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Crispy Pig Tail with Provencal Relish, French Green Olive Oil, !2 yr Balsamic, ad Young Pea Greens

Crispy Pig Tail with Provencal Relish, French Green Olive Oil, !2 yr Balsamic, ad Young Pea Greens

“LET ME TELL A CRISPY PIG TALE”

The past week has been a hoot here at the Tavern with a 200 lb Acorn Fed Tamworth delivered from the SVF Foundation. With every part of this beautiful creature to utilize, our sous chef Zach and I lived, breathed, ate and dreamed our own Charlottes Web story of a menu and “WOW he was SOME PIG!” We produced beautiful headcheese, rillettes, county pate, braised belly, sweet and salt chicarrones and even cured the jowls into a bacon called guanciale. All of this was great but the one thing that brightened the week was cooking the pig tail for one of my Guatemalan dishwashers.

Juan Carlos has been with me for about 6 months and is particular to chicken fingers and a hamburger on a regular basis. I had my charcuterie prep complete and noticed that I didn’t use the tail. I grabbed it an brought it over to Juan, expecting him to shake his head no, when he explained to me with a smile (in Spanish, of course), that the tail and ears are the part of the animal that they give to the guest of honor at their pig roasts. Every person hopes to be the person to eat those, he said, then turned around and went back to working his tail off for me.

As I was walking away, I felt compelled to surprise him with my own version of the tail. I dredged the tail in seasoned flour mixture then fried it crispy and golden, but still tender and gelatinous on the inside. As the tail was cooking I sautéed a little chopped garlic, tossed in tomatoes, red onion, provencal olives, and fresh herbs. Once hot I plated the crispy tail, topped it with the warm relish, drizzled it with some French Green extra virgin olive oil, 12 year balsamic, and a showering of young pea greens.

I brought it over to Juan and initially he looked stunned and realized that it was the pigs tail we just spoke about, he smiled and immediately went to town devouring the tail, leaving no joint or piece of cartilage untouched, stopping only to say “Muy Bueno Heffe” (Very Good Boss) and saying his only complaint was that there wasn’t more. The life of a chef can sometimes consist of a multitude of thanks and praises from our guests and peers, which means the world and is very gratifying, but the pride of making someone who works so hard for you to feel  close to home is priceless (even though the preparation was very French).

Chef Rich Silvia

White Rock Chickens At The Tavern!

9935_White-Rock-Chickens_620Tomorrow we are introducing the first of our Heritage Series Dinners with a Coq Au Vin shining as the star entrée course. I couldn’t just use any chicken for the dinner and wanted it to be from a local source, so again we partnered with the SVF Foundation and have chosen to use their White Rock Heritage Breed for the dinner. The lean, super flavorful bird is perfect for a long slow braise in cabernet wine, fresh herbs, heirloom vegetables, and specialty potatoes.

Never claiming to be an expert on specific breeds, it is my job to do my homework on the food that I prepare. With that being said, I contacted Rocky Steeves, the SVF Foundation’s grounds manager. I asked him the importance of the White Rock breed and why they chose to grow them. This is what he said:

“In brief, the white rock breed is considered a heritage breed based on the
specifications of the American poultry association, mainly that the breed
existed prior to early 20th century, they have good foraging ability, and their
rate of growth is slow (12-16 weeks to market weight vs. 6-8 weeks for “modern”
or “improved” breeds).

The white rock breed is 1/2 of the “Cornish Rock
cross”- the breed found in supermarkets and carried by distributors throughout
the country. The Cornish rock is the commercial variety that grows so quickly(45
days to market) that food intake has to be restricted, else they will literally
eat themselves to death- they’ll gain weight to the point that organs or bones
can’t keep up with their musculature and they’ll have heart attacks, organ
failure, broken bones, etc.

We chose to go with the white rock as they
are one of the fastest growers among heritage breeds, their feathers are white
so any pin feathers aren’t unsightly and their skin is a nice white-yellow color
that looks great after roasting. They’re good foragers on pasture and they have
a gentle disposition that makes caring for them a breeze.

Here at SVF they were raised for 3-4 weeks inside until they “feathered out” fully, then put
on pasture in a “chicken tractor” where they’re given feed and water in addition
to whatever grasses, plants, bugs and worms they foraged on a daily basis. These
8×16 tractors are moved daily to ensure sanitary conditions and fresh
pasture.”

Thanks Rocky for the great introduction to this tremendous breed

Chef Rich

Coq au Vin – Tavern Style on 9/25/13!

“Coq au Vin isn’t chicken cooked in cheap red wine: it’s rooster cooked in something good enough to drink.”

Saveur Cooks AUTHENTIC FRENCH

coq au vin

SVF Coq au Vin paired with Cameron Hughes Cote du Rhone.

Our upcoming Heritage Series Dinner on 9/25/13 will feature a rooster-less Coq au Vin with a local twist:  Heritage Breed White Rock Hens fresh from the SVF Foundation‘s Farm off Ocean Drive. Farm fresh RI ingredients and Chef Rich’s formidable culinary skills promise a culinary tour de force upstairs at The Tavern. We have a few seats left, and we hope to see you there!

