but what can you do with just one?

Here’s something you don’t see very often.

Loads of leaf lard, which I’ve heard is quite good for pastry.

Speaking of mysteries, I have no idea what this is.

Someone suggested it could be a kidney, but why send just one? Besides, it doesn’t look like a kidney.

At first I thought this was a tongue.

Nope, it’s just a very pretty tenderloin.

Of course, everything just seems too near and orderly. Luckily there was a grab bag.

Labeled as a bag of trimmings, this seems like a good specimen for rendering, I think. All I know is there’s a lot of fat on there.

Aside from a tail and a few hooves, this seems like a pretty ordinary order of pork, if you call getting 50 lbs of pork in the mail ordinary. However, I had forgotten everything I had ordered.

Yep, that’s a real conversation piece for the average American. Honestly, how many people do you know that get a pig head in the mail? On this one, I’m really stumped. There’s the consistent hog’s head cheese, and Ruhlman does have a good looking recipe in his book “Charcuterie”, but there’s also a recipe from David Chang and his “Momofuku” cookbook. In Chang’s book, it’s called Pig’s Head Torchon and it involves frying things. So, it seems like my mind is already made up.

As exciting as this all is, there’s so much more to come. In the next shipment, I’ll be getting a delivery of guanciale and flat pancetta, with 2 lbs and 12 lbs respectively. After that it’s a pork laden magical mystery tour with lonza, coppa, lardo, then it’s one dry cured shoulder (spallacia) and then another 3 months later.

I know what you’re thinking, that all sounds lovely and quite frankly, overwhelming, but where is the prosciutto? Yes, La Quercia is known for prosciutto, and I’ll get my first leg sometime around the first of July….2011. Yes, and 18 month aged leg arriving in the mail for me. Finally, near Christmas 2011, I’ll get the last leg, just in time for the holiday. Of course, this is all organic, acorn fed, free range, Berkshire breed swine. Needless to say, I have a lot to look forward to.

1 comment:

Bradley said...

Wow, I am jealous, I assume you have storage for all of this. As for the head and trotters I would suggest checking out Keller's French Laundry cookbook. There is a recipe called head-to-toe where he saws the head in half and makes a roulade out of all of the pieces. The trotters are stuffed with a farce of the leftover meat. The recipe utilizes the entire head and trotters (cheeks, et al). I believe the roulade is poached and the trotters are fried. Sounds really amazing. I don't know how you feel about Keller, but I highly regard his methodology and opinions. Good luck.