By Seamus Muldoon, Himself
 Copyright © 1997- 2007
All Rights Reserved





          You are about to embark upon an exploration of a culinary resource like none you have ever experienced. What will be presented here is not a curriculum on culinary technology or methods, addressed in the main to pedestrian gastronomes. This material assumes that you have enjoyed a wide variety of culinary experiences, mostly as the guest/customer, and that you have also done a lot of cooking for yourself and friends and that you enjoy it a great deal. If you don’t really enjoy cooking, please go elsewhere, for you will not appreciate this course, these recipes, these commentaries, or be responsive to the interests that are represented in this work.

          This will always be a work in process. It will never be finished. You who come here at the beginning are perhaps being short changed, for it is yet meager in its bulk of material. But, if you enjoy what you find here, perhaps you will return and enjoy added material as it grows.

          If your sense of humor goes more to white bread and mayonnaise, you will not enjoy one moment in this course. If you are the kind of person who is rule oriented, your sensibilities will be offended on every page. This is for loosey-goosey kinda folks. To be certain, there are rules. There must be discipline. This material starts beyond discipline. It assumes that you already have the discipline and are merely looking for sensory stimulation.

          These are my recipes, but I didn’t invent/create any of these dishes. These are simply my touches added/subtracted from well known recipes that I have received from others. Consider them to be rhapsodies on themes of gastronomy.

          I cook the way I like so that the food tastes the way I like food to taste. I like my whole head to be full of flavor when I eat something. I don’t want to be searching for what anything tastes like. I’m not subtle and my food is not subtle. Therefore, the flavors here are very aggressive. They won’t make you sick or give you the runs or the cramps or anything like that. Based upon the reactions of friends who dine here, you may become addicted to my way of cooking. Many do. If you like it, please send me an e-mail telling me so. I love positive feedback. If you don’t like it, I really don’t want to hear about it. I already know that it isn’t for everyone, and I hate whiners.

          I use more olive oil and garlic than anyone I know. I almost never use butter.  I never use cream. Silken tofu works just like cream, even better, and it’s much better for your health. There is no sacrifice of flavor or texture when you use silken tofu, and it is full of isoflavons and all that good shit that you get from soy or flax seed products. If milk would smooth something out, like mashed potatoes, I use Coffee mate or Silk – a soy product, all vegetable. Same grand result. You can use Equal instead of sugar. Any time you can reduce or eliminate sugar, you are doing yourself a grand favor. When you are careful about things that you can be careful about without losing texture or flavor, you can splurge elsewhere – the occasional dessert pig out. I eat a lot of meat and lots of sausages. But, I get all the renderable fat out of it and drain off the fat rather than leave it in the pan to sauté onions et cetera. I drain off the grease and add back olive oil. That will make a big difference in your fat numbers over time. I love herbs. There is nothing like the smell of herbs being used in a kitchen – a roasting chicken with herbes de Provence or fresh basilico simmering for those last few moments in a sauce. I use a lot of Asian vegetables because they perform better in any sauté or soup. Instead of cabbages in a stir-fry, I use Gai Lan, because it has a more aggressive texture and flavor. Instead of spinach, I use Yu Choy, except in pasta dishes. I have all of south Asia at my doorstep, so everything is readily available. If you do not have that luxury, then you are just out of luck on some of these substitutions. I use Asian master stock. It is made of everything, beef, pork and chicken, all together. Chicken feet in a stockpot will give you a satiny finish to stock – wonderful. Seafood stock has to be separate from meat or a pure vegetable stock. The idea of beef stock, chicken stock, veal stock, all done separately, is simply pretentious nonsense and the product of French cooking. The Asian culture approach to stocks yields the very best flavors and textures.

          This is how I cook. You will enjoy it all the more if you develop your own cooking style and take liberties with every recipe you encounter, mine included. I hope you enjoy these recipes and the sarcastic commentaries that go with some of them.

          I do not believe there is any such thing as classical cooking. To me it started with the Egyptians and went in its best mode from them to the Greeks and to the Italians. The French have contributed nothing to gastronomy but pretentious nonsense, pomposity, and useless decoration. While I sometimes eat in a French restaurant, I would never wait for a table in one. It’s not worth it.








          For this recipe, you would do well already to have beans made – preferably a white bean/navy/great northern/lima.

          Prepare the soup in seasoned water/broth and then add rich asian master stock for satinizing its texture, near the end. (My Asian master stock is made with beef/pork/chicken/veal/whatever – extra chicken feet and chicken wing tips for a truly cartilaginous stock pot charge)

          The cotechino should be roasted in a 350 oven for 45-60 minutes, (internal temp of 165) then cut up as you serve this soup and added to each plate. You could stop at 45 minutes and add the cotechino to the pot for the last 15 minutes of simmering, but I like to render as much fat out of the cotechino as possible before it gets into the soup.



     1 Stewing hen – make the chicken broth with this before you begin this soup recipe – cut up the hen and include it in the soup about 30 minutes before the end

1        Pork butt

1        Cotechino sausage, roasted

1        Head of garlic

1        Large onion, rough chopped

2        –  4 Cups cooked white beans – added at the end of the simmering

Bouquet garni

2.5   – 3.5 quarts of chicken broth (If you add more water during cooking, always add cold water so that the soup does not become cloudy. If you decided, for example, to omit the potatoes or to substitute noodles for the potatoes, you would want the broth to be clearer, not clouded up.)

1        Large turnip peeled and cubed small

2        Leeks, white part and 1 inch of the green, thinly sliced

3        Large waxy potatoes, peeled and cubed

1        Head of savoy cabbage, cut up

1        Bunch of parsley, chopped (not the stems – you can use the stems in the chicken broth pot while you are simmering the chicken – good flavor)

After you have simmered the hen in seasoned and herbed water until it is done, cleaned that broth, cut up the chicken and reserved both the broth and the chicken, season and sear the pork butt in olive oil on all sides.

In the soup pot, sautee the onions/leeks/garlic, and then add the chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper. (I like to add a bay leaf or two also, but that’s optional.

Add the seared pork butt to the pot, and the bouquet garni.

Simmer for two hours, skimming when appropriate to keep the stock/broth “clean”. Gently stir every 30 minutes just to be sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Add the Master Stock.

Thinly slice the cabbage and add it to the pot with the potatoes – simmer for twenty minutes.

Add the beans and simmer for another 15 minutes.

Slice the cotechino and add it at the end.

Adjust seasonings.

Add chopped parsley at the end (optional but pretty)

Serve with crusty bread and copious amounts of wine.



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           This soup is another generic dish, common to every place on earth where people eat potatoes, greens and smoked sausages. If you have read the recipe and story of Froggie Wop Soup that appears earlier in this series, you will recognize the relationship at once. 

            This particular version of the dish is dedicated to the wonderful Czech people of Schulenberg, Texas. Schulenberg, Texas is a small town about half way between Houston and San Antonio that is a bit of the Czech Republic right here in Texas. There are a number of small towns like Schulenberg in that part of Texas where Czech culture still thrives, including the beautiful painted churches in towns with Czech names like Praha. Czechs have always made enormous contributions to the quality of life in America, and the many Czech I have met from this part of Texas are typical of the high level of quality that their culture brings to us.

            In the Iberian Peninsula version of this soup you would use a very garlicky Spanish or Portuguese sausage called a chorizo – different from Mexican chorizo. It is more of the Cantimpao sausage genre. And you would use Kale as the green leafy vegetable. And it might be called Caldo Gallego or Caldo Verde. In this recipe we will use a middle European smoked garlic sausage that was made by the folks at the City Market in Schulenberg, Texas, along with some of their thick sliced pepper bacon. Instead of Kale, we will be using any or all of collar greens, mustard greens and turnip greens. Each has different flavor notes, and you just use the one you like best, or use all three.

            This is fall or winter fare more than summer. It will fill you up, put a huge smile on your face and keep you warm for hours, from the inside. This and crusty bread constitute a veritable feast. You could serve a small salad before – not with – this soup, but it really is superfluous. If I saw, smelled a steaming bowl of this soup on the table and you were between the table and me, you would probably get trampled and end up in the hospital. Don’t get caught between a bowl of this soup and some Texas good old boy – you’ll get hurt bad.


2 qts chicken broth/stock (I make my broth first and simmer bay leaves, parsley stems and cilantro stems in it for about 20 minutes, and then strain it into the soup pot – I add 2 pints of my Asian master stock at that point for richness of texture in the soup)

2 bay leaves

A handful of cilantro and parsley stems

A handful of chopped parsley

6 medium potatoes, boiled and mashed with a little stock to make a rough slurry or paste

1 lb chopped and browned off smoked garlic sausage

2 medium onions and 2 leeks – white park only, all chopped

¼ lb thick bacon chopped and browned off

1 bunch of greens – collards, mustard, turnip – stems removed, washed and chiffonaded

1 head of chopped garlic

Salt, pepper and a tblsp of paprika or cayenne pepper

Some folks would put cream or milk in this soup. Not me. If you must have “creamy” soup, use silken tofu. It has no cholesterol or fat and it has important nutritional value. It will give you the same texture as cream.



Brown off the sausage and bacon and reserve.

In a clean large soup pot, sauté the onion and leeks in olive oil for about five minutes.

Add the garlic and sauté for another three minutes

Add the salt, pepper and paprika or cayenne pepper.

Strain the broth into the pot.

Add the stock to the pot.

Stir to blend.

Add the mashed potatoes, the sausage and the bacon

Simmer for a few minutes and add the chiffonade of greens.

Simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the chopped parsley and stir again.

Check and adjust seasonings.

Serve and eat. Some folks toast the crusty bread and put slices in the bottom of the soup bowl and serve the soup over the bread. That’s fine if you like it that way. If you’re going to do that, brush olive oil and sprinkle salt on the bread before toasting.

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          There are many versions of Mystery Meat Soup. Hell, there are many versions of any and every soup/stew/porridge/ragout. Every culture, and every locale that has even a scintilla of culture, and every person who can plausibly call their own self a cook, has a recipe such as this one. It has frequently been called refrigerator soup, inasmuch as it is something delicious to do with whatever has accumulated in the fridge that you must now either cook and eat or throw out because it is right at its drop dead date. There are two basic platforms for this soup. One is a beef based broth, when the principal meat ingredients are going to be beef. The other is a chicken based broth, when the principal meat ingredients will be chicken and/or pork/ham scraps. I am going to give you this recipe in its chicken incarnation. The only real change when you do it in its beef incarnation is that you can use beef sausage instead of pork sausage or a pork blend sausage. In this version, I prefer to use Cotechino sausage, a Northern Italian Salumeria product that is almost impossible to get in the USA. You can get it from Dean and DeLuca in New York City (though you have to call the store – not the phone order folks – to get it), and from Molinari in San Francisco (also by phone, as it is not in their mail order/on line order program either). If you can’t get Cotechino, go ahead and use Italian sausage or fresh bratwurst sausage that you have broken up and pan fried.