Coq au Vin brings back lots of happy memories for me.  I grew up in a French family, and my grandmother, Florence Proux Mathieu, daughter of a Canadian mill owner, made a mean Coq au Vin. In the 50’s – the heyday of Julia Child and her infamous chicken preparation – all the moms attempted coq au vin, but none could match the slurpy goodness of Flo’s dish.

One possible exception was my old neighbor, John Barrett. Every fall John, who never cooked anything else, would announce he was making coq au vin.  It was his signature and only dish, and it attracted an intriguing collection of friends who ate, drank and ruminated about how this year’s batch compared to last. The anticipation was almost as good as the dinner.

On Wednesday, White Horse Heritage Dinner guest speaker, Catherine Zecker of Cameron Hughes, will pair a 2011 Cote du Rhone with Chef Rich’s coq au vin. According to this Wine Spectator video, Catherine and Julia are on the same page when it comes to pairing wine with this classic French dish.
So join us for a little French / American comfort food and wine on Wednesday, September 25, 2013. Click here for details and call 401-849-3600 for reservations.

If you can’t make this one, no worries!  There are two more:

Whiskey Business – Thursday, October 24, 2013

Swine & Dine – Thursday, November 21, 2013

SVF Foundation and The White Horse Tavern

Join us on
Wednesday, July 31st 2013
To Dine & Learn
about
SVF Foundation’s Mission to Preserve Heritage Breeds.

SVF Executive Director, Peter Borden, will describe the Foundation’s mission, goals and the scientific work that is preserving endangered livestock breeds for centuries to come.
White Horse Executive Chef, Richard Silvia, has prepared a 6-course menu featuring SVF Foundation meats, fresh ingredients from local farms and select wines to complement each course.

Amuse Bouche
Warm Rosemary Scones with Creamy Bone Marrow Butter

Salad Course
Crispy Beef Liver, Balsamic Honey Onion Jam, Grain Mustard,
and crisp wild arugula

Cheese Course
SVF Honeycomb, Micro Herbs, and Fruit Relish

Pasta Course
Braised Beef Shank Ragu, Handmade Gnocchi, Herbs, Cloumage

Entrée Course
Grilled Beef Chuck, Chimmichurri, Olive Oil Roasted Summer Vegetables, Polenta Fries

Dessert Course
Sweet Berry Farm Berry Shortcake with Rhody Clotted Cream

Education Lecture Starts Promptly at 6:30 pm
Dinner at 7:30 pm

$100.00 per person with wine pairings

Limited availability. Please call 401-849-3600
to reserve your place for this special event.

The White Horse Tavern Visits The SVF Foundation

Ancient White Park Cattle at the SVF Foundation, Newport RI

Ancient White Park Cattle at the SVF Foundation, Newport RI

The White Horse Tavern Executive Chef, Richard Silvia and proprietor, Leslie Hogan took an afternoon this week to visit SVF Foundation, a local non-profit foundation dedicated to preserving heritage livestock breeds from extinction.

As I have explained in my recent blog posts, sustainability is extremely important to me as a chef and our vision here at the White Horse Tavern. During our visit to the SVF, Leslie and I learned about SVF’s history and mission from Executive Director, Peter Borden.

The Alarming Loss of Heritage Breeds

U.N. Food and Agriculture studies indicate the world is losing one livestock breed a month. SVF preserves heritage breeds to maintain their valuable and irreplaceable traits such as resistance to disease and parasites, heat tolerance, mothering ability, forage utilization and unique flavor and texture qualities.  The lack of diversity in our food chain makes our highly inbred, genetically uniform market breeds extremely vulnerable. One serious infectious disease could decimate an entire breed.

Rhode Island’s Vanishing Livestock Breeds

The lack of diversity in our food chain ought to be a real concern to us even on a local level. At the turn of the 20th century, for example, Rhode Island was home to 6,000 dairy farms; now there are 17.  In the 1920s, 60 breeds of chickens were sold in the US; now the Cornish Rock dominates the market. In the 1930s, 15 breeds of pigs were raised the US; six of those are now extinct and just three breeds dominate the market. Just one breed of cow, the Holstein, supplies 93% of our dairy products.

An Idyllic Setting for Endangered Breeds

DorsetHornSheep

 At SVF Foundation we toured gorgeous livestock pens, a state-of-the-art cryogenic lab where genetic material is frozen in liquid nitrogen tanks, Foundation offices and the famous and picturesque Swiss Village. We also met an impressive group of livestock professionals, scientists, landscapers and other farm folk dedicated to preserving this beautiful place and the animals that can insure a diverse food source for our future.

The animals were all in environments that were comfortable, humane, and impeccably well maintained. The breeds we saw included Ancient White Park and Dutch Belted Cattle, Tennessee Fainting Goats, Leicester Longwool Sheep, piglets, Cornish Rock Hens, and a handsome Border Collie named “Dakota.”

SVF_CHIP&CHEFWe also met a very special fainting goat named Chip.  Chip was conceived in an SVF test tube and carried to term by a surrogate mother of the same species but a different breed. SVF has produced about a dozen of these “miracle babies” to make sure the frozen embryos, semen and germplasm they store are viable and ready to fulfill their mission of putting a little diversity on all our plates.

More to come regarding our visit, partnership and future lecture dinners with the SVF Foundation

Chef Richard Silvia

P.S. SVF will be open to the public on June 8th with tours, demonstrations and SVF heritage breed  meats prepared by Julian’s Food Truck. Read more here.