Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tip of the Tongue

While I am a major proponent of adventurous eating, I also understand that most "variety meats" are acquired tastes.  I wouldn't advise eating kidney, tripe or brain if you aren't already an adventurous eater -- however, tongue is something everyone should try.  Depending on how it is prepared, tongue tastes very much like either pot roast or corned beef.  A typical Mexican way of preparing tongue, or "lingua", is to slow braise, then crisp on the flat-top.  Tender mouthfuls of rich, beefy flavor.  The texture is soft, but not mushy -- think braised short ribs.  

For a quick fix, I frequent the local taco truck --

El Rey Del Taco Truck 
30th Avenue, b/w 33rd and 34th Streets (near the Rite Aid)
Astoria, NY

The Taco King also reigns supreme over burritos, huaraches and of course....


© 2010 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" -

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Secrets: The Burger Joint

The Burger Joint - Le Parker Meridien
118 W 57th St
New York, NY 10019
The secluded neon sign is the only thing that gives its presence away -- that, and the entire hotel lobby smells like a McDonald's. Classy.

Beyond the curtain is a small, suburban burger shack from 1984. How the proprietors were able to trap this place in time and transport it to New York City, we will never know. My guess is sorcery or some other type of black magic of which I am unaware. Wood paneling, campy movie posters, harsh lighting and scribbled on walls -- this place has it all. The kitchen is small and hectic but surprisingly quick. The noise levels teeter on raucous.

If you don't know what you are ordering by the time you get to the register, they send you to the back of the line a la the soup Nazi.  Avoid embarrassment by just ordering a cheeseburger w/ everything, a soda and fries.  Expect a fast food style burger prepared with quality ingredients and care.

The burgers are good, but not great.  While on par with the likes of Shake Shack and Five Guys, throw-back style burgers just don't move me the same way bistro burgers do.  The french fries are standard issue spuds; well executed, but nothing special.  Dijon mustard loaded squeeze bottles on every table is a major win.

This place is perpetually packed, so if you want a seat, you are going to have to stare hard at some tourists until they are uncomfortable enough to get up and leave.

© 2010 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" -

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Feet Don't Fail Me Now

Pigs' feet, aka, "trotters" are a culinary punchline -- an animal product so absurd that they are only referenced as something you'd eat if you had lost a bet.  Most Americans view trotters as something only poor people and foreigners eat; they are repulsed by the thought of ever having to stomach such a barbaric edible.

Ironically, Americans love hot dogs -- see where I'm going with this?  I won't get too descriptive, but even the largest, most visible hot dog manufacturers are legally allowed to use "meat trimmings" and up to 15% "added ingredients".
What I've got here are twice-cooked pigs feet -- braised, then roasted.  There's not much of a recipe to this, but the technique is as follows:

  • Go to the market and buy 2lbs pigs' feet, halved & sectioned. Also pick up a prepackaged soup-starter kit w/ leek, potato, turnip, carrot. onion,  parsley, and dill -- most markets offer these veggie starter kits, look for it in produce.  
  • Add the trotters, veggie starter kit, and one cup white vinegar to a large pot.  Add water to cover.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer for 3-4 hours, or until meat is just falling off the bone.  Don't over do it, we don't want them to disintegrate! 
  • Remove trotters from the braising liquid and arrange them on a rack over a half sheet tray.  Bake in a 350°oven for one hour, raise the temperature to 450°and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes to crisp up the skin. 
A little bit of Frank's Red Hot goes a long way w/ these unctuous morsels.  
The taste is mild pork, but the texture is out of this world. The crisp skin contrasts sharply w/ the rich and gooey collagen land mines that explode with every bite.  For all the pork aficionados out there, imagine a cross between St. Louis style ribs, and pork belly -- there's your pigs' feet.

© 2010 c. c. villani @ "mission: insatiable" -