Tag: guanciale

fresh wild Pike fillet 4/19/10

I grew up in a place and a time when the fish on the table was always local (unless it was tuna or salmon, which were always canned), and bore names like Perch, Whitefish, Trout, Bass, Bluegill, Sturgeon, Freshwater Smelt or the supremely-elegant Northern Pike.  In Michigan and Wisconsin in the 1940’s and 50’s it seemed that if you ate fish it had almost certainly been caught by a friend, someone in your own family, or your little boy self (and that last always accompanied with great resistance, because of the yuck factor of impaling squishy worms and, possibly, removing the bloodied hook from a desperate, squirming fish).

I only remember the catch prepared as lightly-floured and fried fillets, although on special occasions, in the case of Whitefish or Sturgeon sent by relatives near Lake Michigan in Wisconsin, it was served smoked.

Everything changed when I first traveled to and lived in Europe in the early sixties, and especially after I moved to the American East Coast three years later.  The whole world of sea food opened up to me for the first time.  I never went back, literally and figuratively, although I did find myself weeping on the news of the virtual disappearance of most native Great Lakes species while I was becoming more and more estranged from the world in which I had grown up.

I hadn’t realized what had been lost to my palate until this month, when I brought home and prepared a fillet of wild pike (from West Virginia) on a visit to Lobster Place inside Chelsea Market.   Trying for an homage to my Wisconsin German heritage, I looked for a recipe my ancestors might have enjoyed in the old country.

The Pike was awesome!

  • fillet of West Virginia Pike, Badischer Grashecht mit Speck gebraten (Baden pike with Guanciale substituting for the traditional  bacon), a from “Culinaria Germany” which asks for the fillet to be seasoned and lightly-floured, sauteed at high heat in clarified butter on both sides, removed to a buttered pan and placed in a 350 degree oven for ten minutes covered by small pieces of Guanciale, followed for another ten minutes with the addition of onion, thyme and white wine, after that the “bacon” removed and the fish dotted w/butter, returned to the oven until the skin was crispy, and finally served with the cooking juices spooned over the fillet;  accompanied by boiled Norland Red potatoes from Muddy River Farm in the Union Square Greenmarket, finished with butter and parsley
  • bosc pear from Migliorelli Farm at the Union Square Greenmarket and dried Turkish figs from Garden of Eden
  • wine:  Mosel, Pündericher Marienburg Riesling Falkenlay 2004, Clemens Busch from Mosel Wine Merchants

[image from ohioanglers]

three inspired by Marlow & Daughters


(probably not your mother’s butcher:  a detail of the meat case at Marlow & Daughters)

Marlow & Daughters

The post which appears just before this one describes a dinner which, although it did not include meats from the Williamsburg butcher shop Marlow & Daughters, was almost a natural segue from the three meals which immediately preceded it, which did.  The connection is their components, which were importantly either blood or liver (discouraging all but the heartiest meat eating readers), specifically the blood sausage in the Huevos Flamencos and the poached links of lamb liver sausage which dominated the meal the previous night.

It was only a coincidence that we had also enjoyed lunches with two different kinds of delicious liverwurst sandwiches on Monday and Tuesday (thanks again to the Union Square Greenmarket and the people at Flying Pigs Farm), but it appears that in those four days we were deep inside territory many might consider (excuse the pun) too gutsy for their taste.

The lamb liver sausage was the third in a series of dinners inspired by our visit to Marlow & Daughters on Sunday after our afternoon visiting Williamsburg galleries.  We’ve long been fans of the restaurants Diner and Marlow & Sons, which share a connection with each other and with Tom Mylan, their former in-house butcher.  Now Mylan is a food blogger, and has his own Broadway meat shop, for which he purchases only local, pasture-raised whole animals and then butchers them on-site.   The meat can often be cut to order, and there’s a generous charcuterie selection.

We had been reading exciting things about his independent venture and had been impressed with Mylan’s appearance on NPR’s “All things considered” last spring, but hadn’t actually visited the site until now.

On Sunday we brought home two beautiful, thick, sirloin steaks.   They looked like giant tournedos to me, but still somehow managed to tip the scales at only about 6 ounces each.  Perfect.    It was almost closing time when we arrived, but when the butcher I spoke to saw how disappointed I was that there was only one steak left in the counter, he told us that if we could wait a few minutes he’d cut two in any size we wanted from a large slab of dry-aged beef he had in the cooler.  Wow.  I was impressed.

It took me all the way back to the little full-service Italian grocery store down the street from the house where I grew up, in pre-breakdown Detroit:  I was probably thirteen or fourteen, and my first (after-school) job was as a stock boy and bag packer at “Nino’s Market” (it was probably only the size of our Manhattan apartment), and I clearly remember that, after the manager, who was the proud and very hot young son of the owner, the butcher was treated like a God!

I’ve never been afraid of meat since.

We also bought half a pound of beautiful house-cured guanciale, since it seemed about time for Pasta alla Gricia once again.  We never tire of that dish, which ideally includes properly-cured pork jowl, but a number of different pasta choices (we usually use a penne).  We first enjoyed it in 1996, in the form of Spaghetti alla Gricia, while sitting at a table on the street outside the Piccola Trattoria da Lucia, in Rome’s Trastevere (Chiuso il lunedì).    We went back to the Vicolo del Mattonato two days later, and at least once again the next time we were in Rome one year later (the founder’s son, Renato Bizzarri, who succeeded his mother in running the restaurant, recognized us as soon as we sat down).

Back at Marlow & Daughters, I looked around for lamb, and was sorry to hear from another butcher that the shop was altogether out of it.  Then he told me that he did have some lamb liver sausage in the back and wondered if it might interest us.   He was asking the right guys:  we were both game, and of course the medium-dark, purply sausage itself looked and smelled like game.  I knew I already had the wintry vegetables which would complement it.  We asked him to wrap up two links (11 or 12 ounces total).

The small shop also has some great cheeses, a small selection of pickles and preserves, milk, some fresh vegetables and fruit, and a carefully-selected assortment of dry food products.  Heaven.

This is a more complete description of our three Marlow & Daughters meals, whose vegetable ingredients (as well as the ice cream) were all gathered from the Union Square Greenmarket:

dinner, December 8, 2009


dinner, December 9, 2009


dinner, December 10, 2009


[image at the top from Rotating Corpse]

dinner, April 23, 2009

white pizza with ramps and guanciale


  • home-made white pizza with ramps and guanciale, using frozen pizza dough from Whole Foods, prepared and covered with shredded mozarella, ramps from the Union Square Greenmarket briefly parboiled, with the addition of chopped and slightly pan-warmed fresh guanciale from the Murray’s Cheese located at Grand Central Market, and finished with grated Parmignano-Reggiano before sliding it all into a hot oven.
  • wine:  Venaccia di San Gimignano “Rondolino” 2006 from Philippe Wine

It was the first time I’d ever attempted a pizza of any kind, with any kind or form of dough, and until I had put it into the oven on a previously-heated stoneware pan I thought it was going to be a total disaster.  Instead, I think it may have been the best pizza I’ve ever had.

[est. total cost of meal for two, without wine:  $10.00]

There is a related post on jameswagner.com.

[images by Barry]