Wednesday, July 2, 2014

PINK or PORK X (Sixth Annual Rannels Pig Roast) FAQ

Pink or Pork? What does that even mean?
Pink or Pork is the THEME for this year's pig roast! All it means for you, the guest, is that it is a totally open ended theme! Have fun! Wear pink! Eat pork! Bring a pink side dish! Bring a pork dessert! Drink only pink beverages all afternoon! You decide... And we can't wait to see what you come up with! (Pink or Pork parties of the past have included fanciful pink tutus, pink panthers, pork themed shirts, side dishes involving bacon, pink pig shaped cakes, pink cocktails and the list goes on...)

Pig Roast? For real? In San Francisco?
YES! The Annual Rannels Family Pig Roast is our family’s celebration of all things pork related. We roast a whole pig in our San Francisco back yard and serve it to several dozen of our friends, colleagues, and acquaintances; celebrating fellowship with all who attend.

Seriously... a whole pig?
Yes. 


Sounds pretty involved. Not that we don’t respect you, but are you really up for this kind of thing?
It is pretty involved. But we are more than up for it. There’s a lot of planning and there are many, many lists. This is our SIXTH year and our FIFTH pig (one year we did ribs instead) and every year is better than the last.

How do you do that in your tiny back yard?
Like this! 



We roast the entire animal, all at once, in a device called a Caja China. Developed by some particularly motivated Miami Cubans, it not only cooks the meat perfectly, it also produces the crispy skin appreciated by people of refinement from Havana to Shanghai. It takes 4.5 hours and about 50 lbs of charcoal to do this. 

Neat! What can I bring?
You don’t have to bring anything other than your appetite: we'll have lots of protein, some basic sides, the usual keg of Guinness, Jacob's American IPA, and a great big bottle of red wine flowing.

But I never come to a pig roast empty handed! 
That's not really a question, but we will let it slide. If you insist, you are welcome to bring a savory side dish to share or a bottle of wine. (We like red wine with the pork, but are equal opportunity wine drinkers.)  

Can I bring the kids?
Yes! Especially if they like pork!

Can I bring my dog?
Sorry, no. While our dogs - Indy and OOMA - are friendly and great with kids, it'd be rather problematic to have a new dog on the scene with all that pork around. Thanks for your understanding.

I’m vegetarian/vegan/keeping kosher/only eating halal meat these days. Is there anything for me at the Pig Roast?
We offer fellowship to all, and you are truly welcome to attend. But you may want to bring some of your own food to the festivities because, well, it is a pig roast.

We hope to see you there!



Wait. One more time. What's this Pink or Pork thing? Really?
Pink or Pork is the successor to Pink or Punk. These are the ur-parties of old that, some say, laid the solid foundation for what we do today. 

At least that's what we tell people who weren't at either one. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

5th Annual Pig Roast FAQ

Pig Roast? For real? In San Francisco?
YES! The Annual Rannels Family Pig Roast is our family’s celebration of all thing pork related. We roast a whole pig in our San Francisco back yard and serve it to several dozen of our friends, colleagues, and acquaintances; celebrating fellowship with all who attend.

Seriously... a whole pig?
Yes. 

How do you do that in your tiny back yard?
Like this! 



We roast the entire animal, all at once, in a device called a Caja China. Developed by some particularly motivated Miami Cubans, it not only cooks the meat perfectly, it also produces the crispy skin appreciated by people of refinement from Havana to Shanghai. It takes 4.5 hours and about 50 lbs of charcoal to do this. 

Neat! What can I bring?
You don’t have to bring anything other than your appetite: we'll have lots of protein, some basic sides, and the usual keg of Guinness and great big bottle of red wine flowing.

But I never come to a pig roast empty handed! 
That's not really a question, but we will let it slide. If you insist, you are welcome to bring a savory side dish to share or a bottle of wine. (We like red wine with the pork, but are equal opportunity wine drinkers.)  

Can I bring the kids?
Yes! Especially if they like pork!

Can I bring my dog?
Sorry, no. While our dogs - Indy and OOMA - are friendly and great with kids, it'd be rather problematic to have a new dog on the scene with all that pork around. Thanks for your understanding.

