Saturday, May 16, 2015

Goat tacos for the Preakness Stakes

For the New Year in 2014, we slaughtered two goats on the in-laws' homestead in Idaho.  We blindfolded them and fed them handfuls of corn and shot them in the back of the skull.  When they collapsed, we cut their throats and held them until they stopped moving.  It was harrowing, an experience I recommend for any meat-eater.  One minute you have trusting, bleating creatures and the next you are upon them, cutting off their breath while they shiver and die.  Nothing to glorify there.  Just a base act of brutality, death for the sake of life.  It caused me to lose my appetite and to look askance at the food-scene's beast-eating indulgence, chefs posing with dead pigs, tattoos of butchered yearlings- I'm as guilty of it as the next meat-lover.  The whole defiant glorification of dead muscle and guts currently en vogue.  I believe in well-raised animal protein as a source of sustenance and embrace the hard fact of killing as a bitter foundation for life.  But I don't take it lightly.  

Breaking down this lovely goat

Almost exclusively, I have turned the goat I killed into birria for tacos.  Today I steamed the last of it for 3.5 hours in a bottle of astringent peppercorn porter I made in 2013.  It's just so easy.  After experimenting with marinating in aromatic chile pastes, I decided I prefer simply salting the goat and letting it rest overnight.  Then I steam it over a bottle of beer in a Dutch oven at 275 degrees for 3.5-4 hours.  

Goat shoulder

Today, for the Preakness Stakes, I made some red onion pickles, a red salsa out of arbol chiles and a green sauce out of jalapeños, roasted poblanos, anaheims and tomatillos.  We rolled the rich, dark meat in corn tortillas with the sauces and washed the tacos down with bourbon, rye and cold Modelos.  

Thanks be to the goat!  Let it rain, and go American Pharaoh! 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

In the underbrush

Creeping.  Hands and knees on spongy moss, deep in the needle litter where the field meets the trees.  Next to a pile of old moose pellets they are sprouting.  Small.  Fresh.  New, but with battered tips from pushing up through the duff.

Not much relieves tension as reliably as a day alone in the underbrush.  Foraging.  Leaned against a trunk by a little stream.  Thoughts fueled by green tea of the season, lively and quick.

Morels are early this year and somewhat scarce.  We need rain badly.  Last year, I harvested this spot when the elderberries were blooming.  Now they are barely leafed-out.  

This monster falsie is an ideal exhibit of some of the differences between true and false morels.  The comparison is really very slight.  

I was lucky to find enough for a meal and then I climbed out of the moist bottom up a dry gulch through sticks and brush.  Hopping downed logs.  Sweating.  I gained a ridge top and looped around to meet my car.  I lost track of time, which is not something that happens often these days.

The spoils

I dry-fried them, added a little butter and a little wine.  A meager clove of garlic and a touch of chopped parsley.  Put them on little toasts and broiled them with a pinch of parmigiano.  They were perfect.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Derby Day

Oh so sweet
Bourbon-ginger cake
Made by Z
For the Pharaoh 
and for us.