          It helps a lot –a very large lot – if you keep a rich stock supply on hand that you can add to your broths for enrichment. I keep a constant supply of my own fresh Asian master stock, and my soups are velvety finished pools of loveliness that caress your olfactory senses as a lover caresses the object of his most ardent desires - tender and delicious.



Small pieces of already cooked meat – and small pieces of sausage – about a half cup of each for each person to be served. If the sausage is smoked, chop it into pieces and sauté it anyway to get it crispy edged.

1 Quart of broth for two people

2 cups of stock for two people

2 California bay leaves

Handfull of parsley, chopped rough

1 tsp thyme leaves

pinch of oregano or chopped tarragon

1 Carrot for each person to be served

1 Celery rib for each person to be served.

1 Rough chopped onion

1 Bunch of leeks, white and little of the green part

½ Bell pepper, chopped, per portion

1 Potato for each person to be served, peeled and cut into little cubes

2 Cloves of garlic for each person to be served, sliced

Salt and Pepper to taste

Chopped parsley, sufficient to the quantity of soup you are making.

If you have leftover beans, put some in the soup five minutes before it’s done.

          I assume that you will be making enough of this soup to consume the about-to-die “stuff” in your fridge. That may be enough for God-knows-how-many people. Just multiply the per person ingredient quantities in the list to accommodate the totality of the soup project that you are about to make.  


I recommend that you put the onion(s), leeks, carrots, celery and bell pepper in a food processor and pulse it to a fine chop. This minced aromatics mixture together with the bay leaves, is then sautéed in olive oil for about ten minutes, adding rough chopped garlic at the end of the sauté.

To this you add the broth and the stock. Simmer, skimming any undesirables that may rise to the top, for about an hour. Add the diced potatoes, the meat and the chopped parsley. Simmer another half hour. Remove the bay leaves and discard.

Serve with crusty bread and vino, and maybe a small salad.


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           Irish cooking is an oxymoron. You boil the bejaysus out of everything in the ice box just before it spoils and you have to throw it out. And of course your kitchen and your whole house smell like boiled garbage for several days until the ambient wind direction changes. 

          But if you make rich stocks, and you use food while it is still fresh, you can transform some Irish traditional dishes into a meal too good to waste on any bloody priest - may God rot the lot.

           This is one of those moments.


1 gallon of rich neutral master stock that is flavored with chicken broth.

2 pounds (or whatever you get in the package) corned beef, trimmed of fat and cut into very small pieces

2 pounds of ham, trimmed of fat and cut into very small pieces

½ pound smokey bacon – not American bacon, but a European bacon, chopped

2 large onions, chopped

1 bag of parsnips, peeled and chopped

1 bag of carrots, peeled and chopped

The top five inches off a fresh celery bunch, leaves and all, chopped

3 pounds of potatoes, peeled and cut into small pieces, except for three or four that remain peeled but whole

The top four inches of a fresh bunch of parsley, chopped- stems and all

Salt and pepper to taste

3 teaspoons chopped dill

1 pound of Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered and blanched separately in salted water

½ pound of Stilton cheese, crumbled

4 cans of Campbell’s cream of chicken soup



          Sauté the bacon until browned. You should not get a lot of rendered fat off this bacon, so just add the onions and sauté until they are translucent. If you do use American bacon, throw out the fat in the pan before proceeding to the second step and add some olive oil.

          Add the carrots, parsnips and celery and sauté for another few minutes, stirring it all together.

          Add salt and pepper – first layering of seasoning.

          Add the stock and broth mixture and stir.

          Add the meats and potatoes. Simmer for 30 minutes.

          Remove the whole potatoes and mash them. Return the mashed potatoes to the stew and stir it around to smooth it out. Simmer for another 30 minutes.

          Add the contents of the Campbell cream of chicken soup concentrate and stir to smooth it out. Simmer for 10 minutes.

          Check and correct the seasoning.

          Add the chopped parsley and the dill and simmer for another 15 minutes.

Place the trimmed, quartered and cooked Brussels sprouts  (4 pieces per bowl) in the bottom of each soup/stew bowl and add the stew over the top of them.

Serve with crusty bread. Serve the crumbled Stilton cheese separately and let folks add it as they choose, or not.


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It is Springtime. Everything is beautiful here. I wish that everyone in the world could sit with me in my garden and experience the new bursts of hope that are expressed in every flower and herb and tree and bush – and enjoy the vino and the conversation and the humor and the music. If you can see God in the garden, hear God in the music, sense God in the burgeoning tumescence and fecundity of nature, and be grateful to God for all the beauty and grace, then you would absolutely love joining me in the garden..

For you who might appreciate what I am talking about, I have a present that will enhance the conviviality of this garden society. It is my Springtime olive oil.

This infusion of loveliness is perfect for hot crusty bread, and, with the addition of fresh lemon juice and salt, is a perfect springtime salad dressing.

You should make at least a pint of this at a time. It will go fast. If you gave a pint of this to anyone, they would love you to bits. In its container it looks like spring. It invites. It has lots of WOW.


The leaves from at least three stalks of fresh oregano, just picked from the garden.

A dozen or so rather good sized leaves of basilico, just picked from the garden.

One head of garlic, peeled.

One tablespoon of cracked red pepper.

The zest of one lemon.

Two ounces each of parmigiano reggiano and asiago cheese.

A dozen grinds of coarse black pepper.

Extra virgin olive oil to fill the jar.


Chop/mince together the herbs, garlic, lemon zest and cracked red pepper and put it into the jar.

Chop/mince the cheeses together and put that also into the jar.

Add the black pepper.

Add the olive oil.

Leave the closed jar out all day for the flavors to conjoin in an absolutely sexual liaison.

To use this in a salad dressing, scoop out two tablespoons of the solids and a few tablespoons of the olive oil (replenish the olive oil in the jar).

Add salt and fresh lemon/lime juice and some chopped olives/olivata and mix together.

You could also scoop out some of the solids and spread it on fresh flatbread/pita, Add more/different cheeses and olivata across the top (and some anchovies if you like them. Bake for five minutes in a very hot (at least 450 degree) oven.

You could just rub some of the olive oil on each other as foreplay.


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         This recipe assumes that you always roast more meat(s) than you could possibly consume at the meal for which you are roasting them. You do this so that you will always have an inventory of delicious roasted meats to include in other meals and recipes. If you stingily roast only enough for current consumption, please don’t bother with this recipe, as you won’t have sufficient ingredients anyway.

          One should think in terms of one’s “pantry”. Every chef has a pantry that is specialized to the practices of that particular chef. It contains an inventory of that chef’s favorite seasonings and flavoring aids. It is the chef’s personal ensemble of grace notes from which the gastronomic melodies are composed. It is also the underlying chords that provide background for those grace notes. The artistic playing of that instrument, the pantry, by someone of exquisite talent, is what equates to great meals. To be sure, it requires appropriate company. The greatest of meals will be dross if one shares it with the wrong person.

          Insalata Belindanetta is one such dish. It is something that is available because the day before you had a grand roast/grill/bake/sauté, the products of which remain in abundance afterwards.



          Chiffonade of romaine lettuce (according to the number of people you are serving) – assume a small amount per person – less that your typical salad which is based primarily upon lettuce. Prep the lettuce and refrigerate it wrapped in paper toweling until needed.

          Separately, combine chopped tomatoes, minced red onion, minced pickled Italian pepperoncini, capers and chiffonaded basilico, dressed in a seasoned stravirgine olive oil and left to macerate at room temperature for two hours at least. The olive oil seasoning can be a commercial  olive oil seasoning preparation, coupled with crushed fresh garlic, cracked red pepper, bay leaves, a spice mix preparations such as Belinda Blend or some commercial spice mix that some celebrity chef sells under his/her name. The oil should marinate these herbs and spices for a few days before it will be ready for use.

          Julienne the several roasted meats that are left over from last night’s dinner.


Toss the lettuce in a simple red wine vinaigrette made from the seasoned olive oil, Belinda Blend or equivalent spice, and red wine vinegar.

Add the tomato mix to the tossed lettuce.

Add the meat to the salad and toss everything together.

Serve assorted olives as a side dish.

Serve with crusty bread and your favorite wine.

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          I have friends from and in Chile. Chile is now – but who knows for how long – the California of South America – climate, geographic position, topography – all well suited for viticulture – picturesque – possessed of ever potentiality of natural beauty for the development of sports and tourism – if only they can maintain a stable government. Our policy toward Chile was owned by copper mining and smelting companies for many years – just as our policy toward so many South and Central American countries was owned by banana companies and other companies that dealt in whatever resources those countries may have had. The companies sponsored thugs governments that lived on bribery and provided no democratic potentialities or opportunities. The natural consequence of that kind of policy is an oppressed, abused population that turned to communist leadership or any other kind of leadership and revolted. To protect these companies’ business interests, we supported the petty dictators. We lost. The communists won. The Commies wrecked everything in every country they took over. Right wing revolts then overthrew the Commies and cleaned house with military “justice” – death squads – wholesale executions, people disappearing by the thousands with no due process. Chile went through this entire cycle. Consequently, its economy and resources are just now coming into the mid twentieth century, and free trade opportunities abound with the promised stability of democratic institutions.

          Chile’s wine production is about to become world class in quality. It is following the example set by the Australians. Chilean wines are occasionally excellent and are great bargains. Chilean gastronomy is a treasure trove of delight. As this cooking resource develop, we will have many more Chilean recipes, year by year.

          This recipe is for a simple and delicious salad dressing as prepared by Chileans friends at a dinner held in a Houston apartment of a Chilean ex-pat. I learned many things that evening from some extremely delightful people, including the fact that Chilean women refer to a penis as “el pajarito” – the little bird. The ingredients and preparation are simplicity personified.


1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp freshly ground pepper

2 garlic cloves, minced

The juice of three limes

The rough chopped leaves of a half bunch of fresh cilantro


Mash the salt, pepper and garlic to a paste.
Mix in the cilantro

Add the limejuice and stir

Add appropriate extra virgin olive oil slowly in a thin stream as you whik it into a proper emulsion.

The host that evening soaked yellow onions in ice water for a half hour, drained them and put them into the dressing with fresh cut tomatoes, letting all this get married in the bowl, adding the lettuce at the last minute. The salad was out of this world. Add more salt, pepper, garlic and cilantro as you may like.


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           There is a traditional and exquisitely delicious dish called tabouli – everyone has eaten it – it you haven’t had any you aren’t qualified to be here anyway. The couscous is a grain or cereal like consistency, shape, look, taste. There is a Palestinian version of it make with tiny pasta balls about the size of a BB or of the smallest shot that comes in a shot gun shell. This product is called Maful. You simmer it for 10 – 12 minutes in seasoned broth – I use Harissa in the broth in addition to whatever herbs and other seasonings. It gets a little bigger and comes to be al dente. Then you drain it – run it through cold water – drain it again – spread it on paper toweling to dry and fully cool. It is then added to the salad mixture that you will see below and combined.

