Redemption is Spelled P-I-G

…and so, the wintry lashings of cruel January ceased long enough for our hero and her companion to slip through the veiled passage of Route 96B to Bonnie Ithaca in order to sample the fare and traipse about her gorge-ous majesty…
Yeah, that’s right. Sunday was actually nice enough to try The Piggery: Take Two. And we succeeded! This time, my travelling companion was Jill, because anyone cool enough to give me the following for Christmas:
...while also getting most of our friends to buy in:

…gets to come on as many ride alongs as she can handle! So, I kicked out all of my houseguests Sunday morning after my annual Miss America Party with some breakfast treats and a smile, and Jill and I trekked up to Ithaca for the afternoon. We did a little shopping in The Commons, had a scrumptious brunch at the Ithaca Ale House (I’m compiling a full menu post on IAH for later this year), then checked out
The Piggery’s Butcher & Deli, off Rte 13 in Franklin Place Plaza. If you know where the Red Feet Wine Shop is, then you’ve found The Piggery.

We hadn’t actually left room in our bellies to sample the offerings at The Piggery, but let’s face facts: restraint is not my forte, and Jill happens to be all too content to let me lead her down the Primrose Path to Gluttony Lane and Indigestion Boulevard. In ordering a carnitas taco to share, we had arrived at our destination. First of all, quality of product notwithstanding, pulled pork is one of my favorite substances on earth. I make mine in the crockpot with onions and tons of a homemade spice rub, but I went to college for two years in North Carolina, and I absolutely love that state’s brand of chopped, pulled and otherwise pulverized fatty, soft with crunchy-smoked-bits-and-tons-of-flavor, pork. But hold on to your hats, my hungries. The Piggery is NOT messing around.

Ay-ay-ay carnitas!

The Piggery’s farm is located just upstate in Trumansburg, NY, which is between Binghamton and Hamilton somewhere along Rte 12. They raise little heritage piggies who roam free to graze on 30 acres of pasture ripe with clover, grasses, oats and dandelions. The result is the kind of meat all the tree-huggers have been telling us to seek out for years: local, sustainable and of amazing quality. The first bite of the pulled pork was like poetry, honestly. The meat was lush, porky, divine. As far from “the other white meat” you get in the supermarket as a kobe steak is from a Big Mac. This is full-fat, full-on, full-flavor goodness. It’s good. And this taco wasn’t just about the carnitas. There were substantial black beans, a little rice, a crunchy local cabbage slaw, and really excellent “crema” that had both of us groaning with delight. This $3 taco is packing a punch that should make Taco Bell and Chili’s run for the hills.

Of course, The Piggery also has a butcher counter at its Ithaca locale. This is what I really came for: some excellent pork products to bring home and try for myself!

Why does the word “butcher” always make me want to sing Loretta Lynn songs?

I finally settled on a pork cheek medallion, which I plan to cook up in a big pot of cannellini beans sometime next week (I want to pick up some fresh sage first, because, yum), and two plump andouille (an-DOO-ee) sausages. If you’ve ever watched one of Emeril Lagasse’s shows, you know that andouille is a French smoked sausage that is wildly popular in Louisiana. It has a (bam!) kick to it, and is widely used in shrimp & grits and gumbos in the south. I put those bad boys to good use Monday night in a potato and kale soup, riffing on both the garlic soup served at Consol’s in Endicott and my old favorite, French onion. The result was killer. Just those two links of quality andouille, less than a pound total, were spicy enough to flavor the entire pot of soup with no additional heat of any kind. If you decide to try the recipe below, I suggest you source your andouille from The Piggery. You won’t regret it.

Killer Potato Kale Soup

2 Links Piggery Andouille Sausage, sliced into disks
1/3 C EVOO
½ C Onion, roughly chopped
5 -6 Cloves Garlic, crushed
1 Carton Chicken or vegetable Stock
2 C Water
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1 Cup Waxy Potato, thinly sliced
1 Cup Kale, thinly sliced
5 -6 Slices Country Bread (I used Wegmans multigrain sourdough from the bakery)
¼ Grated Parmesan, plus more for serving

In a big oven-proof soup pot, sauté the sausage in 2 T EVOO over med-high heat until brown, then remove from pot and set aside, leaving the drippings. Lower the heat to med-low and add onion and garlic. Stir to combine with fat in pan, season with salt and pepper. Cook over med-low for 10 – 15 minutes, until translucent. Add in a few tablespoons of stock, then puree, either with a stick blender, or transfer into a food processor or blender. Add onion garlic mixture back into pot with remaining stock and water, raise heat and bring to a boil. Preheat oven to 350. Add in potatoes and kale and let simmer for 10 minutes, then check for seasonings.

Float bread slices on top of the soup, to form an even layer. Drizzle with remaining EVOO and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese. Transfer entire pot to oven and let it condense, concentrate, crisp and get yummy for about a half hour. Take it out, dish it up and serve with additional parmesan, to taste. Totally delicious.

Some other tidbits this week:
  • Some of you read in the Watertown paper last weekend that Shawn Vendetti has left Fireside at Partridge Berry. This is true. I have it on good authority that Gabe Aubertine, their new chef, is hard at work making improvements to the menu and cleaning up some of the detail-oriented issues that may have existed prior. I’m excited for this new leadership, and would love to hear feedback from any big hungries out there who have stopped in to test it out.
  • The Piggery has a CSA starting soon for residents of both Ithaca and NYC. So if you’re a big hungry in either of these locales, you should check out their website for further details.
  • Big Hungry Shelby t-shirts will soon be available. If you would be interested in ordering one, please add a comment below, or message me on the BHS Facebook group. Let’s spread this Big Hungry Nation and wear our shirts with pride!

My personality is big; my hunger is bigger!

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