I’m vegetarian/vegan/keeping kosher/only eating halal meat these days. Is there anything for me at the Pig Roast?
We offer fellowship to all, and you are truly welcome to attend. But you may want to bring some of your own food to the festivities because, well, it is a pig roast.

We hope to see you there!




Sunday, March 24, 2013

Mission: Spare Ribs & BBQ Sauce

While we have officially broadened our scope, we sometimes like to revisit the Album. This time, we were inspired by the Venison Spare Ribs (and accompanying sauce). Since previous research indicated that we would have to buy venison by the case, we kept it simple with pork spare ribs. 

Oddly enough, we had everything on hand (including bourbon and grapefruit juice), except spare ribs and A-1. Easy enough to remedy!


We sliced the onions and flambéed! (Another reason this recipe looked fun. Who doesn't love to light things on fire?!?)


Added all the other stuff (except mustard). Cooked it down. Then blended it all together.



OMG. This sauce was uber delicious! Thick and sweet, with many a nuance. The recipe called for a very small amount of everything (likely enough to cover just the two racks of ribs recommended), so after tasting the first round, we QUADRUPLED the recipe. 'Cause it was that good. And would go well with chicken or other such bbq loving foods. While the list of ingredients was a bit long, this sauce was easy and a WINNER. Definitely destined to make it to the next pig roast!

Meanwhile, the ribs were boiled in chicken stock, with a bunch of veg.


We ended up with some delicious porky/chicken broth, and some cooked ribs.



When we were ready to eat, we slathered the sauce on the ribs, and broiled it up. (And yes, we served it with tater tots. That's how we roll.)



The ribs themselves were OK. We are not sure about the whole boiling method, but did not let that stop us from enjoying them all slathered up in our new favorite sauce! DELISH.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Easy Peasy Perfect Prime Rib for 3



We have been looking for the perfect prime rib recipe. Something perfectly medium rare, with a nice crust, that is easy to prepare... with a two year old running around. A set it and forget it recipe, if you will. Ideally, a recipe that could be applied to a big roast if we were having company, but that could also scale down to feed 3 people with minimal leftovers, if we were so inclined to have it for a nice family dinner.

This Boxing Day, we were so inclined. OK, so it was less about Boxing Day and more about us being too tired from returning from travel on Christmas Eve to actually shop, prep, and make something nice for Christmas! Fast forward one day, and we were ready to get our cook on again.

In the past, we've tried sous vide with a blow torch finish, which was an awesome end product, and met the easy recipe requirement (and really, who doesn't like to cook with a blow torch?!?), but quite honestly, all that time in the Food Saver bag (which is not officially designed for sous vide, and our contraption is nearing 8 years old), made me nervous that the seal would break we would end up with prime rib soup. Though Prime Rib Soup sounds like it has potential, we needed something slightly less anxiety causing.

So, after drooling over the Food Lab recipe for Perfect Prime Rib, we decided to give it a whirl on a smaller-than-suggested scale, with excellent results! It met the easy peasy requirements (salt, bake on low, rest, increase temp, bake more, eat), required minimal attention throughout the day, allowed for distractions by shiny objects, and came out lookin' evenly cooked like something from the HOPR (minus the zeppelin).

We purchased the smallest Choice rib roast we could find at Costco (a little over 7 lbs, 3 bones), and cut it into thirds (one bone, about 2+ lbs each), which gave us a hefty, but not unreasonable piece of meat. And at $8.99/lb, the price was somewhat reasonable for a fancy dinner for 3, with leftovers. The other two parts were food saved (an officially approved Food Saver use), and frozen for future use. The Prime rib roast was about 2x the cost, and looked amazing, but for now, we're rolling with Choice. Perhaps we'll upgrade someday when our money trees start to bear fruit, but until then, Choice was perfectly acceptable for our needs.   


The meat was salted, and put into a pan (initially a large saute, but then transferred to a smaller Corningware so it could be centered in the oven), and roasted at 170 convection (the lowest our oven will go). I would like to say I salted it 45 minutes in advance, and brought the meat to room temp first, but well, I didn't. I figured the low heat would be more forgiving on those sorts of things. The end product did not suffer because of my laziness. 


The meat roasted for about 4 hours, being checked for proper temp during the last hour to ensure we didn't over cook. 