          If you shop in a normal Middle East store it may be called Maful. If you shop in a store where there is a significant Jewish clientele, they will call it Israeli couscous. It isn’t really couscous, and it certainly isn’t Israeli. As an example of ethnic bullshit, Israelis call falafel – a terrible stomach clogging fried grain ball concoction, worse than being poked in the eye with a sharp stick, that they eat all the time – by its right name, falafel – certainly Arabic. Why would anyone with even a scintilla of insight into logical linguistics call falafel falafel and refuse to call maful maful – they eat both with equal enthusiasm. When ethnic bullshit is allowed to intrude into gastronomy, things have simply gone too far.

          This recipe is really a fusion recipe. The concept of the dish is definitely Middle East/North Africa. The grace notes that I have added are definitely Italian and Brazilian/Argentinean.

          You must have/know how to make olivata and chimichuri. If you don’t know how or can’t readily buy them, forget about going farther with this recipe.

          When this Maful is completed, and has rested for an hour at room temperature, been gently re-stirred and then rested in the fridge for another hour, you simply put a serving of it in the middle of a plate and surround it with Small chopped tomatoes and lettuce that has been dressed with lemon juice/olive oil/salt/pepper dressing – lado limono. And you eat it with bread or pita. Wine pairing would definitely be a cool – not cold – white. I would have a sauvignon blanc, a Gavi di Gavi or a Robola myself.

          I strongly suggest that you enjoy this with people who are very animated – who talk profusely and gesticulate about everything. Don’t ask why – just do it. This is not for somber company. Cheeses can be served as accoutrements or grated/shredded in the dish itself or on the lettuce and tomatoes. Additional olives of various sorts may be served as a side as well. I love olives, so they are ubiquitous in my gastronomy. Olives, bread and strong coffee are my customary breakfast.


4 cups dried maful simmered in seasoned chicken broth, drained, cool rinsed, drained again, and spread on paper toweling too dry a bit and cool off – reserve.
10 cups broth for the simmering – seasoned with 2 California bay leaves and Harissa or sambal olek.

2 bunches green onions sliced thin, including about an inch or so of the green part

2 cups olivata, including whatever oil you get from the olivata bottle when you take the olivata out

1.5 cups chimichuri

2 bags cherry tomatoes, sliced in halves – or 5 roma tomatoes chopped

2 cucumbers, peeled and chopped

2 tblspns spice blend or salt/pepper/paprika/cayenne/grated lemon zest

1 med purple onion, chopped small dice

2 cups blended parmiggiano/feta cheese – grated/shredded/small crumble on the feta (optional)


Blend all ingredients except the maful and the tomatoes – serve the tomatoes with the lettuce surrounding the maful in center of the plate

Gently stir in the maful

Let rest at room temperature for one hour, covered with plastic wrap – stir gently at 30 minutes and again at one hour before you put it in the fridge.

Refrigerate for one hour.

After you have enjoyed this, you will think of other things that would be excellent accompaniments to the dish – make the salad a bit more horiatico with bell peppers and/or pepperoncini, and numerous other touches of your own divination.


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6        slices pancetta

½       cup olive oil

1        bay leaf

1        onion, chopped small or minced , or three shallots

1        head of garlic, chopped small

1        carrot, grated

1        large can whole tomatoes

1        bunch parsley, tops only, chopped fine

2        cups white wine

1        fistfull of basil, chiffonaded

    salt, pepper, cracked red pepper to taste

Sautee chopped pancetta and bay leaf in olive oil for two minutes – remove and reserve the pancetta.

Sautee onions, carrot for three minutes – Add garlic and sautee two minutes longer.

Add the white wine and simmer five minutes to reduce.

Hand crush the tomatoes and add them to the pot.

Add the seasonings and parsley (not the basil) and the reserved pancetta, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Check for taste and adjust seasonings – then add the basil and simmer for 5 minutes.

Serve over pasta and add combination of three cheeses (parmigiano, asiago, romano)


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If you make this dish competently, it should – at least the first few times – be made only for two – you and your lover. As soon as you are done eating this dish, you are going to get your brains fucked out. That’s why it’s called CFM Sauce.


A few slices of pancetta or other European (Hungarian is great) bacon cut into small pieces

Olive oil for sautéing

2 heads (yes, heads) of garlic

6 whole, peeled cippolini – if you can’t get it leave it out – don’t substitute anything for cippolini

2 stems each (leaves only) of fresh rosemary and oregano, and at least 15 leaves of basilico

Chicken broth (canned is ok) for cooking the pasta

Pepper to taste (There’s probably enough salt already from the pancetta and the broth)

1 can of stewed tomatoes rough chopped (pulsed in a processor) – Get a small processor for smaller jobs – If you are a lily gilder, you could peel fresh tomatoes and chop them up so this. If you are adept at peeling a tomato so that the skin comes off in a spiral cut all in one piece that can then be rolled together to look like a rose, your baby will be impressed.

Cappelini sufficient for two portions (generous portions)


Chop – all together – the peeled garlic and all the fresh herbs – the infusion achieved by chopping them together is enough to convince you always to do this.

Rough pulse chop the tomatoes

Sautee the pancetta and then remove the pancetta – it will not be in the sauce – you are only looking for flavor here

Sautee the whole cippolini on both sides until they are slightly burnt – darkly colored

Add the tomatoes and the herbs-garlic and sautee for about three minutes, stirring it in thoroughly

Add half a cup to three fourths cup of the broth and simmer for about the time it takes to cook the pasta to almost done – the broth should be ready to cook the pasta in when you add broth to the sauce.

Finish cooking the pasta in the sauce.

Serve cheese on the side – this sauce will get you laid without any cheese.

Don’t drink too much, because you are going to have to get it up right after the meal. If you are very young, you probably don’t have to worry about getting it up after dinner and vino and a few drinks, in which case you can ignore this last instruction.


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Stracotta is a concept, not a recipe. To me it epitomizes that catalyst that brings the smile of delight, the rolling around of the eyes, the gesticulations that signify gastronomic nirvana – in the Italian manner. Stracotta is what God Almighty puts on her own bucatini, after it has been tossed in a little warm butter. It is so exquisite that it is a damn shame that one must have a written recipe, as it should spring directly from inspiration rather than from following instructions

There is Stracotta. There is your Stracotta. There is your mamma’s Stracotta. There is Stracotta from this or that specific locale. This is my Stracotta.

I really don’t even expect anyone to make this. It’s just too lengthy a project for any but the true seekers of ultimate palatal gratification. I don’t even know what the real/literal meaning of Stracotta is. I think that it means extra cooked, kinda like Stravirgine would refer to extra virgin first cold pressed olive oil of Tuscan origin. Extra in this context obviously does not mean cooked to bloody death. Rather, it signifies, at least to me, that so many things are cooking here all together and at the same time. That is somewhat the description of any stew or ragu, and this is some abstraction of a stew or a ragu. But it is dimensionally beyond stew or ragu. It is what I might think to prepare if God were to summon me to the top of some mountain for a one on one conference about all things of ultimate significance, and in the course of the discussion, God and I would like dinner to be served. I strongly believe that God also realizes that the best food on this planet is Italian, and that gastronomy has never had a better expression than in the Italian culture.

Oh well, let’s get started here. The first thing we will need is a stock made from smoked ham hocks and smoked pork neck bones. Eight smoked hocks and two packages of smoked neck bones are to simmer with an onion stuck with a few cloves, several bay leaves and the stems from a bunch of Italian parsley for four hours. You do this in a very large pot, as you will want at least a quart or more of this ham hock/neck bone stock to include in the sauce. When it is done, remove and cool the hocks and neck bones and pick out the meat, discarding the bones and remaining fat and cartilage. This meat will be put into the sauce also. Strain the stock and either use it then and there or put it into the fridge, covered. It will set up like a very firm gelatin, but that will liquefy when incorporated into the sauce pot. It will have a magnificent texturizing effect upon the sauce, and will provide a body to it that you cannot duplicate using any other ingredients.

While you are simmering this stock, season a large pork shoulder butt and roast it to an internal temperature of about 110 degrees – nowhere near done. This will then be placed into the simmering sauce in one piece, along with any juice from the bottom of the roasting pan, to stew in the sauce until completion. If the roasting pan lacks juices, but has burnt on residue from the roasting, deglaze the pan with a little wine, red or white makes no difference, and add that to the sauce as well. I almost always use dry vermouth to deglaze or when wine is called for in any recipe. I keep a bottle of Cinzano dry vermouth in the fridge all the time for that purpose. You could try using sweet Marsala in this recipe for the sugar effect. When making tomato sauce one uses sugar (I use sugar substitutes like Equal or Splenda). This compensates for the acid in the tomatoes. The more you tend to use sweet Marsala to deglaze, the less other sweeteners you need to offset the acidic characteristics of the tomatoes. I simply abhor sugar and avoid its use whenever possible. It is probably the worst single ingredient you can use in anything from a health maintenance perspective. The pork shoulder butt will also add body to the sauce as well as great flavor. When the sauce is done, you will remove the pork butt and take the meat from it, cutting it into pieces about twice the size of what you would normally consider appropriate for a stew. These pieces of meat will return to the sauce, and you will discard the bones, fat and connective tissue that remains.

Also, while you are simmering the stock, you will season and sear a piece of beef chuck at least three pounds in weight. Let it rest in one piece, reserved, until you get to the point at which the sauce is simmering. You will then add this beef in one piece, with accumulated juices in the plate in which it rested, to the simmering sauce, just as you did the pork butt, and it will braise in the sauce as well. Likewise, when the sauce is done, you will remove the beef chuck and cut the meat into similarly sized pieces, returning that meat to the sauce and discarding the removed fat and connective tissue.

None of this meat will present any problems of excess fat or grease in the sauce, as you will be skimming excess fat and grease from the sauce from time to time while it cooks.

A word about mirepoix. How rough or fine one chops/minces mirepoix is sometimes a matter of taste concerning the texture of what a mirepoix is intended to do, and sometimes just nonsensical bullshit. Often a coarse chopped mirepoix will be reduced by using an immersion blender in the final sauce product. In making any Sunday gravy type of sauce, I never use an immersion blender because I want different tomato textures in the end product. Accordingly, I put the mirepoix into a food processor before it goes into the oil to be sautéed. What goes into the pot to be sautéed as the mirepoix is a rather finely minced assortment of aromatic vegetables. This is just how I do it. You do it as you like.

I have provided at the end for a Gremolata. This nuance is customary when making Ossi Bucchi, but as a lily gilding grace note, I use it here. It’s great in this dish. That is why parsley is not included in the list of herbs to be used while simmering the sauce during the main cooking period.

