Wednesday, January 16, 2008

No Meatballs No More

I've been neglectful in posting notes and news of the RTM lately, so it's catch-up time.

DiNic's has given up on Meatball Sundays. Too much work for too little profit, according to Joe.

Michael Pollan, in town last week to promote his new book with a talk in the Free Library author series, visited the Reading Terminal Market in the tow of the Inky's Rick Nichols. Sarah Cain, co-manager of the Fair Food Farmstand, reports in her weekly newsletter that Pollan visited the stand "goofing around with [our] Hubbard squash".

Contessa's French Linens, which set up in the temporary "Christmas Market" area, has decided to make a permanent go at it. Right now they are located in the former Amy's Place stall. If RTM Manager Paul Steinke gets a new vendor to take over that space and the adjacent former Le Bus stall (he says he's got a likely prospect, but no deal yet), Contessa's would move to another spot.

Under its new ownership, Dutch Country Meats continues to de-emphasize fresh pork products in favor of smoked, cured and prepared offerings. The selection of German-style provisions from Rieker's has expanded nicely and even includes their Snapper Soup, a decidedly Philadelphia, rather than German, dish. Fresh pork products represent no more than one-quarter of their case space, perhaps less. The only fresh pig they were selling last Saturday were center cut chops, baby back ribs, tenderloin, city dressed pork belly, and feet. Didn't see any shoulders or butt portions in the display cases, nor any variety in the types of chops.

Electrolux, the Swedish appliance manufacturer (famous for their vacuum cleaners!) is making a push to sell their consumer ovens, cook-tops, refrigerators and dishwashers in the U.S. That's why they will be re-equipping the market' s kitchen. The kitchen will serve as both a demonstration area and as a cooking school. The school will open soon as La Cuchina and will be operated as a separate business by an instructor from Temple; as of last Saturday it looked like that had a little work to do before they could open for classes.

My cooking extravaganza during the holidays was duck-induced. I started out with two Peking ducks from Giunta's Prime Shop, which set me back about $35 (about $3.50/pound).

The ducks came from the Joe Jurgielewicz & Son Farm in Berks County. The Jurgielewicz family started out raising ducks in the 1930s on Long Island, and one branch of the family continues to operate a major duck farm there. Another of the founder's grandsons, veterinarian Joe Jurgielewicz, established the Pennsylvania operation where the company breeds, hatches, raises and processes their own ducks on the farm, rather than contracting with other farmers to supply them with harvestable birds.

From these two plump birds I butchered out the breasts and the legs, with the breasts going into the freezer for future use and the legs and wings reserved for confit/rillettes. The fat from the two birds rendered into enough for the confit which now sits in the fridge as rillettes. The carcass was roasted, then turned into stock with a small onion and celery stalk. I used the livers, hearts and gizzards, along with pickings from the carcass, to create a variation of Jerusalem Grill for a couple of lunches. Jerusalem Grill is fatty lamb trimmings and chicken innards griddled with onions, garlic and various seasonings (cumin, coriander, black and red pepper, allspice, etc.), then served on or with a pita, perhaps with a smear of hummus. I didn't have lamb trimmings, so I just used the duck innards and trimmings. Delish.

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