Its getting chilly up here on the Summit and the Wild Boar population is getting bold. The babies are now getting more independent and aggressive pubescent digging and foraging is doing a number on our beloved Vineyards and Gardens (OH Zyante I hope its not too bad this year)That being said its HUNTIN time here in the Santa Cruz Mountains to help keep this non native at bay so erosion and habitat destruction can be as minimal as possible. Ok so PIG was on my door step. She's drained dressed and cut for sausage, Prosciutto and a bevy of fun with pork. The picture(thanks kiddo 5th grader that entered this guide at the Santa Cruz Co. fair 2010)Gives you an idea of where on the pig your cuts come from to help you figure the cooking method. Tonight it is all about the cheeks. Yuppers the smile pillows. The chefs cut or the lost fillet right there smack dab in the middle of its face. Who'd a thunk? I mean sure bacon is one sexy smoked beast (Clint I want my smoker back)But come on we got it... Bacon rules. Crap I cant even order a Bourbon with out a bacon laced alternative. Got it. So lets go down the road less traveled..CHEEKS Baby CHEEKS. For a long long time the public had been cheated out of a cut on many animals and fish that never leaves the boat, blind, or hunters view. Commercial Salmon fishermen can tell you eating Salmon cheeks Sashmi right on the boat is a religious experience. Beef cheeks..wha wha you say better than the fillet. you betcha. And the mighty pig wild or otherwise those few ounces of tender flavor bombs is the way to go every time. Grill it Braise it roast it BBQ it just do it. UMMMM cant find this love lumps at your mega market with coffin coolers filled with precise cuts suffocating in cellophane real date unknown. I raspberry you. Time to find your local farm or butcher shop. Know where your meats come from and how they were raised and treated. KARMA is in the air. A pasture raised hormone free pig that has been butchered with dignity and respect is a whole new eating experience . To know the girl or boy who cuts your meat not only brings you closer to your food but understanding what you pass through your lips will change how you feel about food. Connect people connect. To see the sheepish smile pass the lips of your Monger when you request some cheeks is worth a double bourbon alone. SOOOO you got your cheeks home and now staring down at theses lovely pillows of Porky Heaven..What to do what to do. well lets see. break out the crock pot people its braising time for some Santa Cruz style pulled pork sammies with fennel and sultans(white raisins DUH)and dried figs.
Cut up a bulb or two of fennel place at the bottom of crock pot (don't want direct contact with heat gentle people gentle )cut two white onions drop in ...Three leeks washed and cut any way is fine ,toss her in. A bunch of green onions roots clipped left whole. A few cups of (homemade mushroom stock(another day we shall go over)turn on the pot for an 8 hour cook cycle.
In an iron skillet (what the fuck? go get one then)HIGH heat, little bacon fat please. Roll cheeks in flour with salt(kosher or sea)white pepper and a pinch each of cardamon ,cinnamon,and chili powder. dust up the cheeks and toss in the hot iron skillet. get a nice crust goin on all sides. might get smoky open a window. Its cooknin not sewin: smoke happens. All brown and sexy like a good Kentucky Rye. Let her rest for a moment have a sip of above mentioned RYE. Then drop em in the crock pot. add a handful of raisins and quartered dried brown turkey figs(cant find them? leave the mega mart and find a local market) and cover with some nice Petit Syrah(DURIF) this wine has such a smokey black fruit thing going on will play so nicely with this crock pot party. Simple yet oh baby its gonna be good on a fall day in Santa Cruz. Now go out to your favorite local baker and pick up a grip of Potato rolls, wine and spirits shop get a great SCM wine. I almost would say a tank fermented Chard could easily rock or a beautiful Pinot from Corralitos valley wouldn't suck either.Then again a 750Ml of Buffalo Trace Bourbon is NEVER a bad idea .
Make a quick salad of arugula spritz of lemon juice from your neighbors tree who by the way just let the fruit drop and never gets used unless you climb over that fence a get them. A splash if Kalamata olive oil (again LEAVE the mega mart)pinch o sea salt a crack of pepper. Simple is the name of this game.
open the crock pot. Take a moment breathe it all in. ahhhhhhhhh. Heat up the potato rolls for a moment and split them open on a platter. Shred up with a fork the tender amazing bits of pork love.pile on the bread.
pile up the braised Alliums (onion family) on another plate and all the juicy juice in a bowl for dunking. BASTA din din is served. go on ....
pasture raised pigs, chickens and eggs. No bullshit here just pigs shit.
Now taking orders for whole and half pig