You need a very large pot, preferable a Dutch oven oval roasting pot/pan that has a capacity of at least two gallons, preferably three. If will cover two burners if you have the right pot.

Ok. Now we are ready to think about making this baby.


2  lbs hot/spicy Italian sausage – either bulk or removed from their casings and broken into bite size pieces.

A mirepoix of three carrots, rough chopped; two large onions, rough chopped; two green and two red bell peppers, rough chopped; and the top five or six inches of a fresh bunch of celery, with the leaves, rough chopped. This goes into the food processor and pulsed to a fine mince.

1 lb sliced crimini mushrooms – white mushrooms will do if crimini are not available

1 head of garlic, rough chopped

4 – 5 teaspoons Equal (sugar substitute – don’t use anything with cyclamate in it)

Italian herbs – oregano, thyme, rosemary (chop the rosemary leaves), and fresh California bay leaves

You already know about the beef chuck and the pork butt, right? And you know to rub them with a spice mix blend before roasting or searing, as the case may be, right?

1     large institutional can of peeled whole tomatoes – that you break apart with your hands so that you can feel like you are a real Italian cook, with the juice.

1     large institutional can of crushed tomatoes

1     large institutional can of tomato sauce

2     medium cans (3 small cans) tomato paste

3     cups white wine

1     quart of the stock

Salt and pepper to taste, plus cracked red pepper to taste


Zest (yellow part only) grated off three lemons; one head of garlic, peeled; three handfuls of fresh basil leaves; and at least one bunch of fresh Italian parsley leaves. (I would already have removed the tough bottom stems – below where the leaves start – and used those to flavor the stock. The stems where the leafy part of the parsley is I just throw into the food processor and pulse with the other gremolata ingredients.



Put olive oil in the pot to cover the bottom and add two fresh bay leaves, whole. Gently sauté the bay leaves for a minute or two, and then add the Italian sausage. Sauté the sausage till about done. Remove the sausage and reserve it.

Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté them for about five minutes.

Add the mirepoix from the food processor and sauté it for ten minutes.

Add the chopped garlic and sauté for another three minutes or so.

Add salt and pepper and the cracked red pepper – the first seasoning layer.

Add the tomato paste and stir it around to incorporate it into the mirepoix. Sauté it for a few minutes to caramelize some of the natural sugars.

Add the white wine and stir. Simmer this for 10 - 15 minutes to reduce the wine.

Add the tomatoes and juice that you broke up with your hands. Then add the crushed tomatoes and the tomato sauce. Stir.

Add the stock and stir.

Add the Italian herbs and stir.

Add back the sausage and the meat from the hocks and neck bones.

Add 4 – 5 teaspoons of Equal to the sauce and stir.

Add the pork butt and juices and the beef chuck roast and juices. Gently stir to assure that the meats are submerged into the sauce, and simmer everything very slowly for about two hours, stirring occasionally.

If you find that there is not enough room in the pot for everything, remove some of the sauce and reserve it. The long simmering will reduce the sauce remaining in the pot, making room for you to add back the excess sauce later.

When the main simmering period is complete, remove the pork butt and the chuck roast. Cut these into pieces about two or three times the size of what you would consider bite size, discarding bones, fat and connective tissue. Return this meat to the pot.

Taste and correct seasonings.

Ten minutes before serving, add the gremolata that has been processed in the food processor and stir it in.

Of course you will taste it again just before service. You and your guests will probably have been dipping pieces of bread into the sauce and tasting it that way for the last hour at least. No one can resist it.

I assume that you know what shapes of pasta you like and that you know how to cook it. Toss it in butter before plating it and adding the Stracotta to it.

That sauce, with the meats over that pasta will make it clear to you that there is a wonderful and generous God who loves you a great deal. Don’t forget to give thanks. 

You will be so totally into this meal that you may well expect to get some of it on your shirt or in your lap, no matter how fastidious you might ordinarily be. To avoid the food stains on your clothing, you can either wear some sort of bib or eat in the nude. I prefer the latter.


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          You frequently encounter my use of cotechino in various recipes. Cotechino is so rarely used in America that it is almost impossible to find. I use it frequently and have only been able to find it in San Francisco and New York City. I like the cotechino from New York best, as it has more of the authentic taste of the traditional Modenese product that comes to us from the 16th century, when the armies of Pope Julius II besieged Modena, and the locals survived on pigs from which they made sausages, the descendants of which we now know as cotechino  or zampone. Of course they had to beat the soldiers to the pigs first, as foraging was the principal manner in which the ranks obtained sustenance. Zampone is the same sausage, but zampone is stuffed into the skin of a pig’s trotter and comes looking like a stuffed pig’s foot, which it is.

Foraging is a polite word for stealing, and stealing from the locals was one of the important ways in which armies fed themselves back before MREs and field catering by Haliburton Corporation. To be sure, ancient armies did include live farm animals brought along. However, most of the better provender was reserved for officers, and the ranks had to make do with theft. Similarly, it was the practice for camp followers/women to be brought along for sex. They too were largely reserved for officers, and the ranks had to make do with raping local women as they went along. And, as battles ebbed and flowed, back and forth, the women of the area would be alternately assaulted by one group of soldiers and then the other in their turn. It was largely in this manner that gene pools remained diverse and the double recessive diseases of inbreeding were kept in control. Conflict being so frequent in those wonderful days of Knights and Popes and Princes, going about doing the heroic feats that are described in great books about the period, operas and poems, Europe was kept genetically healthy through itinerant rapine.

In those days, a battle or a war might only involve a few hundred or a few thousand combatants. There would be a different  “ruler” every fifty miles or so, always suspicious of the plotting and scheming going on amongst the sycophants at his court, and acute paranoia caused by the belief that the “ruler” down the way just a bit had his spies in one’s court stirring up some simmering potion of opportunistic betrayals. Rarely did conflicts involve great armies traveling great distances for some military purpose of empire scale. By and large, it was some local bozo keeping the neighboring bozo down.

But there were dynastic conflicts, as the dementia of local rulers was not different from that of “great” rulers except in grandiosity. The petty narcissistic tyrant’s constant angst and the “great” narcissistic tyrant’s constant angst were but concentric circles of dementia, especially amongst the Italians and the French.

One need look no further than the writings of Tacitus, the Dan Rather of his day, who recorded for posterity the deeds, thoughts and inclinations of the ruler he most despised, locally known at the time as Caesar Augustus. At the Augustinian level of paranoia, it would be a crime against the ruler, lese-majesty it was then called, if a conquered town were to raise a monument to those of its citizens who had perished in defense of the city. The mere solicitation of local support to raise a war memorial was considered to be a revolutionary act. Thus, Caesar Augustus, formerly known as Octavius Caesar, having himself laid siege to Modena, took measures against those who would sponsor or even suggest such a monument. At his level of craziness, it was also a crime to remove one’s pants at night without searching his pockets and removing any coin having the image of Caesar on it, for taking off your pants and leaving Caesar’s image in the pocket was an act of lese majesty.  Writing a poem that could be interpreted in two ways, one of which might seem to express some dissatisfaction, was also a crime. A revolutionary crime was committed, and large numbers of people where whipped to shreds, sent off to the mines, torn apart by animals, or cut in half, for failing to invoke the divine inspiration of Caligula upon the undertaking of any civic task or project.

Under Nero, if you failed to show joy at the death of a friend or a relative at the hands of the government, you were subject to prosecution. And prosecution then and there was somewhat unlike prosecution nowadays. You were expected on such an occasion cheerfully to render homage to the gods.

Everyone gave homage to the tyrant. You feared being known as a popular person, for you would be seen as a rival to the prince, just waiting to spark a civil war. And if you shunned popularity and remained quietly at home by the fire, this made you notable and respected, and therefore suspicious.

If you were rich you were suspect of corrupting the people through your generosity and were considered suspicious. And if poor, you must be watched all the more closely, as there is no more opportunistic a person than he who has nothing.

Being somber made you suspicious, as it was deemed that the status quo of society was unsatisfactory to you.

Thus was the Italian peninsula ruled for centuries. And Modena was frequently the subject of siege. It was some distance from Rome, from being immediately under the thumb of the Pope. The Medici Popes were from Florence, no admirers of the panjandrums of Milan and Parma and Mantua.

And again in the early sixteenth century, Pope Julius II laid siege to it. It was in that conflict that cotechino made its debut upon the stage of gastronomy, in the nearby town of Mirandola. According to the writings of the eyewitness, the local physician, Dr. Marco Cesare Nannini, the townsfolk had to use their wits to survive, and began to encase pork in pigskin, creating what is now known as cotechino or zampone. Cotechino and zampone began displacing the local traditional Modenese sausages, and became the hallmarks of the Modenese gastronomic tradition. As food production, especially with regard to sausages, became more industrialized and less a craft industry, cotechino and zampone spread across the country to Rome and achieved a substantial reputation.

Cotechino and zampone sausages are traditionally made from cured meat blends of pork obtained from striated muscle fibres, pork fat, pigskin and seasonings. They must be easy to slice. The interiors are mottled pinkish red to red in color. The meat mixture is close textured and uniform in consistency. The zones in which cotechino and zampone are made include the provinces of Modena, Ferrara, Ravenna, Rimini, Forli, Bologna, Reggio Emilia, Piacenza, Cremona, Lodi, Pavia, Milan, Varese, Como, Lecco, Bergamo, Brescia, Mantua, Verona and Rovigo.

For this extensive tour de force on the subject, I happily acknowledge Tacitus and The Instituto Salumi Italiani Tutelati as my sources.

The more insightful amongst you might wonder why in hell I am presenting all this historical commentary and trade fair kind of bullshit. It doesn’t inform you of where to get the product, how to prepare it and with what to serve it. The most traditional dish would probably be Lentils and Cotechino, the recipe for which should easily be found just by searching lentils recipes. I always roast cotechino for about forty-five minutes, to an internal temperature of about 145 degreed F, and then let is rest before slicing it. I would never boil it or cook anything in a broth with raw cotechino, as I won’t put that much saturated fat into any dish. Adding the roasted cotechino at or near the end provides a wonderful dish without daring your arteries to clog.

I guess that I love the Italians so much that I even derive great pleasure from their quirks, and that is my excuse for foisting all this bullshit on you in this article. Part of the motivation has to be that we just received a very large shipment of cotechino from Dean & DeLuca and are going to enjoy some of it tonight in a Thanksgiving clear turkey broth soup with light veggies, herbs and noodles. YUM!!! Sausages and government have always been linked. Otto Von Bismark, Chancellor of Germany, was noted to have said, “If you like the laws and if you like sausages, never go where either is made”.


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          It takes a very special kind of person to think of meatballs as objects of homage. To me the meatball, in its infinite varieties and its unlimited cultural contexts, is a vastly underappreciated delight.

