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A simple secret to great pasta

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This sounds like a great idea at any time of the year, but especially so these days, when many people have leftover holiday ham and other forms of pork in their fridge.

Ari Weinzweig (he of Ann Arbor, Michigan's Zingerman's deli, bakery, restaurant, cheese emporium, etc.), writing in the Atlantic's food blog, recalls a centuries old trick for making pasta better.

"All you have to do is stick a piece of pork rind or pancetta into your pasta cooking water," he says. "It really does give the pasta a nice bit of added flavor, and it as it did five hundred years ago and still today, can be done for very little cost. It's great way to use up ham bones or prosciutto rinds."

Do that, drain the pasta, then just finish it of with a bit of olive oil and some grated cheese, such as Parmigiano or Pecorino, and you've got a simple yet tasty dish that is elevated by the inclusion of the pork.

I'm looking forward to trying this out, as well as asking the butcher for some pork rind.


An eat pork greeting card, via Serious Eats.

Had a lovely drive in this morning, thanks to David Hammond's piece on WBEZ-FM (91.5). If you didn't catch it, check it out here. It's a must-listen.

Hammond, moderator of the culinary chat site LTHForum.com, talked to Chicago chefs Rob Levitt, Bruce Sherman and Mark Mendez about swine flu and happy pigs and how, when we can achieve the latter, we wouldn't have to connect the dots to the former.

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Pols and pork producers can debate all they want about what to call the so-called swine flu. We'll keep eating our bacon, thank you very much.

We trust the Centers for Disease Control when they say you can't get swine flu by eating pork or pork products. Just like we trusted them when they said you can't get avian flu by eating chicken. We, and plenty of other Americans, ate our chicken and lived to tell about it.

Thankfully, Chicago's porcine-minded chefs aren't pushing the panic button, either.

"Grilled swine flu with creamy SARS, smoked West Nile virus and bird flu reduction ... mmmmm, tastes like fear!" So quoth the cheeky Graham Elliot Bowles about an hour ago on Twitter.

Go on -- be with bacon. Show some love to the pork chop. After the jump, a recipe to get you in the mood.

About the blog

Janet Rausa Fuller

Sun-Times Food editor Janet Rausa Fuller is always thinking about her next meal.

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