Finally, we reached 120 (or 121 in our case). And we set it aside to rest for 30 minutes (which turned into an hour).



Then, we fired it for 10 minutes at ultra-uber-super-hot. And it crackled and spurted and made all kinds of delicious noises.



And TA-DA, it was done! A perfect medium rare with a crust to die for. Success! 



Now, to find recipes for the leftovers...

Friday, November 16, 2012

We're back!


...but a little different! 

It's been about four years since our last update.  While we have LOVED cooking from Chef Picard's delightful cookbook, we're broadening our horizons a bit. Working through the Album was a fabulous experience and we learned a lot about food and technique that we wouldn't have otherwise; wholly useful lessons we have brought forward into our everyday kitchen work.

Our new mission will still have a cochon focus, but may have a few other delicious proteins and tasty veg [gasp!] thrown into the mix. You just never know with us.

Come enjoy the ride!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Our Pig Roast - FAQ


What is this event all about?
The Pig Roast is our family’s autumnal celebration of S. scrofa domesticus. Annually, we acquire a whole, cleaned animal from a butcher. We roast it and serve it to several dozen of our friends, colleagues, and acquaintances; celebrating fellowship with all who attend.

Sounds pretty involved. Not that we don’t respect you, but are you really up for this kind of thing?
It is pretty involved. But we are more than up for it. There’s a lot of planning and there are many, many lists. This is our fifth year and our fourth pig (one year we did ribs instead) and every year is better than the last.

How do you prepare the pig?
We roast the entire animal, all at once, in a device called a Caja China. Developed by some particularly motivated Miami Cubans, it not only cooks the meat perfectly, it also produces the crispy skin appreciated by people of refinement from Havana to Shanghai. It takes several hours and about 50 lbs of charcoal to do this. 

Neat! What can I bring?
If you’d like, you can bring a savory side dish or a bottle of wine (we like red). But you don’t have to bring anything other than your appetite: we'll have lots of protein, some basic sides, and the usual keg of Guinness and great big bottle of red wine flowing.

Can I bring the kids?
Yes! Last year we about 10 kids to go along with the 40+ adults who attended – including our (now) three-some-odd year old, Vivienne. 

Can I bring my dog?
Sorry, but no. While our dogs - Indy and OOMA - are friendly and great with kids, it'd be problematic to have a new dog on the scene at the roast. Thanks for your understanding.

I’m vegetarian/vegan/keeping kosher/only eating halal meat these days. Is there anything for me at the Pig Roast?
We offer fellowship to all, and you are truly welcome to attend. But you may want to bring some of your own food to the festivities because, well, it is a pig roast.

Do you have an amusing anecdote revolving around pigs, the month of December, and Jacob’s "Czech" heritage?
Yes! Being a sensible people of taste and distinction, Czechs traditionally eat pork for their Christmas and New Year’s meals.  This practice is so common that that in the glorious and noble language of the Czech people, the word used for the month of December – Prosinec – literally translates to ‘slaughter of pigs’ in English.  Jacob, who’s very first dish cooked had a sausage component, and who would go on to become co-author of this very blog, feels a natural resonance with this, and is thrilled that this year's scheduled event falls in December.  (Note: Jacob is not actually Czech.)
A typical Czech family preparing a freshly slaughtered hog.
Note that we will NOT be slaughtering a pig at this year's roast.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

OOS: Return to Clambake Nation

Above: A rendering of the culinary nations of North America. Modern political borders are shown in white. Note that culinary nation borders are in a constant state of change, and that many of these nations overlap one another. Also note that smaller microstates exist within these greater areas (e.g., The Scrapple Republic of the Greater Philadelphia Metro and the Lebanon Bologna & Peanut Butter Free State of South Central Pennsylvania, to name just two), resulting in a patois of flavors and experiences, even in areas that are firmly within some larger nation. This graphic was originally produced for an article in the New York Times.