          The meatball is comedically associated with the dullard. It represents something peasant-like, heavy, crude, undistinguished, not to be eaten in the company of people who count – whoever they hell they may be. Meatheads eat meatballs. People who harbor such idiotic notions overestimate their own significance. People who disdain meatballs should never be trusted with anything of value. People who think themselves above meatballs are flawed, insecure, retaliatory, petty assholes who, by and large, ought to have the shit slapped out of them regularly.

          The meatball’s problem is that it too infrequently is considered by the really good cook, and all too frequently mass produced from the cheapest pseudo ingredients, responsive to budgets insufficient to provide good food. The concept of the meatball in the hands of a really good cook, especially a really good cook with an active imagination and catholic tastes, is sublime.

          The people who make great meatballs are the really wonderful people of the earth. They are, in the main, Southern Italians, Germans, Middle and Eastern European “ordinary” people, the salt of the earth who, from circumstance, have had to provide nourishing sustenance with frugality, and who used love as the secret ingredient, producing magic. It is magic not because it was really and fantastically delicious when they were making them, but because they produced a food that their descendants remember for generations and made for themselves and their families, probably of better ingredients when they overcame the privations of their old country circumstances. Their survival from generation to generation bespeaks ephemerality. They are a souvenir of life itself, a gastronomic DNA, if you will.

          I am a committed fan of the naked meatball, not wrapped in leaves or pastry. Meatballs, like beautiful lovers, should be unadorned and succulent. The warm, moist, lusciousness of a good meatball should always make a man think of the most wonderful sexual intimacy that he has ever experienced. I am not competent to say what they should make a woman think of.

          To me, there is a universal meatball protocol that will produce meatballs of any ethnicity/nationality. That method is what I am providing for you here. You may vary the ingredients as you please. Some use various herbs. I usually use only parsley, if that. I prefer the herbaceousness to come from the sauce, not from the meatball. But if you like your meatballs ala Niceoise, redolent of anise and lavender, so be it. If you like that taste and texture, you might also enjoy a pastis or an Ouzo with it. Italians frequently make meatballs/polpette with finnochio/fennel. In some cultures there is rice or fruit (usually dried fruit) and nuts or grains. As these may impair the structural integrity of a meatball, these preparations are usually wrapped in leaves or pastry, for support. Someone has at some time or another made meatballs using any combination of flavor notes you could imagine. Greeks use cinnamon, and where Islamic influence remains from the Muslim presence in southern Europe eight hundred years ago, you may find almonds and raisins. I don’t use these, but it’s OK if you do. The method I am providing here will work with any combination of ingredients. Only the percentages/ratios of ingredients to one another may need adjustment to attain a particular desired taste and texture. Experimentation is the signature of the passionate culinarian.

          One nice thing about how I make meatballs is that I don’t give a tinker’s damn how anyone else makes meatballs. As ridiculous as it may seem, there are those who are on standby reserve to do battle over how “real” meatballs are made. To them, if it isn’t made in their fashion, it isn’t a meatball. This is a lot like the religious fanatic imbecile who will quickly claim that you can’t be a Christian if you don’t believe precisely as he does. If you live with a woman to whom you are not married, you might as well also make your meatballs in some deviant manner, because you are doomed to a fiery hell in either event. Do you know folks like this? Fuck Em! Right?

          In the state of New Jersey there resides an amalgam of Southern Italians who, by dint of intermarriage – yes – when one Italian marries another Italian whose family came from a different village/town/city, it is intermarriage – have commingled the bloods of Siciliani, Napolitani, Calabresi, Abruzzesi. The result of this mongrelization is the bastardized meatball, having no genealogy save the genealogy of being a New Jersey meatball. Sonofabitch! At least you would think that this democratizing phenomenon would bring about a truce about how to make a fucking meatball – Forgetaboutit! The one common denominator that I have recently heard about is that there should be no beef in a meatball. It should be all pork, seasonings, parsley as the only herb, garlic, breadcrumbs from real bread – not that canned shit. Personally, I prefer the two-meat meat ball. The all pork meatball is too light and mushy for my taste. If you have lost all your teeth and have no false teeth or implants, you can eat mushy meatballs. The light, one-meat meatball may be some nouveau crapola yuppie bullshit, for all I know.

          You can put cheese in your meatballs – not me, but you can do it. Cheese does not include that trailer trash crapola that comes in the green container that never needs refrigeration – some ersatz cheeselike sawdust that never goes bad without refrigeration – manufactured by Kraft Foods – real shit.

          Size matters. Italian Wedding Soup chicken meatballs – the soup is called Maritata – are dainty, delicate, light. Later, as the Italian bride has children and becomes heavier and heavier, larger and larger, more and more shapeless, the meatballs also grow and become heavier and juicier – suited to those who no longer have to give a damn what they look like.

          German Koenigsberger Klopse are suitably Teutonic in size, as are the appropriately named Galumpki of Polish persuasion (wrapped in cabbage). Carol Dean’s dear and sainted mother, Jesse, used to make the most incredible and delicious Galumpki. She loved me because I once ate six of them at one sitting, after a bowl of Czarnina – Duck’s Blood Soup, eaten by true Poles every Easter. My very Teutonic walking buddy, High Fibre Hoffman, makes his own sausages, and they are really good. Being an engineer, his sausages are made to exacting specifications and are always uniform in texture and dimension. He will usually give me some when he makes them, as we have developed the habit of cross donations of foods we make – each showing the other that he has not lost his culinary testosterone. I made meatballs of the last batch of his sausage, of the German manor, and they are called Hoffman Klopse.

          I live in Texas, so the meatballs tend to be George Bush scale meatballs – huge – everyone now knows that he has huge cojones – some say that his balls have their own zip code. In Texas the concept of balls carries more weight and is vastly more profound than elsewhere. Up in Massachusetts they probably eat those little John Kerry balls – YUK! Anyone who has to fly their hairdresser cross country to give them a trim is someone who has no balls. If he had balls, he wouldn’t have to be so fastidious about his fucking hair.

          I make my meatballs out of half and half ground beef and sausage. What sausage I use depends upon what kind of meatball I am making. Italian meatballs are always made with hot Italian sausage. German/Middle European meatballs are always made with fresh bratwurst – not the veal kind. If you go Greek, you can use lamb instead of the beef – Keftedes. And you adjust your seasonings for each ethnicity.

          The meat and sausage is mixed with real bread crumbs from day old bread that I have left out to dry out a bit and processed in the chopper with one onion and one head of garlic and whatever seasonings and herbs fit the ethnic profile of the moment. If I am using four pounds of meat, I use about three fourths of a baguette worth of bread crumbs, one whole head of garlic and a medium to large onion, along with an appropriate amount of spices and herbs. These I process together, the bread, onion, garlic, spices and herbs. This mixture I combine with the meat and add three to four fresh eggs. All this I mix by hand – yes – my bare hands – get a life. When it is all mixed I let is sit for a half hour to temper.

          If I am making Italian meatballs, I use Sunday gravy for the simmering. The recipe is elsewhere in this anthology. Otherwise I use a simple beef or chicken broth. Before simmering, however, the meatballs are shaped and dredged in flour and put into deep hot vegetable oil for three minutes. This gives them a firmer surface for the simmering and I like the finished product better than just shaping the meatballs and popping them right into the simmering liquid. It takes about thirty minutes of simmering and they’re ready to eat. People who cook the living shit out of things for hours on end are just obsessive compulsive. They think they are putting love into their family’s food. They’re only cooking it to death. Maybe a hundred years ago in the old country the meat was so tough that only a full day of cooking would make it chewable. No one would have overcooked anything then, as you had to go out and cut wood to sustain a cooking fire. Today’s meats are more user friendly.

          I hope you really like putting my balls into your mouth and savoring their flavor and the texture.


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          You can thank me later – after you have enjoyed this. Pork butt is most often thought of as the favourite cut of meat of the redneck “Bubba” set, along with pork shoulder that aint pork shoulder butt. I have a shirt that says “Smoke Some Butt”. The reference is not sexual, but culinary. This, and more frequently the pork shoulder that aint pork shoulder butt, is what goes into the smoker on Friday night so that it is ready when you wake up Saturday morning and you can have BBQ pork all day Saturday while you watch sports, drink beer, fish, clean your guns and think about gittin some. This aint Bubba’s recipe and it aint slow cooked like BBQ. This is a very succulent cut of meat and deserves more respect than it usually gets.

          This goes great with a Chilena Dressing salad and crusty bread and red wine. Depending upon how finicky your company is, when you slice it up for serving you may want to trim off some fat deposits. There are fewer fat deposits than there are on regular pork shoulder. This is a slightly upscale cut of meat by comparison.

Pre heat the oven to 325 F.


One pork shoulder butt – the bigger the better. Talk to the butcher and get a big one – 8 pounds or more.

Fresh herbs – a lot of fresh herbs – oregano, rosemary and lemon thyme (regular thyme will do)

One head of garlic, peeled and rough chopped

Three tblsps Belinda blend spice mix (or any other proprietary chef’s spice mix), or a combination of salt and pepper if that’s all your sorry ass can muster up.

One sliced lemon for each pork butt you roast. The sliced lemon goes on the bottom of the roasting pan and the pork butt sits on the lemon slices while roasting. You can also use onion slices along with the lemon slices, but using lemon only does something to the gravy that you may not want to miss.


Peel and rough chop the garlic.

Remove the herb leaves from their stems

Slice the Lemon(s) and line the bottom of the roasting pan with the slices. If you’re slicing onions and lemons, line the bottom of the roasting pan with slices of both, alternating lemon and onion slices in one layer. If you are ending up with too much to get it all into one layer, alternate lemon and onion slices in the second layer too.

Put the garlic, herbs and spice mix into a mortar and hand pound the mixture into a paste or at least into a paste with small pieces of garlic in the paste. It doesn’t have to be ground to mush.

Add a touch of olive oil and pound that into the herb/spice paste.

Put the pork butt roast into the pan, fat side down and cut slits (about a dozen slits) into the meat a few inches deep with a small knife, and then stick your finger into the slit and open it so that it easily receives the spice mix pushed down into each slit.

Push the garlic/herb/spice mix into the slits deep down into the meat. Rub the remaining garlic/herb/spice mix into the meat across the top.

Roast the meat to an internal temperature of 155 - 160 F. Figure close to three hours, but start checking the temperature at two and a half hours. When you take it out of the oven to rest, it will continue to cook to an internal temperature of around 165 F. Don’t worry about it.

Remove the roast to a cutting board and skim the fat from the gravy.

Slice up the roast and put it onto a warmed platter/serving plate and pour the gravy over it.

Like I said, you can thank me later.


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          Grilled meat and fish are complimented by symphonic adornment at service. This takes place with the addition of sauces and other flavor enhancements, layered upon the enhancement of having been seasoned with a spice mix prior to grilling – in my case the use of my own proprietary spice blends, not unlike many grilling spice blends that are commonly available.

