An Easter Passover Breakfast Taco Feast

When you gather together atheists, agnostics, ran-away Catholics and non-Jewish Jews for midday Easter brunch, there is nothing better on this Earth to commemorate the event than a make-your-own-breakfast-tacos spread.  Replete with homemade flour tortillas of both the pork lard and vegan varieties; refried beans with bacon and refried beans teeming with chipotle peppers (to approximate the piggy deliciousness); fried jalapeno potatoes; fried tortilla strips (for migas tacos); scrambled eggs; cheese; salsa; cilantro; and chorizo made in-house; these were mix and match tacos that tested both the consumption stamina and in-the-moment creativity of all those involved.  The eating lasted from 3pm til 7pm and not an hour passed unpunctuated by breakfast taco enjoyment.

Jar 1 is almost gone!

Tortillas in their most elemental

Coming together

Resting

A floured field

In the tasty beginning...

Bubbling wonder

Due to being eaten immediately after taken off of their cast iron quarters, there are no photos of a sepia-speckled flour tortilla ready for gustatorial enjoyment.

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Confessions on a Chorizo Night

I was warned against encasing- I paid this no heed. And then the fun began.

Chorizo, like bacon, might just be one of the most genial of all foods. My love affair with the spicy Mexican (yes, yes, there are different types, but here I am referring to the loose, red-spiced Mexican version) sausage began with a chorizo and egg breakfast taco when I was just a wee one. Since then, I have encountered its wonder in numerous and beautiful ways. Just like bacon, it’s the perfect doppelgänger for seafood, yielding a rich, savory, finely ground contrast to the more delicately flavored and firmer in texture shrimp or scallop. Also like bacon, it pairs equally well with both the savory and the sweet. (And just tonight I discovered how well it goes with kimchi fried rice!)

Kimchi fried rice with chorizo de casa!

With five pounds of ground shoulder and belly in my fridge, I knew it was time. Knowing basically what went into chorizo, (garlic, oregano, vinegar, salt, pepper, and some red pepper/chili powder combination) I did a bit of internet research. I did not like what I found and thus chose to ignore it. I have a pretty discriminating palate when it comes to chorizo and I decided to come up with my own recipe approximation.

I bought guajillo and ancho peppers. I soaked them in a hot water and then scooped out their tender insides. I threw in lots of fresh garlic. Added some apple cider vinegar, some oregano, some comino, some sautéed onions, some salt, and some white pepper. After much trial and error, I believe I eurekaed.

Ancho chilies

Guajillo chilies

Chilies in their hot water bath.

All the internal goodness.

This was a mess. But out of the chili water will come a spicy chocolate sorbet!

My garlic bloomed.

The sauce I continuously adjusted to add to the ground pork.

Ah, pig.

Sadly, casing the mass was not without some teeth gnashing. Hog casings are not the most cooperative of animal products. I understand now why there are sausage makers. I understand now why there are sausage makers. I understand now why there are sausage makers. I understand now why there are sausage makers. I understand now why there are sausage makers.

Hog casings. A lot of hog casings.

And it looks like tape worm.

Ay, ay, ay.

Sigh.

After so many funnels, I finally discovered the brilliance of a pastry bag. My hands might smell forever like chorizo, but at least every last ounce of spiced piggy deliciousness is resting sounding in a relative’s intestine.

Chorizo

Would you like some chorizo?

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A Proper Pin-Up Christening

The inaugural supping salon shall headline a pin-up photo exhibit featuring the work of a local Chicago artist.  Before one jumps to conclusions: these are not cheesecakey.  They are more Alberto Vargas or Gil Elvgren than Fritz Willis (for those less pin-up savvy this means that their power is found in their suggestion rather than their disclosure or to be blunt, there’s not much T&A).  Apart from just enjoying the eye candy, the ruminating guest is invited to decide if these photos successfully negotiate a place for themselves in their portrayal (serious or mocking) of female sexuality somewhere in the space between fine and pop art, the high brow and the low brow.  How do they or do they even attempt to, effectively traverse the divide between feminism and femininity?

Here’s a taste of the exhibit:

She doesn't dust.

Maria Elena Buszek’s Pin-Up Grrrls is a fascinating read if you suddenly feel the urge to become an armchair pin-up scholar.

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What type of supping you ask?

If one is curious about the types of dishes to be served up by TPK, one needs to think outside the icosahedron.  We like meat, but we also make a mean vegan cupcake.  We aren’t such a fan of molecular gastronomy, but sometimes things just demand a nice sprinkling of citrus powder.

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Close Encounters of the Piggy Kind

In the beginning...

I made a trek to Peoria Packing’s Butcher Shop today to buy lots of pig fat and to have some belly and shoulder ground for chorizo.  A trip to PP (insert piggy tail here) does an excellent job of shocking one out of one’s shopping complacency.  What a far away concept styrofoam trays and shrink-wrap is to the open freezer layout of PP’s interior.  Tables and vats teem with ears, neck bones, hooves, kidneys, bellies, chicken feet, mounds of ground meat, dried pig skin, and whole pig heads with squinty eyes.  It is a wonder of wonder in a culture that practically mandates disallowance of awareness of the origin of meat we eat.  Skin, hair, teeth, neck bones, feet, &c. are all startling reminders that yes indeed, the juicy sirloin, the succulent chicken breast, the finely marbled belly were all once integral parts of a living, breathing organism not astronomically different from ourselves.

My pork belly stil had hair and teats intact.  Teats most especially are jarring to many and as such one would never find nipples on any pork purchases at any sanitized grocery store.   Unlike the ears or the snouts, the teats come from an intimate, rarely glimpsed and almost never tactually encountered unmentionable part of the pig.

I certainly believe it is vitally important to source meat from ethical and sustainable purveyors, but along with this, I firmly believe in putting the whole pig, cow, chicken, duck, goat, &c. back into our eating and shopping vocabulary.  The more we eat and shop head to tail, the more likely it is unsustainable factory farms will find their current (sadly synecdochic) practices that reduce an animal to one part (e.g. chicken to breast meat) and often totally mutilate other “problematic” parts (e.g. pig tails) unsustainable profit-wise.

As I cut away the skin from the rich and fatty belly, I  paid more heed to this pig than I often do my cubicle mates.  But as this pig is fully to thank for the delightful lard I rendered from its legacy, I think it’s only fitting.

Rendering Lard

Coming apart

So much piggy fat!

Teats

Skinned pig

Snap, crackle, pop!

Crunchy, piggy deliciousness

Freshly rendered lard

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Want to snag yourself an invitation?

Email theprandialkabaret@gmail.com for more information.

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The other delicious meat…

Piggy has been decided upon as the mostly carnivorous part of the evening.  Five types of pork in fact.  Now I just need to find a fine hog farmer…

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