Things are heating up in the scary kitchen! We found a new local butcher with very fair prices and a willingness to supply almost any part of the animal on pre-order. We hadn’t ordered anything this time, but somewhere they found some Pig’s kidneys for us:
The diet of an animal is mostly reflected in the kidneys, so we are happy that this pig was grass-fed. I would not want to eat the kidneys of an indoors pig reared on antibiotics! Feeling more confident about the taste to expect, we now tried to improve the texture by cutting out some of the gristly bits:
The recipe from Ferguson’s The Whole Beast, which I had ordered from Hundt Hammer Stein, suggested chopping the kidney into bite-sized chunks and coating them in a mix of ground mustard seeds and flour:
After 2 minutes on each side a mix of red wine and Worcestershire sauce was added, then cooking on medium ‘until the ingredients had the chance to meet’ (Ferguson). After introductions were made, we invited the finished kidneys to the plate to meet some local potatoes and a dollop of our cabbage&apple ferment.
Not looking so scary now, are we?
In fact the texture was really smooth, just like having steak medaillons…
…for a fraction of the price: about €3 to feed 3 people on a grass-fed piece of organic meat!
Fermentation is a great technique to preserve food over long periods of time, thereby reducing food waste and need for transportation. It can also make nutrients more accessible and has many pro-biotic advantages. An expert on this matter is Alexis from Edible Alchemy and today we tried out a recipe described in her webinar.
The speed of fermentation is dependent on surface area so it is a good idea to chop everything evenly – in our case cabbage and apples. Then give it a good kneading and press all the moisture out. This should only take a few minutes depending on the amount you are fermenting.
Press the vegetables firmly into a jar and then add salt water so everything is covered.
The bits that are poking out into air will rot and compost so one trick is to put a weight on top, like a coin of celery or a leaf of cabbage. It is recommended not too close the lid too tightly and put a plate underneath in case of overflow. This is a ‘living creature’ and levels might change and need adjusting. Any vegetable matter that does rot can be scooped off and refilled with salt water. Store outside of direct sunlight!
This is what the ferment looks like after one week. We liked the taste so we put this jar in the fridge to stop (or rather slow down) the fermentation process. The second jar is still fermenting just for curiousity’s sake.
There is a lot of cabbage coming through in my bio-region at this time of the year and this is a great way of using and preserving it all!
Eating outside of our comfort zone for sustainability reasons
The idea for the ‘Scary Cooking Group’ came about, because we felt that our diet is too uninspired, unvaried and most of all unsustainable. According to the vegetarian myth this also applies to a vegan diet, because in most cases industrial agriculture is still involved.
Regardless of the validity of Lierre Keith’s argument, one thing is for certain: If we do kill an animal, it makes sense to use as many parts as possible. Too much food is getting wasted, because we tend to use the traditional bits (steaks, etc), and are neglecting many other parts even though they are often the most nutritional ones.
As for vegetables – the sustainable way would be to eat from within our bio-region. In Berlin/Brandenburg, that’s a whole winter full of cabbage. We want to explore ways to ferment regional fruit and vegetables, so they don’t rot in our fridges and pantries.
It’s time for a zero-waste approach to cooking.
We got together as a loose group of Berliners wishing to explore some recipes and ingredients that are maybe a bit off the beaten track. There still are a few rules though:
meat should be grass-fed and, if possible, organic
vegetables should be organic and, if possible, from CSA (community supported agriculture)
grains are not forbidden, but should not play a big part
It turned out, that Paleo-cookbooks and various fermentation websites are good starting points.
We are also happy to consider ideas that people post in the comments.
But now, without further ado, let’s cook some scary shit!