Imagine yourself in the rural, rolling hills of northern Lancaster county Pennsylvania. This is an area of traditional, small holding farmers and traditional small towns, and those hills that will give way to the blue ridges of the Appalachians to the west. It is a wholly bucolic place, but it is also a land of great conflict and difference. This is because northern Lancaster county happens to be the confluence of four different nations, each with its own tastes and traditions. From the North and West, Maple Syrup nation, sparsely represented but a real presence, following the rhythm of the seasons as they collect and process their harvest. From the South and West, Chestnut Nation, a mysterious gathering, who do battle with squirrels to collect the bounty of the mighty oak. To the South, stretching from the Chesapeake down the coast, Crabcake nation: a boisterous, welcoming people; well versed in the ways of the scuttling sea bugs, often as willing to eat a softshell on a bun as to go to the trouble of making a crabcake. These people are beer drinkers, boat sailors, friends, and neighbors. And from the east and north, the Clambake Nation. These are our people: our nation, our heritage, our tradition. We gather together to build fires and steam clams, to eat the best sweet corn on the planet, to consume mountains of cole slaw and piles of fresh tomatoes, and to - when it has all been eaten - follow it with a chaser of the butter we soaked our clams in during the meal.

These nations are not fixed, not separated by trenches or walls - no, the national borders are fluid, and as such a Clambaker could live next to a Maple Syrupian, an Chestnutter next to a Crabcaki. There are even some blended families; though for obvious reasons the sea-based nations are more likely to intermarry with one another than with a sylvan nation, and vice versa.

Now, while many of us are born into these nations, in the end nationality is an affiliation of choice. Some choose not to be a member of any one of them, preferring instead to enjoy them as we pick and choose. Some are members of tiny subnations, limited to a town or metro areas. Others gradually switch from one to another as time passes. And still others find themselves orphaned, and so they join a new nation, taking the traditions and tastes of others as their own.

This last way is how Jacob's family came to be proud citizens of the Clambake Nation. It was during the second world war, and due to a chronic health problem, Jacob's grandfather was unable to enlist. He was able to complete his patriotic duty building B-26's in Baltimore, however, and during this time he developed a taste for clams. Why he chose clams and not crabcakes is lost to history (though we suspect that the generous use of butter in clam eating had something to do with it), but no matter how it happened, to this day we annually gather from all points of the country to eat ungodly numbers of bivalves and renew our family ties once more.

Loyal readers know that we feel very strongly about food and fellowship. This is a core belief for both of us. For Jacob, this belief comes from many sources, but the annual gathering that his family refers to simply as "The Bake" is perhaps the primary font from which this passion flows. So today we're sharing a few moments from it with you, because as important as working through Chef Picard's opus is to us, at the end of the day this is how WE do it.

This is Pennsylvania, so we don't mis en place: we fill up our steamer. We start empty, adding a wooden bracket that keeps the food off the bottom of the steamer (and out of the water). Then we add potatoes, right out of the garden this morning:

Clambake: Step 1

And follow that with onions, from a roadside stand nearby:

Clambake, Step 2

Now, cover these sturdy things with a few layers of corn picked this morning:

Clambake, Step 3

Until the steamer is nearly filled:

Clambake, Step 3.5

Then, top it all off with about 12 quarts of clams:

Clambake, Final Step

And spread to even them out:

Clambake Finalization

Now, we add about 12 quarts of water, cover, and take to the firepit, which as been burning for some time now:

IMG_4990

While this is all steaming, we take the opportunity to melt a wee bit (about a gallon) of locally made butter:

A wee bit of butter

And to prepare side dishes (tomatoes, salads, cole slaw, and the like) for the onslaught.

After an hour or so over the fire (about halfway through we add brats to the mix), everything's ready so out they all come:

Coming out of the Bakery

Now we make sure to have the right beverage and "sauce" on hand:

IMG_4993

And then, we assemble our plates from the platters of goodness:

IMG_4976

And that, friends, is all there is to it. When everything turns out well (which everything did this year, and does most years) you end up with an orgy of flavors, freshness, and joy. The buttery goodness of the clams, the sweet pop of the corn, the tomatoes that have more to them than anything you'll find in the store, and a flood of other flavors and foods... and this year, the vegetable soup that starts the day's eating correctly (way to go Constance!).

Note to selves: Eat more clams.

Time, mis to eat: No real mis here. Time over the fire was about an hour; but there was a substantial amount of prep and harvest beforehand.

Blast from the past: A little more about him and her, in case you need context.

Next up: Tomato sauce! (Honest.)

P.S.: Special thanks to the entire Hagy clan for another wonderful, well-worth-the-trip, Clambake. See you in 2009!