           My personal favorites are chimichuris and compound butters.

           I use two chimichuris, one Brazilian and another Argentinean, differentiated primarily by the fact that the Argentinean is a bit spicier. Compound butters are of almost limitless varieties, only a few of which will be given here. Gut using your own imagination will doubtless provide you with many wonderful adventures.


In a small food processor, combine one bunch of fresh parsley (or one bunch of fresh cilantro – primarily the leaves, ok – or both parsley and cilantro, one whole head of garlic, peeled, the juice of one large lemon – or the equivalent amount of vinegar, the grated zest of that same lemon, salt and freshly ground pepper and olive oil. Process this on pulse several times until you get an effective emulsion. Pour it into a container and let the flavors macerate for a few hours at room temperature. Shake it vigorously and spoon some of it on grilled steaks, chops, chicken or fish. This is your basic Brazilian chimichuri. To make a spicier Argentinean chimichuri, use a spicier – more peppery spice blend instead of just sale and pepper. This can be made in the manner of various cultures. If I wanted a more Jamaican or Caribe chimichuri, I would use a jerk spice blend, and so on and so forth. A Nordic influence might be achieved with some fresh dill. Something Italian could be arranged with the addition of anchovy filets. Options abound.


I make compound butters in large quantities and give away rolls of compound butter as presents. This is a very special and unusual present and is always appreciated. For those who refuse to use butter, the hell with em. Don’t give em a damn thing. Screw em!

I use at least two pounds of softened – not melted – lightly salted butter – half of which is simply a good quality USA brand, and half good higher fat European butter – Plugra or Danish – cut into pieces about an inch thick, for better mixing characteristics.

Into this butter I combine a mixture – done again in a small processor on pulse – a mixture of two heads of garlic, peeled, two bunches of parsley, cilantro or both, mainly leaves, the juice of a lemon and the grated zest of that lemon and fresh ground pepper. This is basic Matre D’hotel Butter.

If you like a more decided Mediterranean flavor, process a few anchovy filets – to taste – in the herb/garlic mixture. This is called Beurre D’Anchois or anchovy butter. Again, as in the instance of chimichuri, you can impart various gastronomic influences from around the world just by varying the ingredients as I mentioned.

When the mixture is combined into the butter to a uniform consistency, place about the equivalent of a stick and a half of the mixture onto a sheet of plastic wrap and roll it into a roll. Wrap it in the plastic and refrigerate for two days for the flavors to cohabit. Then, an hour before use, simply slice off a quarter to half inch slice from the roll for each serving of grilled meat or fish, to your taste.

Making several rolls provides you with presents for friends, or with rolls to put in a zip lock bag and freeze for future use.

If you want a real treat, cut off a slice of this and put it into a heated bowl. Put cooked spaghetti or other pasta over it and mix it together before putting a red sauce on the pasta. You never tasted better pasta in your whole life. If the red sauce also contains the minced leftover part of any roast meat, and the juices that accumulated with the meat, it will be better than sex.


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            This is so good on grilled meat, in the cooking liquid for rice, over fresh sliced tomatoes, in a seafood soup, in any pesto sauce. You can make it hotter by using hotter chilies than roasted poblano – use jalapeno or Serrano.



4 oz      salsa verde – any brand

4 oz chopped roasted poblano chili – Hatch in a small can will do nicely

1 head of garlic, peeled

1 bunch of cilantro leaves

2 oz extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

juice of one lime



Combine all ingredients in a processor and pulse until a smooth paste.

Let it sit at room temperature for 6 hours so the flavors can all blend into each other.

Shake well before using.

If it has been in the icebox, let it sit out an hour to come up to temperature before shaking and using.


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        If you are truly blessed, you may someday discover some phenomenon that epitomizes your perfect woman. It may be a song, a wordless melody, a fantasy, a poem, an abstract painting that depicts in color and form the heat and the sweetness. It will profoundly capture her culture and her charm, her smile and her gaze. In this instance it is a salsa, and the woman is Belinda.


12 tomatillos
2 cups crushed/chopped fresh pineapple and the juice that results
¼ cup white vinegar
8 cloves finely chopped fresh garlic
1 bunch fresh cilantro – cut it off where the leaves start – use the stems for something else – chop the leaves and their stems
8 fresh jalapeno peppers - chopped – seeds, stems and ribs removed
2 tblspns comino
1 tblspn salt
Juice of 3 limes
1 finely chopped red onion
1 finely chopped red bell pepper
2 mangoes - peeled and chopped
3 peaches – peeled and chopped
4 nectarines – peeled and chopped
¼ cup hot pepper sauce (prefer Melinda XXX Habanero)


In a food processor, puree the tomatillos, jalapenos, cilantro, lime juice, comino, vinegar and the juice from the chopped pineapple.

Pour this into a large bowl and add all the other ingredients – STIR

Let it stand covered at room temperature, covered, for 4 hours, stirring every hour.

Refrigerate overnight.

Stir before each use.


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           Thanks in the main to Starbucks, we Americans may be coming into an appreciation of coffee as something simply delicious. Until recently, and maybe still for most of us, coffee is regarded as something to be endured. It is a drink of compulsion for those who simply need the caffeine. It is a drink of habit for those who need to have some libation in hand as an aid to conversational stability, keeping one from fidgeting or doing obscene and disgusting things whilst in communication with others. It is what one gives a drunk before he drives home so that he may at least be an awake drunk when the constabulary takes him into custody. Next morning it will not cure a hangover or make one feel better after a grand evening of excess. Face it. The only way to obtain relief from a hangover is to have another drink, for the hangover is but withdrawal from the body’s craving for alcohol and that into which the body metabolizes alcohol.

           I am reliably of this belief for the reason that if coffee were otherwise regarded, it would taste better. It would not be allowed to sit rancifying in a pot for long periods of time, its oils turning into some stomach lining eroding poison. It would not be something given away in restaurants and not the producer of any income stream, for which reason restaurants buy coffee for cheap prices rather for any pleasure giving properties.

           Coffee doesn’t have to be that way. It can be better than good. It can be delicious and rich and invigorating and pleasant and a gastronomic thrill.

           I used to think that espresso was the apogee of good coffee, that highly charged Italianate rocket fuel that the hyperkinetic denizens of the Apennine laden peninsula consume for the purpose of fulfilling their hourly recharge ‘ere they slow down and become less frenetic. Who wants to be around a laid back Italian?

           Then Starbucks came along and it was like the opening of clouds and the enlightening of that void that theretofore was called coffee. Someone actually figured it out. Imagine that!

           Like any pedestrian, I simply drank one blend of Starbucks’ coffee or another, delighting all the way. Then I started to become jaded, unsatisfied simply to grind some Starbucks blend or other and consume the product of its being brewed in a one pass system. Then, as any chef seeking some higher experience, I started blending Starbucks blends until I hit upon something so wonderful that it must certainly be the coffee that God insists upon each morning to refresh Him/Her after another twenty-four hour cycle of neither sleeping nor slumbering.

           And, as in the instance of anything that is divinely inspired, I am compelled as a sacred duty to share it with you. You can thank me later.

           Mix together in a large container one pound each of Starbucks Verona Roast, French Roast, Yukon Blend and Italian Roast beans. Rebag that mixture into the bags the beans came in. For each ten cups of brewed coffee, fill a coffee grinder (like a Braun or Krup) to its capacity and use that grind in a filter basket to brew the coffee.

           That’s it. That’s Chef Muldoon’s and God’s own best cup of coffee ever.

           Every now and again, like if you’re serving coffee after a meal, you might take a channel knife and strip away several strips of lemon zest and put it into the pot before you start brewing the coffee. That’s delightful. A mere touch of your favorite sweetener is OK. Cream should be shunned. You lose the delicious taste if you cream it.

           It’s the best bargain luxury you will ever try. It only costs about one dollar per pot of ten cups of coffee.

           Remember. You heard it here first.

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          The subject of risotto is very dear to me – it is one of the focus events always hoped for by my palate. Now, fair warning – there are people who should not read this piece. The anal compulsive, poofie little people who do wine tasting notes and who think there are classic recipes for this and that, and that it is simply not the dish if that recipe is not followed slavishly should right now get the hell out of here and go sit on the toilet for a week hoping to hear some non musical movement. More is said of such people in “Chef Muldoon’s Perspectives Upon Everything etc…”, elsewhere on this site.

          Risotto is a blank canvas upon which one may paint imaginatively. While it can be a main course item, especially when it is a seafood risotto, I like it as an accoutrement with symphonic contrapuntal nuances to a perfectly sauced center of the plate beef, pork or lamb happening. There is a very fine work on the subject of risotto, entitled RISOTTO, by Judith Barrett and Norma Wasserman, that you can find at any used book store or at any high priced book store in the cooking section. The text of the book is identical without regard to whether you paid more or less for the book or bought it in paperback rather than hardbound. What you need to know about the technology of risotto is clearly explained in the book. I recommend it.

          Elsewhere in this work I have instructed that everything left in the cooler that must be used or pitched can and should be incorporated into a soup or stew. Risotto can be much like that – a resurrection of superannuated veggies – so long as they are not soggy. There are some things that I deliberately make more of than I need so that they may be at hand when I am in the mood for a risotto. Grilled portabella mushrooms are an example of that. Of course, before I grill them, I season them up with Belinda Blend (any exotic spice mix will suffice if you cannot find Belinda Blend), and soak them in olive oil that they suck up like a sponge. When they come off the grill and are plated, their juices and the oil and the spice flavors ooze out onto the plate and should be saved/savored and poured over the steaks or chops that you also grilled upon that occasion. You can lose you mind trying to decide whether to use that or to use a chimichuri of either Brazilian or Argentine nationality/ethnicity. Such choices! God it’s sure great to be at the top of the food chain!

          I tell everyone that I never use butter. In this dish I fudge. And, if you’re going to fudge, fudge like hell. Don’t skimp fudge. Use plugra or Danish butter. When you fudge so seldom you can do so with pure joy and resounding symphonic braggadocio. It won’t hurt you.

          In this particular risotto I also use Olivata/Olivada – a mélange of garlic/chopped olives/capers/herbs/onions/spices – the heart of the muffulata sandwich (if you have ever visited New Orleans or a Schlotzky’s sandwich shop). I buy olivata in commercial quantities. The best is that of the Boscoli family of New Orleans. They pack it in consumer and in restaurant containers. If you can’t find it in your local stores, go to They will never disappoint you. Olivata in a salad dressing or just sprinkled atop a salad will make you crazy, it’s so good. People fool with olivata, as in adding chopped pickled jalapeno pepper slices to give it more testosterone.

