This Chef Loves Her 'Pig,' From Nose To Tail
A Girl and Her Pig
Recipes and Stories
by April Bloomfield, J. J. Goode, David Loftus and Sun Young Park
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST: All week, we've been hearing about meat: how it affects our health, how much of it we eat, what it costs to produce. Today, in the final installment for Meat Week, we're talking to the author of a cookbook, and it has a rather odd, eye-grabbing portrait on the cover. It's a woman in her chef whites, smiling with a dead pig draped over her shoulder.
APRIL BLOOMFIELD: You know, I adore pigs and I love eating them and cooking them, and I love using the whole animal.
WERTHEIMER: April Bloomfield is from Birmingham, England. She's the executive chef and co-owner of three popular restaurants in New York, one of which is The Spotted Pig. We spoke with Ms. Bloomfield about her new book, "A Girl and Her Pig."
There are all kinds of recipes in the book for vegetables and baked goods. There's some really very interesting salads. But we are especially interested in the meat recipes. I gather from your book that you are in favor of eating meat?
BLOOMFIELD: Yeah, I love it - in moderation. You know, I'm not the type of person to eat big hunks of meat. I think people are starting to realize that great things come in small batches.
WERTHEIMER: You say in the book that the rib eye steak is hands-down the tastiest part of the cow. And, of course, that's the most popular meat in the United States. But the rib eye steak recipe that you have, that is a big hunk of meat. I mean, it's a really, really thick steak.
BLOOMFIELD: It is, but, you know, that steak was maybe 36 to 48 ounces. You know, that could feed at least four people. I mean, I couldn't eat one of those myself. Could you eat one of them? I don't know.
WERTHEIMER: I don't think so. But, I mean, just to give you a feeling for how big it is, this is, like, two-and-a-half inches thick. You suggest grilling it eight minutes on a side. I mean, most of the steaks I eat, four minutes of a side is a gracious plenty.
BLOOMFIELD: Right. I like cooking the bigger steaks. It cooks nice and evenly when it's that thick, and you're not eating the whole thing yourself, which is nice. You get to share that with a companion.
WERTHEIMER: I noticed that you have a lot of recipes for spicy sauces to go with hunks of meat. What is a spicy sauce that works for you?
BLOOMFIELD: With pig, I love to serve a spicy tomato sauce, which we call salsa rosso, which is basically cooked with stewed tomatoes, cinnamon, a little bit of garlic, some margarine and a little bit of olive oil. And you just cook that slowly for about 40 minutes. With beef, I usually like to do something simple, especially in the summer. If you're grilling outside, I like to make a chimichurri, which is basically an Argentinean sauce. It's got chopped habaneros, which are nice and spicy...
WERTHEIMER: I'll say.
BLOOMFIELD: ...which kind of cut through the fat of the rib eye. It's got some mint in there, a little bit of oregano, parsley, olive oil and lots of lemon juice to also cut through the fat of the beef.
WERTHEIMER: Now, how about that pig? You do have a recipe. It's sort of the big finale of the meat section. You have a recipe for a whole suckling pig.
BLOOMFIELD: Yes, I do. I do. That's a real simple recipe, too. It's probably about 10 to 12 kilo pig. It's in between a baby pig and an adult pig. And that's basically just seasoned an hour in advance and then thrown into a hot oven that's cooked for about three hours. And then you can just leave it, and it kind of tends to itself, because it's got this nice skin on it. It's got a good ratio of fat to the meat, so it keeps it nice and moist. So when it actually comes out of the oven, it's all crisp and steaming, and it kind of fills your house or your apartment with this delicious, sweet, porky aroma.
WERTHEIMER: Now, you have a selection called The Not-So-Nasty Bits. This is all sort of part of your philosophy of cooking, I gather, which is a nose-to-tail philosophy: cook everything, use everything. What are the not-so-nasty bits?
BLOOMFIELD: Things that people would find off-putting. Things like liver, actually, when they're cooked right, kind of medium rare, are the most delicious things. You get kidneys, field kidneys or lamb's kidneys are super flavorful and delicious, and they have great texture. There's nothing better than kind of sauteed livers with some garlic butter and some polenta with lots of fresh parsley.
WERTHEIMER: You also include things like ears and noses and heads and feet.
BLOOMFIELD: Right, right. Well, I love anything crispy, so it's very natural for me to have crispy pigs' ears. It's basically like a big, crispy, sticky pork scratching really. So you kind of just cook those in a little bit of water or some stock for about four hours, and then you let them cool down, and you just deep-fry them. And then when they come out, they're all, like, super-crispy, and you just season them with salt. And then in the book, I have a recipe for a lemon and caper dressing with lots of bitter greens. And then, you know, you get this kind of crispy, sticky pig's ear, and then you get this lovely lemon and caper dressing that cuts through all the fat. It sounds heavy, but when you eat it, it kind of refreshes your palette and it actually makes you want to eat more.
WERTHEIMER: I read that liver is one of your special favorites. In fact, you said liver makes you weak in the knees.
BLOOMFIELD: Yeah, I love the smell of frying liver. It has this attractiveness to it. When it fries, it kind of gets - you know, when you pan-fry it and you get that caramelization, the tasty brown stuff, it kind of releases a sweetness into the air, and it prickles your nose and it kind of makes you awake. And it makes you pay attention to what you're cooking. It really kind of livens the senses. It gets me excited.
WERTHEIMER: A slice of liver in a hot pan, and you go all wobbly.
WERTHEIMER: Thanks very much.
BLOOMFIELD: Thank you very much for having me.
WERTHEIMER: Chef April Bloomfield's new book is called "A Girl and Her Pig."