Category Archives: Meat

Nik Sharma’s Beef Chilli Fry with Pancetta

An easy flank steak stir-fry with the unexpected addition of pancetta.
An easy flank steak stir-fry with the unexpected addition of pancetta.

Nik Sharma is not a triple, but a quadruple threat. And we’re all the better for it.

Writer, photographer, recipe developer, and food scientist, he does it all. And those talents are on big display in his new cookbook, “The Flavor Equation” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy.

Born in Bombay (Mumbai), Sharma studied molecular genetics at the University of Cincinnati, before getting a a full-time research job at Georgetown University’s Department of Medicine. His creative side soon took hold, though, as he started cooking his mother’s recipes, as well as developing his own, which he chronicled on his award-winning blog, A Brown Table.

That led to his first cookbook, “Season: Big Flavors, Beautiful Food” (Chronicle Books, 2018). His follow-up makes use of his science background even more, along with his always beautiful food photography.

Through more than 100 recipes, he teaches how certain techniques or ingredient additions can heighten brightness, bitterness, saltiness, sweetness, savoriness, fieriness, and richness — the flavors that make food taste so good. Sharma also delves into how sight, sound, mouthfeel, aroma and taste all play into how we react to food.

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Pork Cheeks Braised in Tomato Wine Sauce

Have you tried pork cheeks? If not, you are missing out.
Have you tried pork cheeks? If not, you are missing out.

This is one of those no-fail, largely hands-off, wintery main courses, in which the oven does all the work.

In fact, the only real heavy-lifting you’ll have to do is procuring the pork cheeks, which is not an easy find at most supermarkets. Nor is it a necessarily inexpensive one, either.

I lucked out in buying mine from California’s only commercial Iberian pig operation, Encina Farms. What makes Iberian pork so sought after is the fact that the pigs are finished on acorns, giving their meat incredible richness. In fact, in Spain, this is the pork that’s cured into luxurious jamon Iberico.

Encina Farms does sell out of pork cheeks fast, especially since there are only two cheeks per pig, of course. But if you are serious about buying some, fill out its contact form online, and the farm owners will either alert you when the cheeks are available or save some for you.

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Seemore Sausages Boast A Little Something Something Extra

Seemore's La Dolce Beet-A and Broccoli Melt sausages.
Seemore’s La Dolce Beet-A and Broccoli Melt sausages.

Cara Nicoletti of Massachusetts is a fourth-generation butcher — who wants people to eat less meat.

Yes, you read that right.

For healthful and sustainability reasons, she hit on the idea to make sausages from certified humanely raised chicken and pork, that slyly and effectively includes vegetables.

In short, vegetable-forward yet meat-based Seemore sausages.

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Oakland Native Ray Roundtree’s Urban Flavors Gourmet

Juicy, snappy sausages from East Bay company, Urban Flavors Gourmet.
Juicy, snappy sausages from East Bay company, Urban Flavors Gourmet.

During nearly three decades as a special agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Ray Roundtree was used to packing heat.

Now, its his Red Devil Hot Links that do that.

The recently retired Oakland native traded a career in law enforcement for entrepreneurship when he founded his passion project, Richmond’s Urban Flavors Gourmet line of sausages, condiments and spices.

“It has been my dream to be an entrepreneur in this ever competitive marketplace,” he says. “I kept my promise to my parents for three decades that I would finish what I started with my career as an ATF agent. It is now time for me to venture into the unchartered waters of my new culinary endeavors ‘one bite at a time.’ “

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Oakland’s Horn Barbecue — The Wait Is Almost Over

Horn Barbecue's incredible brisket and ribs.
Horn Barbecue’s incredible brisket and ribs.

Let me preface this by saying that I am not the biggest beef eater by any means.

But when pitmaster extraordinaire Matt Horn carved off a tiny morsel of fatty, warm brisket and handed it to me last week, it may have just turned me for good.

Supple, near spoonable, and downright custardy, this brisket is beyond.

What he turns out at his Horn Barbecue in West Oakland is near life-changing stuff.

Brisket, smoked low and slow with utmost intention for up to 16 hours, that he gets going at the ungodly hour of 2 a.m. Pork ribs that are tender yet still have a nice little give, plus impressive smoke ring penetration. Pulled pork sandwiches piled high with shards of meat plus a crisp, celery seed-flecked slaw. Shell mac ‘n’ cheese with gobs of cheese. And his wife Nina’s potato salad — hefty, creamy, substantial, and like tater salad crossed with egg salad.

The building is painted in a hue called "Black panther.''
The building is painted in a hue called “Black panther.”
Matt and Nina Horn have opened their first restaurant.
Matt and Nina Horn have opened their first restaurant.

I had a chance to try all of that last week at a media preview for Horn Barbecue, which is expected to open to the public sometime this week for outdoor dining and takeout at Tanya Holland’s former Brown Sugar Kitchen location. Check its Instagram or Facebook page for the latest news on its opening date, which was derailed at least once before because of city approval delays.

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