          If you were to make any “regular” rice medley dish, you would be in keeping with at least the Italian/Spanish/Greek traditions of including anything that your imagination could conjure together with rice simmered in some kind of herbed, seasoned broth – including everything from risi-e-bisi to paella Valenciana. So this Risotto Festivale does not represent a claim to inventiveness other than it is simply something I thought of one evening when I had a lot of yummie leftovers in the fridge that would go well with Arborio rice, cheese and butter.


1 cup of Arborio rice per two persons (main course) or for four persons (side dish)

½ Cup white wine per cup of rice

Salt and pepper or spice mix of your choosing

1 fresh bay leaf

2 tblspns butter

olive oil to cover bottom of the pot

2 cups of broth per cup of rice

1 bunch of green onions, thin sliced using some of the green

1 or more diced grilled portabella mushrooms

1 medium onion finely chopped, or two shallots finely chopped

1 bunch asparagus, bottom halves thrown out, stems thinly chopped leaving the tips to be used separately later on

½ cup olivada

¼ to ½ cup chimichuri –Brazilian or Argentinian

other veggies that are “available”

1 cup parmegianno – it can be the high priced stuff, but any parmiggiano will do so long as it isn’t that crap in the green container


Make the broth that you will use to simmer the rice in a separate pot

Sauté the bay leaf in the olive oil in the rice pot, and then remove the bay leaf

Sauté the onions/shallots till translucent or even brown and then add the garlic and sauté for another minute

Add the rice and sauté for a few seconds stirring to get the rice covered with oil

Stir in the salt and pepper or spice mix

Add the white whine and stir – let simmer for two minutes – the rice will absorb most of the wine

Start adding the hot broth a few ounces at a time – enough to cover but not drown the rice

Add the sliced asparagus stems, stir in

Ladle in small amount of broth as the rice absorbs the liquid – this is the traditional technique that is mostly bullshit, but good Risotto theater, especially if there are guests watching you do this. The process will take about 20 minutes or so until you have the rice at the “right” texture – just barely past al dente.

About ten minutes into the simmering, add the olivada and the chimichuri and stir

A few minutes later, add the asparagus tips and the grilled mushrooms and stir

When the rice is just about right, add the butter and stir – cover the pot and turn it off – let it stand and “confargelate” itself for a few moments.

Put the pot in a warm oven to keep the risotto at the right temperature until the meal is ready to be served – not more than 15 minutes.

When you remove the pot from the oven (or if the interim until service is but a few minutes – and the pot has just been left on the turned-off burner) and are ready to serve, stir in the parmiggiano cheese and cover again for a few minutes to let the cheese melt into the dish.



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Thanks to the Internet and to Food TV, we have immediate access the gastronomic richness of the world. To be sure, we have instant access to all the great cultural gastronomic regimes, but, for the desperate, we also have access to recipes and techniques of cultures (if you can call them that) in which everyone is malnourished. Here in Houston, we even have something called Nigerian cuisine. There is no such thing as Nigerian cuisine, just as there is no such thing as Somali, Biafran or Bangladeshi cuisine. My walking buddy, High Fibre Hoffman, had the bad judgment to go to a Nigerian restaurant on the recommendation of a bank teller of Nigerian descent. He had Goat Gland Soup and then some kind of organ meat stew – animal not identified – and the report from his wife is that his flatulence on the way home simply was not human. But that digression should not be allowed to detract from this dish I am describing.

I recently saw a Batali show in which he fixed the traditional version of this dish, which is from Apuglia, in the Mezzogiorno – southern Italy. Batali is the best of the best when it comes to satisfying your desire to know the absolute most about every regional Italian cuisine. He is the absolute favorite authority, in addition to being among the top five great chefs of the world on my personal Richter scale. I have never failed to learn from him or to enjoy his programs.

I made this dish tonight based upon watching him do it on his show. I never follow anyone’s recipe or technique exactly, but rather use what they do as a starting point for my own “touches”. The difference between what he did and what I did is that I added ingredients – fresh spinach, roasted peppers and fresh tomatoes. Here is how I made it. It was wonderful.


Olives – right out of the jar – any kind – with or without pits – just drain them so that they are not dripping liquid when they go into the hot oil. About a handful per person – more if they eat olives like I do

Whole peeled garlic cloves – about four or five per person – more if you eat garlic like I do

One rough chopped tomato per person – Roma tomatoes used here

One-half roasted pepper per person, skin removed and seeded – rough chopped

One bunch fresh spinach per person, washed and dried – I remove the rougher long stems as a matter of personal preference and presentation.

One small can of tomato sauce per every two people.

Black pepper, cracked red pepper to taste and a little salt, depending upon how salty the olives are. Easy on the salt – you can add the salt later when you taste before serving it.

Extra virgin olive oil


In an appropriate size pan, heat an appropriate amount of olive oil – generous, but not more than maybe ¼ inch deep - to hot – but not smoking.

Add the olives and the garlic and stir it around in the hot oil for a moment or so – to get it going

Add the peppers and tomatoes – stir around a bit more.

Add the tomato sauce and stir again.

Add the fresh spinach and stir around for about half a minute, making sure to get all the spinach into the simmering sauce – you don’t want to cook the spinach, just wilt it.

Check the taste for seasoning adjustment.

Serve with crusty bread – I served this as a side dish with grilled chicken. The chicken, bread, wine and this dish will always be a winner. I don’t put any cheese on this. It is great to spoon the spinach and peppers and tomatoes onto a piece of crusty hot bread and eat that like a bruschetta. Eat the olives with your fingers.


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            There is no such thing as classic anything in gastronomy – no matter what anyone may say. Everything that some ponce may insist is a classical recipe, or a classic dish, existed, when it was current and before it became “classic”, in many configurations, varying largely from village to village and tribe to tribe. Soups, stews and everything that is essentially a combination of “local ingredients” exists in every culture by some name. It certainly does not require a set list of ingredients – it is comprised of local ingredients, which may only be the locale of your own fridge. In every large metropolitan area, where people come from many locales, these cultural variations occur in every different neighborhood. Thus, bouillabaisse/zuppa di pesce/cioppino/fish soup-stew, chili, BBQ, various mushes and cereal preparations may be found in every cookbook that claims to state a repertoire of any culture’s gastronomy. In my kitchens it is often called refrigerator soup/stew – whatever has been too long in the fridge and must either be used or pitched out.

            One of my favorites among the denizens of this genre is a culinary vignette called Scrapple. This is a cornmeal mush/ smoked pork neck meat/ham hocks gruel that I have rescued from Pennsylvania Dutch “cooking”. It is a northeastern variation of grits and ham or bacon mixed together. I only tried it because I saw a sign while on a motorcycle trip through Lancaster, Pennsylvania country – Amish – that proclaimed “Kissing don’t last – Cooking do!” Inasmuch as that is a variant of my personal motto, “If you feed em you can have em”, I decided to try something of their divination. What they call scrapple would be a violation of international norms if prisoners of war were required to eat it. Nicely put, it is not the product of a culture that loves to cook. In its local native incarnation, it seems to me to be something that a woman who resents having to participate in sex would make for her man/s breakfast. It’s bloody awful.

            It was a challenge to produce something that is true to the concept that tastes good and that won’t turn to a lump of concrete in your stomach. Based upon the comments of those upon whom I have experimented with this dish, I may have succeeded. When it finally came into its present delicious mode, I exclaimed “Kiss my ass!” It was a very happy, shouting, jubilant, celebratory “Kiss my ass!”, not an angry one. I named it Kiss My Ass Scrapple.


Make a stock from several pounds of smoked and fresh pork neck bones and several smoked and fresh pork hocks. Simmer this mass in a lot of water, uncovered, skimming the detritus that rises to the top, for about 4 hours. Then add several bay leaves, an onion cut up and a spoonful of whole cloves. Simmer for another hour or two.  Don’t let it run completely out of water, but you’re only going to need about eight cups of liquid when the needing liquid moment comes round. Then remove the bones and meat and set it aside to cool. Simmer the broth, reducing it by about a third.

Pick the meat out of the neck bones and off the hocks. Do this carefully to be sure that none of the many small bone pieces and chips remain in the picked over meat. Remove the obvious fat and gristle too. You will have a nice plate of meat when you have completed this step.

Strain the broth and discard the solids that are strained out.

Season the broth with chicken seasoning (Caldo de sabor is great, but any chicken base flavoring will do.) Remember that these flavorings are already very salty, so taste for saltiness before you add salt.

I make my Scrapple with polenta. You will need 4 cups of broth for every cup of polenta. I aint talking about instant or “quick” polenta here. For the quantity of meat you have there, you will probably use about two cups of polenta and 8 cups of broth. Season the broth with 3-4 tblspns ground black pepper, 2 tsps sage and 2 tsps thyme leaves, dry or 1 tsp thyme, ground. Bring the broth to a boil and add the meat. When the broth returns to a boil, add the polenta, stirring. Simmer till done. Do not add butter. When the polenta is about done, about twenty minutes of simmering - You have to stay with the pot and stir here – turn off the heat, cover the pot and leave it standing for another 10 – 15 minutes.

Uncover the pot and pour the Scrapple into containers – loaf pans, etc – that have been greased with butter or oil. Use containers that will allow you to take slices of finished Scrapple. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate till the next day.

Take slices of Scrapple, dust with flour and saute in butter or oil. Serve with over easy fried chicken eggs or pancake syrup or whatever floats your boat.

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          Hoppin John is customarily eaten on New Years Day for luck. Eating Hoppin John for luck shows that you have a belief system. Lots of folks completely lack any belief system. They don’t believe in God. They don’t believe in true love. They don’t believe that if you persevere you have a better chance to succeed. Obtaining a belief system when you have none and no one to teach you about having one is a slow process. But it’s easy to start. You start believing in things that promise immediate gratification – I believe I’ll have a beer. You build up from that with the aid of natural urges that nudge you toward accommodations that you might have thought impossible. Think about it. Eventually you get to believing that if you eat Hoppin John you will/may/should have good luck. Good luck aint always the same as getting lucky. Think about that too.  

          Hoppin John began – in my personal experience – as low country Carolina cookin. We used field peas in Charleston, cause field peas abound there. Other folks in the south use black eye peas. Either way it’s really good. Don’t use canned peas, for God sakes. Use dried peas that you soak in cold water over night, or frozen black eye peas. In either event, you simmer the peas till done in salted water or broth before using them in Hoppin John.

          Yuppies will use “easy rice”. Easy rice is minute rice or Uncle Bens or some other rice that is engineered for idiots who can’t handle even the simplest process. 

          Real folks use long grain white rice. Here in Texas, I use basmati rice. We grow our own Texmati rice here, and you can also use real basmati rice grown in the Indus valley in the Himalayas, which is actually cheaper than Texmati. I use Tilda brand real basmati rice for everything except risotto – in which instance I use Arborio Superfino – and paella or other Spanish rice dishes – in which case I use a Valencia rice. I would never buy or use a pre-seasoned or colored rice – but if you’re a bloody yuppie, you just might be tempted.

