Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pork and Food Trends

Chef Jasper and me, Pig 101, 2009
Boy, I look a lot older now!
You say the word “Pork” and Chef Jasper Mirabile and I start figuring out new ways to use the whole pig. We held our Snout to Tail dinner 2 years in a row. Last year we featured our cured Guanciale, an air dried pork jowl with hand blended spices and herbs.

(Search my blog for “An evening at Jasper’s….Pig 102 Feb 27, 2010, for the full story.)

We held Pig 101 in 2009, Pig 102 in 2010….I’m thinking the suggestion of our holding a dinner to award a Master’s degree in Snout to Tail to those that have attended previous dinners, just might be a great idea.

Jasper emailed me last night asking if I was ready to start making more Guanciale. Well…YES! Maybe we can put on our chef’s hats and create a Master’s dinner….time will tell! In the meantime you can expect some pork recipes in my blog….surprise, surprise!

The Food Channel recently released their findings in the search for the top 10 food trends for 2011. Here they are, from www.porkmag.com just for you:

If you’re like many, you may start to increase your food canning or preserving in 2011, according to the Food Channel’s Top 10 food trends for the New Year.. “As we head into 2011, we see people beginning to cherish simplicity” says the report.

Just as a good writer understands that writing fewer words is harder than a lot of words, removing things from our lives is harder than adding to them. And, yet, we see that the 2011 Food Trends are about embracing what may be a little more difficult, because it has proven its value.
The trend to local foods will continue, according to the report. We value things that are, if not exactly close to us, are at least close to the little guy. The new food simplicity is about putting value on the independent grower. In 2011, the consumer is all about buying from a business that is dedicated to creating a quality product, dedicated to doing the right thing, regardless of the size of the business or the number of products they produce.

Here are the Top Ten food trends for 2011:

1. Food preservation has a rejuvenation. They used to call it “putting up,” as in putting up tomatoes or corn for the winter ahead. Maybe your grandmother still refers to it that way. What it means of course is canning, pickling, and preserving—and more and more folks will be getting into it for a number of reasons.

2. A gender role reversal is bubbling up in the kitchen. The slumping economy has hit men harder than women, with job losses in traditionally male fields such as finance and construction. Women, on the other hand, are employed in fields that are expected to flourish in the years ahead.

3. Support a local grower . . . anywhere. Politicians say that all politics is local. It's becoming more and more evident that the same is true for food. This trend understands that mindset—that it’s all about eating local, but that local goes beyond a geographical definition.

4. Sometimes we don't want to know the nutrition numbers. Politicians on the local, state and federal government level are stepping up efforts to legislate healthier eating. These well-meaning efforts have led to calorie counts on restaurant menus, bans on trans fats, and a war on sodium. Let’s face it. Some things we just don’t want to know.

5. Discount eats make the new smart phone apps delicious. Just as the adorable antics of cats have become the unexpected stars of the Internet, food has become the dominant attraction of smart phones. It seems like there’s a new mobile food app popping up every time you start to feel hungry.

6. Getting closer to the customer. As anyone who works for a big corporation knows, the bigger your brand, the larger a target you may become. In today’s world, a corporate mindset might be bad for business.

7. Rediscovering the butcher, baker and cheese maker. We see American food shoppers going about their marketing a bit more like our European counterparts in the coming year. People will be returning to the neighborhood butcher shop to pick up fresh meats and grabbing their specialty breads and pastries at the corner bakery.

8. Living up to their pledge, chefs join the cafeteria crews. This will be the year we finally get really serious about feeding our children healthier, better quality foods.

9. Eating your way out of your comfort zone. This trend is about consciously trying new things that stretch our food vocabulary and experience.

10. Looking for foods that keep us young, strong and active. It’s no secret that Americans are reaching retirement age in record numbers, now that the Baby Boomers are starting to hit their mid-sixties. And, as they have since they first began to walk, boomers will influence nearly everything in 2011, including foods.

There you have it…..and now here is a bacon recipe….

Chocolate Chip-Bacon-Pecan Cookies

. Little bits of crisp, fatty bacon melt into the sweet, soft, chocolate-studded cookie dough, making these cookies chewy, rich and addictive.
Makes about 18 thin-and-chewy cookies

5 strips bacon
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon, turning several times, until browned and done, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Chop finely.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars. Add egg and vanilla extract, and beat until just blended. Add the dry ingredients; beat until just incorporated and the flour is dissolved. Stir in the chocolate chips, pecans and bacon.
Drop one large tablespoon cookie dough 2 to 3 inches apart (as they will spread) on baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until firm and golden brown around the edges, and still slightly soft in the center. Transfer to a rack and cool for 15 minutes.
Can be stored on countertop for one to two days, and then refrigerated in an airtight container.

Don’t knock it until you try one! You will be amazed!

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