Thursday, February 19, 2009

Onion Soup Emilia-Romagna Style with Roast Bone Marrow- Guest Blog Day

Ok, so I have been super busy with exams (damned you physics, I would do just fine without gravity.... I think) so I begged my brother to guest blog today about his crazy culinary experiences. Seriously, they are sometimes really out there. Like this weekend he cooked a pig head. I have the pics but am kind of afraid to post them. This is one of his more toned down recipes adapted from Mario Batali (the famous redhead chef in shorts and crocs). It looks great and I can't wait to try some when I get back to Toronto next week. So without due, here is my brother, Eric.

Onion Soup Emilia-Romagna Style
Roast Bone Marrow

So, since discovering early last year that I in fact like cooking, I have been embarking on an understanding of many classic dishes to try and expand my culinary knowledge. I started with basics, like pasta sauce and chili, but due to unforeseen circumstances this summer, I didn’t have a job and thus sat around the house waiting for dinner time so I could cook. I started to branch out and learned a few interesting new dishes such as pad thai, but for the most part, my ingredients were pretty average. I never pushed myself out of my comfort zone, especially when it came to proteins. This all changed once I got my cooking club.

Yes, I started a cooking club once I got back to school. And even though our meals were basic enough, it made me more interested in trying new things. Around Christmas, this took another turn, when my partner in the cooking club and I decided our end-of-the-year feast would be a whole pig that I would butcher and we would cook. I wanted to learn to butcher something substantial and he wanted to smoke meats Southern-style. This seemed like a perfect marriage of the two ideas.

Since then, I have been buying a new piece of pig almost every week in the market to test out, not wanting to be doing anything for the first time when I eventually get this whole beast. However, it has opened me up to many other parts I never figured I would want to try my hand at. I cooked my first lamb shank a few weeks ago for instance, and it was delicious. I bought a whole, 7lb. pork shoulder, put it in the oven at 8:30a.m. one morning, took it out at 5p.m., shredded it and had friends over for a pulled pork sandwich feast. All because I was interested in pushing myself beyond my comfort zone.

This energy to step outside the comfort of the average meal, combined with a need to find recipes to cook all parts of the pig, led me to Fergus Henderson’s The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating. Henderson is the head chef of the St. John in London, England, the original nose-to-tail restaurant (Sorry Martin Picard fans, he ripped off a limey). The restaurant is revered by chefs worldwide because of the ability of Henderson to take the cuts people do not eat anymore and turn them into top-notch cuisine. Anthony Bourdain said his death row meal would be from the St. John. Batali said the recipes make him want to “Torch my own Babbo for pretending to be a restaurant and move to London to heed the master’s call”. I’m assuming the food is good.

The one recipe I wanted to cook immediately was the Onion soup and the Bone marrow on toast. I had wanted to try bone marrow for awhile, and the pairing seemed easy enough. So I was determined to making it for my reading week. In the end, I overdid the bone marrow, which caused half of it to turn to liquid, but the remaining marrow was delicious and meaty. I look forward to trying out more of the recipes in the coming months until my date with Destiny (the name I have given the pig I will be butchering) comes.

Onion Soup Emilia-Romagna Style
adapted from Mario Batali’s book “Molto Italiano”
Makes 3 servings.

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp lard or fatback
6 red onions, halved and sliced into thin half-moons
2 tbsp flour
¼ cup dry white wine
4 cups beef stock
¼ cup grated parmesan
3 slices crusty bread
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1. Melt butter and lard in a large heavy-bottomed pot over low heat. Add the onions and cook slowly for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and allowing them to develop a rich brown colour.
2. Add the flour and stir until smooth and lump-free. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Gradually add the wine and stock, stirring gently but constantly. Increase the heat slightly, cover, and cook for 30 minutes at a brisk simmer.
3. Preheat the broiler.
4. Bring the soup to a boil and remove from the heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Grill the bread under the broiler. Drizzle with olive oil and place 1 toast in each warmed soup bowl. Sprinkle with parmesan.
6. Ladle the soup into the bowls, and serve.

Roast Bone Marrow
Adapted from Fergus Henderson’s book “The Whole Beast”

Put six 3-inch pieces of beef marrowbone in an ovenproof frying pan and place in a hot 450 oven. The roasting process should take 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the bone. The marrow should be loose and giving, but not melted away, which it will do if left too long.
Scrape the marrow from the bone onto the toast and season with coarse sea salt.


Rowena said...

Awww, come on! You just gotta post the pig head. I wanna be the first to buzz it!

Coco Bean said...

Ok,Ok,I will post it, after my exam. It's actually a pretty funny story, I will see if I can get him to write about it.

Anonymous said...

Now I want pig marrow on toast...