Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 7:17 a.m.
As a countdown to the Best of the Twin Cities 2014, coming April 16, the Hot Dish is serving up 100 of our favorite local dishes.
Make your own destiny
A couple of months ago we were given the opportunity to spend an early Sunday morning in the subterranean kitchen at Butcher and the Boar with Chef Peter Botcher, the main meat man at the Jack Riebel-run restaurant.
In addition to seeing how all the sausage is made here, we developed quite the crush on Butcher and the Boar's suicide tacos. These off-the-cuff tacos, an amalgam of Botcher's house-made meats, were our reward for helping out in the kitchen. Though you won't find them on the menu, you can make these yourself at home, now that the Butcher and the Boar has a new line of meats available at area Lunds and Byerly's.
All of the sausages and meats at Butcher and the Boar are mixed by hand, and the seasonings and spices are measured in small batches. Our stage in the process was spent grinding bits of downy fat with massive chunks of pork. We layered it all in a mixer, generously pouring in spices, some dried jalapenos, and mixing thoroughly. (You want an early morning wake up? Stick your face in a tub of dried peppers and inhale deeply. It's like being maced.)
We then cut by hand aged cheddar cheese to mix in. Before we stuffed the sausages into the casing, there came the time to taste test. Any chef will tell you to taste, taste, and taste again for quality control. We were happy to oblige, searing off small bits on the flat top for sampling.
No matter how perfectly measured everything is, there is always a bit of leftover meat at the end of the process. Nothing is wasted in the kitchen; down here, the mix is all added together and cooked off with slivers of onion that caramelize in that flavor-packed pork fat. Peppers are cooked until tender and the whole mess is topped with cilantro, avocado slices and served in warmed corn tortillas and served to the staff.
Family meals at restaurants are the stuff of legend, always an opportunity to use up ingredients, fuel your compatriots for a grueling night on the line, and have a little fun outside of the menu confines. This midday family meal was called suicide tacos, inspired by the old soda fountain drink that mixes all available flavors into one giant cup.
Because these gems are a mix of whatever's left over, suicide tacos never taste the same twice. But their alluring aroma called all members of the kitchen staff from their various nooks to a quick meal, eaten on the fly, full of zesty spice and freshly ground meat and the satisfaction of a job well done. As we mentioned, these aren't on the menu, but you can make them at home now that the Butcher and the Boar sausages are all available for purchase. Chop up a variety, sear them off and pack them in a taco with whatever you've got on hand.
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