          Growing up – partly at least – in Charleston, I thought rice was a religion. I was taught that there were only two kinds of Charleston people – those who live on rice and worship their ancestors, and those who worship rice and live on their ancestors. Charleston is a great place to visit and a lousy place to live. You never get to be a Charlestonian, no matter how long you live there. The apprenticeship period to become a Charlestonian is 300 years. The patrician attitude is never noticed if you are a visitor, because Charleston people would never have anything to do with a visitor anyway. Visitors never see them. The people you see when you visit Charleston are those lower denizens of the area who live on selling things to Charlestonians. Many Charleston homes still have signs saying “Deliveries in the Rear” – which is not a gay message in Charleston. Some Charlestonians still wish that Charleston had remained part of the English colonies.

          Hoppin John goes with chicken or beef or pork or seafood. It does not go with a salad. You can have a really grand Hoppin John frittata just by stirring it into scrambling eggs. I like my Hoppin John spicier than some folks, so mine has fresh jalapeno peppers in it. You can cook it with a few cans of Rotele peppers and tomatoes, but you have to use a bit more rice to account for the added liquid from the can – it’s real good that way. Make a lot of Hoppin John and take some around to friends’ homes as gifts on New Years Day.


1 bag of dried field peas or two bags of frozen black eye peas – if field peas are used, you gotta soak em in cold water over night – drain the soaking water and never use it to cook with.

1 pound of bacon, chopped

2 large onions chopped

2 cups of rice

4 cups cooking liquid, including any liquids from canned other ingredients if you use any of that

            (I use the broth from the peas as the liquid – it’s chicken broth, not just salted water)

Salt and pepper to taste



Simmer the peas in lightly salted chicken broth till done – use this pea broth to cook the whole dish in.

In a large pot, sauté the bacon in a little olive oil till done and add the chopped onion, sautéing until the onion is translucent – and then some more if you like your onions a tad on the brown side – many folks remove and reserve the bacon pieces while they sauté the onions.

Add the rice and the seasonings to the pot and stir it around in the bacon drippings with the onions till it’s all coated with that incredible wonderful flavor.

Add the bacon, peas and liquid and simmer till the rice is done.

Just before it’s done – about 10 minutes before – taste it for seasonings adjustment – add what it needs.

When it’s all done, fluff it with a fork and let it sit covered on an “off” burner for about 15 minutes.

Now you’re ready for some good eatin and a whole year’s worth of good luck. You get more good luck throughout the year if you work hard and have good manners.


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     Two Yeshiva Bochers were once debating the mystical significance of the law pertaining to the Yom Kippur fast. Yom Kippur is, you will recall, the only fast day actually mentioned in the Torah (Leviticus 16:29). Self-affliction, as there used, has come to mean abstention from eating in a culture in which maternal love is expressed through over feeding. Actually, the first mention of voluntary fasting is in connection with King David who refused food when he prayed for the child born to him by the wife of Uriah the Hittite (II Samuel 12:22). Other fasts proclaimed from time to time involve calamities of various sorts (Isaiah 58:3-10; Zechariah 8:19; Esther 9:31; Jeremiah 26:18). This discussion of the mystical properties of Seamus Muldoon's cholent pertains only to the limited context of Yom Kippur fasting, and not to fasting associated with calamities mentioned elsewhere in the Bible. Fasting associated with calamity may be in order for those who overeat at every opportunity to dine on Seamus Muldoon's Yom Kippur cholent.

     For the uninitiated, a Yeshiva Bocher is an orthodox Jewish rabbinical student who attends an orthodox Jewish seminary. You can’t fail to spot one if you see him. They all dress like they still live in eastern Europe and like it is winter time all year round, and they all have ridiculous funny curls on each side of their face – a reminder of the sin of Samson in permitting his hair to be cut by that slut, Delilah. All in all, they are a rather disgusting lot, and are used here only for the low humor.

     Why, you may ask, does Muldoon deem his cholent to be a Yom Kippur-level experience? There are, as we are taught, at least two possible answers. First, the concoction does indeed possess such divine attributes of ethos that its consumption must be compared to the eating of matzot on Pesach. Second, Muldoon is simply boasting. Those of you who favor the second answer need read no further, and are free to return to your boil-in-the-bag, TV dinner lives that will ultimately do you in with colo-rectal cancer. For the more enlightened, I shall continue.

     To return to our story, these two Yeshiva Bochers were debating the mysticism of fasting on Yom Kippur. One should remember that among Yeshiva Bochers, what they may lack in material wealth they more than make up for in privation and squalor. To them, fasting is an Olympic sport, second only to masturbation and dandruff. To them God has given the power to avoid starvation without having to eat, for instead of starving they can fast. Perhaps, through the understanding of their lifestyle you can appreciate how these two Yeshiva Bochers came to be discussing the mystical significance of Yom Kippur fasting in such a fashion that ultimately, in a flash of insight it occurred to them that something could be so bound up in the collective social experience of a people, and so delectable and so marvelously aromatic and satisfying that its consumption on the holiest of fast days would not be in violation of the law pertaining to Yom Kippur fasting, but rather the highest form of its observance. After all, is not the observance of Yom Kippur for the purpose of obtaining satisfaction? Do we not aspire to be spared the great annual Yom Kippur selection and to be sent to the right rather than to the left? Indeed, how could anyone keep the anxiety of such a day from overwhelming him and causing him to make a shambles of such an experience, if not for the discovery of the mystical exonerative option of eating Seamus Muldoon's Yom Kippur cholent?

     Anyway, back to our story! These two Yeshiva Bochers were discussing the mystical significance of Yom Kippur fasting, and were interested in the idea that, with respect to the holiest day, Shabbat, on which one does not fast, the Kabbalah recounts that the symbolism is a marriage between God and Israel in honor of the acceptance of the responsibility of the commandments at the theophany on Mount Sinai (Exodus 31:17). The mystically of Shabbat, therefore, maybe fulfilled through the rite of consummation of marriage, which explains the orthodox custom of copulation on Friday night. This is not specifically called for in the Torah, which speaks of Shabbat in terms of commandments to honor and observe (Exodus 20:8; Deuteronomy 5:12). Nonetheless, the prophets have instructed us to call Shabbat a delight and an honor (Isaiah 58:13). Moshe ben Maimon, Maimonides, instructs that it is necessary on Shabbat to "arrange the bed" (Mishna Torah, Set Feasts, Chapter 30).

     With the sensuality of the holiest day firmly in mind, it occurred to these two Yeshiva Bochers that there must be some relenting, some respite from a regimen of day-long self affliction (Leviticus 16:29) associated with Yom Kippur, and that the mystical significance of that optimism can be tested only by eating. One even ventured that Leviticus 16:29 only applied to the uncircumcised, which could mean that the obligation to fast applied only during the time of slavery in Egypt when circumcision was not permitted. This interpretation is not totally without authority, because in Leviticus 23:29 it says that who does not observe and fast on that day shall be cut off. As both these Yeshiva Bochers had already been cut off in that sense, they decided they had little to lose and would test the proposition.

     Now, for such an eschatological experiment the proper vehicle must be carefully selected. Anything ordinary would be an affront. For example, eating oysters wouldn't do, even though Yom Kippur ends in an "r". The food selected must so epitomize the Jewish ethos that its consumption becomes an act of remembrance, of dedication and of soul enrichment, as well as a damn good meal. Chicken soup was suggested first, but quickly rejected as too commercial, too cliche'. Even the goyim now know of its curative properties, and chicken soup jokes have degraded it below the level of mystical experience. Each taxed his recollection of glorious meals gone by to find an appropriate dish for Yom Kippur lunch. Finally, in a flash of brilliance, it dawned upon them, so astoundingly appropriate that it had to have been suggested by God's own chef. CHOLENT!!!!

     Cholent---that slow cooked delight for which there was no single recipe. Its universality, its amenability to the means of rich and poor alike, imparted the properties of sacred ritual. Cholent---into which you could put a horse, or an old shoe or boot (and into which many put ham hocks, just for spite) without destroying the taste or texture. Cholent----which has regional characteristics and is different in a Polish home than in the home of a Czech, Hungarian, Russian, Lithuanian or German. Cholent----the browness of the potatoes; the falling-apart doneness of the meat (if you can afford meat); the gas producing nature of the beans that provides physical pleasure to the elderly----the gravy, redolent of garlic and cooked carrots and onions; THE EXPERIENCE!!!!

Nothing makes beer taste as good as cholent!

Cholent-----the recipe for which is as follows:



5-7 lbs brisket, chuck, pot roast, and some lamb shanks or lamb shoulder - don't be stingy

14 carrots, peeled and cut in 2 inch lengths

16 medium potatoes, peeled and left whole

6 medium onions, coarsely chopped

2 entire heads of garlic, peeled and rough chopped or sliced

6 tsp, each, salt, black pepper, paprika

5 packages frozen baby lime beans


     Brown the meat in a skillet in chicken fat - then set the meat aside. Sauté the onions in the same fat. Put the onions in the largest roasting pan you can get into your oven, with the fat. Put the meat on the bed of onions in the roaster. Sprinkle in the chopped or sliced garlic. Put the carrots and potatoes around the side of the meat. Sprinkle in the salt, pepper and paprika. Add hot water to cover everything in the pan by two inches.Cover the pan and roast at 275 F for 20-24 hours.

     Three hours before the end of roasting, remove some of the gravy (you could skim most of the fat first) into another pot, and simmer the lima beans in the gravy to be served with the cholent.

     Serve with tons of bread and gallons of beer. A small salad is ok, but cholent does not need an appetizer, believe me. Cholent is not for the dainty or the fastidious.. Cholent is for satisfying deep hunger, down into your very soul.

     CAUTION - Should you be so foolish as to have Rumanian friends, don't listen to any suggestion from any of them about cholent.


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          This dish is named for one of my favorite brilliant women, who today is the President’s National Security Adviser. Dr. Rice has had a very distinguished career and is a fine role model for any woman in America. I spent several years along life’s path in Charleston, where rice is both eaten and worshipped. So also are greens, which I like simmered in smoked ham hock stock that has been cleaned and strained, with the hock meat removed from the bone and returned to the finished stock. To this I add salt and a goodly amount of fresh ground black pepper. I simmer mustard greens in this stock with the addition of some chopped cooked bacon as well. You could also add a touch of malt or red wine vinegar. This is pot liquor to die for!

          Chop an onion and sauté it in olive oil. Season with Belinda Spice Blend or with salt and pepper. Add the rice of your choice and chicken broth – broth, not stock – stock is too rich. Add a can (if the recipe is for two or three people) of rotelle chopped tomatoes and jalapenos, with the juice. After the rice has simmered for about five minutes, remove some of the mustard greens from its stock and rough chop it and add it to the rice. Finish simmering the rice until done.

          This goes well with any meat or fish dish.





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