Monday, April 26, 2010

We have a huge crush

on the guys behind The Butcher Blog.

We imagine that the writers of The Butcher Blog are burly urban woodsman types who know how to keep a girl warm at night (kind of like the plaid shirted hottie we saw so many years ago at the cheese counter of Stinky Brooklyn and have been thinking about ever since).

Since grilling season is gearing up, we caught up with the guys behind The Butcher Blog to get some practical tips on cooking in the urban environment. Now we’re just wondering when they’re inviting us over for some pork and Pork Slap…

Gastronomista: If you only have access to a fire escape, what do you need to cook well during grill season?

Butcher Blog: In New York City, you can legally grill as long as you have 10 feet clearance from the building. It is illegal to use propane on a terrace, roof or balcony, which suits us fine, since we firmly believe there should be a national law outlawing gas grills. You need charcoal, and a roof. If you only have a fire escape you need charcoal, a bucket with grill top, and a long pole.

G: What are the must-have tools? What grill? What charcoal?

BB: We're big Weber fans—simple, classic and easy to use. They have a bunch of different sizes too, so you can find one that fits your needs. A pair of long handled tongs are also essential. At no time should the classic BBQ fork get near your grill—piercing the sear is sacrilege and we die a little inside every time we see somebody wielding one of those things. A note about charcoal: Kingsford is not charcoal. Their reconstituted bricks don't get the job done and should always be avoided. We're big fans of Royal Oak (or any other natural wood charcoal) and we eschew the lighter fluid when possible in favor of a chimney. Also, you can spice things up a bit by grabbing some hickory wood chips, soaking them in water and throwing some on the hot coals just before cooking to get some nice smokiness going. Finally, if you're city grilling a fire extinguisher isn't a bad idea (and your neighbors will appreciate it too).

G: What cookbook should you use to guide you?

BB: Pork & Sons by Stéphane Reynaud has everything you need to prepare every part of the pig in every single way (from making your own sausage and terrines to barbecuing a whole suckling pig -- you'll need a Bushwick backyard and some cinderblocks for that one).

Editor's Note: We love this book. We actually were reading it once at the bar of a Brooklyn restaurant, and we very swiftly managed to pick up the Chef, who kept trotting out to the bar to chit chat. He was a smoothe operator... on seeing the book, he said, "If you like Pork and Sons, I need to loan you my charcuterie book... but I have to get your phone number as collaterol."

G: What are you listening to while you cook (and for that matter, eat)?

BB: The Mets game. Creedence. Skynrd. Beach House. Tom Waits. Sonic Youth. Wooden Shjips.

G: What should be on the menu, including beverages?

BB: That suckling pig sounds pretty good right now. You'll want to ask your butcher to reserve the liver and heart for you, which you chop with some smoked bacon and mix with fresh bread crumbs, eggs, olive oil, garlic, fresh herbs (sage, parsley, rosemary, whatever looks good), and stuff that in the pig. This takes about three hours on a spit, which means you'll have plenty of time to down some Pork Slap to keep it thematic (plus beer in cans in a necessity when cooking outdoors).

Baste the suckling pig with a mixture of white wine (get something drinkable because you'll use about 4 cups and finish the rest; it'll mix fine with the Pork Slap), olive oil and a few dabs of Dijon. When there is only about 20 minutes to half an hour left to go on the pig, wrap some corn ears (pull out as much of the silk as you can but do not husk; throw a pat of butter inside the husk) in foil and toss around the edges of the fire where they'll cook but not get flamed. Open another case of Pork Slap.

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